Wednesday, March 29, 2017

0 Spring Cleaning: Favorite Cleaning Supplies & Tools

I have been busy working on posts based on those amazing survey results, and thought that today I would start with all of my favorite cleaning products and tools. This post is a great base for stocking up on everything needed to clean a home; both for spring and everyday home maintenance. After my post last week, I received a flood of emails with more questions specific to cleaning and a very common theme was cleaning products and cleaning checklists. The checklists are coming soon, as is an update on homemade cleaners and my favorite recipes.


There is a lot of information packed into this post! I have acquired quite a few cleaning supplies over the years, and they all play different roles. I really believe that the right tools for the job make all of the difference when it comes to chores. There are a few items that are crucial in my day-to-day cleaning; microfiber and glass cloths, my caddy, all purpose spray, glass cleaner and my stick vac. I touch these items every single day and they are the base to my general home maintenance. But to dive deeper and clean windows and tile and around the base of the toilet (#ew), I use a variety of specific tools that lend a hand in getting the job quickly and effectively.

I tried to not only link my favorite products but to also share a quick explanation of how and why I use each one.


C A D D I E S   A N D   T H E I R   C O N T E N T S



Why a caddy? Because they make it easy to bring your cleaning supplies from room-to-room or right to the messy spot without frequent trips back to the cupboard or closet. My biggest tip when it comes to selecting a portable caddy is to look for items that are solid and sturdy and can easily hold and transport the weight of your cleaners and supplies. I have used a few bins over the years in which the handles couldn't support the weight and they were also awkward to tote around (which is opposite of what the overall goal is in the first place). I recommend avoiding bucket and pail-like handles that swing, stick to something securely attached and stable (I have been using this one and am super smitten). It is also important to select something light weight and easy to rinse out on occasion.

I have five total cleaning caddies, one upstairs, one downstairs and one in each of our bathrooms. I will cover bathroom contents in a moment, but in the main caddies I stock them with the following items:

GLASS CLEANER // Used for glass, mirrors, windows, fixtures and hardware.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER // Used for all other surfaces.

WOOD CLEANER // For occasional wood polishing.

MICROFIBER CLOTH & GLASS CLOTH // My "go-to" cloths for the majority of my cleaning.

SCRUB BRUSH // Generally for cleaning grout, but also works for other tough scrub jobs.

MINI BROOM/DUSTPAN // I love that this little dustpan fits in my caddy, works great on counters and for quick and small crumb clean-ups.

MAGIC ERASER // I know these get mixed reviews, but I personally love the heck out of these things. I feel like anything I clean with them is really, really clean! I especially love these for removing marker/kid goo from almost any surface and also for cleaning doors, trim and stair treads. 

DUSTING MITT // For quick surface cleanings in the living room and bedrooms.

BAKING SODA // Place in a shaker and it turns into an instant scouring powder. I use frequently for cleaning our stainless sinks, but also use it for other odd jobs around the home. 

COTTON SWABS // These are great for cleaning small nooks, crevices, and corners. Think moulding, windows, and even computer keyboards.

ESSENTIAL OILS // Add to cleaners for some disinfecting traits and amazing scents.

CASTILE SOAP // I love that these now come in travel sizes since a tiny bit goes a very long way (And now I can keep a couple in my caddy). This allowed me to pick up a few scents for different jobs.



C L E A N I N G   C L O T H S   A N D   S P O N G E S



The majority of my cleaning is done with microfiber cloths, however, there are a few additional items that I prefer for specific cleaning tasks:

MICROFIBER CLOTHS // These can be used to clean just about anything. I use them daily for counters, spills, dusting, spot cleaning... I keep stacks under each sink and wash them together, drying without any fabric softener or dryer sheets. These can also be wrapped around a Swiffer for reusable floor sweeps or around a pencil for cleaning between the slats of blinds.

GLASS CLEANING CLOTHS // Did you know there are very specific cloths for cleaning glass? They are life changing; I receive a streak-free finish every time. And I also love utilizing them for all of our bathroom and kitchen fixtures and hardware to keep those shining bright as well.

SOFT SCRUBBING & ABRASIVE SPONGES // We do use dish cloths on occasion, but I typically gravitate to sponges. I love that I can sanitize them and that they don't seem to get gross and smelly as quickly as rags. I like to keep both softer/squishy sponges and more abrasive options on hand. Both work great for different types of cleaning tasks, depending on the surface and the amount of scrubbing power necessary.

MAGIC ERASER // I know these get mixed reviews, but I personally love the heck out of these things. I feel like anything I clean with them is really, really clean! I especially love these for removing marker/kid goo from almost any surface and also for cleaning doors, trim and stair treads. 

STAINLESS STEEL MITT // After experimenting with a variety of stainless steel cleaning solutions, I finally fell in love with these wipes paired with this mitt. I use it for all of our stainless appliances once or twice a week.

DUSTER // Great for dusting anything and everything. Grabs the dust and holds it tight. To clean, shake outside and then vacuum with an attachment. Occasionally soak it in warm oxy water and let air dry.

DUSTING MITT // I purchased this mitt years ago and my kids think it is so much fun to use, so it stays! Great for dusting any main surfaces, and after a quick shake outside it can be tossed right into the washer.

TURKISH TOWELS // After trying a couple of different towels for drying dishes, hands, and counters, I prefer the softness and absorbency of Turkish style towels best. On a separate note, I am not a fan of them as bath/shower towels at all.



F A V O R I T E   B O T T L E S



With all of the homemade cleaners I have made over the years, I have used a few different types of bottles. I began by using inexpensive plastic spray bottles, and after learning that some cleaners will eventually break down the plastic, I slowly transitioned to glass. I still love the plastic version for simply water or quick batches of cleaners and never did experience any problems with them. But I will say, the glass options are so nice and surprisingly durable. I also recently added a few smaller glass spray bottles to my arsenal, which you will see when I share my favorite cleaner recipes in an upcoming post.

PLASTIC SPRAY BOTTLES // Lightweight with a great spray nozzle.

GLASS SPRAY BOTTLES // My favorite glass option.

AMBER SPRAY BOTTLES // Some cleaners thrive in amber colored bottles, I like these.

MINI SPRAY BOTTLES // Perfect for room freshening spray and screen cleaner!

SQUEEZE BOTTLE // Specialty item for squeezing cleaner down into small cracks and crevices. Also great for running cleaner into grout lines.

SHAKER // Baking soda's best friend; shake baking soda into sinks, toilets, and onto mattresses. Use a salt/spice shaker, or make one by poking holes into the lid of a mason jar.



W I N D O W   C L E A N I N G



There are major differences in how I clean the exterior side of our windows vs. the interior side, especially because our garden hose is involved outside. Outside I use a mop bucket and specific tool, while interior glass and windows are tackled with glass cleaner (water & vinegar) paired with specialty rags.

CLEANER // Generally just a water/vinegar combo.

MICROFIBER CLOTH // Good for really tough spots on glass, start with the microfiber first and finish up with the glass specific cloth.

GLASS CLEANING CLOTHS // Did you know there are very specific cloths for cleaning glass? They are life changing; I receive a streak-free finish every time. And I also love utilizing them for all of our bathroom and kitchen fixtures and hardware to keep them shining bright as well.

COTTON SWABS // These are great for cleaning the small nooks, tracks, crevices, and corners of windows.

EXTERIOR WINDOW SCRUBBER/SQUEEGEE // This works so great for those hard to reach exterior windows. Wet the window with water from a hose, dip your scrubber into a bucket of water/vinegar and clean windows with the scrubbing/moppy portion of the tool. Follow up with the squeegee for a streak-free finish.

INTERIOR SQUEEGEE // We don't have glass shower doors (#someday), but from what I have read, a squeegee is your best friend for keeping doors free of soap scum.



B A T H R O O M   C A D D Y   T O O L S




As I mentioned above, we keep a couple of bins under each sink to hold a variety of bathroom-specific cleaners and tools. I clean the bathrooms almost daily and find it much easier to just organize all of those products right within reach. One bin holds the products and another the cleaning rags.

SINK SCRUBBER // I use this baby daily for cleaning out our bathroom sinks; it works great for quickly getting rid of toothpaste, soap and the random face whisker.

MICROFIBER CLOTHS // Perfect for wiping down counters and other surfaces such as shelving and cabinet faces.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER // Pair it with the microfiber cloth to remove grime.

GLASS CLEANING CLOTHS & GLASS CLEANER // For the mirrors and fixtures!

DISH SCRUBBER // A quick scrub a day keeps the soap scum away. Keep one in the shower and fill the reservoir with half water and half dish soap or vinegar.

GROUT SCRUBBER // For deep cleaning those grout lines.

TOILET BRUSH // For the obvious purpose.

SHAKER W/BAKING SODA // Sprinkle into the toilet bowl and spray with your vinegar-based glass cleaner. Let sit for a few minutes then scrub away the odor and stains.

GLOVES // One word... Germs.

INTERIOR SQUEEGEE // We don't have glass shower doors (#someday), but from what I have read, a squeegee is your best friend for keeping doors free of soap scum.



F L O O R S



Floors are my least favorite surface to clean because it feels like with the dogs and kids that it is a daily battle. My efforts rarely last long, so I am always looking for ways to keep up on it in the easiest ways possible.

HANDLED BROOM // I once read that sweeping a floor causes most of the dust and pet hair to fly right back into the air, but there are times when you just need a quick brooming inside or out on the porch/deck.

BRUSH/DUSTPAN // For quick floor clean-ups, also easier to store away than the larger broom. And really, I didn't know I could love a dust pan so much! This one has a comb-like edge to grab all of the dust and dirt from the bristles of your broom! Must keep the cleaning tools clean! 

MINI BROOM/DUSTPAN // I love that this little dustpan fits in my caddy; it also works well on counters and for small crumb clean-ups.

SPRAY MOP // I prefer this for a quick cleaning of our kitchen, living room and hallway floors. I run this every couple of days and it only takes me a minute or two because the cleaner is already stored right within the mop. Just spray and go! A bonus is that the cleaning pads can just be tossed into the wash and reused time and time again. I also find that with the small amount of spray and microfiber pad, the floor dries within seconds and I don't have to caution-tape off the room each time I clean the floors.

TWIST MOP // This type of mop is my choice for heavy duty floor cleaning, especially in bathrooms. I find the mop shape and yarn to be a better choice for navigating around fixtures and furniture (especially toilets and table legs). I recently spotted this spin and spray mop, which seems to be the best of both worlds and I am thinking of giving it a try.
MOP BUCKET // For the twist mop, and any other hard core cleaning job that requires a mixing of water and cleaner.

PRIMARY VACUUM // This is our main vacuum for all of our rugs and carpet, and it also easily transitions to hard floors so there is rarely a day that it isn't used. We purchased it quite a few years ago refurbished from a daily deals website, and have loved it ever since. It is easy to clean and maintain; we just ordered a replacement roller head but it that is the first part that has ever gone bad. Although these vacuums are an investment, I am happy to report that ours has really held up nicely over the years.

FLOOR/HAND-VAC // After falling in love with our primary vacuum, we decided to add a sibling. This one purchased on Black Friday (always great Dyson deals to be found on Black Friday), this vacuum goes everywhere the other one can't. It easily transitions from a hand-vac to a stick vac; the hand vac is ideal for quickly vacuuming furniture, down the wood stairs, and along baseboards, while the stick vac lays flat to get far under furniture and cabinets. Oh! And it is cordless!

DOG GROOM ATTACHMENT // I was SO skeptical about this, but after feeling defeated by an abundance of dog hair on a daily basis, I finally bit the bullet and purchased this little tool out of desperation. It is amazing! We have a labradoodle pup and she sheds ridiculous amounts of hair (she is more of a wiry hair than a curly version, and yes, some don't shed but ours always has). This tool has a great grooming brush that attaches to the hose of the vacuum and the hair is sucked right into the canister as she is being groomed. I typically will brush her right in the middle of our hard floor and I was shocked that not a hair was to be found when I was done. And her coat looked so pretty! This is especially great for us cold winter folks because it can be tricky to get her outdoors for her frequent brushing during harsher temps.





D I S H   W A S H I N G



Although the majority of our dishes are washed in the dishwasher, I really dislike going to bed with dishes in the sink and find myself doing some handwashing on a frequent basis. We also have some specialty dishes that I don't want to put through a high-heat dishwasher (wood utensils, wood cutting boards, specific pots and pans, finer dishes, etc...).

GLOVES // My hands are always dry so I prefer to use gloves when I have a larger stack of dishes.

SCRUB BRUSH // My favorite dish tool, I use this to scrub pots and pans and then again to clean the sink when I am done with the dishes.

SOFT SCRUBBING & ABRASIVE SPONGES // We do use dish cloths on occasion, but I typically gravitate to sponges. I love that I can sanitize them and that they don't seem to get gross and smelly as quickly as rags. I like to keep both softer/squishy sponges and more abrasive options on hand. Both work great for different types of cleaning tasks, depending on the surface and the amount of scrubbing power necessary.

GLASS WAND // Reaches down into vases, bottles, decanters and glasses when my hands can't.

TURKISH TOWELS // After trying a couple of different towels for drying dishes, hands, and counters, I prefer the softness and absorbency of Turkish style towels best. On a separate note, I am not a fan of them as bath/shower towels at all.

DRYING RACK // I love the purpose of a dish drying rack and they all pretty much work the same, but most are ridiculously bulky to store. I was astonished by how this rack folded down nice and slim to take up very little space under our sink, yet it is generously sized for all of our odd shaped hand-wash specific items.
__________

What did I miss? Do you have any favorite cleaning products or tools to add to this super-sized list? How about one of those fancy robot vacs? Are they as amazing as I want them to be?




P.S. Want to know where I find a lot of my cleaning inspiration? Check out my favorite cleaning books at the bottom of this post here.


* Affiliate links used

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

10 Spring Cleaning Survey Results

Helloooo everybody! I want to start out by giving many, many thanks to every last one of you who took the time to answer a few spring cleaning specific questions in my survey last week!


I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by some of the results. It was really helpful and informative for me to learn more about what Spring Cleaning means to you, and how you approach it each year. And I especially enjoyed reading through all of your comments and questions! I learned that basically you all just want me to tell you what to do. #ikid #sortof

But first....


Part of me wanted to wait for three more responses... But do you see that number?! 1,597 responses is AH-MAZING!

Without further adieu, here are the results of the six general questions.


I love this result! Over 80% of you spring clean! Extra daylight and warmer weather generally encourages people to naturally open windows, purge a closet, grab a mop and prep the home for the upcoming spring and summer months.



I was most surprised by these results. I mean, I do write an organizing blog so I guess I should have assumed that most of my readers use spring as a prime time to dig into a few problematic clutter spots. But I guess I just thought most people cleaned or focussed on home maintenance items this time of the year. This was really eye opening and of course, I LOVE this!


This one makes sense, and I think I fall into the popular vote as well. 38.8% of you spring clean as needed, and it looks like many of you also work on it over the course of two months.


Another shocker, the bedroom and living spaces are your top areas of focus this time of year. Closets and drawers are right up there as well. This really is a wonderful time to declutter clothing closets and drawers as you transition your wardrobes for spring and summer temps. Because we haven't seen our yard for about five months, we are really looking forward to doing a few outdoor chores.


Now that we know where you focus and how much time you invest, it was fun to see that you go after those areas with a list and a plan, but also as your time permits (vs. scheduling the time in advance).



This one excited me SO much! 30% of you are interested in learning how to make your own cleaners, and 25% of you already are! That is over half! There are so many benefits to homemade cleaners, some being:

  • You know 100% of the ingredients being sprayed on your counters, floors, and windows
  • You save money
  • You aren't exposing yourself or your family to harmful chemicals 
  • You are reducing wasteful packaging

I have gone through a lot of trials in this department, and at one time was ready to give up on it because some of the recipes were just too complex. I now try to have a 2-3 ingredient maximum and still achieve wonderful results. 


The most helpful, beneficial and fun part of the survey was the area for you to share general comments in regards to what specifically you would like to learn more about. There were quite a few themes that I recognized as I read through the abundant amount of responses, so I categorized them the best I could to create a visual summary. 


The overwhelming response was that printables are a helpful tool, especially if I can offer specific cleaning plans, calendars, checklists, etc... Many of you expressed the want to squash that overwhelming feeling and also want to be sure that you are tackling areas that are often times overlooked and forgotten. Another common theme is that you all are looking for tips for being efficient with time, quick hacks and ways to get the kiddos involved. A few would like help with specific cleaning tasks and rooms and even with decluttering/purging. And finally, many of you asked how to make it more fun and enjoyable. I think if I can figure that out, I will be the smartest, wealthiest gal on the planet. But that doesn't mean I am not going to try, I hope to at least come up with a few ways to make it a little less painful.

Thank you again to all of you that took the time to share your excitement, questions, and answers. I am more motivated than ever to bring some new cleaning content to the site, as well as a few helpful printables. This kind of thing (both surveys and cleaning chit chat) is what fuels my fire! Spring cleaning, here we come!

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