If that scares you, this is an excellent time to exit my blog.
My sister, Bev, very cleverly tagged several of us to post our cleaning secrets. For some reason, she seems to think I'm a little over the top in that department and that some younger wives and moms out there might be interested in tips from me. So assuming that everyone is on the edge of their desk chairs waiting for this, here goes.
First of all, I really do Febreze my dog. Three times a week. My sprinkler system comes on early in the morning three days a week and I have to let her out first thing in the morning and I simply cannot keep her from frolicking until she's completely drenched. One of my least favorite smells, right up there with burning tires, is wet dog so I Febreze her. This has never hurt her at all so I'm thinking it's safe. I have not told Sheri, my girlfriend the vet (see previous post), that I do this. And just for the record, it helps a LOT to have a non-shedding dog. If you have a cat, good luck.
My sister also mentioned that I only buy and use four cleaning products -- Comet, Simple Green, Pledge and Windex -- and this is true. But I think we should define cleaning products here. Even I couldn't believe I get by with only four so I took a quick inventory of the one spot (a tip) where I keep all my cleaning products (the long shelf over my washer and dryer safely out of my grandchild's reach for the next several years - another tip). Here's what I found.
Obviously I found laundry products -- Gain, Gain fabric softener (have to match), regular bleach and color-safe bleach and stain stick. But those aren't cleaning products; they're laundry products. I also found a large can of spray barbecue grill cleaner but that falls under the outdoor cleaning products category which is not what we're talking about here. Sitting right there is a box of Swiffer dusters but that's a light maintenance product. Oddly enough there's also a spray bottle of silk flower cleaner. I have no idea how it got there -- I don't own a single silk plant or flower. I need to toss that I think. There's Pledge and that miracle product, Febreze, which I use so much of I replace it about once a week. And last but absolutely not least, there's a giant economy size bottle of that wonder product, Simple Green.
I think the price of job-specific cleaners, like, say, Scrubbing Bubbles, is completely ridiculous so I figured out what I really need to keep a clean house and I'm never tempted to buy anything else. Let's get the easy part over with. I use Comet on bathtubs, toilets and the kitchen sinks. Only. I use Windex on all the glass in the house, all of it, including vases and aquariums, on all the kitchen surfaces AND appliance exteriors and on all stainless steel. I use Pledge on all the wood surfaces including kitchen cabinets (duh). And I use Simple Green on absolutely everything else. Simple Green is wonderful and I love that it's environment-friendly. It's the best degreaser and overall cleaner I've ever used. And it smells clean.
I don't have a magic secret here. It's true my house is spotless which even I think is probably a little off-putting but I can't help it because I'm anal. At the risk of sounding a little sanctimonious, my method is really pretty simple. I don't make the mess in the first place. Bev mentioned that I'm a minimalist and this is true. I cannot stand clutter anywhere, even the places I can't see like closets and the garage. Being a minimalist goes a long long way toward having a clean-all-the-time house. To me, clutter equals mess and I don't make those.
I think the biggest trouble spot in our homes is the kitchen. Big big messes can happen there and no one likes to clean those up. I learned one of my biggest tips from, oddly enough, my father, years ago. We were a family of eight and you don't even want to know how many dishes every single meal generated. From the time I was twelve, when my Mom went to work, nights, I cooked dinner every night. Dad showed me that if I ran a sink full of hot dishwater before I even started the meal, then it was easy to clean as I went and it really was. To this day, no matter how simple a meal I'm making, I start with a sink of hot dishwater and wash and put away things as I use them. You'd be surprised how much easier it makes cleanup after dinner. I know we all have dishwashers but not everything I use to cook can go into mine. As far as appliances go, I wipe those down with Windex, often. My daughter told me recently that I "wipe" things a lot and I do. But if I'm standing there holding a wet cloth that's on it's way to the laundry, why not wipe some things on the way? And one of the hardest places to keep clean is the vent hood over your stove, if you have one. Simple Green is a degreaser and cleans up greasy dirt instantly. Geez. I sound like a commerical. But it's true.
Here are two tips: never ever own a house that doesn't have a self-cleaning oven and about two or three times a year you should pull the grate off the bottom of your fridge and vacuum out any dust balls that have built up. I didn't know this and got to live with all my food in coolers for three days while I waited for delivery of the new refrigerator I had to buy because the buildup of dust bunnies caused the motor to overheat.
Bathrooms are my least favorite cleaning job. By the way, Sarah, you don't need anything special to clean mildew off caulking in there. I keep a small spray bottle of straight Clorox handy for that. Just spray it directly on the mildew and it will go away. Doesn't hurt the caulking. So I just don't stress over the bathrooms. I do light cleaning with Windex maybe once a week and about once a month I get in the mood to break out the Comet and go after the tubs. I use Windex on the underside of the toilet seats. Works great. And I hate to confess this publicly but I'm one of those people that wipes the shower down after I'm done. Just take your bath towel and wipe the stainless steel down and they always look clean instead of spotty.
I get uncontrollable spring AND fall cleaning fever so twice a year, I wash curtains but the only place I have them are in the bedrooms. Everything else is venetian blinds and I run a Swiffer duster over those occasionally.
I really don't have any magic secrets. I think the biggest thing in my favor is that I'm into minimal everything and I simply don't have a lot of "stuff" around. But let's be honest here. I also don't have small children at home any more and believe me, it's EASY to have a spotlessly clean house when your children are grown and gone.
Here's the hard part so I saved it for last because this is where you'll all agree with Bev that I'm over the top. I am phobic about my carpet and I swear, I steam clean my carpet more often than most people vacuum. Sorry. And here's one last tip. If your kitchen floor is less than perfect, wear flip flops so you can't feel the grit. And every time you pick up a crawling baby from your kitchen floor, Swiffer him!