I prefer to do our major cleaning during the holiday break when its cold and wet outside and save Spring time for playing outside and trips to the beach.
Our mission this week is to tackle all the problem areas in our house. Each day we will tackle one or two areas. That region will be decluttered, recycled, repurposed, and scrubbed until it shines before we move on to the next space.
I’ve been motivated in my cleaning style by Squeaky Green The Method Guide To Detoxing Your Home. When I first read the chapter on dust mites I went bonkers, removing every item from underneath my bed, vacuuming, scrubbing, and fluffing until I felt reasonably assured that our sleeping spaces were free of creepy crawlies.
Throughout the book you will find Dirty Little Secrets. My favorite is no.00 found on the back cover of this manual. “What you think makes your home clean might be making it dirty. Sometimes the chemicals in household cleaners are worse for you than dirt and dust.” Um, yeah… let’s get it clean and chemical free!
Of course, the authors, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry (People Against Dirty) would love it if we all ran out and purchased a bucket full of their (Method) cleaning supplies. That isn’t necessary for a tidy home, though I do use a few products (hand soap, dishwasher tabs, and the oMop).
The first step is to declutter. I empty cupboards, boxes, totes, bags, etc… remove all debris and sort through the objects. If I haven’t used an item in the last 12 months it’s definitely going to be recycled, sent to charity or repurposed. If I haven’t used the item in at least 3-6 months, it goes into a undecided pile. Next I use the vacuum to pick up the majority of the dust. Then I wipe down all cupboards, totes, boxes, drawers, etc… using WATER and a Skoy cloth or microfiber cleaning cloth (old cloth diapers are wonderful as well). If I really need some elbow grease, I add a couple teaspoons of vinegar to the water. If I’m going for antibacterial, it’ll be a few drops of tea tree oil that goes in or if I just want things to smell a bit nicer, I will add eucalyptus or peppermint oils.
Once I’ve completed my sort and wipe down, I’m ready to place items back in their proper locations. Sometimes at this point I feel compelled to photograph my just completed work of cleanliness. Then I move on to area number two.
For areas in which I have the kids help, I provide them with a checklist. This is particularly important in their bedrooms. The list looks something like:
*Everything out from under beds
*Everything off closet floor
*Toy boxes empty
*Remove all garbage from room
*Remove all recycling from room
*Place all books in book bin
*Place all clothing on hangers or in drawers
*Place all shoes in bins
*Gather all toys in groups (We have lots of little toy items that belong in a family of toys)
*Place all toy groups in proper bin/tote
*Place remaining toys in large bin (balls, frisbees, jump ropes, sand toys)
*Remove sheets and place in laundry room
*Make bed (ask Mom for help if needed)
*Wash window with vinegar/water solution (ask Mom for spray bottle) and microfiber cloth
*Vacuum Floor (don’t forget the edges!)
*Congratulations you are done! Give yourself a pat on the back and see Mom for a BIG HUG.
Some other tips for kids cleaning-
- Keep a spray bottle of water or water with a small amount of vinegar handy for them. Mine is written on in permanent marker with the word “KIDS”.
- Keep microfiber and Skoy cloths in each bathroom and the kitchen for ease of cleaning.
- Give kids a checklist. Have older siblings help younger ones or use picture checklists.
- Reward kids for a job well done. A hug and a “Great Teamwork!” is all it takes.
- Expect to go in and finish up a bit, especially after the younger kids.
- Assign all kids a task, even my 3 year old gets a spray bottle to wash cabinet fronts.
- Focus on teaching, not on perfection.
Don’t forget when you get to your bathrooms… throw out that Vinyl Shower Curtain and replace it with a PVC free cloth variety. You’ll all breath easier. Have fun and enjoy your shiny home. It’ll feel new again!