Monday, March 3, 2014

166 Monthly Clean Home Challenge: Set Yourself Up for Success

As I mentioned this morning, I am on a quest to maintain a clean home in less time.  The goal is simple and the first step in the series was to break down our cleaning tasks into manageable bits.  Four daily tasks, four weekly tasks and one extra task M-F.  Today I am chatting about the first extra task: Setting Yourself Up for Success.

Once I determined what I wanted to accomplish on a daily basis, I made sure that it would be easy for me to do those things.  That meant looking at the chores and determining what I would need to be able to accomplish those chores without excuses.

So the first day of the challenge is dedidcated to doing just that.  Making sure that all systems are in working order, and that my cleaning supplies are stocked.  Because I make my own cleaners, this is the day I dedicate to that.  If you don't make your own, it would just be the day to stock your supplies or to pick another thing on your to do list to tackle. 

I will admit, I have had a few instances of not wanting to make my own cleaners any longer, because some of the process seemed a little obnoxious in my quest to save time {although we were definitely saving money}.  So, I am always tweaking the cleaners we make and trying to get away with keeping it as simple as possible.  No more lemon zesting or 17 ingredient recipes.  I am basically down to using vinegar and water with an occasional splash of essential oil for everything I clean.

Back to the daily four and how I set myself up for success...


Keeping a clean kitchen:  Storing one bottle of all purpose spray along with a stack of dishrags under the sink.  I typically use microfiber for cleaning, but in the kitchen I stick with regular ol' dishrags.  I am old school and use a sink of shallow soapy water to wipe down the counter and table after each meal, as I often times have a few items to hand wash anyway.  At the end of the evening, I toss the rag into a wet sack {similar to this, often times used in diaper bags} under the sink to be washed at the end of the week.  Because we wash everything with our homemade laundry detergent that contains borax, and I add vinegar to the cycle, my rags always come out fresh and new.  I use the all purpose cleaner to disinfect as needed.

We also keep a broom and dust pan clipped up right outside of the door leading to the garage for our nightly sweepings.


Laundry:   This first task day is also laundry soap making day.  Yes, we still make our own soap and have been quite happy with it.  A little goes a long way, and we don't have to make it every month, but if supply is low, I start grating some soap.  I also whip up a batch of fabric softener out of vinegar and some lavender essential oil.  You can read more about our daily laundry process here.

Bathrooms:  In each bathroom I added a few magic erasers into the showers with the help of suction cup caddies.  I keep them on the back wall to prevent them from forming soap and hard water build-up.  This reminds me to do a quick shower cleaning every couple of days, which is much easier than a major shower scrub every couple of weeks. 


When it comes to counters, glass and around the toilet, I keep a spot under each bathroom sink stocked with spray cleaner and a stack of microfiber cloths.  I initially bought some shoe boxes to make my own cleaning wipes out of the cloths, however, I decided I would be making that far more frequently than just putting half distilled water, half vinegar in a cleaning bottle.  So that is what I use.  This is also what I spray in the shower while cleaning it with magic erasers.


I use the microfiber cloths to reduce the amount of disinfecting wipes and paper towels we purchase and waste.  I purchased the microfiber rags in bulk on Amazon here.  By keeping a bin of clean rags under the sink with another bin to toss the dirty ones {my great minded friend Ashley uses a similar system as well}, I am able to easily wipe up the bathroom each day without having to go digging for supplies.  I start with the mirror and a dry cloth and move my way down to the counter, sink, toilet top and then around the toilet last. All of the dirty rags from cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen are laundered on linen day.



The only cleaner I tend to purchase any longer is the toilet bowl cleaner.  I went back to store bought stuff because of how often I use it and because I feel it just cleans better than anything else I have tried.

And that is about it!  The vinegar/water combo paired with microfiber pretty much cleans all of our surfaces, however, I still break out the cleaning caddy once a week for woodwork, floors and other less frequently completed cleaning tasks.  Setting up our cleaning cabinet has also been really fantastic in our quest for a greener clean home and keeping the remainder of our supplies in one concealed space.


Making our own cleaners has given me a little peace of mind in knowing what we are using and does save us money, but saving us time it was not.  By dedicating one day per month to this task instantly doesn't seem as overwhelming {I am not having to whip up a cleaner when I feel like cleaning or throughout the month as we run out, I just stock them at the beginning of the month and am set}.  And by keeping it basic with vinegar, it really doesn't take that long, you just have to be able to get past the initial smell {which fades away quickly}.

Part of this month is all about me sharing my daily tasks, but I honestly learn so much from you all as well, so I hope you continue to chime in!  If you have cleaners that are super simple to make, please let us know!  How about other ways to cut down on your cleaning time, or ways to multi-task?


Update!  Due to the many questions I have been receiving about the products used within this series, I will be continuously updating the source list below:



These are all cleaners/products that work for us and our current home finishes.  It is important to research the cleaners prior to using them on your specific counter and flooring selections.


166 comments:

  1. I'd love to make my own cleaner!! Does the vinegar remove stains in tubs and surfaces too? I know it disinfects I just want everything to LOOK clean too. I'm especially talking about our shower because it's all white tiles.

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    1. Vinegar is known to be a stain remover. You can see some examples here: http://frugalliving.about.com/od/colthing/tp/Vinegar_Laundry_Stain_Remover.htm. I also find that by wiping down the shower and bathroom frequently, that it stays clean and stains don't have time to form. Win win! xoxo!

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  2. I live in the uk and love your site. I really want to transform my cleaning habits need to get rid of the asthma irritants that I continue to use in a bid to have a clean and fresh smelling house will be popping by to see what's new

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  3. I have been trying to clean with vinegar but my husband complains about the smell. I even tried buying some windex with vinegar and he still picked up the smell even in that. I actually like the smell but it does linger in our bathroom where we dont have any ventilation. Do the essential oils really mask the smell of the vinegar? I'm trying to talk him into buying some but they are expensive and he doesn't believe that they will make the smell go away

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    1. Essential oils help a little, however, I am always nervous to use too many oils for fear that they will impact the cleaning. Have you tried liquid castile soap instead? From what I understand, it has many of the same benefits as vinegar, and I have used it in a few homemade recipes and have always been happy with the results. You can find more details here: xhttp://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/all-natural-cleaning-solutions-00000000011547/page3.html

      xoxo!

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    2. If you buy a pure essential many of them will actually help with the cleaning, tea tree oil smells horrible but is a great cleaner, peppermint is a great one but a little goes a long way and and the citrus oils are natural cleaners as well. Also, soaking orange peels in vinegar for a week or two makes an all natural all purpose cleaner. I love making my own cleaning products and investigating which essential oils do what is very interesting. ~ Robyn

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    3. Just orange peels in vinegar? Do you then add it to water? What is the ratio? Sounds interesting! Definitely going to try this! Thanks!

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    4. I put 2 orange ppels in a mason jar, cover with vinegar and then let it sit for two weeks. It is a great an inexpensive all natural cleaner. Most of the natural cleaners you buy say citric acid and that is what you are getting with this cleaner. You can add some water if you like but it is not necessary :) ~ Robyn

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    5. Thank you so much!

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    6. You could also try apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar

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  4. Hi Jen! Can you share with me what your favorite recipe is for laundry detergent? I've tried one and it worked well for my front loading HE, but I want to get away from the Purell Crystals that gave the detergent a nice scent - but was not in keeping with my efforts to create a more a "green" and less-chemically scented detergent. Do you use the Pure Castille Soap you show in the picture? Powder or liquid? Thanks so much. My daily visit to your blog is something I look forward to!

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    1. Hi Jenny!

      Here is my laundry soap recipe: 1 cup soap flakes {I used Fels-Naptha}, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax {I use two tablespoons per load and have found it to be better to place right within the washer vs. the dispenser}.

      xoxo!

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    2. Thanks for the recipe! I have wanted to make my own cleaning supplies for a while now.

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    3. So, do you still mix 1 cup of borax into the original mixture and then also add 2 T per load?

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    4. Hi Jennifer,

      The soap recipe is as follows: 1 cup soap flakes {I used Fels-Naptha by grating a bar of soap}, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax - Mix together and store.

      I use two tablespoons per load of the mixture and have found it to be better to place right within the washer vs. the dispenser.

      Hope that clarifies and thanks again!

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    5. Does this detergent recipe work in an HE machine?

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    6. Hi Michelle,

      That is correct, I personally have an HE machine and that is the recipe I use for it. I just place the detergent directly into the drum with the clothing vs. through the dispenser to prevent clogging.

      xo!

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    7. I have used the powder, and find the whole melting soap tedious. Recently I found a liquid recipe I have been trying, and I like it very much.

      1 cup borax
      1 cup washing soda
      1/8 cup liquid castile

      Pour into gallon jug. Fill with hot water, shake until dissolved.

      I have to shake mine every use, as it tends to separate some, but 1/4 cup of liquid per wash and I think it works great.

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    8. what is washing soda, and where do you buy it?

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    9. Hello!

      You can find a link at the bottom of my post to washing soda, I purchase mine on amazon.

      xo!

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  5. Where do you get good spray bottles -- mine always seem to stop working soon after I get them? Also what sort of dish drying system do you use for items that can't/don't go into the dishwasher? I don't like using a counter dish rack because I don't want to use up the space under the sink but I don't have any clever ideas on storing that particular item or the dish towels I use to dry the dishes. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jane! I typically reuse the bottles from when I use to purchase green cleaners. I just removed the labels and replaced them with my own. In our bathrooms, I ended up using these: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/laundry/ironing?productId=10035986

      We use a dishrack that we collapse and store under the sink, along with a drying mat I purchased at HomeGoods. They do make sink sized dish racks that you can just keep in your sink at all times.

      xoxo!

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  6. I am loving these posts!!! Where did you get your under sink drawer (I believe it is in the kitchen), I would love to get one!

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    1. Thanks Angie! The bins are from the Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10000103&N=&Ntt=shoe+drawer

      xo!

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  7. Do you ever have any problems with clogged spray bottles? I have used half vinegar and half water with several squirts of Dawn dish soap in my spray bottles that I purchased from both Home Depot and Target (so not exactly cheapo dollar store spray bottles), yet after a few months of use, the spray always stops working. It is so frustrating! Any thoughts?

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    1. I have this same problem, it drives me nuts!

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    2. I don't seem to have much of an issue, but I don't use dish soap either. Maybe just try running the nozzle under hot water?

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    3. Hi Jen,
      This is embarrassing, but I actually just went out and bought the Method all purpose cleaner just so I can re-use the spray bottle to see if that helps. I did a little research and it may be a hard water issue, the mineral deposits are clogging the spray mechanism, but I am not entirely sure this is truly what is happening. So we'll see!

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  8. Vinegar and water are absolutely winners. And don't get me started on Microfibre! I have had no issues with asthma since ridding our home of chemicals and artificial scents. But you're right, the bicarb/vinegar just don't get the toilet clean enough sometimes. I find a monthly bleach keeps things fresher.
    Sarah @stayathometerritory

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  9. Are these the same microfiber cloths you use for cleaning windows?

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    1. Hello! Here is the rag I use for glass: http://www.scotch-brite.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Scotch-BriteBrand/Scotch-Brite/Products/Product-Catalog/?N=4337+3294631616&rt=rud I found it at our local Target.

      xoxo!

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  10. I started reading about fly lady's system awhile ago. All though I don't stick to it a hundred percent it has helped me maintain my house. It is very similar to your new system here. She uses zones for your house and you hit that zone once a month. I still tend to clean as it gets dirty but if I fall behind I know I will have time later.
    Her favorite saying is you can do anything in 15 minutes. It really is amazing how much can be accomplished if you set a timer and see what you can get done before it goes off.
    I love microfiber too and like the idea of having something in the showed to wipe the walls down every day.

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  11. Hi Jen! Can you share with me your favorite recipe for laundry detergent? I look forward to your posts and appreciate your honesty and genuine personality! I'm in Woodbury - across the border in "Minnie! Thanks.

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    1. Howdy neighbor! Here is the laundry detergent recipe I use: 1 cup soap flakes {I used Fels-Naptha}, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax {I use two tablespoons per load and have found it to be better to place right within the washer vs. the dispenser} xoxo!

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  12. I keep a dish washing wand in the shower filled with half dish soap and half vinegar. I just scrub it down once or twice a week while showering and it works great. I'm also a huge fan of making our own cleaners and all my recipes, including laundry soap, are on my blog at www.openconceptorganizing.com. Setting aside one day a month to make supplies is a great idea and something I think I will start doing!

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    1. The dish-washing wand is simply genius!

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  13. Thanks so much for this informative post, Jen! I will definitely be implementing some of these greener cleaning methods, especially since we have a little one at home. Curious about the laundry soap? Is it a liquid soap? If so, could you please direct me to the recipe? And if it's not a liquid soap, do you have a septic system? If so, does that affect your septic at all? Sorry for all the questions! :)

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    1. Hi Amy!

      Here is my laundry soap recipe: 1 cup soap flakes {I used Fels-Naptha}, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax {I use two tablespoons per load and have found it to be better to place right within the washer vs. the dispenser}

      I have a HE front loading washer. We have city plumbing and really haven't had any issues with using the soap. We also use vinegar as fabric softener, so that may help as well.

      xoxo!

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  14. Making your own cleaners is so much better, for you, your wallet and the environment! Glad you do this, it's part of the reason I follow your blog. As for toilet bowl cleaner, what I use is some baking soda with a squirt of liquid castile soap. Works great!

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  15. For my toilets I sprinkle baking soda in them and then spray with vinegar and scrub. Every couple cleanings I also pour a half cup or so of bleach in my toilet and swirl that around. Just wanted to share in case you wanted to try a homemade cleaner again at some point for your toilet. Love reading your blog!!

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  16. I use vinegar and water as all purpose cleaner. It's great on mirrors, glass, countertops etc. I even clean my floors with it. I use baking soda to soak my dirty pots and pans, clean the oven and stove...you name it.
    As far as multitasking...In the morning while my coffee is brewing I clean the bathroom that is adjacent to the kitchen. I clean my bathrooms every single day and deep clean once a week.
    While on the phone...I try to wipe all the cabinets. While watching Tv I fold my laundry. You have to multitask...
    But I am one of those people who truly enjoys cleaning. I think it's therapeutic and I don't feel guilty for spending time making my home neat and beautiful. I guess that's why I love your blog:)

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  17. Hi Jen,
    I just started making my own laundry detergent and haven't looked back since, I actually have a large container of Tide pods but I keep reaching for my homemade detergent. I use 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda and a grated bar of Zote soap. I just recently added Purex laundry crystals to the mix and I love it even more. Is it me or does this stuff clean better than Tide? Oh thanks for the tip on Microfiber sponges and water to clean my mirrors. Works better than the store brought glass cleaners! My next goal is to make a multipurpose cleaner.

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    1. I agree, it is fantastic! I use the same recipe, although I use the Fels Naptha bars. What does the Purex do? Smell, softness? I am intrigued. :)

      xo!

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  18. I love when you share cleaning tips and processes like this! I've already adopted your laundry system that you referred to, so I'm sure I'll be using some of these as well. If Jen does it, I do it! (within reason, of course) Thanks girl! :)

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  19. I think I love you. I just love cleaning and organizing. And, like you, I'm trying to find a way to do a little each day. This post is working for me!

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  20. Oh lovely Jen! I also make my own laundry detergent...you must banish the grater! You know what I use? My FOOD PROCESSOR!! Seriously...I use the grater attachment (which ends up making long, skinny threads)..then I dump the whole thing back in and give it a zhuzh with the regular processor attachment. You will save oodles of time (and sweat) AND lovely storage space in your new fab cab(inet). Then I toss the bowl and attachments into the dishwasher and they come out perfectly! Please try and tell me what you think!!! xoxox...bean (from pastichepuggle!)

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    1. No way! You may have just saved my tired arms! I typically grate at least two bars of soap at a time. Do you have to cut down the bar before putting it into your processor or do you just pop the entire thing in there? So cool!

      xoxo!

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    2. I cut it into chunks narrow enough to feed into the top feeder part (does that even have a name??)..roughly 3-4 chunks per bar!

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    3. I don't know how much of a difference there is between Fels Naptha and Zote, but you can stick the Zote (cut it into 5 or 6 pieces) right in the microwave for about a minute. It puffs up a lot, but then all you have to do is crumble it into powder, It might be worth a try with the Fels Naptha...

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    4. I pop mine in the food processor too! I cut the bar in half and feed it through the top part using the shredding attachment. That makes it look like shredded cheese. Then I add in the soda and borax and pulse it all until the soap is the same consistency and it's all blended together. It takes me two minutes. Just be sure to clean that appliance really good before you use it again! :)

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    5. Great idea about the food processor to grate and mix the detergent. I made Jen's homemade detergent recipe last night, and while it wasn't hard, I can see the benefits to the processor. Use the technology if you have it! ;)

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  21. I clean just about everything in my home with vinager and water...oh and baking soda! My hubby Hates the smell but it does fade quickly. I just feel like everything is cleaner and does not smell of chemicals so the air is even better which is even more important now that we have a baby. What do you use to clean glass surfaces? I'm still having a tuff time with that one.

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    1. Hi Grechen! I agree it just feels better to know what you are using. For glass, I just use water and some special rags I found at Target. One cleans the glass with water, another follows to polish and dry the glass. I love it because it is the best my glass has ever looked!

      xoxo!

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  22. I also make most of my own cleaners (mixed in 16 oz. spray bottles I bought from the dollar store):
    - Granite/All Purpose Cleaner: ½ cup rubbing alcohol, 6-7 drops dish soap, remainder distilled water, few drops of peppermint oil
    - Best Glass Cleaner: 1/4 c. rubbing alcohol, 1/4 c. white vinegar, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, 2 c. warm water
    - Shower Cleaner: 1/2 white vinegar (heated) & 1/2 Dawn dish soap
    - White Vinegar: spray on exterior of appliances & wipe with microfiber cloths to make them sparkly
    - Laundry Detergent: 1 c. Borax, 1 c. Washing Soda, 1 bar laundry soap (Fels Naptha, Zote, etc.) - I grate the soap, mix everything in a food processor and store in an old peanut butter jar

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    1. I use the identical glass cleaner. It is AMAZING!! I use it on other stuff sometimes too cause it's soo good!

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  23. I gasped when I saw the magic erasers in the shower. Genius!

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  24. where did you get the bin under the sink in the kitchen? great article

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    1. Thanks Dee! The bins are from the Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10000103&N=&Ntt=shoe+drawer

      xo!

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  25. Your post reminded me of my own cleaning success story.

    I found the fastest way for me to clean our shower stall/glass shower doors. I have pretty BAD skin reactions to poison ivy, so I keep a bottle of Dawn dishsoap (mmm, pomegranate scent) in the shower for washing down after mowing the lawn/yardwork. The working theory is that the dishsoap breaks down the oils, so I don't react, and it seems to work, but I digress.

    One day, I wanted to see what time it was through our foggy shower doors and swiped my washcloth with dishsoap on it across the glass. It came away leaving the glass perfectly clean. I was shocked and proceeded to wipe down the entire shower stall. Works AMAZING. NO scrubbing at all. Granted, I have no hard water stains or rust, just some soap scum (the shampoo I use is amazing on my hair, not so amazing on glass doors). So I stopped using vinegar or store-bought shower cleaners and just went with the dishsoap. I buy it in bulk and use many many dilutions throughout the house, so for me it was a win-win. No more having to buy "special" cleaners or deal with vinegar smell in our master bath.

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    1. That is awesome! I love when happy accidents like that happen!

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  26. Hi Jen!

    I love that all your cleaning supplies, even the scrubbies, are in bright colors. That just has to make cleaning day a little bit better. I worked as a janitor for ten years (back in the day) and the best tip I ever had from a co-worker was to use a squirt of Sunlight dish soap in plain water for cleaning glass and chrome. I haven't bought glass cleaner since! I really enjoy your site. Keep up the good work!

    Val @ artsybuildinglady.blogspot.ca

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  27. What exactly is washing soda that you're using in your laundry detergent?
    Do you use vinegar alone as a fabric softener? This is new to me.

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    1. Here is a link to the washing soda: http://amzn.to/1q2z6Ew

      I do use straight vinegar combined with lavender essential oils as fabric softener. xoxo!

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  28. My daily task that I have to do nightly is to clean the kitchen really well before we go to bed and we always run the dishwasher every night. That way we start the morning with a clean kitchen that is ready for business. Love your tips and am going to stock up on some vinegar!

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  29. Nice tips! I also use microfiber cloth and I like them because you can wash them!
    www.ebbapebbas.se

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  30. This sounds like an awesome challenge! What do you think of doing mini "Cleaning 101" videos along the way...a video showing us how you personally clean different areas of your home. Thanks for a great challenge and all of your awesome ideas:)!!!

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  31. Magic Erasers are a lifesaver! Love them!

    http://lifeandcity.tumblr.com

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  32. I'm so glad you addressed simplifying your cleaning routine with homemade supplies. I always found it very silly that many websites suggest replacing each of the dozen cleaners a home might have with a dozen natural alternative cleaners. That's way too much work. Streamline that baby!

    I don't know if you are still looking, but I wanted to mention that the biggest problem I had with homemade toilet bowl cleaners was just finding a bottle that worked! After a lot of trial and error, I use a condiment squirt bottle I got for $1. It gets into the upper lip of the toilet easier than those expensive, drippy store bought bottles. I fill it with a solution of castile or dish soap and distilled water (sometimes mint tea). It works like a charm.

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  33. Hi Jen!
    I'm a newer reader, but I am an organizing fiend and love your blog!

    I JUST made laundry detergent yesterday! I made a batch in May 2012 that lasted 22 months(It's just my husband and I, approx 16 loads per month) and I use a similar recipe, but on a larger scale so I don't have to remake it.
    (1) 4 lb box of 20 Mule Team Borax
    (1) 4 lb box of Baking Soda
    (1) 4 lb box of Washing Soda
    (1) small container of Oxiclean
    (2) bars of (pink!)Zote soap, grated with a zester(or Fels Naptha, if you like that kind better. I like the scent and softness of Zote)

    I mix it all up in a trash bag and pour it into a plastic cereal container.
    Use 2 table spoons per load.

    I just bought it yesterday and it cost $17 with tax and I'm guessing it will probably last another 22 months, which should come out to $0.04 per load and $0.77 per month.

    Anyway, I never noticed a decrease in the potency(which may be why you don't make it in bulk?) but wanted to recommend a bulk option to save you some time!

    :))

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  34. Wow! Your commitment to homemade cleaners and reusable rags is inspiring, and is so healthy for your family and the environment! Thanks for sharing this! I'll be trying to clean/dirty rag system and some cleaning "recipes" for sure!

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  35. Love this post! It's just what I needed to kick start my spring cleaning. Sooo over winter this year (and wet boots & gloves). Where do you buy your essential oils?
    Thanks for the great tips!
    Shar

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    1. Hi Shar! I purchase them on Amazon or at local Organic Food markets. xo!

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  36. Thank you so much for these wonderful motivating posts. We have marble in our bathroom and I was wondering if it safe to use the vinegar on the grout and shower? Also, I have had many people say no to vinegar on the granite? Also, is o.k. to use vinegar on hardwood floors? Thanks!

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    1. I don't have marble, granite or hardwoods, so I am not exactly sure, but I always do a quick google search and can typically find those things out prior to risking anything. There may be alternative green options that work just as well and are surface friendly. Best of luck!

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  37. Do the dirty/wet dish rags get smelly/moldy by the end of the week? I would love to try this but I had wet rags that just sit and get gross =(

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    1. Hi Gina, I only use the rag for a day and typically give it a good rinse in hot water and let it dry for a bit before tossing it into the wet bag. I don't notice any smell at the end of the week, and just dump the rags straight into the wash on Sunday. The wet bag can also be laundered. xoxo!

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    2. Hi Jen! When you say "wet bag" do you mean the bin or do you use a separate bag? My towels get stinky too :-/

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    3. They are the Planet Wise Wet Bags, typically used for babies and dirty diapers but also great for other wet materials and swimsuits. You can snag more details here: http://bit.ly/1fR27u4

      xo!

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  38. You're awesome,I check your blog every single day and am delight when I see any new post!Keep us happy,thank you.

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  39. I love the clear drawer you show in your photo of under the kitchen sink. Where did you get it or what brand is it? I need some thing just like this for all our cleaning rags.

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    1. Hi Theresa!
      The bins are from the Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10000103&N=&Ntt=shoe+drawer

      xo!

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  40. You basically described how I clean my home. I've always been a big fan of using water, vinegar and microfiber cloths on all of our surfaces (except for the toilet bowl cleaner). My favourite cleaning products are Norwex - it's all natural, high thread count cloths for everywhere in your house. I have a special broom/mop system from them for our laminate floors and every time we have people over I am asked if we buff our floors because they are so shiny!
    When the boyfriend and I moved in together he was very skeptical of the vinegar and water cleaning routine because he's always grown up with a different cleaner for every task, but he's now convinced. Cleaning is so much easier and our cupboards aren't overflowing with products we use once in a blue moon!

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  41. Thanks for the details!! Quick question - I read your blog post on making your own cleaning supplies, and was wondering -

    For the kitchen, do you use the all-purpose cleaner? Or just half vinegar/half water?

    And which one for the bathroom? The bottle says bath, but I am wondering if it's for you to know where to put it back vs. what is in it?

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    1. I have tried a few all-purpose recipes in the kitchen and have essentially moved to just the vinegar/water combo. xoxo

      Delete
  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm wondering do you make your own dishwasher detergent or do you buy it? I've been digging around your site to find out, but haven't had luck finding that info. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alison! We purchase dishwasher detergent. We have hard water, so I find that some of the homemade cleaners and even some of the "green" dishwasher detergents just don't cut it for us. xoxo!

      Delete
  44. Replies
    1. Wood Cleaner - 1/2 lemon juice, 1 tsp castile soap, 4 drops essential oil

      I have been super happy with this combo and it smells so good! xoxo!

      Delete
  45. Great post! I'm excited to refer to your site for spring cleaning very coming up very soon! xoxo

    thewholefullyou.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I scanned through the comments to see if someone else asked about the spray bottles. I have been on the lookout for nice looking ones and this helped so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nora! I typically reuse the bottles from when I use to purchase green cleaners. I just removed the labels and replaced them with my own. In our bathrooms, I ended up using these: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/laundry/ironing?productId=10035986

      xoxo!

      Delete
  47. Great info, as always, Jen! Vinegar and water saved me last week when I spilled a LOT of modge podge on my carpet {dropped the bottle down the stairs and the lid came off}. Miraculously I was able to get it all cleaned up with nothing but water and white vinegar! I'll be using a lot more vinegar in my cleaning from now on!

    ReplyDelete
  48. I love this post! I use vinegar and water for almost all of my cleaning. I recently started to use a dishwand with half vinegar and half blue dawn in the shower and I am thrilled with the results. Now I quickly clean the shower a couple times a week while I'm conditioning my hair rather than having to do a deep clean weekly. I find dawn and baking soda works great for cleaning the toilet. I use rags or microfibre cloths for cleaning and cloth napkins for meals. I do not understand why people continue to waste their money on paper towels. I am still too lazy to make my own laundry detergent, though I seriously thinking about it thanks to you ;)

    ReplyDelete
  49. I love this challenge! I was wondering if you would considering doing "Cleaning 101" videos where you show how you personally clean specific areas of your home. Your blog is awesome and filled with so much inspiration. Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi Jen,
    I have to ask a question, everyone who has said something about the vinegar smell...would it hurt to add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to a mixture? We kinda swear by lemon juice at our house...we used to have a stainless steel bathroom sink and straight lemon juice was the only thing that would really clean it well (we also had hard water...steel bathroom sink and hard water...horrible combo).
    I was just curious, I've never made my own cleaners, but this post is making me want to, but the smell of vinegar kinda gets to me like other readers have mentioned.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are both acidic so I don't see why you couldn't. Maybe whip up a test batch a try it in a few hide areas to see what you think? My only fear is that it would leave streaks but I might give it a try as well. :)

      Delete
  51. I love the clean vs dirty rag separation idea!

    Where did you buy the shelf/stand which separate the clean vs. dirty rags? What exactly is it called?

    I'm the biggest fan out there of baking soda, vinegar and/or lemon juice. These three handle practically everything!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hello there!
    First I LOVE your blog! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! Was wondering where find the fabulous tin containers? Like the Lavendrie box and the sparkle tote.
    Thanks!
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer!

      The yellow tin was from Crate & Barrel: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/rectangular-yellow-bin-with-lid/s679567

      I just added the Lavanderie label with vinyl.

      The Sparkle tote is a utensil caddy I found in the spring seasonal dept of Target a few years ago. I also added that label with vinyl. :)

      xo!

      Delete
    2. Hi Jen! Could you please tell me the font you used to create your Lavanderie label? THANK YOU!! :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Dana!

      I used Copperplate font for the label.

      xo!

      Delete
  53. Love the dirt/clean rag storage under each sink. Great way to reduce wipes. On a side note, my favorite cleaning tip of all time on pinterest has been to mix 1 part vinegar, 1 part blue dawn in a scrub brush (usually for dishes) & keep it stored in shower. I clean with ut about every other day & never have to lean over the bath on a weekend & scrub the tub anymore. Just simple maintenance during the week. This post was similar.http://pinbusting.blogspot.com/2012/08/pin-15-in-shower-cleaning.html. so excited to check your blog daily for new content. Keep inspiring us!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also use the dawn/vinegar mixture! It is a lifesaver for all the hard water spots and soap scum. I used to buy very harsh chemicals that had me holding my breath while I scrubbed...and that didn't get my tiles in my tub/shower as clean as this simple mixture!!

      Delete
  54. Love this post!!! I am inspired to go and make my own cleaners and laundry detergent. I saw in the comments your recipe for laundry detergent, but how much do you use for each load of laundry? Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  55. The dishrag bin under the sink is great. So do you use sponges in your household for anything? I use sponges a lot and am wondering if I should make the switch. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always have sponges on hand for occasional cleaning projects, but primarily stick to microfiber for just about everything. xoxo!

      Delete
  56. Can I just tell you that this was such a wonderful post to read through! I have been thinking about doing something along these lines for such a long time but have always put it off. Because of that, cleaning is such a chore because half of the process is locating all of the supplies I need scattered throughout the house! Thank you, thank you for doing the hard work for me. I'll just follow your lead and get it done!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'm in awe! At the moment I HATE cleaning. However, I know it's because I don't do little bits every day. I usually leave it to the weekend and then I'm grumpy because it encroaches on my me-time. You've really inspired me though. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  58. LOVE this post and all the COMMENTS! I am learning so much. I am on a quest to get my house in order and some sort of cleaning routine. Right now we are on the cleaning schedule of "things only get done 15 min before guests arrive". Not.Working. I just placed my order for Castile Soap, essential oils and microfiber cloths and the cleaning schedule got posted to the fridge. I am on my way! Thank you for all the great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thanks Jennifer.
    I am such a disorganized person.
    This give me hope. LOL
    I really love your blog. Will be following.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hi Jen, have discovered your amazing blog this year and am slowly working through the process of de-cluttering and organising our house :-)
    Just to be nosey....I was wondering what you kept in the binder that was atop your washing maching in the second photo?
    Amie in NZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amie!

      It is our Household Binder. I keep all sorts of important details about our home, cleaning recipes, checklists and important contacts in there. :)

      xo!

      Delete
  61. Hi Jen! Love you and your blog. I didn't see this asked above, so forgive me if I missed it but I MUST know where you got that yellow bin for storing your homemade detergent. Love it. If you can't find it, can you tell me approx. size you recommend. We are a family of 5 also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Holly!

      The yellow tin was from Crate & Barrel: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/rectangular-yellow-bin-with-lid/s679567

      I just added the Lavanderie label with vinyl.

      xo!

      Delete
    2. Thanks! Time to dig out my silhouette. ;)

      Delete
  62. Hi Jen!

    Love your website!! My master bath has a similar shower as the one you posted a picture of in this post. I have a lot of hard water and soap scum on the walls and glass doors. (Eeeek!) Any tips or suggestions on the best way to clean them quickly? The floor also is stained too from dirt, etc. Would vinegar work for that? Thank you!!!! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vinegar and the magic eraser should help a lot with that, and try rubbing a lemon on your fixtures to clean those as well. I have also read from readers that dishsoap works great in showers, as does some baking soda/vinegar in the form of a scrub.

      xoxo!

      Delete
    2. My mom's shower also has a lot of glass. Her solution? She keeps a squeegee in her shower! So before she steps out of the shower she just gives all the glass a quick squeegee and there is a lot less buildup of gunky stuff. Pretty nifty, huh?

      Delete
    3. Thank you both for the suggestions!!! :) Another question- what do you use to clean the floor of your shower? Do you use a magic eraser, rag, or something else? I really want to try the baking soda/vinegar combination for the overall shower and the lemon for the glass doors. Thank you!!! :)

      Delete
  63. I was doing some research this evening, because I have a septic tank and was always told to not use powdered detergent. This lady has a recipe for a liquid detergent mix that you can make yourself that should work the same way. I'm going to try it!
    http://barefootmommy.blogspot.com/2011/05/septic-friendly-homemade-laundry.html

    ReplyDelete
  64. This is amazing! I really want to switch over to homemade cleaners and this has given me the motivation to get that started.

    Do you still use the same ingredients for all your cleaners? What I've gathered from this post is you've cut down to a vinegar/distilled water mixture for the all purpose stuff rather than including dish soap and baking powder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corley!

      That is correct, I change it all the time to try and streamline the process, but for the most part I love vinegar/distilled water or else a mixture of water, castile soap and essential oils. Whatever can allow me to clean and be efficient about the process. :) xoxo!

      Delete
  65. I love the NOW oils, and I'm glad you have them in your scenarios as well! The lavender is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Awesome! I went out and purchased some of the materials :) Including a bulk order of microfiber clothes from Amazon! I can't wait.

    I would love to see a post of the way you do your cleaners now. What you've changed and why. Like why do you choose to use castile soap?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corley!

      Here is a good article regarding the benefits of Castile Soap: http://www.livestrong.com/article/171179-what-are-the-benefits-of-castile-soap/

      xoxo!

      Delete
  67. Hi Jen, stalking again.. Where did you get the clear spray bottle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The spray bottle is from the Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10035986&N=&Ntt=spray+bottle

      xo!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your update Jen!

      Delete
  68. Hi,
    Love the idea of the clean and dirty rag bins in the bathroom. Do you ever have trouble with the rags getting mildewy in the dirty bin? I am assuming the rags get wet as you are sprucing up the bathroom daily.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  69. Hello,
    Thank you for your blog! I love reading it. Quick question about your homemade laundry detergent. It looks like your machine is an HE machine. If that is correct, do you know how much detergent would be needed for a regular, top-loading washing machine? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Where did you get the bottle glass bottle with the metal pour spout you keep your vinegar in? First, love the way it looks, but mote importantly, I'm having a DIFFICULT time finding decent pour spouts. They either fit loosely, leak or do not let enough liquid out at once. (especially thicker liquids) thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Whitney!

      I saw you also asked this on an oldie post, but will answer again just in case others are wondering as well. :)

      I found it a few years ago at IKEA. I just looked and didn't see it online any longer. I think I actually found it near their bathroom section?

      xo!

      Delete
  71. I forgot to mention , in case no one else had, that one should never use vinegar on granite or marble. Like marble and most natural stones, granite does not respond well to things acidic, like lemons and wine and especially vinegar. If you remember one thing, remember this: do not use vinegar to clean your granite. Vinegar is an amazing, natural cleaning agent, but it can etch (dull) your granite. Instead, when you wonder how to clean granite, think simply. Start with the basics, and go from there...only if you need to.

    I just had a kitchen remodle and every place we went to look at granite, they all said the same..

    Just thought id share...but I am LOVING using the vinegar on A LOT of other things now thanks to your tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a great reminder! Thanks Whitney!!

      Delete
  72. Sorry I keep asking questions..what do you use the mason jar shakers for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually made my own, but through those into my cleaning source list as an alternative option. You can see how I use it here: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2014/03/monthly-clean-home-challenge-vacuum.html

      xo!

      Delete
  73. I noticed that you have swiffer dusters listed on the items you use to clean. DId you know that you can make a reusable fleece cover for your swiffer handle that can be thrown in the wash with your other cleaning cloths? There are tutorials to make one. Or you can be lazy like me and buy one through etsy. http://www.etsy.com/search?q=fleece+duster&ship_to=US&order=price_asc&page=0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip! I put them on there because although I use other dusting options within our home, they are perfect for our automobiles. I will have to look into the reusable covers!

      Delete
  74. Hello there! Where can I find empty spray bottles like the ones you have?

    ReplyDelete
  75. Hi. How much vinegar to water do you use in your bathroom cleaner? And do you also add essential oil? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello!

      The bathroom cleaner is half vinegar, half water ratio. I don't always add essential oils, but you absolutely can. Most have natural disinfecting abilities and they also help a bit with the vinegar smell.

      xo!

      Delete
    2. I use vinegar in all my laundry for a fabric softer. I mix dawn and vinegar for the bathroom and use a sponge with dawn to wipe down the counters. I found out that using dawn on the counters keeps away ants. Since we're on a slab we have ant problems. Since using dawn I haven't had problems. I'll have to start making my own laundry soap too.

      Delete
  76. Hi Jen,
    I'm trying to order some vinyl labels, well because a silhouette is not in the budget with a munchkin a week out. I thought I saw it somewhere, but what's the font on the rag bins and spray bottle?
    Thanks,
    JuLyia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi JuLyia!

      The font is Ostrich Sans.

      xo!

      Delete
  77. i have a question: when you wash your cleaning cloths, all of them go together in the washing machine? the kitchen ones with the bathroom ones? or do you do separate loads?

    ReplyDelete
  78. I would love to know where you get your vinyl labels!?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jami!

      I make them with my Silhouette die cutting machine.

      xo!
      Jen

      Delete
  79. You've probably answered this already but do you use plastic spray bottles with essential oils? I've just read that oils can break the plastic down and to use glass but is be worried that the glass would break not to mention glass spay bottles $$$$$. Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brandi!

      I do use plastic. I have read that also, but I had the same fears as you and some of the bottles I use are still from my old store bought cleaners to prevent too much waste. I may switch to glass eventually, but I haven't seen any problems with my current bottles to this day.

      xo!

      Delete
    2. If you buy Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar either the 16 or 32 oz glass bottles, they are perfect to repurpose for cleaning sprays. You just have to purchase some sprayers or empty plastic bottles with sprayers. You can pull out the tube to shorten it to the perfect length (slightly too long is better than too short) and then pop it back in place. (:

      Delete
    3. That is great! Thank you so much for the tip!

      Delete
  80. Dear Jen,
    I noticed that you seemed to have a home organisation binder system, I don't know if you have blogged about it before but if you haven't, I would be really interested! I love you free printables, even though I am still young I would definitely use your printables or even make my own I guess. It is great that you make your own cleaners and I love your labels (I am self-confessed labeller myself)!!!! Your blog is great!!!!! ~ Grace :)

    ReplyDelete
  81. I love all of your labels on the spray bottle, drawers, laundry container, etc. Did you purchase those labels? Or do you make them yourself? If so how? Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeanne,

      I make the majority of my labels with vinyl that is cut from a die cutting machine {I use the Silhouette}. I have also done a lot of labels using my computer and printing them onto Avery label sheets {which come in a variety of shapes, sizes & finishes}.

      xoxo!

      Delete
  82. Do you mind sharing where you purchased your colored vinyl lettering on the container that reads "Clean" and "Dirty" Guess I need either my daughter or one of the Grandchildren over here to pull everything out of the lazy susan cabinets so I can see what's in there that needs to be organized, what can be donated, what can be tossed, plus find myself some energy and determination without any distractions.

    ReplyDelete
  83. What is the black metal shelf thingy under your bathroom sink called and where did you get it? I would love to set up a bathroom quick clean kit like you have. Your Silhouette vinyl labeler is way cuter than standard tape labelers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a shelf riser I found at Target: http://www.target.com/p/metropolis-rectangular-helper-shelf-black/-/A-11031239#prodSlot=medium_1_18

      Thank you!

      Delete
    2. Oh my! I was HOPING you would say Target! So accessible and LOCAL. No ordering online! (: THANK YOU! The only time it frustrates me when you say Target is when you also say SEASONAL...and it's an old posting. (; I think you should have a deal with Target and you could make them carry certain things. Ha! Hey a lady was upset with Target's immodest girl's clothes and now she is working with them to remedy the situation, so stranger things have happened. So you could totally have an iheartorganizing line at Target. (: At least in a perfect world. I am totally enjoying your site....cuz organizing is my favorite thing. But you have infused a necessary element I sometimes lacked. CUTENESS! Yes, to a girl, it is of the utmost importance. Just wait, I will get some Gloveables yet and a matching apron. Every wifey/mom needs a super suit (besides yoga pants).

      Delete
  84. Hi Jen! I have been slowly implementing your cleaning process for a year now. At this point I am going to start making my cleaners per your most recent recommendations. You note that you use a 'wet bag' for the kitchen for used rags. However, in the bathrooms where you use vinegar cleaners you put the dirty rags in the 'shoe drawers'. Is there a lingering vinegar odor from these used rags in the bathroom? I'm just wondering if I would be better off using 'wet bags' in the bathrooms vs. the shoe drawers. Thank you. Actually a million thanks for helping me to tackle cleaning my home when I had no idea where to start. xo Xta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Xta!

      The good thing is that vinegar dries odorless, so as long as the rags are not fully saturated, they should dry without much scent. However, I recently purchased a few more wet bags for the bathrooms to use instead of the bins so that I can free up some space and take advantage of the doors. :) Either should work equally as great!

      xoxo!

      Delete

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