Monday, February 24, 2014

Keep it clean, yo.

There were a lot of things that I worried about while in the process of buying our first home. ("How in the name of sweet jeebus are we going to fill an ENTIRE HOUSE with furniture?" "What happens when stuff starts breaking?" "Property taxes???"), but one of the most overwhelming worries I had was whether I'd be able to keep an entire house reasonably clean. My track record wasn't good. By the time we had moved out of our apartment, the place was bordering on disgusting. I think my problem in the past is that I'm essentially kind of a neat freak, but I'm a perfectionist about it, and if I didn't completely keep up I'd start feeling defeated and just give up. Jeff will help when I ask him to, but he's kind of a messy dude at heart and doesn't really notice when things need cleaning. But somehow, praise the sweet lord, I've managed to keep this entire house (well, pretty much) not only liveable, but actually pretty presentable! If you're in the market to buy a house and are feeling overwhelmed by keeping the whole damn thing clean (or if you're just looking for some tips on how to keep your place clean without killing yourself), here's what's worked for me. And believe me, I'm pretty damn lazy about cleaning.

  1.  Make the bed, every day. I know that some of you may think that making your bed is pointless or stupid. I know Jeff does. But making the bed as soon as I get up (if Jeff isn't still in it, of course), really makes me feel more centered. Walking by the bedroom and seeing the bed nice and neatly made creates a calming feeling and it somehow makes the task of keeping the rest of the place clean less daunting. Plus, it just feels so much nicer to get into a nicely made bed every night. On a similar note...
  2.  Wash (or change) the sheets regularly. It's gross of me, I know; but before moving into this house, I rarely washed my sheets. I'm talking maybe a few times a year. It just never really occurred to me for some reason. Right now, we only have one set of sheets that we use in our master bedroom. I'm currently on the hunt for another set, but if I'm being honest with myself, once I buy them I probably won't switch them out until I buy another set. I'm just not that kind of person, I guess. But I DO actually wash my sheets on a regular basis now. Again, it just feels so nice to get into a bed with freshly washed sheets. Plus, if your sheets are of decent quality they get softer every time you wash them. AND it's terrible for your skin to not wash your pillowcases regularly. Though I'm sure most of you aren't as disgusting as me and you already do this.
  3.  Use products you like (and feel good about). This is going to sound pretty dumb, but switching to cleaning products that I enjoy using has made a difference in my motivation to actually use them. I used to use...I don't really even know. I guess I just used to buy whatever my mom used when I was growing up. The bathroom cleaner, specifically, that I used was SO full of chemicals that whenever I'd clean my bathroom I'd literally get dizzy. That, my friends, is worrisome. When I bought cleaning supplies for the house, I tried to keep it natural. Now I use mostly Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products and Method products (both of which can be found at Target) which are all natural, and smell amazing. And they don't do...whatever all those chemicals were doing to me. Killing brain cells that I don't have to spare, undoubtedly. And one of my very favorite things to clean with now is a mixture of white vinegar, dish soap, and water. Totally natural, antibacterial, and cheap as all get out.
  4. Clean as you go. Duh. If you don't leave messes all over the place, they won't pile up.
  5. Do little things every day. I wipe down my kitchen counters/island on a daily basis (if I used it that day), I wipe down my bathroom sink every morning as I use it, and I make sure to never leave dishes or trash in the living room. This too keeps things from piling up and feeling overwhelming.
  6. Have people over. We've been "entertaining" (Jeff HATES that phrase) a lot, at least for us, since we've moved in, and it gives us a lot of incentive to keep the place presentable all the time. Plus, we do a quick cleaning session pretty much every time someone comes over, which lightens my normal cleaning load.
  7. Don't let laundry pile up. If you never skip a week (or two...or three), the laundry just won't pile up, and you'll never be faced with a huge pile of dirty, wrinkled clothes that need to be washed and put away. Laundry is my least favorite chore, but it feels so much more manageable when I only have a couple loads to do a week, and then it's done. Obviously, keeping up would mean different things according to different situations (especially if you have kids), but one weekly laundry session of two loads (not counting things like washing the sheets or bathmats, which I do separately) is what works for me.
  8. Keep up with dusting. We have a dog with a lot of fluffy white fur that gets everywhere, and if I don't keep up with dusting it piles up fast. I dust pretty much every surface in the house (or at least in the rooms that we use) every single week. Dust got out of control at our apartment, and part of that was because it was such a small area, but now I have nightmares of dust piling up uncontrollably. Dust makes me crazy, and I have allergies so it makes me physically miserable as well. But when I keep up with the dusting, all it takes is a quick swipe of a swiffer pad and the dusting is done in 20 minutes.
  9. It's also helped a lot that we don't eat dinner in the living room anymore. We used to eat all of our meals in front of the TV, which meant there was always some kind of dinner trash laying around, and the sofa always had stray crumbs (ugh). Now we eat in the kitchen every night, which makes cleanup a lot quicker. This isn't something that works for everyone and I'm not knocking eating in front of the TV on occasion, but it's made a difference for us. 
  10. I do the bulk of my cleaning one day a week, on Mondays. This is when I do my dusting, most of my vacuuming, cleaning of bathrooms, laundry, and I usually do a deep clean in the kitchen, including scrubbing the floor. But I try to get at least one big thing done at some other point during the week (like mopping the floors every so often, or dusting the baseboards, etc), which keeps my Monday cleaning more  minimal (it usually only takes me a couple hours, depending on how messy the house has gotten over the week). Or I'll task Jeff with the "other" stuff to do, or stuff I don't want to do, on his day off. I let him off a little on the cleaning because he does all of the "gross" stuff (meaning anything that involves me getting dirty because I'm a big wuss), all of the fixing of things, and pretty much anything outdoors (mowing in the summer, leaf blowing in the fall, and shoveling/scraping off cars in the winter), but I'll give him a short list to do on his weekend "alone day"(we each have one day off by ourselves - his is Saturday and mine is Monday - during which we do stuff that the other one doesn't enjoy and get things done, and we share Sunday off).
Alright, I'm tired of talking about cleaning, and I'm sure you're tired of reading about it. Obviously this is just what works for me so far, but if I can keep a 2500 square foot house clean after failing to keep a 700 square foot apartment clean, I figure pretty much anyone can.What do you guys do to keep things spic & span?

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