House Cleaning: Organizing tips to make your life easy

If you are like one of the many people who find it difficult to stay organized, don’t feel bad or ashamed! This is a common issue that we hear from among most of our clients. So, If you’re looking to extend your house cleaning and keep tidy until your next cleaning service, I’ve found some excellent tips to help keep you organized and keep clutter at bay. I hope you find these tips useful.

“Organizing Tips to Make Life Easy 

The rules of decluttering may be arbitrary, but there are certain dos and don’ts that you can abide by to help you sustain and successfully maintain this lifestyle.

 •         Don’t Store It, Toss It – Reorganizing your space, your life and all the little details that wear your down means that in a few months’ time, you’d be rearranging again. Instead of doing that, toss things out. Toss, don’t keep, because you’re not getting rid of the clutter when you do that. The clutter is still going to be there, even if you put it out of sight. If you have not used it for the past six months to 1 year, time to say goodbye. 

 •         No More Shopping During Sales – Going shopping during a sale only means you’d end up bringing home more stuff, and that’s not what decluttering is supposed to be about. Just because it’s cute and it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should get it. Unless it’s absolutely essential to your survival, you can live without it. 

 •         Starting Out Small – The easiest way to begin the decluttering process and be able to see it all the way through is to start small. Instead of purging out and decluttering everything in one weekend, try opening a drawer or a cabinet, get a box and de-clutter.

 •         Learn to Be Grateful With What You Already Have – Being happy with what you already have reduces the need to keep buying more, or looking for the next new thing that you think is going to make you happy. When you’re no longer buying the essentials during your shopping trips, it probably means you already have everything that you need to survive happily. You just don’t realize it because you’re not consciously reminding yourself to be grateful for everything that you already have. 

 •         Don’t Buy It Unless You’re Replacing It – Instead of making a new purchase, start getting into the habit of only buying new items if your current ones need to be replaced. Adding on new items without tossing out any of the old ones is only going to add to the clutter in your home. If something new is coming in, something old needs to go out to create a balance. You don’t need two items of everything in your home. 

 •         Remember That Less Is More – If you like uncomplicated stuff, clean surfaces, organized things, then furnishing your home with just the essentials is more than enough to make you happy. It’s okay if not every corner or surface is filled with something. Sometimes, having empty spaces might be just what you need. 

 •         If You Can Borrow It, Do It – If there’s an item you need, but you know you’re only going to use it once, considering borrowing instead of buying. This includes items of clothing. There are plenty of online fashion outlets that specialize in borrowing items on a certain fee. 

 •         If You Can Fix It, Do It – Instead of immediately tossing out an item or piece of clothing if it’s broken or torn, see if it can still be fixed before you give up on it entirely. Choose to fix their items instead of immediately resorting to making new purchases. Focus on buying items which are durable. Not only is it going to last you a lot longer, but the possibility of repairing it is also often successful, saving you a lot of money in the process and valuable time when you don’t have to shop around for a suitable replacement. 

•         Being Mindful Of Your Purchases – No more buying on a whim, those days are going to have to be put behind you now. Oh, you will still need to shop, but you are going to do differently from now on is to practice mindful shopping. This means that you’re going to now think long and hard about each item before you purchase it, weighing the pros and cons and whether these items are necessary or essential. You need to factor in the functionality and practicality of each item, and in what way it is going to enhance your life. It sounds like a lot of work to do before making any purchase, but once you get used to the process, you’ll be able to go through the motions without even really thinking about it. 

•         Go Digital – Where possible, consider minimizing your paper trail by taking documents like your finances, paperwork, billing, data keeping, and so on in your computer or cloud drives. Scan your documents, scan your photos and place them all in your cloud drive- you’d find that it is a lot more secure and safer, and the added benefit is, it doesn’t take up any extra space in your home. The freedom that you get by living with less can be a lot more liberating than you may think. It’s not just about downsizing all your belongings for the sake of clearing away the mess in your home alone. No, it is much more than that. It is about clearing your entire life and redefining it to have more purpose and meaning than it once did before. The general rule is that for something to become a habit, you need to stick to the routine for about 21-days or so. The initial 21-days is when you’re going to have to put in most of the hard work into the process and to be disciplined and not give up halfway through when the going gets tough. Stick it out for this first couple of days and being an organized person will eventually become a habit that is ingrained and a part of your life. You will be amazed at how this experience can bring you a sense of peace, not just in your home, but in every other aspect of your life too (Moore Home Clean and Organize 48-51).”

House Cleaning: Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Are you looking to cut down on chemicals used in your household? Are looking to try your hand at making your own cleaning products as a way to save money or find alternatives to commercial cleaning products should we ever run in the situation where they once again scarce? Well, I’ve found a great article with some really awesome homemade cleaning solution recipes to try. Let us know what you think!

All-Purpose Cleaner 

Everyone needs an all-purpose cleaner for quick jobs.  This one is very easy to make and works like a charm.  You will use a great deal of baking soda when making homemade cleaning solutions.  Don’t bother with those tiny boxes; go for large ones.  You will be surprised how fast you use it up.  Even a big box is relatively inexpensive.  

Ingredients: 

  • ​½ cup vinegar 
  • ​¼ cup baking soda 
  • ​½ gallon water 

Directions:

 Pour the vinegar in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and stir.  Watch out because this combination will foam.  If your bowl is big enough, add the water.  If not, pour the water into a pail and scrape the foamy concoction into it, stirring well until everything dissolves.  Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and if any is left over, store in a covered, labeled glass jar. Shake the spray bottle prior to each use.  You can use this solution on counter tops, stoves, faucets, tables, chairs, and anything else you would spray with a general all-purpose cleaner.  

Disinfectant Spray

Disinfectant spray is very important to have when you have someone in the house with a cold or the flu.  This spray is simple to make but highly effective at killing germs, thanks to the active ingredients in vodka.  The alcohol is what makes it work, so don’t waste money on expensive vodka; find the cheapest bottle out there and use it just for your household cleaners.  

Essential oils are an important part of keeping your home clean and smelling fresh.  I have 5 or 10 bottles of different essential oils and keep them in a dark cupboard.  They last a long time that way.  Rosemary is antibacterial while eucalyptus is a germicide.  Tea tree oil stops bacteria from forming. 

 Ingredients:

  • ​½ cup vodka ​
  • ½ cup distilled water 

​Choose one of the essential oils below: ​15 drops rosemary oil ​15 drops tea tree oil ​10 drops eucalyptus oil 

Directions: 

Pour the vodka and water in a spray bottle. Add one of the essential oils. Shake and use in the kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere germs congregate.  

Antibacterial Cleaner 

This is a little stronger than the disinfectant spray; it’ll destroy germs on countertops, toilets, and sinks and is indispensable for wiping germs off doorknobs to stop the spread of the disease when someone is sick in the house. 

Ingredients: 

  • ​3 cups hot water 
  • ​4 tablespoons white vinegar 
  • ​2 teaspoons borax ​3 to 4 drops tea tree oil 

Directions:

 Measure the water in a glass measuring cup and add the white vinegar and borax.  Add the tea tree oil and stir until everything has dissolved.  Pour into a spray bottle and store any extra in a glass jar. Shake before each use. 

Wall and Baseboard Cleaner 

This cleaner works on either wallpaper or paint and it makes your baseboards glisten, even if they were grimy when you first start cleaning.  I like to use this when it’s warm, because it seems to work better on baseboards.  Use it cold on walls though.  I also use this before painting because it leaves no residue.  I use an empty gallon milk jug to mix this up and keep extra in there for storage.  I also like to use old cotton diapers or old white T-shirts cut in rectangles to wash everything down.  If you use paper towels, the paper will crumble and residue will remain on the walls, making them gritty.  

Ingredients: ​

  • 1 gallon hot tap water 
  • ​½ cup borax 

Directions: 

Use a funnel to add the borax to the hot tap water in the jug; then put the cap on and shake it until the borax is completely dissolved. Pour into a spray bottle and shake before using.  Spray on the wall or baseboard and wipe down with a white cloth. It is best to start at the top of a wall, near the ceiling, and work your way down.  This will prevent streaking and will also knock down any cobwebs without ruining what you have already cleaned.  Clean the baseboards last. Floor 

Wash Warning: Do not use this on wood or marble flooring.  It will strip the finish off wood floors and can make marble look dull. You will use a bucket to measure the water in this recipe and then just use a mop to apply the solution to the floor.  I use this on my kitchen floor for simple cleaning after I bake to pick up spills from the linoleum.  

Ingredients: ​

  • A bucket of warm water ​
  • ¼ cup white vinegar 

Directions: 

Fill a bucket three quarters full with warm water. Add the white vinegar and mix with the mop. Mop the floor. 

Vinyl and Linoleum Cleaner 

I use this solution on my kitchen floor when it is dirty or sticky.  It takes everything off, but be careful.  The baby oil can make the floor slippery.  Don’t use this solution with a mop; instead use a spray bottle to spritz it on and wipe it clean with a sponge mop, working in small sections.  You won’t end up sliding across the floor that way.  If the floor is too slippery after it dries, just mop with a little warm water on a barely wet mop. 

Ingredients: ​

  • 1 gallon warm water 
  • ​A one-gallon plastic jug 
  • ​¼ cup borax ​
  • 1 cup vinegar ​
  • 2 drops baby oil 

Directions: 

Put the warm water into the gallon jug about ¾ of the way full. Add the borax, put the lid on, and shake until it dissolves. Add the vinegar and baby oil and shake again to combine. Put into a spray bottle and spray the floor in sections, wiping immediately after each spray. 

Wood Floor Cleaner 

Wood floors need special care because they can warp with too much water.  Always wipe up any spills immediately.  It is not proper to clean a floor with a bucket and mop because it creates too much moisture for the wood.  Instead, make this solution, put it in a spray bottle, and spray small sections at a time, wiping up with a clean mop or paper towels as you go. Use your mop to lightly rinse the floor off.  I use a string mop and get it as dry as possible before applying water to the floor.  The vegetable oil makes the floorboards shiny.  Don’t try to use olive oil though, because it makes for very slippery floors. Add a few drops of citrus essential oil for a nice clean scent.  

Ingredients: ​

  • 1 cup water 
  • ​1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
  • ​½ cup white vinegar 

Directions: 

Place the water in a bowl. Add the vegetable oil and vinegar (along with the essential oil, if desired) and stir. Pour into a spray bottle. 

Glass Cleaner 

This glass cleaner is streak-free and it doesn’t just clean windows.  Try it in the microwave and on the stove.  Glass tables will even benefit. 

Ingredients: ​

  • 2 cups tap water 
  • ​¼ cup 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol ​
  • ½ cup white vinegar 

Directions: 

Pour the water into a spray bottle. Add the alcohol and white vinegar, shaking well to mix. Spray on windows and mirrors and wipe with black and white newspaper or coffee filters to prevent linty deposits. 

Soft Scouring Paste 

Sometimes you need a scouring paste that is not too abrasive.  Certain porcelains and steel sinks cannot be scrubbed with an abrasive powder; this mixture works exceptionally well in these cases.  The only problem I have found with this paste is that if you don’t use it quickly enough, it tends to mold.  I use it on my fiberglass shower surround and my metal sink; in my house it never stands around long enough to mold.  Store any leftovers in a jar with an airtight lid.  I use shallow canning jars with a seal and a ring lid.  

Ingredients: ​

¼ cup castile soap, grated ​

1 tablespoon water ​

¾ cup baking soda 

​1 tablespoon white vinegar 

​5 drops essential oil 

Directions: 

Grate the soap into a medium bowl. Add the water and baking soda and stir to combine into a paste. Mix in the vinegar.  It will foam, just keep stirring until the foaming stops. Add the essential oil and mix well.  You should have a paste-like consistency. Put in a jar. To use, scoop out a little onto a damp sponge and scrub away. 

Abrasive Scouring Powder

 I have an old crockery cheese grater that I store this heavy duty scouring powder in.  I use it on my bathroom sink and it works like a charm to get toothpaste and other gunk out of the sink bowl and make it shine.  The cheese grater does not have to be hidden away either. If you can’t find a cheap jar, use a canning jar and poke holes in the seal so you can shake the powder out when you need it. I use this in my toilet too, because it gets the toilet bowl gleaming.  You do not want to use regular table salt in this recipe, because it is not abrasive enough.  I use kosher salt or sea salt because it has larger, coarser granules. 

 NOTE:  The white vinegar does not go into the powder.  See the instructions below. Ingredients: ​

  • ½ cup non-iodized salt 
  • ​1 cup baking soda 
  • ​½ cup washing soda 
  • ​White vinegar 

Directions: 

In a bowl, mix the salt, baking soda, and washing soda. Pour it into the cheese grater or a jar. To use, wipe the area being cleaned with a little white vinegar. While still wet, sprinkle on some of the scouring powder.  Wait for three minutes and then clean with a scrub brush and rinse (Hollister Home organizing: simple solutions for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing your home 16-24).”

House Cleaning: De-cluttering – How to decide what goes?

Here’s an excerpt of a really great article about de-cluttering to help you maintain your newly cleaned space after you’ve had your first cleaning service.

“The Vision Steps 

This process is about getting your stuff to meet your home in harmony. So before we pull everything out and examine the clutter, let’s look at the rooms themselves. Here are five quick steps to set the intention for your purge: 

  • Scan the room with your new perspective. What do you see? 
  • Remember how it looked when you moved in. How did you imagine using this room then? Have you strayed from that? 
  • What are three activities you want to be able to do easily in this room? How are you taking care of yourself in this room? 
  • What would it take for you to enjoy this room? 

Once you have your answers, you’ll be able to clear the clutter more effectively, because the items will either support your goals for the room or they won’t. If that soccer ball doesn’t fit with your vision, support three activities, or contribute to your self-care, it definitely doesn’t belong in the master bath! 

The Five Questions 

The day has arrived! You have picked up your first item! And…you are stymied. I see this all the time, and it makes sense. You’ve lived with this carrot peeler, this pair of shoes, this receipt for so long. How do you know if you should keep it or let it go? Some of the stuff cluttering your life is going to stay, right? What if this bookend is one those? I have developed five questions through which you can evaluate each item in a way that isn’t leaning too heavily on the emotional connection, because when it comes to files, fishing gear, and toilet paper, we’re talking about making your life work for you, and “sparking joy” doesn’t really enter into it. If you want to keep it and you say yes to any of these questions, it can stay! 

1. Do you use it on a semi-regular basis? By semi-regular, I mean at least once year, such as the large platter I have that holds the turkey at Thanksgiving. I have used it every year for over two decades, and it stays. The old sleeping bags that haven’t been on a camping trip in ten years should go. 

2. Is it making you money? Do you use it for work, or does it help you generate income somehow? It stays. Whatever is piled up in the corner of the family room for that someday garage sale that you’re never going to have should go.

 3. Can you buy it again for a reasonable price or borrow it? Is it costing you more to store it or fix it than it would to buy it again? Or is it something everyone has and it would be easy (and free) to borrow from someone you know? It should go.

4. Do you have a place to put it away in your home? Is it in a comfortable place where it fits easily? Great! It stays. Is it shoved on a closet shelf so that every time you open the closet door, it falls on your head? It goes. 

5. Do you love, love, love it? I mean, do you love it? If yes, then it stays. If it’s okay, I sort of like it, “I hate it but so-and-so gave it to me” it goes.” McCubbin, Tracy. “Chapter 5.” Making Space, Clutter Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need. Naperville: Source, 2019. 108-109. Print.