It is September 7th which means that it is time for sharing some more of my favorites! This month I thought I would try to have a theme. I am getting back in the groove of cleaning and keeping up our home after Dustin has graciously done so while I was studying. I figured it would be a good time to share my favorite "cleaning" things. Before I do, I want to get this out there-- We do not have a spotless house. My husband works in agriculture which means he has dirt on his boots and hands. I am the most clumsy person I know which means I drop things (coffee grounds, oil, makeup--everything that's so fun to clean up) and make a mess. Plus, we have two puppy sisters which means craziness and dog hair are inevitable. One thing I have always heard and loved is that houses are made to be lived in. While I do appreciate cleanliness, organization, and order-- I don't want to have some unrealistic expectation that our house will always be perfectly neat. That said, I genuinely enjoy cleaning. It is like therapy for me. I used to clean a friend's house during the summers as job. I have always loved to help friends pick up their rooms growing up. So while I avoid holding my self to a standard of perfection, I also just like to clean. Here are seven of my favorites...
1. a cleaning schedule
I grew up in homes where we had a day designated for cleaning and we did everything at once. Sometimes this still works well for me if I am having a crazy week. Here over the last few months though, I have been trying to develop a schedule that works for me. Each day I have only a couple of tasks that don't take much more than 30 minutes to an hour. I love having a to-do list and knowing what needs to be done. Of course life happens, and some Tuesdays the bathroom doesn't get cleaned or the dishes pile up in the sink and on the counters. Having a simple list each day to help keep things tidy as you go along prevents the overwhelming day or days of cleaning that can happen.
2. baking soda
I love this stuff. I use it everywhere-- the kitchen, the bathrooms, and on our carpets. We have it in our refrigerator to absorb odors. I put it down our garbage disposal to freshen it up a bit. I mix it with vinegar to get stains off the counters or sinks. I also mix it with essential oils and sprinkle it over the carpets before I vacuum to make the house smell fresh. I really enjoy the neutralizing odor properties of this stuff!
Vinegar is my favorite. I actually love the smell of it. That strong, acidic scent just makes me feel like things are clean. Of course the smell goes away but I still love using it to clean. After I put a little baking soda down the drains I follow it with some vinegar so that it can do it's thing. Y'all remember the volcano science experiments from fourth grade right? I often have a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle to use for anything. When I go to clean the tub, I fill it a little bit with hot water and pour in the vinegar. After it stands for a little while, the soap scum and residue wipes away! I also use vinegar each time I do laundry. Instead of fabric softener, I use about 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar. Same result, but so much cheaper and no harsh chemicals.
When I think of lemons, I think of freshness. I can always remember my mom throwing lemon peels in our sink and turning on the disposal. I loved the way it made the air smell like lemonade. I still do! Lemons have antibacterial properties as well. I also like to mix lemon juice with baking soda to get a stain off the counter. Another lemon tip is to simmer lemon peels with vanilla and herbs to have a natural potpourri!
I'll admit it. I am one of those "hippies" who likes to use safe, green, natural solutions. You have probably already guessed that by now. While I am partial to using all natural products for cleaning, I do have some brands that are my favorite as well. I think that it is important to make your own choices when it comes to your health and the environment. Choosing these products are what I think is best for us. There is no judgment for anyone reading that doesn't agree. Some that we keep on hand are Mrs. Meyer's, Method, and 7th Generation. These products can be pricey, so I try to look for discounts or coupons when I can. Also, since I use my homemade cleaners often, I don't buy a lot of these. I love the Lemon Verbena scent by Mrs. Meyer's. Method makes a bathroom cleaner that smells like eucalyptus and I love having it in the cabinet for easy access. I use 7th Generation dishwasher and laundry detergent. I keep intending to make my own laundry detergent but I just haven't gotten to that point yet. Maybe someday. There's no judgment here right?
How lucky are we to have the world wide web at our fingertips? Of course there are countless websites that provide cleaning tips and ideas. Real Simple is one of my favorites. Martha Stewart also knows a thing or two about cleaning. I also check out the websites of the brands I like for tips and coupons. While these online sources are pretty credible, nothing beats good ol' advice from the ones who know how to clean the best-- our mommas. I love when my mom, step-mom, Dustin's mom, or the other leading ladies of our family share their tried and true tips. I am not ashamed to pick up the phone and call my mom for her expert stain-removing skills. She's a pro! Dustin's mom gave me the best hint about purchasing health foods and supplies online at Vitacost. Definitely check it out! I have purchased everything from makeup, cleaning products, and cooking oils. When we got married Dustin's aunt provided us with a basket full of cleaning goodies and included this neat booklet of cleaning tips and solution recipes. I just love it! These women know what they are talking about!
7. psalm 51:10
I really like the ESV version of the verse:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
More important than a clean house and neat outward appearance, is a clean and pure heart that only God can provide. There have been so many times that I have gone through the motions or tried to make it on my own. Each of those times resulted in failure and disappointment. Only God can make our hearts pure and renew a right spirit in us. When my earthly desires or distractions start to cloud my view, this verse is my prayer. When I have a flat out messy, ugly attitude, He provides renewal and a right spirit. As I clean the house, or even as the laundry piles up, I like to remember and give thanks for the spiritual cleansing that we are given from Him. It's every cleaning lover's dream.
I hope you enjoyed this month's 7 on the 7th!
I would love to hear your favorite cleaning tips, products, & routines!
Have a blessed day!