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March MAIDness: Day One – The Essentials

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series March Maidness

Glad you are joining us for this series to get our acts cleaned up in the month of March.  I started this series with the hopes of keeping focus in my home in regards to cleaning and encourage you to do so as well.  Each day there will be a little bit of information on a specific topic in home management, followed by a challenge.

Please do these challenges along with me and leave a comment letting me know how you did or what works for you around your home.

Let’s get started, shall we?

We will need some supplies, so let’s make a list of necessary supplies:

Essentials for Cleaning your Home:

1. Microfiber cloths.  I use these almost exclusively for dusting and general cleaning around the house.  If you get a set of them with different colors, you can use one color for bathrooms, one color for the kitchen, and another color for dusting.  They are wonderful!  Just be sure that you do not use fabric softener on them when you are washing them; they will not work as well over time.

2. A hard surface cleaner (e.g. broom, mop, vacuum) or some combination of the three depending on your home.  I have tile floors in the downstairs kitchen, dining, entry, and bathroom.  And we have carpet in the rest of the house.  So, we need all three.  I have tried lots of combinations and different products, but I stick to my Libman broom, my Rubbermaid mop, and my Dyson vacuum (we got a refurb. one).

3.  Sponges and a toilet brush.  I use sponges in two places in my home: the kitchen (I have specific rules for its use) and the bathroom.  And everybody, I mean everybody, needs a toilet brush of some sort.  I am sorry, but the new items on the market in the past few years just don’t cut it for me.  Old fashioned sometimes is better.  Oh, and paper towels.

4. Cleansers.  I have a TON of cleaners on hand, but only use a few of them regularly.  The top of the heap, must-have products: dish soap, laundry detergent, vinegar, baking soda, toilet bowl cleaner, and a multi-purpose cleanser.  I also use a product from Method for my granite counters in the kitchen.  In a future post in this series we will talk about homemade cleansing agents.

5.  An apron and a supply basket.  You need a place to corral all the cleaning supplies you use on a regular basis.  One that is portable will encourage you to get the house cleaned more efficiently.  Think about the maids at hotels around the world.  How efficient would they be if they had to go get their cleaning supplies from down the hall each time they cleaned another part of a hotel room?  In a similar way, having everything in a basket will help to streamline your cleaning regimen.  The apron is really just a suggestion so you have pockets to put things into as you are cleaning.  This helps keep things going by just slipping the odds and ends you come across throughout your house.  Instead of taking them and putting them in another area of the house, stick them in your apron pocket and go.  At the end of your cleaning session, take a moment to walk around the house and put things back into place.

6. A timer.  I honestly do not clean my house without a timer.  Setting the length of a cleaning session helps me prioritize my cleaning, motivates me to keep going until the timer goes off, and keeps me focused.  I will be writing more about this in a later post.  But trust me, you need a timer, preferably a portable one (with batteries) that you can tuck into your supply basket.

So now that you have a list, here is your challenge for today:

Get it together!  Decide what your essential cleaning supplies are and put them all in a basket, ready for each time you clean.

Nest Building

March MAIDness: Day 2 – Where to Start

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series March Maidness

When I first became a homemaker I struggled to get our home clean on a regular basis.  I had all the desire to get it done, but I would lose focus easily and find lots of other things to do.  Or I would create more messes in one area of the home whilst cleaning another.  It seemed like there was always something more to do and I didn’t have time to do it.  I wound up cleaning certain areas of the house over and over, while ignoring other areas because I would always start in the same place.

Just when I got a normal routine figured out and was starting to clean the whole house well, we moved house.  And the house we got was much bigger!  I had the same problem all over again!  I couldn’t figure out the routine that worked for me.

Then I sat down and made a list of the rooms that needed cleaning and what it took to clean each room.  Then I put each item for cleaning on a weekly calendar, dividing up tasks by day and grouping like tasks together (all sweeping and mopping done on the same day, upstairs vs. downstairs cleaning, etc) .  This made such a huge impact on my cleaning schedule!  I was suddenly focused on the tasks for the day and not overwhelmed by attempting to clean everything every day.  I could even let myself off the hook if I didn’t get everything done because I knew it was on the list for the next week and (really) it could wait.

Having a plan and a list of tasks for my day made keeping my house relatively clean possible.  But  I found that sometimes I would still be cleaning the same parts of the house over and over and leaving other parts dirty each week.  By the time Thursday would roll around, I would be busy with other things and oops, forget to do number four on my task list…for four weeks in a row.

Then I had an aha moment…

I should reverse the order each week.  This means that the tasks I would do on Monday one week, would be switched to Friday the next week, and so on.  Wednesday is the only day that doesn’t get a reprieve (that might tell you what kind of tasks need to be scheduled for Wednesdays). That way if I didn’t get the tasks done from the week before it was not a whole week until it got done.

Do a little switcheroo and problem solved!  it is procrastination and focus-loss proof.  It also keeps me on my toes for cleaning and helps make it a little less boring.

So today’s challenge: Map out your house and make a list of the tasks that need to be done each week.  Then put each task onto a specific day of the week.  Make it something that works with your schedule.  If you are gone one whole day out of the week, I don’t recommend putting anything for that day.  Similarly, if you are home for an entire day with not much to do around the house, you might consider putting a few extra tasks into that day.  Here is mine (sorry for the picture quality):

 

Nest Building

March MAIDness Day 3: 15 minutes to change your life

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series March Maidness

So, Day 3 and still no specific cleaning assignments…what gives?  I am a little bit more philosophical (aka procrastinatorial – yes that is a new word) about cleaning.  I am a planner, so I like to have everything ready before I begin.

So on day one, we got the essentials together and on day two, we created a plan for weekly cleaning.  What’s next?

Timing!

One of my cleaning essentials is a timer.  I am a huge fan of the timer.  I can’t tell you how much the timer has changed my perspective on cleaning.  Go. Get. A. Timer. Today!

How much time?  15 minutes.

Seriously!

I have a rule that I don’t like for my rooms to be beyond “15 minutes clean.”  Because I use a timer so diligently, I have discovered just what I can get done in that amount of time.  And let me tell you, it is MUCH more than you might think.  Thus, I have this sense that a room is getting too messy and I can start the tidying process before it gets too far beyond what I can handle.

Obviously, this is more of a maintenance cleaning tip.  But the way to make it work even if you are, shall we say, beyond 15 minutes is to multiply by 3.   Each week day, three times a day, set the timer for 15 minutes and get moving.  I recommend you always have the kitchen as one of your hot spots for 15 minutes.  Then I would say the main living rooms of your home and an area of your home that really needs some attention.  If you do this Monday through Friday and just once on Saturday, you will have given only 4 hours to keep your home clean each week.  Not bad when the alternative is slaving away all weekend to get the house clean.

Oh, and break it up.  If you are multiplying the 15 minutes by 3, don’t do it all in one run, if it doesn’t work for you.  Take 15 minutes in the morning to get the main living areas clean.  Then take the project area on in the mid-afternoon.  And before you go to bed or after dinner, tackle 15 minutes in the kitchen.

So the challenge for today: get your timer, set it for 15 and get cleaning on an area of your choice.  You might be surprised to see what you can get done in such a short amount of time.

Leave a comment letting me know what area of your home you chose and what you were able to accomplish.

Nest Building

March MAIDness: Day 4 – Maintenance Schedule

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series March Maidness

 Yesterday, we talked about 15 minute cleaning.  It has changed my life and all that.  Today we are going to talk about some of the tougher tackles around the house.  The monthly, quarterly, and seasonal chores.

I have serious problems with these tasks.  It is not necessarily because they are difficult or time-consuming; but because I don’t have a very good memory on the timing.  I generally tend to forget if I did it last month, if I have already done it for this quarter, or if I even something in the last year.  These types of tasks are so easy to go by the wayside, because they are usually behind closed doors or under the surface type cleaning.

So, here is my solution.

Go digital with reminders and calendars.  I love a good paper planner just as much as anyone.  I still get a student one every back to school season.  But, if I never open the planner, it does me no good.  I am more likely to login to my email, so it is the perfect place to receive updates about my home.  I have a Hotmail account and it has a calendar function which will email me regarding my tasks and events.  If I take about an hour at the beginning of the year to fill out a household calendar with tasks that need to be done weekly, monthly, or quarterly and ask it to email me reminders; I will be on track for the entire year!  Talk about time well spent!  And my calendar function has the ability to add charms to the events.  They have a charm of a house, so it is perfect for marking my household chores.

Now that you have a way to record what needs to be done, here are some things to think about putting on your to-do list:

Monthly:

  • vacuum or wipe down window treatments, dust/vacuum out casings
  • sanitize remote controls, light switches and doorknobs
  • wash out trash bins/liners
  • flush sink drains
  • dust ceiling and stand alone fans
  • launder comforters/blankets/duvet covers
  • vacuum couches and rotate cushions
  • clean out freezer compartment of refrigerator/pantry
  • run clean cycle on your washer/dishwasher

Quarterly:

  • clean out closet (remove old, worn out, out-dated apparel)
  • clean shower heads
  • wipe out cabinet shelves throughout home (de-clutter while you are at it)
  • wipe down walls
  • flip/rotate your mattresses
  • change air filters (more frequently, if necessary)
  • clean oven

So the challenge for today: decide what needs to be done on a monthly and quarterly basis and set up a wireless reminder system to keep you on track for the rest of the year.

 

Nest Building

March MAIDness Day 5: Cleaning the Cleaners

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series March Maidness

One week through the March MAIDness and so far so good, right?

I have been thinking about cleaning instruments lately.  Seriously…I have devoted literal moments to thinking about when and how to replace and clean my broom, mops, and sponges.  How very Martha Stewart of me.

So I thought today we would talk about the how and when of cleaning and maintaining your supplies. An artist has got to take care of her tools, right?

Brooms:

  • To clean – run the bristles along a hard edge surface (like a front stoop or a the edge of a piece of wood).
  • To store – Avoid storing standing up on the bristles.  Hang up on a hook in the garage or a pantry.
  • Replace when – it shows wear like broken bristles.  You can test this when you are sweeping into the dustpan.  If there is a gap in the debris that is picked up, it might be time for a replacement.

Mops:

  • To clean – after each use rinse really well with hot water and squeeze out as much water as you can.  You might also check to see if your mop head is detachable and machine washable.  If it is, throw it in the washer about once a month and make sure to dry it very well before storing it.
  • To store – Do not store your mop seated in the bottom of a bucket (full or water or empty).  Rather, hang it mop side down in a well ventilated area with the bucket underneath to catch excess water.
  • Replace when – it is overly stained or smells even when it has been cleaned.

Sponges:

  • To clean – squeeze out excess water EVERY time you are finished using it.  Every few week or so wet the sponge and place in the microwave and heat on HIGH for 10-15 seconds. Wait for a moment to pick it up and wring it out.  You could also drop it in the basket of your dishwasher and run it with a load of dishes.
  • To store – After you have squeezed excess water out of the sponge (see how important it is) lay it on a shelf to dry or place it in a drying basket where it can drip dry.
  • Replace when – it is soiled or about every 2 weeks.  Really…every 2 weeks!

 

Today’s challenge is to do a check-up on your cleaning supplies.  When was the last time you replaced them?  (if you can’t remember, see Day 4 of this series and put it on the calendar for next time)  Do you need to make sure they are clean the next time you use them or has it been so long since you cleaned them, it is time to replace.  Remember your nose is a wonderful guide to what is not good for you.  If you smell mildew, there is bacteria in there.  It is time to replace.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Nest Building

March MAIDness: Day 7 – Be a Student of your Craft

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series March Maidness

Today’s MAIDness post is simple.  Always be learning about ways to improve your cleaning schedule.  I am constantly looking for ways to streamline, organize, and improve my home keeping skills.  That is why I am so excited about the Bundle of the Week this week.  Go check it out and get lots of great reading material for a great price (all 5 e-books are just $7.40).  The e-book deal is available until Monday March 18th at 8 AM Eastern.

31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae
Part cleaning handbook, part devotional, this ebook is not just about the how of cleaning, but about the why. In 31 Days to Clean, Sarah Mae provides you with two challenges each day — a Mary challenge to encourage and engage your heart and a Martha challenge with a specific cleaning task. At the end of 31 days, your house will be clean, and you’ll have a new perspective on housekeeping as well!

Simple Living by Lorilee Lippincott
Deal with tangible and intangible clutter in just 30 days with Simple Living, which will help you have a simpler and cleaner home…and keep it that way. Tackle thirty different clutter areas in under an hour a day and create drastic and permanent changes.

A Simply Homemade Clean by Lisa Barthuly
Rid your home of commercial, toxic products without the high price of all natural, organic products that line the shelf. Learn to make everything from your own laundry soap, to homemade dryer sheets, antibacterial spray cleaners, potpourri blends and fabric softeners!

Project Organize Your Entire Life by Stephanie Morgan
With a simple and customizable approach, Project Organize Your Entire Life helps you walk through your daily habits and weekly routines to conquer some of the biggest obstacles to living the simplified life you’re yearning for: decluttering, cleaning, organizing, meal planning and more.

Pulling Yourself Together by Becky of Clean Mama
In Pulling Yourself Together, Becky provides you with the tools to declutter and organize your home in the midst of a busy life, implement a cleaning routine that really works and strategies to continue with the perfected plan!

 

And today’s challengeBe a reader!  Study the art of home keeping – whether you get these books or check out a magazine or read other blogs about cleaning.  None of us are perfect in the home keeping department; but we can work on it and improve in so many ways.

NOTE: some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning if you click through to the site from here and make a purchase, I get a small compensation.  No pressure!  I only bring you things I actually love and want to share because I think they have great value.

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