Spring cleaning often gives me the image of 1950’s woman with a scarf holding their hair back wearing cute A-frame dresses and slight heels whilst scrubbing the kitchen floor with bright pink rubber gloves on, or dancing around their kitchen to some rock n roll song whilst being ever so productive in their sweeping. The reality is spring cleaning is nothing like that at all. If in fact you manage to get all your big cleaning tasks done during spring. One can forever be hopeful that your yearly clean-out would be that fun, beautiful and relaxed. Spring cleaning I believe is something that doesn’t fit our materialistic world so much, we bring in “stuff” into our homes every single day. Be it a newspaper, a child’s artwork or even food it slowly but surely builds up and that long awaited yearly clean-out becomes a massive chore that even the bravest and most enthusiastic of cleaners grimace at the thought of. Instead why not quarterly clean, or even start off with a bi-yearly clean-out, that way the pressure is eased and you are able to enjoy the pleasantries of spring rather than spending it scrubbing and carting things to charity shops.
As this week is my de-clutter week it has actually become a quarterly clean. There is no point de-cluttering if you aren’t cleaning at the same time. After all you have spent all that time cleaning out those draws, shelves and cupboards you might as well freshen them up a bit too.
My rules for quarterly clean:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
Don’t spend hours and hours or days on end getting everything done in a rush, give yourself a time limit but make it a reasonable one. But don’t stress if you don’t get it all done.
- Work room by room
Instead of trying to do everything at once, start one room and don’t move on to the next until you have finished that one. You are more likely to get things done and continue to be motivated if you can see the effects of what you are actually doing.
- Don’t go out and buy heaps of cleaning products and organizing gear
It is tempting when facing any type of clean to go out and buy the latest products, organizers, or even apps. By buying these items you are essentially defeating the purpose of a clean out. Unless the items are necessary things that you desperately need an example would be you own heaps of books, dvds, or cds and have no where to store them, shelving would make cleaning a lot easier. As for organizer you can find plenty of printable ones online for free, many blog writers create their own organizer and cleaning lists etc. which are downloadable for free simply by signing up to their mailing list. Forever Organised is a really good blog for this sort of stuff, I have to say though the perfectness of her home scares me a little. To me a home is not a home without a little mess and imperfection, but each to their own. Her organizers and lists are beautiful, and it is a very well put together blog.
- Clean as you clear
If you clear a shelf wipe it down before you put things back on to it, there is no point putting things back onto a dusty shelf. Not only will this preserve the items you store their but it’ll stop you having to go back and clean again later.
As for cleaning, don’t and again I say DON’T go out and buy specialized expensive sprays, wipes and cleaners. You are wasting your money, they claim to save time, energy and do all these wonderful things but in truth you probably have in your cupboards already the best possible cleaners on the market. While I was studying we got set an assignment in microbiology we had to pick three different methods of killing off bacteria and test them out. My pick was a store brought cleaner that claimed it killed 99.9% of “germs” (I will get back to the germ thing later on), white vinegar and heat. We plated our own bacteria (a safe strain of e.coli) on two plates for each method, one as a control and one as our test plate. For the cleaning product we sprayed the test plate with a couple of sprays, the vinegar we diluted slightly with water and sprayed in the same manner and the heat we placed the test plate in an incubator at a slightly higher temperature (hot enough that it would make a difference but not hot enough that the agar would melt). The results went like this; Heat came out on top, the reason being is that bacteria that like living in a human body like our body temperature. Anything hotter and it becomes uncomfortable for them and they die, our test plate showed no growth at all. Second was the vinegar, like the temperature thing bacteria like a certain pH and vinegar adjusts that pH killing the bacteria as well, we did have a tiny bit of growth still but it seemed to be where we had missed when we were spraying it on. Last place was the store brought cleaner, it’s 99.9% claim turned out to be actually about 50% if that, we had significant growth compared to the other two. I’m not sure why this is, it could be down to the fact the cleaner was mostly alcohol based and it is likely that a large portion of the alcohol actually evaporated when it was sprayed and never actually made it onto the surface of the plate. Either way if you have a small knowledge of how bacteria grows you can easily figure out what will kill it. As for virus’s they are a little more complicated, they are tougher and need more powerful methods but the same sort of things work. A virus that is dangerous to humans will not survive well in an environment that is uncomfortable to humans.
The “germ” thing; I hate the term germ, or germies as parents seem to call them. As far as I am concerned the term Germ was coined up by some smart marketing guru to scare parents into buying unnecessary products like hand sanitizes. The thought of all these tiny little creatures crawling over your child with the potential to make them unwell scares even the strongest of parent, but in truth at any point in our life there is more bacterial cells living on or in our body then there is our own cells. Yes that is right, we are mostly just a city of “germs”, yet the majority of the time they don’t do us any harm. That is because most of the things that cause us issue are either viral or opportunistic bacteria. Viral things don’t usually stay in one host they spread, usually as rapidly as they possibly can, it is their way of protecting their existence from extinction. Opportunistic bacteria on the other hand such as the bacteria that causes strep throat lives on our skin constantly it only causes issues when it is given the opportunity to. Either our immune system is weakened in some way maybe due to stress, poor diet or even trauma but it gives the body the opportunity to attack breed and cause us problems. Applying hand sanitizes or using anti-bacterial soap doesn’t just kill off the opportunistic (bad) bacteria, it kills off the good bacteria too, this can in fact leave your defenses weakened and leave you open to an infection from opportunistic bacteria when you next come into contact with them.
Any way here are some home-made safe cleaning recipes that you can easily use around the home; I would reference all of them but I’m not sure where I found them over the past few years:
1/2cup white vinegar
6 drops lemon essential oil (not necessary but smells good)
6 to 8 dusters
Mix water and vinegar in a bowl. Add essential oil (if you want to), Soak your clean dusters in the bowl and squeeze liquid out so that they are damp. Peel the rind off the lemons and lay a few pieces of it on each cloth. Roll up the cloths length wise, and then roll the other way into a ball. Place these one on top of each other in a jar, throw in the occasional extra piece of rind and screw on the lid. Take the dusters out when you need them. (Wendyl Nissen – A Home Companion)
Starch (We all secretly want those lovely crisp hotel feel sheets)
Add the cooking water from pasta or potatoes into your final rinse. You can also mix 2 teaspoons of cornflour with a cup of water and put it in a spray bottle to use while ironing your sheets.
Partner’s roasting dish trick:
I had a pyrex dish that after I used it once forever had a brown stain to the edges despite scrubbing and scrubbing, that was until I moved in with my partner. I got home from work one day to find it sparkling like new (no he didn’t buy a new one), his trick: Salt.
He fills the dish with water adds salt, a reasonable amount and puts it back in the oven heats it up and then leaves it to cool. After that empty, sprinkle with baking soda scrub a little to get off any really stuck on stuff and then rinse in a skin of water with a cup of vinegar. The vinegar helps to remove any stuck on oil or grease to get it seriously clean again.
Basic window and Glass cleaner:
1/2 cup white vinegar
10 cups of water
1 clean 4 litre container
1 clean 1 litre spray bottle
Mix all together in the 4 litre container. Fill the spray bottle and spray on windows and glass items (works well on mirrors and taps too). Dry the glass with crumpled newspaper for extra shine. If you are wanting super clean windows use 1/3 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup methylated spirits to 3 1/2 cups of water, the alcohol prevents streaking but does smell a little so use in a well ventilated area.
Wall and Cabinet cleaner
1 cup clear household ammonia
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup of baking soda
4 litres of warm water
Combine the first three in a large bucket, add water and give a few stirs. Use a sponge or cloth to wash walls, ceilings floors or cabinets. Wipe away excess liquid and make sure it is thoroughly dry before replacing items. I’m not a big fan of ammonia and usually instead just up the vinegar content and exclude the ammonia all together. Be careful with ammonia it can cause breathing issues and is dangerous if you are pregnant or around children, also I would wear gloves when using it as well as if using full strength vinegar for longer periods, it can become irritable on the skin after prolonged exposure.
I hope you enjoyed this post and Happy Quarterly cleaning people.
On another note: I received a phone call from my partner today, he was ringing to tell me that the surprise he had planned to get me this week he couldn’t get (the last book I don’t have by my favorite author) and that there was a seriously good sale on at Briscoes. Not long later I received a text message saying him and Little Man were at Mitre 10 Mega and had brought me presents. I arrived home to this:
It isn’t my birthday, or mothers day or even Easter here yet. He just brought them because he wanted to and wanted to support me in my homesteading efforts. Feeling very very spoiled and very much loved. It also shows how well he knows me, and actually listens to me. Could not ask for a better best friend and partner in life.