Thursday, May 04, 2006

Get Your (Clean) Freak On

I have found two blogs in the last week that I enjoy a whole bunch, and much to my surprise, the writers are related: Sarah, who is 38 weeks pregnant and still blogging (as opposed to me at 38 weeks, who pretty much sat around watching my feet and lips swell) and her mother, Bev, who has that laid-back confidence and wisdom that seems to just fall all over women in their 40's and 50's (see also: Sister).

And then today I found Bev's sister, Barb (don't you automatically like sisters named Bev and Barb? You can just imagine them talking on the phone, can't you?), and apparently about four more of their family members are about to hop on the blogging train. It's a blogging dynasty in the making! :-) Which reminds me: Sister, you have got to get that blog of yours up and running (Sister & Soph is almost as catchy as Bev & Barb. Almost.)

Anyway, Bev tagged me and several others to talk about how we clean and what we clean with - do we use 45 different products, or do we just use a few? And I couldn't help but laugh, because Bev wasn't around to witness BooMama Breakdown '06 - when I literally cried for an entire afternoon because I was totally overwhelmed by my house.

In case you missed those three days-o-BooMama-fun, you can read about them here, here, here and here.

Since then, though, we've fallen into a little bit of a system around our house - it's not perfect, but it has helped a ton.

So here's how I clean, more or less.

The first rule is that the kitchen sink must stay clean at all times. And it's amazing how well that works. Even David now wipes out the sink after he rinses a glass or cleans a's the simplest little tip but totally transforming in terms of keeping the kitchen clean. I keep a clean dishrag by the sink at all times, and when the rag is ready to go into the laundry basket, I dampen it and use it to wipe along the baseboards in the kitchen. That's another little tip that keeps the kitchen looking clean.

For countertops and appliances, I really like Windex because all our appliances are black and they show streaks really easily. I'm also a fan of the Method countertop spray. I like the liquid all-purpose cleaner, too, and you can find all the Method stuff at Target. My favorite splurge cleaning product (oh, leave me alone - some girls splurge on shoes - I splurge on ammonia-free all-purpose cleaners) is the brand I mentioned earlier this week, Mrs. Meyer's, which I buy at Fresh Market. I like lavender the sister-in-law, Janie, likes geranium. She's the one who discovered how great this stuff smells and works.

I only use Windex on glass surfaces...panes on the doors, top of coffee table, mirrors, etc.

We have hardwood floors in every room downstairs except for our bedroom and bathroom, and I have tried every single product known to man. But even when I stray, I always come back to Swiffer for the day-to-day cleaning...and then about once a month I mop the wood floors with warm water and just the teensiest bit of Murphy's Oil Soap. Of everything I've used, it seems to be the gentlest...the Pledge hardwood floor cleaner leaves a sticky residue. By the way, Emma Kate swears by some Bissell electric something-or-other that you can use on tile and hardwood floors, but the name of it escapes me.

For bathrooms, which I DESPISE cleaning, which I LOATHE cleaning, I use as much Clorox as possible (I literally fill up the tub with scalding hot water and about 1/2 cup of Clorox), and I wipe everything down with that mixture. Then I fill up the sinks with whatever all-purpose cleaner I'm using, and I clean the sinks and vanity with that. I mop the floors with the all-purpose cleaner mixture. Truthfully, David is great about cleaning the bathroom because he knows how much I hate it. Did I mention that I don't enjoy it?

I dust with Endust about once a week, and I try to vaccuum twice a week. Nothing in-depth - just the parts not covered by furniture.

Now I know that there was a bit of an "oh sweet goodness, the woman has lost her mind" reaction when I mentioned in another post that I use Gain detergent, Gain fabric softener and Gain dryer sheets when I do laundry. And I even told myself that I would try using either fabric softener OR dryer sheets, as sort of an experiment, to see if it made any difference. But so far, I haven't been able to do it. I think about it. I just. Can't. So I continue my over-laundering / over-softening pattern. Is there a 12-step program to get me on the no-fabric softener wagon?

I will say that the whole FlyLady system has definitely helped. But the 15 emails a day I get from her? GOT TO STOP. DRIVING ME CRAZY. Anybody have a tip about how to deal with THAT?

In lieu of tagging someone else (I'll post later about David's funny reaction to this whole "tag" phenomenon), I'm going to send you over to see what Sarah, Bev and Barb had to say in their posts.

And if there's a magical cleaning product I'm missing (what's the deal with the whole Magic Eraser phenomenon?), please advise in the comments.


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