Category Archives: Cleaning House

Related to cleaning chores

Laundry Simplified

Laundry is never a favorite chore….so, I’ve done my best to simplify the process and get the best results.  The following is a list of quick tips that I use, to make the laundry task (for my family of 6) less of a pain, and as cost-effective as possible.

  1. Sort Less.  If you wash everything (except bleach) in cold water, then there’s no reason to sort your clothes into more than two categories (bleach & colors).  There’s obvious exceptions (work clothes with car grease, new clothes that are not colorfast, and new towels that leave lint on everything)  Save yourself a lot of trouble and throw it in there.  There’s no reason you can’t wash blue jeans and dress shirts together.
  2. Skip the Softener & Save $$.  I used to subscribe to a “cheapskates” newsletter by Mary Hunt.  One day, a reader wrote in and suggested using white vinegar in place of fabric softener.  I tried it, and was amazed at the results.  I buy white vinegar in a large gallon jug, keep it in something easier to pour (an empty syrup bottle) and simply fill the fabric softener cavity with it before I put the clothes in the washer (about 1/4 cup per load)  For laundry with a lot of polar fleece…you may also need a dryer sheet.
  3. Oxy Clean - I do love this stuff.  It gets out organic stains….food, grass, poop, baby formula, etc.  It does not get out the grease part of the stain.  I add the smallest amount of Oxy Clean powder to every load, except the bleach load.
  4. Food Stains – Treat food stains with liquid oxy clean that has been thinned with water.  This is much cheaper and much stronger than what you can buy already in a spray bottle as a stain-treater.
  5. Grease Stains - Palmolive Dish Soap is the best.  Put the soap right on the greasy spot.  I’ve had loads of clothes that were covered in black crayon.  I ran the hot water until it was HOT…put about 1 cup of palmolive in the washer with the clothes, and started the washer….the clothes came out clean. (I did have to spot-treat a couple of the worst pieces with Palmolive right on the crayon)  I’ve tried this another time with Dawn and the results were disappointing.
  6. Everyday Stains - Mix your liquid laundry soap – I use Tide with Bleach – with ammonia.  I use about 1/3 laundry soap and 2/3 ammonia.  Put it in a spraybottle and spray it on all stains…you’ll be amazed at what comes out.
  7. Bleach Pen - there’s nothing better than a Chlorox bleach pen for those inevitable spots on little kid’s white t-shirts, rugby collars, etc.

When you do laundry….try to wash it, dry it, hang/fold it, and get it put away ASAP.  Don’t start another load unless you have time to get it all done and put away….it doesn’t help anything to have laundry half-done sitting around your home.

Hope this helps!

Clean by Your Calendar – Phase 1

I have a hard time keeping my house clean. I feel like I barely get the minimum done….and the “deep” cleaning is constantly ignored.  So, after several trials, (and some tips from the Flylady and her “Sink Reflections” book) I came up with a plan that slowly takes care of all the deep cleaning, little by little.  That way, I can just do the basic every week (and a smidgin of the deep stuff) and the whole house is much more manageable.

Here’s how I do it.

First – divide your house into FIVE zones that are even in the amount of time they take to clean.  For my house (an 1800sqft ranch with basement), the zones are:

  • Porch & Foyer & Mudroom & Living Room
  • Kitchen & Dining & Back Patio
  • Kids Bedrooms & Bathroom
  • Master Bedroom & Bathroom
  • Basement Living Area & Laundry/Bathroom

If you like color coding, assign each zone a color.  Then, use your calendar, and write a zone (or color) on the Sunday starting each week.  I always start with the Porch zone….this will go on the first Sunday space of the month (even if that month doesn’t start until Wed….write it on the Sunday space)

Keep going down the calendar with a new zone on each Sunday.  If you have one left at the end, repeat the first zone again.

Next – Go through each zone with a notebook.  Make a list of all of the little stuff that needs to be done in order to perfectly clean the zone.  This includes:

  • cleaning light fixtures
  • scrubbing baseboards
  • washing walls
  • cleaning door & window tracks
  • washing curtains

You can download my lists (clean by your calendar zone details) for some ideas.  Once you have your own lists…print them out and keep them on a clipboard or in a notebook.  You will be crossing off items as you get them done.

Don’t be scared….it’s going to take months to get it all done….but that’s OK.  Most of these items don’t need to be done more than a couple of times each year.

Last – put it into action.  Each day of the week….set aside 10 or 15 minutes.  Set a timer so you don’t do too much.  Choose one thing off of the list from that zone, and do it!  Slowly over time, you will complete the whole list.

If you can’t get it done everyday, that’s OK….a few things done is much better than none!  Keep in mind that this will get all of the deep cleaning done over time….it’s not going to be an immediate fix, but each week will show improvement in a new area.

Don’t forget to enlist the kid’s help.  When they come to you asking for extra chores (to earn money or marbles), show them the zone list for that week.  One 10-15min job earns one marble or whatever money you agree upon.

Good Luck!




Motivate those Kids with Marbles

Our Family Marble Jars

After many tries at motivating my kids….I happened upon an article in my Family Fun magazine that told about a family with marble jars.  The kids earned marbles for doing the things they were supposed to do, and for extra chores.  When the jar was full, it could be “cashed in” for sleepovers, outings, cash, or other fun options.

We tried this idea at home and it was a HUGE success.

First – come up with a list of “chores” or “must do’s” that will earn a marble (Marble Jars)

Second – Talk to the kids and brainstorm a list of things they want to earn with a full jar

Third – (adult job) Figure out how many marbles will be needed to earn the “full jar” items

Lastly – Find a jar that holds the right number of marbles….this was the hardest part of the whole thing.  We found that “necked” bottles (such as quarter-size wine bottles) work really well because there’s no disputing when you’re at the top.  However, we found that if the jars were too large, then it was hard for the kids to stay motivated until they were full.  So, we solved the problem by adding an epoxy from Home Depot to the bottom of the jars to partially fill them (along with fun stuff to personalize them).

Our jars hold about 30 marbles.

Marble Jar Closeup
Marble Jar Closeup

Our kids have even asked for a “group” jar.  When they all get together and want to earn something (like a snow cone machine) they all pool their marbles in this jar.  This was their idea!


Quick! – Organize Your Bathroom

Bathrooms need to be cleaned often.  However, it’s hard to clean when there’s too much stuff.  The biggest reasons why people don’t put things away are:

  • They don’t know where it goes, or
  • It’s too inconvenient (takes too much effort)

With this in mind – take a hard look at your bathrooms….and then do the following

  1. PURGE everything that doesn’t have to be in there (if you don’t love that perfume…then lose it!)
  2. Put like items together (toothbrushes with toothpaste, hair-care items together, etc)
  3. Put things in a convenient spot (most-used items in the top drawer)
  4. If you have multiple bathrooms….choose one to be the “storage” are for each bathroom bulk item (i.e. store all the spare TP in one of the bathrooms)
  5. Keep a few minimal cleaning items in each bathroom….that way when you notice some ickiness…you can quickly clean it before leaving.

To pretty things up….look for pretty containers in the visible areas.

Q-Tip Mug






For non-visible areas, choose practical containers to corral things and LABEL everything.  Wide masking tape is a favorite at my house.