I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!
You will need:
Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.
And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.
I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.
Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!
Now that Christmas is finally over (yes, finally since it started in September this year), you probably want to get all that holiday cheer out of your house. I know I do! Sure, I can be a little Scroogey. I mean, I like watching the Grinch, (but only the first half, when all the Christmas stuff has been cleaned up) but sometimes there’s only so much joy you can grind out of me.
Christmas is great and all, but I like to start the new year with a clean house, not one covered in decorations that need to be put away, and gifts that never found a home, and leftover fruit cake. So here’s the post-Christmas clean up list:
1) Throw out wrapping and packaging – make sure any gift cards or cash are accounted for first! – trash is easy to get rid of because it’s obviously trash. Doing this first will give you more room to manuever and won’t take much brain power.
2) Put away Christmas decorations – throw out any light strands that didn’t work, or ornaments a fat cat stole off the tree and broke behind the table. This happened twice this year at our house. But our cat is a jackass; you might have good cats. Christmas decorations presumably have a home already so you know right where to put them, so again, no-brainer.
3) Find a home for all your fancy new gadgets and gizmos – don’t forget to get rid of an old version if your gift was an upgrade, or if you follow the ultimate uncluttering rule: if one thing enters your house, one must leave. It’s like the Thunderdome, but for your stuff.
4) Put anything you need to return (wrong size or completely wrong for you, whatever the reason) somewhere you won’t forget them along with their gift receipts, if they have them. Your car might be a good place, if you won’t forget about them. Returns often have a time limit, so make sure to get after it!
5) Christmas cards – If someone has written a touching message, or made a card themselves, or it’s particularly funny I usually keep it. However, some are just generic, like “Happy Holidays, from your dentist”. Well these apparently have a home, other than the recycle bin! St. Jude’s recycles old cards into new ones. I just found out about this thanks to Unclutterer! They actually take cards year-round, for all occassions, so I’m going to keep this in mind as I unclutter my scrapbooking box.
Here’s to a clean and organized New Year!
I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that lately I’ve been slacking off. This is not exclusive to the blog, either. I’ve been successfully ignoring chores, work, maintenance, and pretty much anything that requires more than two brain cells. Whether this is due to the cold, lack of sleep, or a bunch of hilday video game releases we may never know. Basically, I’m being lazy and I don’t care.
Part of my laziness had led me to browsing through DIY ideas on pinterest waaay too much. I found a few ideas that I decided to try.
First up, hold your chargers in place with these binder clips. That seems like a great idea. I put this one in place on the book shelf I use as a bedside table. Unfortunately, my phone charger is pretty thin, and slips out of the clip a lot.
It also has to be on the front of the shelf, but would be more convenient in the back. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this arrangement in place. I might instead run the wire though the black part of a smaller binder clip, and then tack it to the wall. Or I might take a nap. Who can tell?
If you have a larger chord, like for an iPhone, this is how you would set this up. Clip the binder clip in place, then squeeze the base of the wire part like so:
It will pop out so you can thread the wire through, and the end of the chord should keep it in place.
Since mine is so small, I added this tiny binder clip to keep it from falling back though. Again, I’m not sure how great this is.
There is one other semi-clever thing I’ve been able to manage in my hibernating-brain state. We were at Home Depot and I wanted a coil cleaner for my fridge. As you know, we have a tiny herd of animals in my house constantly parading around and dropping hair everywhere. The fridge, Horatio, sucks all this crap up underneath himself where it’s impossible to clean. Well Home Depot didn’t have a coil cleaner, but they had this:
It’s a lint trap cleaner! At one point I have attempted to clean my lint trap out with chopsticks (and I did a fairly good job), but I was disproportionately excited to know this thing exists. It was about $5. This is what happened when I cleaned out the lint trap:
I won’t even show you what I pulled out from under the fridge. I don’t want to leave you burdened with the image of my dryer lint, so here’s something both adorable, and descriptive of my mental faculties (and also from pinterest. They should really be paying me for all this).
This is a continuation of what I was calling Deep Clean Week, but has turned into Deep Clean Eternity. Our bathroom has been shamefully disorganized since the day we moved in. We just gradually tossed things into the cabinets as we unpacked them. The other day I got thoroughly sick of it, and pulled everything out of the cabinets. Here’s a before picture:
This is a picture, without the flash, to show how dark the cabinets are on the inside. This drives me nuts, and makes it much harder to find things. I had some extra Killz paint laying around, so I decided to paint the inside of the cabinets white. I took everything out of all the cabinets, wiped them down with a dry cloth, then with a damp cloth. Once the surfaces were dry, I coated everything with white.
Here’s the after for this cabinet. It makes quite a difference light-wise, and looks so much cleaner.
So pretty! (If you ignore the dirty carpet. I vacuumed immediately after this).
The cabinets weren’t really the only issue. Of course, once I pulled everything out of the cabinets there was clutter everywhere, but the counter was already pretty cluttered:
It’s frightening, I know. I even opened all the drawers, emptied them, and vacuumed them out. There was unidentifiable dirt from the previous home owners in there I had to get rid of. It’s bad enough they chose to carpet the bathroom, I don’t need their spilled baby powder and what-not getting my stuff dirty.
Once everything was organized and put away, I cleaned the mirror and counter, and even the toilet! I won’t show you a picture of that, even though it was pretty spectacular.
I took everything that was in our bathroom and sorted it into groups: dental, lotions, bath stuff (like body wash and bath crystals), medical (everything from first aid to cold medicine), sun (sun screen and aloe gel), hair care, face stuff (scrubs and peels and other girlie things), make up, eye stuff (contacts and glasses), vitamins, and travel stuff (travel size things).
I decided what went in each cabinet by deciding who would need it more; hair spray goes on my side, hair clippers go on Hubby’s. For things like lotion and bath salts, where there were multiples, I put the one with the least in it in front so I can use it up first. And just so everyone knows, I have plenty of lotion, body wash, and bath crystals, for probably the next 6 years. Please don’t buy me any more. Just give me cash. 😀
Here’s the final result! I got a couple cute pink bins at Goodwill for a buck each. If I need something I can just pull the whole bin out instead of having to dig around in the cabinet and knock things over. I’m glad I finally tackled this project. I’ve already finished off one of the containers of bath salts! But still, do not buy any for me.
In spite of the fact that I have not posted anything even remotely “Deep Clean” related in awhile, I have actually continued to clean things. Yes, really. I mean, a little. So the other day, when I couldn’t jam anything else into the linen closet, I broke down and reorganized it. Here is a once-in-a-lifetime: a before picture of my mess. I know! This never happens!! Behold! THE CLOSET OF HORRORS!!
Tinkerbell decided to “help”.
I basically took everything out, folded it all properly, and separated everything into categories. It’s amazing how well stuff fits once it’s folded. I also put things we don’t need often, like beach towels, in the hard to reach places out of the way.
I did all this while rewatching old Friends episodes. Not too shabby!
It’s happened to all of us (I presume): you either buy a brand new shampoo, and you hate it, or you get down to the last inch of shampoo that refuses to come out of the bottle. Now, I may be ridiculous when it comes to saving money, but I’m not one of those “Extreme Couponers” or “Hoarders”, so let’s keep this all in perspective. I paid for an entire bottle of shampoo, and, so help me, I am going to use that entire bottle of shampoo.
Everyone at some point thinks “Hey, this new brand looks like it will help solve all my problems!”, or “They’re out of my regular shampoo! I guess I’ll grab this”, or “It’s on clearance!! And there are EIGHT BOTTLES for a DOLLAR!!” (ahem; I’m sure everyone has done this, or else just me and my dad have). Inevtiably, the shampoo will be terrible. It leaves your hair flat, frizzy, or smelling like bacon, but not in a good way.
As I’m typing this, I’m really rationalizing to myself that everyone has these issues, and is concerned about them. Right? It’s not just me???
Anyway, neurosis aside, there are lots of uses for shampoo. If you have a whole bottle, you can use it instead of laundry detergent. 1/4 cup or less per load should work great. This is also helpful if you run out of laundry detergent, but can’t go to the store immediately for whatever reason. I know I can’t be the only one who has started a load of laundry late at night, or when visiting friends or family and put all my clothes into the washer and started it before checking to make sure there was detergent, and I am NOT going out in public in my Batman pajamas, because I will end up on People of Wal-Mart for sure.
You can also use shampoo to wash your pets. I like to that the shampoo bottles that are almost out, add some water, and shake it up. This makes it easier to get the shampoo spread over the wriggling, screeching pet so the bath can end more quickly. I like the way human shampoo smells better than the pet kind anyway.
You can actually use shampoo in the dishwasher also, if you run out of dish soap. Don’t try to use Dawn, because that will cause an epic bubble flood, but that is actually an easy way to mop the floor, if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not in the mood for epic bubble floods, use shampoo instead.
You can use it as body wash, to wash your car, or lots of other stuff. Shampoo is just soap, so if you have a brand you hate for some reason, just use it anywhere you would use liquid soap.
I think my goal when I write posts like this is to spread my fixation with getting my money’s worth out of everything I buy. That way I won’t seem like such a nutcase.
Mi Madre is a constant reader of my blog (one of the two I have), and when she and I were on the phone yesterday she told me something awesome. She said that when my sister and I were teens, she despaired of us ever cleaning a thing voluntarily. After reading the Deep Clean Week posts, she said it should reassure parents everywhere that kids do develop the ability to clean, and in fact I probably clean more thoroughly than she does. She really did say that! In fairness, she lives on a farm, and has greater concerns than sweeping the floor thoroughly. Our conversation ended yesterday when she had to go herd cows out of the vegetable garden. No joke.
Bottom line, I hope all you people enjoy my practicality as much as I do. If not, here’s a kitten for some entertainment value!
Calling “Deep Clean Week” on Monday was definitely over-ambitious on my part. Yesterday I went home and decided to tackle the second most horrible area in the house: the hallway. Hallways are generally benign, but we have a naughty kitty who has decided that if he wants to get into a room, but the door is shut, he will punish us by peeing in front of it. To protect his identity, we’ll call him Onion.
Now before anyone starts, let me just tell you that
Mushroom Onion is a fixed male, and was fixed well before any mature traits showed up, so he’s not spraying or marking or anything like that. He is mostly a fat, lazy, passive-aggressive bastard, and I have no idea how to make him stop this behavior.
When I notice a “spill” has occurred, I clean it up off the concrete. The issue arises when it gets on the very edge of the carpet of the offending room. I have my Little Green Machine from Bissel, and I decided to get down and scrub the carpet as part of the hallway.
Phase 1) Sweep hallway and front entryway
Phase 2) Vacuum hallway and front entryway
Phase 3) I skipped the Swiffer Wet, which I probably shouldn’t have, as you’ll see in the next phase.
Phase 4) Got directly onto hands and knees with sponge and bucket, and I even did it the proper way, with a bucket of clean water, and a bucket of rinse water.
You should dip the sponge or mop into the clean water first, scrub for awhile, then rinse it in the rinse water, and repeat. If your floors are anything like mine, you will be able to tell these apart fairly quickly, and will probably need several buckets of rinse water. Also if you’re anything like me (and I pray every night that you are, otherwise I’m a neurotic moron), they will end up a similar shade of disgusting “Oh God that was on my floors?”
Phase 4 was supposed to be the “Scrubbing” phase, but turned into a “Wiping up the loose pet hair the broom missed” phase, which is why I should have used the swiffer.
Phase 5) The “Ok, now we can really scrub because the pet hair is out of the way, but it turns out the floors aren’t actually that dirty, they are chipped and scratched from you dragging furniture across them ‘just one time’, and you apparently painted lots of hair into the floor while refinishing it” phase. It’s not fun to be eye to eye with what you think is a dirty floor, and realize it’s simply an abused floor. So, it looks like I need to buy some paint to do some patch work.
Phase 6) Clean Carpet (aka Phase of No Return) – Before I even swept the rest of the floors, I dumped a bunch of vinegar mixed with water (about 50/50 mix) onto the cat-affected areas. Now I got my Green Machine and started sucking that up. I also used the Bissel pet odor removal stuff after the vinegar was all soaked up. The stuff that came out of the carpet….there are things that once seen, you cannot un-see. That water is one of those things. At one point I thought, “I’ll just lift the edge of the carpet for better access and then… *GAAAHH!!* WHAT??? WHY????”
Also, getting dried cat pee wet, even when using cleaning products, just reactivates all the smell, so it is awful. This is why the hallway counts as one room. It was traumatic, disgusting, and horrifying. Long story short, it’s clean. And the whole house smells much better. I don’t know what to do with Onion, and how to prevent having to do this all over again.
If you have some kind of carpet cleaner like my Green Machine, make sure to clean it out thoroughly after cleaning up something this disgusting. I dumped out all the dirty water, and rinsed out the dirty water tank. I then got a bucket of clean water, and had the Green Machine suck that up as though it were cleaning carpet. I did that twice, so that there was clear water in the dirty tank. That’s really the only way to make sure all those parts get cleaned thoroughly.
So that was my adventure. And I also tripped on the bed, smashing my foot, which is still swollen 18 hours later. That also made it challenging to crawl around on the floor scrubbing. I can’t think of a way to end this humorously. I’m exhausted all over again, just reliving the whole thing. Maybe we’ll end up putting a baby gate at the end of the hallway, but I doubt that will help. Does anyone want a fat, lazy, tuxedo cat? I mean uh..he’s very sweet, and loving, and cuddly, and he can make sangria!! Yeah! It’s great!
On Memorial Day, I decided my entire house needs a good, deep cleaning. We’ve been having several messiness issues, from Ferret, to the cats, to just being too busy to actually pick up after ourselves. Usually when I start cleaning the house, I get distracted by roaming around to put things away. I start clearing the coffee table, and bring dirty dishes into the kitchen, only to realize I should run the dishwasher. I start loading it, and notice that I need to take the compost out so I can wash the compost bowl also, and while I’m outside I notice the peach tree needs water, etc., etc. I decided to take a different approach this time, and go room by room.
I started with the laundry room for several reasons: It’s small, so hopefully I won’t get discouraged right away, and give up the whole idea; it’s where the cat boxes are, so it has a high dirt to room size ratio, and cleaning up in there should have a large impact on the whole house, smell-wise and less cat litter getting tracked through the house; I had never fully cleaned it when we moved in, so there’s no telling how long it’s been since the shelves have been wiped down.
When you’re cleaning any area, work your way from top to bottom, and from the far corner towards the door. That way when wiping off shelves or counters, you can just wipe the dirt off onto the floor without worrying about it, and you will also not clean yourself into a corner. I don’t know about you people, but I get filthy when I’m cleaning, and the last thing I want to do is track my dirty self right across the floor I just cleaned.
I started by taking all the bottles and things off the shelves. I brought them all into the kitchen and rinsed them off. They had collected this sticky, lint residue that seems to accumulate in laundry rooms. I set them all out on a towel to dry. I used paper towels and spray cleaner to clean off both shelves. A box of junk had magically appeared on a shelf (Clutter Gnomes, I’m certain of it), so I sorted through the box, emptied it, washed it, and now it’s holding all the little laundry things, like a measuring cup, spray n wash, Rit dye (for an upcoming project), and stain remover. I organized all the stuff in there into categories: laundry, pets, and stuff I don’t use often went on the top shelf.
After the shelves, I used paper towels and spray cleaner to clean off the washer and dryer. They get that same sticky, lint coating, and I hate it, so they got a bath. I also took the lint screen out of the dryer and washed it with Dawn and warm water. It’s important to do that periodically to prevent fires. I set it aside to dry.
This would be a good time to run a cleaning load in the washer. Put your washer on the hottest, or warm setting, on the Super or Large setting. Add one or two cups of vinegar, and let it fill. I leave the lid up so that the cycle doesn’t start, because you want the hot water and vinegar to have a chance to soak in and clean the washer. After 15 to 30 minutes, shut the lid, and let it run through the cycle. Your dishwasher needs a cleaning cycle periodically too, but we’ll get to that on kitchen day. You should probably run a cleaning cycle every 6 months or so, or if the thing looks gross, or if you notice the water looks dingy when it’s filling.
The floors were the hardest part, because they are covered it cat litter and other horrific nastiness. Also, some of the linoleum tiles have started to peel up, so dirt gets all under and between them. We plan on redoing the floors in the laundry room and kitchen at the same time, but I need to recuperate from getting our bath tub fixed first.
For the floors, I started by emptying all the cat boxes, taking them outside, and hosing them down. I left them outside to dry, which hardly took any time at all since it’s so hot out. I also hosed out the cat carrier and left it to dry. I took the rugs we have spread out to catch cat litter that flings everywhere outside, and beat the hell out of them. There was fur and leaves (yes, leaves. No idea how they got there), cat litter, etc, flying everywhere. I threw them all in the washer after that.
I cleaned the floors in several steps:
Phase 1: Sweep
Phase 2: Vacuum
Phase 3: Swiffer Wet (this got much of the dirt, and yucky stuff I didn’t want to touch)
Phase 4: Vacuum with the hose
Phase 5: Curse a lot, shake fist at cats (they were unimpressed)
Phase 6: On hands and knees, scrubbing with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water (baseboards first)
Phase 7: On hands and knees, scrubbing with a sponge and bucket of clean water (still periodically screeching at cats)
Phase 8: After thoroughly rinsing the sponge in the sink, wipe down the floor one last time, and for God’s sake don’t touch it!
I even pulled out the washer and dryer to vacuum and Swiffer Wet behind them. Am I insane, you ask? No, I just live with demon cats who think it’s funny to throw dirty cat litter UNDER the washer and dryer, where it can be smelled, but never retrieved. If I could, I would caulk the washer and dryer in place so nothing could go under them again, but there has to be a better way. I will cogitate on that.
I did a few other things, like wash out the tub labeled “Cat Food” that inexplicably held cat litter, so it can now be used to hold (wait for it!) cat food. Revolutionary, I know. I even cleaned out the laundry hamper we keep in there. I’m exhausted, and I discovered that if you drink enough coffee, you don’t go super fast like in Futurama, you loop back around and get sleepy again. Well, lesson learned. I am stinky, dirty, and worn out, but my laundry room is clean, for the time being. I almost don’t want to put the litter boxes back in there.
So, I need some solutions to prevent cat litter from being flung everywhere. First off, we have tried the litter box with a little house on top. They will not use it. They will poo directly next to it, but they are apparently afraid to potty in the dark. They also dig like moles no matter what I do. I’ve tried both Yesterday’s News (which is made of newspaper, so it’s super light and gets flung even further than regular litter), and Feline Pine (which is made of sawdust. It starts out in larger, heavy pieces, but as they use it, it disintegrates, so they fling stinky sawdust everywhere). We will not get rid of the cats, but we don’t plan on replacing them as they inevitably die out. One of them is only 3 though, so we definitely need a long term solution. I have tried an exorcism, but these cats are far too powerful and evil for me to have any impact. They usually just go back to napping once I’m out of holy water.
I’m sure you’re all completely captivated by my cleaning antics, and you’re wondering to yourselves, “What, no before and after pictures?” Um, no. What kind of fool do you take me for? The only reason I clean my house is so that people who come over cannot witness the squalor I allow to exist when there’s no one around. Why would I post pictures of the mess on the internet? I might as well just have friends over and say “WITNESS THE HORROR!!!”, but I doubt they would come back for the “after”. Posting an “after” picture without a before is just a picture of my laundry room, and I think this post is boring enough without that waste of pixels. So we’ll see if I ever get to the other rooms. I have a feeling I should have titled this post “Deep Clean Day”. I may have set the bar too high for myself. Maybe I can go watch “Hoarders” to inspire me.