Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Personally a dirty house drives me a bit crazy. However, with 4 children, 2 dogs, a cat and a life of people that are in and out all the time for this that and everything in between, let's just say we end up with our share of dirt.

So, with 26 years of married life under my belt I am always looking for ways to make things quick and to involve help from the hands that are around.  Today, I will share a few of my favorite items and products and what I do to get everyone involved. As my grandmother always said, "Many hands make light work." AMEN to that and thank you Lord for a wonderful grandmother that was willing to include us and teach us along the way.

First I will talk about cleaning products...are you a green machine? Do you still stand by your tried and true chemicals? Me? I'm somewhere in between. I like the idea of green. I love the idea of using as few chemicals as possible so I try to do that when I can. However, occasionally the chemical wins out. Why? Because I like clean. I like it to look as good as new if it can. Most of the time I can achieve that with natural products and if you have a natural product you want to recommend then I'd love to hear about it. The chemical's I use I try to limit to specific use and with restraint. I will still share those with you.


My top weapons:
Baking Soda
Lemons or Limes (whatever is on sale)
*Lysol Wipes
*Lysol Power & Free
Paper Towels (GUILTY! I do use a towel too but I use paper towels and try to feel better by recycling them.)
Olive Oil
Dawn Dish Soap

Routine and Rules:
1. Don't let it pile up! Clean as you go or at least when your done. Leaving something dirty has a way of becoming the white elephant in the room and then no one wants to deal with it.

2. Wipe up spills immediately! Counters, floors, etc.  Spills can lead to stains or hardened messes that are almost impossible to budge. Dealing with them when they happen keep time and stress at a minimum.

3. A small bowl of water with several cut lemons 3 times a week keeps your microwave happy & germs at bay!

4. Lysol wipes are great quick jobs.

5. A spray bottle of 50/50 White Vinegar and water does a great job at keeping everything clean and germ free and limits the cost on the Lysol Wipes & Spray. 

6. Olive Oil after you have cleaned your stainless appliances with your vinegar and water or Lysol Spray will restore the shine and remove any hidden grime.

7. Lysol Power & Free Spray 3 times a week on all hard surfaces will give it that little extra brightening power.

8. Baking Powder with vinegar to form a paste is great for removing cooked on food or stains on appliances and/or cook ware.

9. After washing your Sponge spray it with your vinegar & water solution to keep it germ free.
Once a week place it in the top wrack of your dishwasher to sanitize it.

10. 1 Cup of White Vinegar in your dishwasher once a week will keep it free of odors and grime.

11. Lemons keep your disposal happy and fresh.

12. With pets we sweep every day. Usually after lunch if we are home or just before dinner. 

13. I mop with White Vinegar & hot water with a reusable mop pad 3 times a week and spot mop daily. I like the reusable mop heads that can be thrown in the laundry after use.

14. Dawn is for the dishes. ;) I sometimes use it for dog shampoo. Sometimes for a plant pest spray. I have found it has multiple uses so I stick with Dawn.

I draft my kids to wipe down all surfaces after dinner - assigning counter space and 1 appliance per kid.  Our trash is taken out every other day by one of the kids in a rotating order.  My children are older and 2 have moved out of the house now so we are down to 2 at home.  I started this with my oldest when she was in 1st grade.  I stay in the kitchen and help and of course it was far from perfect when she began learning but she was excited to help (at first) and improved a long the way. I usually set the timer for 15 minutes after we finish eating our evening meal to give us a focus on getting the job done. Most nights we beat the timer!

Kids also help with dinner. Love their help and I know they will be able to eat more than Ramen Noodles when they leave home. They have all become pretty good cooks. Even our 11 year old has a favorite dish to prepare and is our salad queen!


Baking Soda
Mr Clean Sponge
Coffee Filter

1. FAN - Almost all bathrooms have an exhaust fan in them. NO they are not to air out the smells - but can help with that. They are to control humidity. That is what they are designed for and installed for. USE them. I can not express this enough. Your mildew and mold problems will be a thing of the past or very controllable. I have all my children turn the fan on when they start their shower or bath. We use a 15 min timer for showers and baths. Mainly too keep from wasting water and to keep everyone on time.  The fan stays on 10-15 minutes after the shower or bath.  This reduces that steamy bathroom quickly. Have your children learn to close the shower curtain as soon as they get out so the fan can help dry it and it will rarely have mildew!

2. Spray bottle with 50/50 Vinegar and Water. I actually keep 2 in all bathrooms. I small one in the shower/tub area and one under the sink. Teach everyone in the home to mist the tub, tile and shower curtain with the vinegar/water just before they get out. It will kill germs and prevent mold/mildew.

3. Twice a week we use a mix of baking soda and salt to clean any grime from the tub, tile, sinks and counters.  Mist with the vinegar mix when you finish your scrub and then take a cleaning rag with warm water to wipe down all surfaces. Rinse & repeat until all surfaces are thoroughly rinsed. Yes, my kids do clean their own bathrooms. Yes, they sometimes forget to turn off the fan or forget to spray down the walls/tub but for the most part they get it done and I'm not embarrassed to have anyone use their bathroom. I do the master & guest bath In our home.

4. I encourage my kids to wipe down their toilet 3 times a week. It must be cleaned once a week. Using the vinegar and water to wipe down the entire outside of the toilet. Use baking soda and scrub brush to clean inside and rim. Flush and rinse all surfaces well. Then I have them put 1/2 cup of bleach in the toilet to sit until the next use.  This is one area I still use bleach. I just feel a toilet has more germs than most!

5. Glass enclosed shower - a.ka. Master Shower. I do this and I spray the glass and tile down daily with vinegar and water when leaving the shower.  Three times a week I use the squeegee and once a week I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser prior to the squeegee to get any extra hard water stains.  This works like a charm.  I have not had mold or mildew in our shower in years.  Yes, use that FAN.

6. Mirrors and fixtures - twice a week I spray with Vinegar and Water and buff and dry with a cleaning rag.  IF one has hard water stains I use a little baking soda.  I like to use coffee filters for my mirrors in the house so I keep a stack of cheap ones under the counter. Great for the glass on your pictures too.

7. Wash Rags & make-up PET PEEVE! I was taught to wash my face with my hands and get the make-up off and then use a wash cloth to rinse my face. My wash cloths never have make-up on them. SO I was shocked when I started finding color streaked wash cloths in our laundry several years ago when my oldest started wearing make-up.  I tried to remedy the problem by teaching her to wash her face the way I do but she wasn't buying into the routine. We have learned that a simple bar of ivory soap will leave your wash cloths clean. The girls now must wash out their cloths until the black, blue, red, pink or whatever marks are gone then rinse them and hang them to dry.  We use all white towels and wash cloths to keep life simple. It works for us.

Do you struggle with towels? My kids are allowed 2 towels each. Mainly because the girls are in a habit of using one for their hair and one for their body. Towels are switched out twice a week on Wednesday & Sundays.  The kids towels are washed by the kids on a rotating schedule.  For a few years my oldest did not like this plan so everyone washed their own towels with their laundry.  However, we reverted back to this system when she went to college.  Whatever works. 


Olive Oil

I mix in small pint jars 3/4 olive oil to 1/4 lemon juice. This is what I use to polish our wood furniture and to clean it.  I do this about once a week. I do dry dust once a week as well.  Many of you may do more but our days are full.


With kids and animals and lovely builder grade beige there are times I want to cry at the site of our carpet. I have tried carpet cleaner, after carpet cleaner!

Hot water
Baking soda
*Capture Carpet Cleaner
Paper plates
White Cleaning Rags
Hard Bristle Cleaning Brush

1. Clean wet spills or accidents IMMEDIATELY. I can not express this enough. Less chance to stain, less chance to become a bigger spot.

2. Scrape up any extra liquid or solids with (cheap) paper plates.

3. Blot any excess up. DO NOT rub or wipe. BLOT it up. Dab, Dab, Dab. Believe me you are only fraying your fibers and/or pushing it into the pad if you rub or wipe.

4. Use HOT water to immediately pour onto the area to neutralize and stop the stain. Use judgment - you don't want it soaking wet but you do want to cover the area.  Using a dry cleaning rag blot again.

5. Use your spray bottle of  50/50 Vinegar and Water spray the area well and then use a white towel to blot, blot, blot.

6. Pre-Mist with Capture spray and cover with Capture Dry Cleaning Carpet powder then work gently into carpet with hard bristle brush and leave to dry. Over night if possible. I do not know what is in this product but it works! A friend turned me onto this years ago turned me onto this product when you could buy it in 5 gallon containers. You can't do that anymore and I miss that! We had a horrible brownish stain on our carpet that bloomed up after a professional cleaning. We have professional cleanings twice a year.  The carpet company came back out and said there was nothing they could do. We were facing replacing the carpet. I decided to try the capture just because I had it and didn't have anything to loose. After one treatment it lightened it to a very light spot. I decided to try it again. Poof! Spot gone! I could not believe it.  It has worked through the years on awful throw up, animal accidents, spilled yogurt, etc.  Occasionally it will leave an area a little lighter than the rest of the carpet but this usually evens out in about 3-4 days.  I think it may be small amounts of powder that have remained behind that continue to come up with vacuuming.  You can now only buy this in small sizes at Home Depot and I did find it once at Ace Hardware. I used to also find it at Lowes but a year ago they quit caring it.  I hope they make it forever. If you have light colored carpet this is your friend.  I honestly have never had a dark carpet nor have I used it on a dark carpet so I would do a test spot in a closet before committing to a larger area.

I often vacuum and sweep but if life is extra busy we make sure we do all the main rooms twice a week.

This is our basic routine.  Laundry is done all the time and thankfully the kids are pretty good at doing theirs. I do a load for each kid on Wednesday's to help lighten their work when I'm doing ours.  Again, not putting things off was a lesson, as a mom I learned over time, I have learned that getting it done and staying on top of it when you can keeps the stress down and the house ready for friends who drop by. And we want our friends to drop by! Does it always work? Are we always spotless? Um, no. It's real life here people. So we do the best we can and spend a little extra effort when needed.  ;) In a pinch have those friends over at night, keep the lights off and use candles!

Capture Starter Kit

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