The second job we are going to tackle in our ‘keep it simple’ series is the one that feels so constant, the one that never ever feel like I get on top of, it’s cleaning!
Phyllis Diller said; “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing”
This certainly feels true most of the time, but it’s not like we can just stop cleaning all together and wait until our kids are older!
While my house may never be completely tidy, and there may always be giant dust balls lurking under my fridge, I still need to maintain a certain level of cleanliness, or at least try to. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste these days while my kids are little worrying about how tidy my house is, or spending hours cleaning, so I’m determined to find some simple ways to get things done and find some kind of balance!
I’ve collected a list of cleaning tips and tricks to try out and some of them are even working!
Simple Cleaning Tips
Find a System That Works for You.
I know, I said that about laundry too, but it really is true. Working out the best way to manage things depends on all kinds of personal things – where you live, who you live with, etc. So Work out what you need to clean, how you’ll clean it, and how often, and then set up a routine or system that works for you.
I’ve always looked at the many ‘cleaning systems’ online and decided that was really not for me, but as part of this series I decided to try making a routine of my own and I have been surprised by how much it has helped to have even a simple list. When I made the list I told myself this was not going to be guilt inducing, just a way to attempt stay on top of things, and it’s actually made it a lot easier to plan around commitments, to delegate jobs and to not feel overwhelmed.
I’ve kept my routine purposely simple – it’s just a list of things to do each day of the week, and a list of things to do every day. I put a name or initial next to a job that someone else is doing, stick it on my fridge and that’s it.
You can download the simple weekly routine free printable here.
It’s an A4 sized pdf so if you are printing on US ‘letter sized’ paper be sure to select ‘fit’ or ‘shrink to fit’ from your printer options.
It’s hard to clean around clutter so tidy up before you start and try and keep on top of clutter as much as you can.
- Use the basket method – collect all the bits and pieces that need to be put away and put them in a basket, then walk around and put them where they belong or get their owners to put them away. See it in action in this cool video from Childhood101.
- You’ll probably end up with a few things in the bottom of the basket that are hard to put away, these are the things you should probably get rid of!
- Do the same thing with the rubbish bin – grab the bin or a plastic bag and go around and pick up all the rubbish.
- Get rid of stuff! The less stuff you have the less time you’ll spend picking it up, putting it away or cleaning it. I don’t find this easy so I’m trying to remember that this is a process, it won’t happen all at once but each small step I take towards less stuff makes things easier.
- Bring less stuff into your house – I am not so good at letting go of stuff, so I find it much easier to just allow less stuff to enter our house in the first place. Try having a ‘buy nothing month’ where you only buy essentials, give your kids experiences as gifts instead of more toys, and think about whether you really need something before you buy it and where you will put it.
- Master the ‘whip around’. At the end of the day do a quick whip around and pick up and put away. My kids know they need to do this before dinner and I also try and do it before we leave the house in the morning or when we go out so we don’t come home to a junk yard, but getting out the door on time is not always easy so this is still a work in progress!
- Remember the shoveling snow quote? You can at least delay it and the frustration by sending the kids outside, corralling them in one room, or getting them to help, so they don’t destroy and unclean things as you clean them.
- Crank up the music, everything is better when there is good music playing!
- Gather your weapons, I mean cleaning tools, and make sure they work. Right now I have a crappy vacuum and it makes the job ten times harder!
- Try to keep your cleaning solutions and tools to a minimum. Do you really need a separate cleaner for each job or can you use an all purpose cleaner for almost everything?
- Magic erasers (melamine foam) clean everything. No really, they clean everything, and I wish I had known about this years ago! They clean theshower – tiles, base, glass and grout, your oven (way better than even those harsh chemicals it just takes a bit of work), stainless steel surfaces, marks on walls and hard floors, stained pots and pans, mirrors and all kinds of other crazy things. They have no harsh chemicals to go down my drain, they are easy to use, and you can buy cheap ones from Aldi or online.
- Vinegar, dish soap, baking soda and tea tree oil clean everything else. Plus there are so many recipes for homemade cleaners using similar ingredients online – I like this one from House Mix and these from becentsable.
- Baby wipes are not as good as a magic eraser, but if you are in a hurry and just need to do a quick dust or get that toothpaste off the couch, they are your best friend!
- Keep the stuff you need to clean the bathroom in the bathroom (if you have two bathrooms, have two lots of cleaning stuff). It’s easy to give the bathroom a quick clean before you jump in the shower if you don’t have to run around collecting supplies.
- Use your vacuum to dust – we live in an old house, which is half renovated, and we have a wood-fired heater, our house is always dusty, and with 3 asthma and allergy prone kids dust is my nemesis. I use the small brush attachment on my vac to dust so it sucks up the dust rather than just stirring it up into the air.
- You can wash all kinds of things in the dishwasher. I do my kitchen range-hood filters, and all kinds of toys, and there are loads of other things that can go in there too.
- Pay the kids to do one off tasks like washing windows, sweeping the deck, washing skirting boards, or cleaning the car. We don’t pay our kids to do regular chores (they are just expected to do them), but we do offer to pay for extra work that we adults would rather outsource. I usually don’t even have to pay my four year old, he just loves using a sqiurty bottle (which is safe if it is just vinegar and dishsoap) so he’ll clean the kitchen cupboards for free!
These are the best, SIMPLE cleaning tips and tricks that I’ve discovered and tried so far, now I’d love to hear yours.
What would you add to this list of simple cleaning tips?
If you are looking for more simple cleaning and organising ideas you can check out the Keep It Simple series where we share our best simple tips for everything from laundry, cleaning, meals, kids and parenting.
And check out my ‘Clean and Organise Everything’ board on pinterest too.