Natural/ Green Cleaning

6 Tips for Motivating Yourself to Clean the House

Cleaning isn’t all fun. For some, it is a therapeutic time in their day to unwind from all iStock_000019112730Mediumother life’s stressors and  can just focus on their house.  For others it’s just another daily chore to push aside and procrastinate.

Your house is not only your living space, it is your sanctuary. Cleaning may not always be fun, but here are some tips to help you breeze through your chores:

  1. Make a list. It can be detailed or as simple looking as a grocery list. When you have all your chores written down along side each other you will be freed from worrying about forgetting a task and also have the option to choose to get the difficult chores out of way or breezing through the easy ones first (items crossed off on a list of things-to-do is always a good motivator) Check out our free Spring Cleaning Planner here for printable checklists!
  2. Listen to music. Upbeat and fast paced music will help you work faster and help you get excited about cleaning (can’t forget to mention those added benefits: 2 hours cleaning=200 calories burned!)
  3. Try something new. Pick up a new cleaning product you’ve always wanted to try (or make your own – FUN!)
  4. Involve the family: divide up the house into sections and make a game out of it (time it/work in teams with prizes or rewards at the end)
  5. Relax and stay comfortable! throw on comfortable lounging clothes you won’t mind getting dirty, and remember, keep focused on the light at the end of the tunnel! A clean home is the best reward for everyone, right?!
  6. Reward yourself!! whether it be with something you can buy or something you enjoy doing, knowing that you have a reward waiting for you can be a great motivation

Keep these tips in mind next time you are faced with the challenge of cleaning and are just not  in the mood…cleaning after all, can be fun!

Cleaning With Kids: Age Appropriate Chores

zetadishes2For thousands of years, kids have been doing chores (defined as: a routine task that benefits the household) to help their families survive, whether it be out in the fields harvesting food or inside the house keeping it tidy and warm, it’s a longstanding tradition that many families to this day still follow. Thankfully, we don’t have many fields to sow, cows to feed or fire wood to be chopped anymore, but children these days still have many uses around the house. So, when is a good age to have your child jump on the bandwagon and start helping out with daily/weekly routine cleaning tasks? That is ultimately up to your family. Keep in mind that every child matures at a different speed. Be aware of your child’s skills and talents, overall what they are capable of, you may be surprised what they can do at a young age. After all, children’s brains tend to soak up information like a sponge!  Below we have put together an example list of chores for children according to age. Some of these are daily tasks, some of them are weekly tasks, but they are never meant for one child to do (every task) every day of every week. Take these examples below and incorporate them into a chart that fits your families/households and Child’s needs.

Household tasks for children:

Ages 2-3

  • make their beds with instruction and assistance
  • pick up toys after play (with adult supervision)
  • take dirty clothes to laundry basket
  • dust easy to reach surfaces with a cloth (try finding a few microfiber cloths in their favorite color!)
  • fill pets water and food bowls (with assistance)

Ages 4-5
any chores listed above, plus:

  • check/fill pets food and water bowl when needed
  • set and clear kitchen table (with adult assistance)
  • help clean floors with a broom or dry mop (you can easily make a game out of this, with a quick search online you can find many creative ways to make small tasks fun. A favorite of ours is making a designated area or square (usually marked by tape on the floor) and see how much dust and dirt you can fill that square in one minute! Sounds silly, but it works!)
  • pick up all toys and personal items from family space including from in the car
  • hand wash dishes with adult supervision

Ages 6-7
(by this age most children can follow a family chore chart with a little supervision and prompting from time-to-time)
any chores listed above, plus:

  • put away dishes from dishwasher (except sharp objects)
  • empty small indoor wastebaskets
  • fold laundry with supervision/help from an adult
  • help clean up any spills or messes
  • vacuum their bedroom

Ages 8-10
any chores listed above, plus:

  • wash the dishes
  • clean the bathroom with instruction and supervision (until they master it on their own!)
  • use the laundry machine with adult assistance
  • put away all personal laundry
  • take indoor trash outside

Ages 11-13
any chores listed above, plus:

  • change/wash bedsheets when needed
  • dust all areas of the house
  • vacuum all carpets

Grandma’s Best Old-Fashioned (Chemical Free!) Cleaning Tips

Zinc bucket with cleaning brushGrandma knows best. From baking to cleaning almost everything in the earlier days were done from scratch/materials around the home. Before boxed cake and dinner mixes were widely available, your grandma was most likely cooking up homemade meals from the garden and making cookies with fresh milk and eggs. Your grandma was also most likely taught how to keep a clean home. In what I like the call the ‘simpler days’, before they had powerful chemical sprayers and detergents, a lot of easy and cost-effective, natural remedies were used around the modern household to keep everything safe and clean. Read through this article and then take a look through your cupboards, you will be surprised at all the many cheaper, greener options sitting around!

Grandmas best cleaning methods:

  • Instead spending your money on chemical degreasers, soak your burnt pots and pans in bicarbonate soda (baking soda) over night. By morning, the stains should easily wash off.
  • Stop soaking your stinky boards in bleach. Instead, rub half a lemon across the cutting board to dissolve any stinky smells.
  • Never buy dishwasher rinse again! Instead of using chemical rinsing agents to achieve a spot-free clean on your dishes, get the same results with 1-1/2 cups of white vinegar. Simply add vinegar to rinse compartment.
  • Clean your toilet without harsh chemicals, instead prep your toilet by flushing it to wet all sides of the bowl, then sprinkle borax around the toilet bowl with a drizzle of vinegar. let sit over night.
  • Make your fabrics soft and fluffy by adding 1/4 cup baking soda to a filled washer BEFORE clothes are added. During the final rinse cycle, add 1/2 cup white vinegar into softener dispenser.

and last but not least (you will definitely have this laying around)

  •  Next time you catch yourself dripping mustard on your clothing or anything else that is known to stain, immediately douse your stain with salt before washing out the stain. The salt will absorb the liquid taking most of the stain with it. After clothing is dry simply wipe away the salt.

 

DIY Natural Dishwashing Liquid Recipe

While most dish soaps on market these days vary in ingredients, they almost all have one thing in common: ingredients that most buyers cannot pronounce and know nothing about.

I am increasingly becoming more and more health conscious, and if you are anything like myself, then the idea of washing my dishes and soaking my hands in chemicals such as ammonium C12-15 Pareth Sulfate (Palmolive brand is a big fan of this chemical) a chemical known to cause several health issues (and is also toxic if mixed with bleach! ) doesn’t seem like a healthy routine, at all!

STOP buying the promise of ‘clean’ in a bottle, with the artificial fragrances and ridiculous tongue-twister listed ingredients! Just stop!  Go Green! Make it yourself, naturally! It’s easy and inexpensive, safe for the environment and safe for your body!  If you have time to clean your dishes, you have time to make this quick DIY dish soap.

What you need:
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup tightly packed grated castile bar soap ( I prefer Dr. Bronners)
1 tablespoon washing soda (a little more or a little less depending on how thick you like it!)
1/4 cup liquid castile soap (again, I like Dr. Bronners)
10-30 drops essential oils of your choice

How-to:
Add grated soap to boiling water, stirring until dissolved
Add washing soda, stir
Add liquid soap, stir

After mixture has cooled, mix in essential oils and transfer to re-purposed bottle or soap dispenser.
Enjoy the natural smells and green clean!

7 Things Around The House You Have Probably Been Cleaning Wrong

Alright, so some of these techniques I am disputing against are not necessarily wrong, but these tips provided below offer a new light on your cleaning routine, and an easy alternative!

1. Cleaning your blender: In the past you have disassembled the blender, taking apart the blades and take the risk cutting yourself and/or losing blender pieces.
If you’ve been fighting with scrubbing your blender for years here is your resolution: after you use the blender unscrew it from it’s power port, rinse as best as you can then fill blender up with water again. Squirt a dash of dish soap, close the lid and give it a whirl! Rinse again and you are done.
2. Cleaning up pet hair: In the past you have tried keeping your pets OFF the couch (ha ha ha ha!!) or used one of those lint rollers (talk about a hassle!) to keep your furniture free of pet hair.
Next time, put on a wet rubber dish washing glove and run your hands over surfaces. Pet hair, lint, dust etc.. will stick right to it!
3. Scrubbing your shower: We have all dealt with being on our hands and knees, straining our shoulders and backs trying to get into every crevice, while trying to avoid saturating your clothes and self in dirt and grime.
Try cleaning without fear! Strip naked and hop into the tub/shower (this has now, obviously, become a solo activity, and I do only suggest you do this in your own home!) avoid using harsh chemicals if possible (or else use with extreme caution) and enjoy a serious cleaning session! After you are done and have rinsed out the tub/shower area, hop back in, take a shower and admire all your hard work!
4. Removing stinky smells from tupperware: You’ve wasted extra time re-scrubbing tupperware that still wreaks of yesterdays dinner, by now it seems easier to just throw it away.
Stop! before the last resort (typically Tupperware isn’t meant to last more than a few months, it’s always a good idea to replace them when they get too worn) try stuffing said container with crumpled up newspaper and seal with it’s lid. Stow away for a few days before discarding newspaper and re-rinsing. Is the smell still there? Most likely not!
5. Cleaning up wax spills: When enjoying candles, wax spills are bound to happen & the victim is usually the fabric underneath. So what have you done in the past about this? For me this is something I haven’t thought much about when it does happen. I either leave it there (relocate candle over spill, no one will be able to tell, right?) or mindlessly pick it off, like some sort of weird project. Well, the good news is, it doesn’t have to be such puzzle when it happens.
Next time, place a brown paper bag (a paper towel works too) on top of the wax spill and press down on top with an iron on low heat. The paper will absorb the wax (and keep your iron clean!)
6. Cleaning your windows: Usually you spray your windows and squeegee or wipe off with a cloth, right? And that works, but it leaves behind streaks which require more work and more energy.
The first thing we’ve been doing wrong, and this definitely surprised me, is when we clean our windows on dry sunny days they dry too quickly and leave behind those dreaded streaks. Try cleaning them on a cloudy day and see the difference! Another tip: before discarding the days newspaper, crumble it up and use it as your squeegee! the ink works well as an abrasive, helping your windows get polished and sparkly.
7. Keeping your fridge fresh: I am sure you haven’t been doing it wrong, you can’t go wrong with a box of baking soda in the fridge, but try something new, store new or used coffee grounds in a bowl on a shelf in the fridge. Replace every two months for a fresh, caffeinated smell!

Air Freshners Are Evil! Here’s Why

air-fresheners-harmfulAir fresheners are advertised to keep the air smelling fresh throughout the house. It certainly comes in handy if you have unexpected visitors or left an embarrassing smell in the bathroom, but for some people it’s affected their health, and it’s a threat to yours.
As posted in a staff bathroom:

 
“Please refrain from using air fresheners in this bathroom as it gives some of us a headache or affects our breathing. Instead propping open the door and opening the window will do the trick”

 
Air “fresheners” are chemically-scented fragrances usually dispensed in an aerosol spray, plug in, mists and even scented candles. For example, the air wick mist sprays release millions of particles of chemical raining down on you and linger in the air. The particles stick in your nose masking smells, not taking them away. What a rip off! Now you have two problems, not only do you have bad odors still lingering, but now you’ve just inhaled a ton of chemicals!

 
As posted above, it does affect breathing and your health, creating headaches, nausea and  may even increase your odds of developing asthma symptoms (as much as 71 percent!) and may also increase a risk of a number of pulmonary diseases.   A safer option would be propping open windows and doors and letting the fresh air circulate your house. My favorite is the smell right after it rains, and you can get that for free and without breaking your wallet! You can also create your own natural smells by:

 

  •  placing vases or bowls of flowers throughout the house
  • put two tablespoons vanilla extract in a coffee cup, then place it in an oven heated at 300 degrees for one hour. in 20 minutes the whole house will smell amazing. Give it a try!
  • tie cinnamon sticks around natural candle wax, the heat from the candle will bring out a wonderful aroma
  • allow lemon, rosemary and vanilla simmer all day on top of the stove and add water as needed (be sure to turn off before you take a nap or leave the house!)
  • Bake cookies!! my favorite option :)

 

GREENWASHING: What is it?

greenwashing_XSmallHave you noticed all the ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’ labeled products and services popping up in the past few years? Have you ever been suspicious over the green advertisements and claims made by a company that is known for the exact opposite? You’re right to suspect with some manufacturers and businesses. Their misleading claims about their eco-friendliness is called “greenwashing”.

 
According to sinsofgreenwashing.org greenwashing is defined as “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a  product or service.”[1]

So why is greenwashing such a big problem? To summarize the explanation, it is not only bad for our environment but also for the consumer and the businesses who are doing the greenwashing. Whether businesses are aware they are greenwashing or not, false advertisement encourages consumers to do the opposite of what they claim is good for the environment.

How to avoid being greenwashed: Next time you see a green ad that makes you suspicious, research the company as a whole and ask yourself these questions: Can I find more information about their practices with ease online? Do they have a comprehensive environmental story? Is the information you saw in the ad substantiate to the information you are reading online? Try googling the companies name+”environment”, if past consumers/advocates have had a problem with the companies track record, something may pop up!
Now that you’ve been informed about greenwashing, take a closer look next time you see an eco-friendly product, read the labels and do your research! The earth thanks you :)

For more information on greenwashing visit:
http://www.greenwashingindex.com

Sources: sinsofgreenwashing.org [1]
greenwashingindex.com [2]

9 Unorthodox Uses For Dryer Sheets

dryersheetsDryer sheets not only keep our clothes static free, soft and smelling fresh, they are reusable afterwards for little cleaning chores around the house.  Before you throw out your dryer sheets, try these:

  1. Pet hair removal: One of the best advantages dryer sheets have is that they have their anti-static properties after they’ve been used. Swipe them across cloth furniture, stuffed toys, lampshades etc… . Swipe them across your clothes to clean up any leftover hair!
  2. Freshen up the room when you Vacuum: Stick a used dryer sheet in the bag of your vacuum (or wherever air is released) the air flow goes through the dryer sheet making the room smell fresh.
  3. Bug Repellant: Mosquitoes apparently do not like dryer sheets! specifically Bounce. Rub used dryer sheets on exposed area then tie to a belt loop or stick in shirt pocket. Do not use a fresh dryer sheets on your skin.
  4. Remove soap scum: a few drops of water on the dryer sheet and you should be able to rub away soap scum on your glass shower doors  and shower tiles. It even works well on plastic shower curtains!
  5. Clean your glasses!: use your leftover dryer sheet to keep your glasses clean and clear! the dryer sheet will also help repel dusts so your glasses stay clearer, longer!
  6. Pick up deodorant residue!: erase any evidence of deodorant on your little black dress! swipe a used dryer sheet across any white streaks
  7. Bathroom freshener: Place a used dryer sheet in your toilet papers cardboard tubing before placing it in it’s dispenser. Every-time the toilet paper rolls, the roll will spin out a burst a freshness!
  8. Clean up messes in the kitchen!: keep a dryer sheet at hand next time you are baking for any dry spills (flour, baking soda, corn starch etc)
  9. Dust off your TV: dryer sheets work great as a duster on glass tv screens! they also repel any future dust.

Start saving your dryer sheets and keep them near by to keep your house dust free and fresh!

Who Knew? Cleaning The House With Coffee Grounds

coffee mug and coffee beans_XSmallAs a daily coffee drinker, I’m feeling a little upset that I’ve been tossing my used coffee grounds instead of utilizing them in my house cleaning! Aside from it’s general purpose, it is known coffee grounds give off a powerful strong aroma, a scent so inviting that even non-coffee drinkers enjoy the revitalizing smell, but did you know you can also clean with them? Here are a few tips and tricks for your leftover grinds!

  • Deodorizer:  Just as you would with lemon, you can get rid of the lingering smell of onion, fish etc, by rubbing your hands with coffee grounds and rinsing them off with water. Works great for neutralizing the smell of cigarettes left on your fingers too! *For removing unwanted smells in your refrigerator, dry grounds out on a cookie sheet before placing them in a bowl inside your fridge or freezer (if you cover the bowl be sure you poke holes in the top, the grounds will not be able to suck up odors effectively without oxygen! )
  • Freshen up your Sink: Especially if you don’t have a sink disposal, the drain can be the stinkiest part of your kitchen! Use coffee grounds to clear the smell keeping your sink smelling fresh all week! pour 1/2 cup coffee grounds down drain immediately followed by 5-6 cups boiling water (do not use this method if you have a porcelain sink or plastic PVC pipes!).  The boiling water pushes the grounds through ensuring that your sink will not clog. Goodbye stinky pipes!!
  • Pot n’ Pan Cleaner: When washing the dishes if you have a particularly hard spot on your pan try mixing some grounds with a bit of water, scrubbing at the difficult spot with a brush.
  • Get Rid of Ants: Sprinkle coffee grounds around your home/garden and on top of ant hills to keep the pests out of your home.
  • Give Fido a Shinier Coat: rub grounds generously over your dogs coat after a shampoo and rise. Coffee grounds is also rumored as a flea killer for dogs (although this is not scientifically proven)
  • And last but not least…use coffee grounds as a Dust Inhibitor! No joke. Coffee grounds are helpful if you own a fireplace and actively use it. Before cleaning your fireplace, place a generous amount of wet coffee grounds on top of ashes and soot. The moist grounds quickly soak up most of the dust, keeping it under control as you clean.

There you go coffee fans! Another reason to love your cup of joe in the morning!

The Real Dirt on Mud Control

Whether it’s the dog, the kids, or the overgrown kids, here’s the real dirt on mud control.
Dog and Muddy Floor

With two boys, a big clumsy dog, and a husband with size 15 shoes, this wet spring weather is driving me CRAZY with all the mud being tracked into my house! Obviously, the best way to keep the mud out is to have everyone take their shoes off when entering the home, but if your family is anything like mine, accidents happen all the time!

For when they do, here’s the way the All-Stars handle the mess.

  • Remember that mud is essentially just dirt and water- once it dries, your normal vacuum cleaner will be the best way to pick it up.
  • For mud in carpet, allow it to dry and then make slow overlapping passes with your vacuum.
  • Trying to mop up mud while it’s still wet may scratch wood floors so it really is best to wait for it to dry!
  • However, if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to wait and sometimes you just have to clean it up. If you must, use a soft cotton mop and rinse it out regularly!