I have no qualifications whatsoever to offer advice on cleaning to anyone (see the part where I'm a total slob). On the other hand, when I do clean it is a serious, major, Spring-Cleaning type clean so I know something about stamina. This was a three day weekend of cleaning. The house is beautiful (for about three seconds), and I am comfortable with the level of judging my current state of housekeeping will elicit from the appraiser guy (I keep wanting to say "inspector"--you can see how I feel about someone coming in my house and poking around!). None of what I have to say is, like, new and revolutionary or anything but that never kept me from opening my trap.
First, the best thing I ever did for my cleaning self: go to the sporting goods store and buy a pair of good kneepads. Seriously. This had a big impact on my willingness to do hideous things like clean baseboards and scrub floors. Kneeling on a towel just is not enough cushion. When I'm cleaning I just strap them on for the duration and then it's so much more comfortable to get up and down and crawl around. When you go to the sporting goods store, don't make the same mistake I did, however. I found the generic kneepads, which came in S-M-L-XL. I resourcefully used a lacrosse stick to grab myself a pair of smalls, which were "conveniently" located way at the top--as those of us who are small are usually also...tall? Anyway, when I got home I realized that those were not adult sizes, those were ALL the sizes and I had gotten kneepads for a tiny child. Since I am a resourceful sewist, I cut the back stretchy bit up the center and added several inches of black spandex so they fit me. But it would have been easier to get the right size in the first place.
Second, when I read one of Augusten Burroughs's books he had all these stories about his insane cleaning lady. One of her insanities was to clean windows and mirrors with newspaper. She insisted that this was best because newspaper leaves behind no lint. I figured, eh, I'd try it but totally didn't think it would work. Newspapers might have no lint, but they do have a lot of smudgy gray ink that grimes up your fingertips and ruins your clothes. But lo and behold, newspapers do an *excellent* job of cleaning windows and mirrors when combined with windex type spray. Somehow they just work.
Third, save your old cotton t-shirts (or other cotton jersey/knits) for rags. Rags are so much better than sponges (more surface area, less ick factor) and so much better for the earth than paper towels. Get 'em dirty, wash 'em in hot, and they're good to go again. I thought I had way too many rags until I did the whole house cleanup thing, when I actually had to wash a load in the middle! Major convert to rags here.
Finally, I'm a big fan of the Method cleaning products from Target. They are non-toxic, smell good, and clean really well.
From left to right:
Grapefruit flavored all purpose cleaner. This was the best product for removing (ahem) three and a half years of hard water stains/soap scum from my glass shower door. There was more elbow grease than cleaning product involved for sure, but it worked more effectively than ammonia, vinegar, or tub and tile cleaner.
Stainless steel cleaner. I have those oh-so-popular stainless steel appliances, and they are really hard to keep shiny. This stuff works better than any other products I tried, though not perfect. I also highly recommend the SimpleHuman Microfiber Stainless Steel Cleaning Mitt (OK that's not its official name but I can't remember its official name; I got it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond), or I'm sure any piece of microfiber will do. The mitt is actually better on its own than most of the chemical cleaners out there.
Tub and Tile Cleaner. I also use this on the toilet.
Daily Granite granite cleaner. I keep a small spraybottle of this on the kitchen counter at all times. My countertops looks good and don't appear to be harmed.
Off to enjoy my beautiful home. Happy cleaning to you.
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