I have a confession to make. I hope you don’t think worse of me for it.
Your house is cleaner than mine.
You may look around at your three kids in various states of dress and undress, crawling and doing the loop-de-loop through your house and think to yourself, “No, you haven’t seen chaos until you’ve seen my house.” But sadly, your house is still probably cleaner than mine.
You see, I like to work. A lot. And if I’m not working at work, I’m at home working. Or, I’m at home reading. In either scenario, I’m not cleaning.
Following normal laws of atrophy, our house slowly breaks down. The windows haven’t been washed since last summer. The couch hasn’t been moved in a year and the dust bunnies have bred and gone fully rabid. The cobwebs in the ceiling corners have started multiplying at a rate that rivals the viral marketing loop of online phenoms Twitter and Ning. For that matter, I’m pretty sure the cobwebs have started sending out invites to their own Ning Network. Reading through their blurbs, it appears that the rabid dust bunnies and cobwebs are considering starting their own band and making it big on MySpace.
All this extra dust and collaborative chaos is all fine and well when it’s just my husband and I. Thankfully, he’s a pretty low key guy and as long as he can make it in the house, to the fridge, and to the bed without any impediments, the rapidly massing army of dust and bacteria are a mere annoyance not worthy of much time.
But, my parents are coming this weekend. That means my MOTHER is coming this weekend. My Mother is the consummate professional homemaker. She cooks, cleans, and knows how to iron shirts. She could win any Iron Housecleaning contest with one hand tied behind her back. It baffles her to no end that her housecleaning gene did not pass down to me. Thankfully, she loves me just the same.
With her impending visit, I have spent two days cleaning the house. The windows still haven’t been cleaned but that’s the last thing that needs to be done before they arrive at 7 p.m. tonight. There was a slight setback though – when I took the Clorax Bleach Product out and sprayed the sink down (yes, there were mutinying bacteria in there as well), I almost passed out from the fumes. I seriously thought I had accidentally killed myself and pictured my easy going husband never figuring out what had happened. He would never suspect the fumes from a cleaning product had killed me since it’s a well known fact that I don’t clean and wouldn’t even know where the cleaning products are located in our house.
After that little light-headed episode, I created a few natural cleaners using products found in my kitchen cabinet and the Bramble Berry Warehouse. They seem to work great. Of course, my standards are low. But, my house is cleaner, smells great and best of all, these cleaners are less toxic and better for the environment than traditional cleaners.
These are my first attempts so be gentle and if you have better recipes, by all means, post them in the Comment Section for all to share in the clean, yummy-smelling goodness.
All Purpose Cleaner
For a good all-round cleaner:
Two tablespoons vinegar
One teaspoon baking soda
Half tablespoon borax
Two cups warm water
Mix the ingredients together and keep in a spray bottle. Use for general surface cleaning.
To clean stubborn stains from lavatory bowls:
1 cup borax
¼ cup white vinegar
Mix the ingredients together, pour down the toilet and leave for as long as possible, but at least twenty minutes. Scrub the stains with a toilet brush, then flush away. My husband pointed out this morning that I missed a few spots. I suspect this is operator error rather than a flaw in the recipe.
Smelly Surface Cleaner
General cleaner and it smells just fine!
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon borax
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix the ingredients together in spray bottle and use for general cleaning purposes. Do not use on glass because the oil will cause smears. It was a sad day in our household when I tried to clean the bathroom mirrors with this concoction.
As with all recipes on the Soap Queen blog, please do small test batches and try cleaning to start with in out of the way places, just in case my “mad” chemistry skills are more crazy-mad than skillful-mad.
Pretty In Pink – Your hubby is a total keeper! My husband does his part but he’s definitely not the primary cleaning person in our house. But he definitely pulls his weight….
BathCake, I’ll totally try the Bathroom Bomb. It sounds interesting and way more fun that my current scrubbing toilet method!
Rian, We have a mostly no shoe rule but it doesn’t help in the summer – there’s just so much activity and doors open all the time – but during the winter, it really helps with the whole mud-tracks thing! =)
ha ha! so cute!
i’ve been thinking about enforcing the no shoe rule in my house, but have yet to do it. i try to stave off the mess by vacuuming the corners with the dust buster.
i just saw the show “Clean House” on tv and realized that I’m not so bad, but that I do really need to get rid of all my stuff. Thanks for relating. 😉
For toilets try 1/8 c of citric acid, let sit an hour, it will remove the stains for you.
Or … you can make bathroom bombs … 1/2 c citric acid, 1/2 c sodium bicarb, 1T borax, and hold it together with some lemon or lemongrass eo. (to cut down on eo, you an toss it and use it as a powder as well) … these do well at deodorizing as well and you can throw a bomb in the toilet before you go to bed, flush away in the morning and its all done (some scrubbing may be required at first, but then just throw them in overnight every so often).
pretty in pink says
I thank the Lord for my hubby, for he’s the one who does most of the cleaning! He’s awesome at it! It all started when he would get frustrated at me for not cleaning (hey, I was going to school full time, working, volunteering and being a mom-who had time to clean????) so he would do it. Now it’s habit…
Evermore, I’ve heard those stories about people dying by mixing together two cleaners too! I wonder if that’s jut an old wives tale?
Zee, I love your philosophy and am so lucky to have a happy marriage and challenging business so you’re right; what’s a crumb (or fifteen) when you’ve got love? =)
I heart your cleaning wipes recipe. Thank you for sharing it. Even my Dad commented on it this morning as he read the blog comments and post from yesterday. He thought it was so clever!
Erin, You’re right – tile is easier to clean than carpeting when there are animals involved. Visit has been a blast thus far. I am exhausted from a full day of hiking, fun in the sun, and (over)eating.
You MUST buy yourself a ROOMBA! It is an automatic robotic vacuum. These things are WONDERFUL! You can program it to vacuum your house while you are gone or asleep. It cleans UNDER the beds and couch and chairs and table and, well, you get the idea. It vacuums while you are doing other things (like reading!). I have one and am going to buy another. Go to http://www.roomba.com .
Another great “green” household tip: THROW OUT those nasty dryer sheets!! They have all sorts of toxic chemicals in them that you do NOT want on your clothes! Instead, we use the following laundering process: A natural laundry soap (we love BioKleen). 1/8 of a cup of BioKleen, 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup borax into the washing machine. Instead of fabric softener (another yucky product), we put white venegar (and, if I am in the mood, a couple of drops of lavender essential oil) into one of those Downey balls and toss it in on top of the clothes. We have no problems with static in the dryer and the clothes smell wonderfully fresh without synthetic scents (and no toxins to worry about!).
Also, toss out the Pledge and Endust! Instead, mix a little olive oil (or, organic flax oil, if you have it), some lemon juice or white vinegar and the essential oil of your choice (grapefruit or lemon & lavender are great choices). Use an old rag, soak, wring and wipe your wood furniture. Keep using the same rag, just repeating the dip-&-wring. It cleans & polishes and the wood stays dust-free longer as there are no chemicals that attract the dust in there (why do you think you have to keep buying Pledge? They don’t want you to be dust-free!). We have two cockatiels, and let me tell you, Fred & Ginger put out a TON of bird dust from their powder feathers. My cherry furniture looks great (and relatively dust-free) since I todded the commercial products and began using homemade furniture cleaners.
Another easy (and CHEAP) window cleaner: mix cornstarch and water into a slurry (you can add some vinegar, too, if you want). Dip a cloth into this, wring it out, wipe the window and polish with a dry cloth (this is a great husband-wife team job!). The windows sparkle, no smidges or film and it works great!
We haven’t used purchased cleaners in our house for years and our house is very clean! Better for us and for the environment.
You don’t need Clorox and other toxic chemicals in you home. There was a study recently in a couple of hospitals in Australia where they used vinegar and tea tree oil versus the “high-powered” chemical antibacterials. The vinegar and TTO worked better!! Less infections in the areas where they were used and NO chemical sensitivities/reactions in the patients in those areas, as well.
Basic IS better!
Leslie @ Quail Meadow Creations
I remember when I got fired from McDonald’s at age 15 the motto was, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” I only have time to lean…
I make some natural cleansers using d-Limonene, an orange oil, and poly 20. This creates an amazing degreaser for dishes (use poly 20 and d-Limonene in equal amounts — about 5%). When I’m making lotions, just a squirt into the oily pyrex jug, leave for a few minutes, and the oil disintegrates. You can use this is any cleanser you want for windows, counter tops, etc. You can increase the d-Limonene to 10%, but remember to always increase the poly 20 at the same time. I love this stuff for cleaning up my workshop post lotion making!
Who wants to be remembered for a clean house anyway?
Here is something for those windows and mirrors. Cheers, Jacquelyn
This chemical-free household cleaning formula is great for countertops and mirrors and the essential oil (eo) blend will uplift your senses!In a 32 ounce (960 ml) spray bottle add the following: 20 drops lemon eo,15 drops sweet orange eo,10 drops lavender eo,10 drops clove bud eo,10 drops tea tree eo,1 TBSP white vinegar. Mix well and then fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water. Shake well before each use.
koinonia community says
Wow, you got alot of comments on this post! I am a professed clean freak. Yes, I know I have issues. It is the OCD in me and the fact that I don’t know how to sit still or relax. I just do a little each day, and make sure it it straightened up and cleaned before I head to bed each night. My hubby picks on me about it.
As for the cleaners, I clean just about everything with white vinegar and water. I usually add orange oil to it, but change off to a lavander/orange blend or others depending on what strikes my fancy for the day. It even works great for floors – they don’t streak. I use the same mixture for windows and mirrors and if you use white vinegar in your rinse in the laundry instead of fabric softener, you can use rags instead of paper towels for glass and mirrors and they will shine.
For a scrub I just use plain borax or baking soda. I even make a daily shower spray (which you need if you use soap instead of detergents in the shower) and a homemade laundry detergent.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your folks. The salmon sounds very yummy. We’re having broiled catfish. I have been wanting to go hiking for the last several weeks but it has either been over 100 degrees or around 90 degrees with nearly 100 percent humidity. So I have just been staying inside and growing lazy. The girls and I did make some lip balm though. They even designed their own labels. =)
I’m currently looking at rabid dust bunnies perched atop the radiator behind my bed. I too hate cleaning, despise it. I bet our houses look one in the same. But if you get me mad enough, I’ll clean like I’m trying to sterilize the place for surgery.
I don’t profess to be the Queen of Clean…that woman would have a hayday in my house! Yup, that’s my house…mess, disorganization, and clutter everywhere!!! I keep hoping someone will nominate my house for Clean Sweep. That would be sweeeeeet!!!!
Yay for messy houses! Messy house = fun life. I really only clean when there are foul and mysterious odors afoot.
Have a great weekend with your folks!
I was laughing so hard while I was reading this, b/c this is me in a nutshell. BUT, when we have visitors hubby still does most of the cleaning! I never mopped our other house until we moved out and I did the yucky scrubbing under the refrig, oven, and dw until I realized I don’t know how to mop! It still looked dirty to me. And vacuum… hubby swears I have some form of an allergy to it… I can never figure out how to get the self-propel to work. It really shouldn’t be that complicated! So, this was an absolute hoot to read. Thank you!!
Lynn, Thanks! I can’t wait for my folks to get here. Salmon BBQ tonight, hiking and picnic tomorrow and Bocce Ball Tournament Sunday. It’ll be a hoot!
Colleen, I’m with ya’! Cleaning windows is one of my least favorite things to do. I’m listening to the Four-Hour-Workweek guy right now and he’s saying to hire that stuff out. Maybe that’s how the windows get magically cleaned at other houses? =)
Regina, I know! I know! How in the world did he even see the spots? He never usually comments on house stuff.
SpottedCow, love the sentiment. “Antique Lace,” I like it.
Dcyrill, My Mom DOES love me, no matter what (and that’s a good thing. I have many flaws bigger than the cleaning aversion). I wonder if she wants to do a Mother/Daughter project and clean windows in between hiking and bocce ball? Maybe THAT’S how they’ll get done?
I put in a book on tape (audible) to get through my cleaning, but if I had to choose music to listen to, I would choose upbeat, happy, poppy stuff to make me dance around. So without further ado:
Tunes To Clean By
Outta My Head (Ashlee Simpson)
Get It Poppin (Fat Joe)
A Public Affair (Jessica Simpson)
SexyBack (Justin Timberlake)
God Digger (Kanye West)
Manbo No. 5 (Lous Bega)
Save a Horse (Big & Rich)
Bucky Done Gun (M.I.A.)
Totally poppy, totally 13 year old musical tastes but these tunes will keep you happy, upbeat and give you the momentum needed to make it through… =)
[email protected] Birch says
You described my house except I also so have some rogue Froot Loops & Smartfood in the mix!
Thanks for the recipes! I’m totally inspired to do a little mixing and get to work. I’m thinking aromatherapy with a clean house being the bonus!
Now to pick some great cleaning tunes… any suggestions?
Suds to Love says
I’m supposed to clean the windows?
I’ve never done that, we put a few new ones about 3-4 years ago and some of them still have stickers in them! I’m lucky if I get the basement (where we spend all our time) vaccumed 1-2 times a week and I cobweb as I see them, when I remember. Cleaning is definitely not my strong point and organization is even worse then that.
Sometimes when I do clean, I wonder, why bother, with three dogs it only takes about 30 seconds to look like I hadn’t done anything!
Oh! I forgot to mention that I’ve been making my own cleaning wipes (think Clorox wipes without the harsh stuff) for a while now.
I keep these in an old coffee can (the plastic variety works great for this).
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
-1/2 cup vinegar (I use distilled white)
-1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid (like Dawn, but liquid soap would work too)
-15 drops rosemary eo
-8 drops tea tree eo
-8 drops lemongrass eo
-1 roll of paper towels, the stronger the better.
Mix this all together and store in a mason jar (or something similar). Pour half the solution into the coffee can and set aside. Using a sharp kitchen knife, CAREFULLY cut the paper towel roll in half. Place one half of the roll into the coffee can; store the remaining half in a plastic zip-top bag until needed.
Let the solution wick up the length of the roll (or flip the roll after 5 minutes to ensure both ends get wet) and voila! You may need more or less solution depending on how wet you like/need the wipes to be. Works great for me.
That was hilarious… bleach fumes can be killer. I can say that I use vinegar (diluted) when cleaning. It is great for getting rid of odors. I use it in the garbage disposal and even add some to the solution when cleaning the carpets.
A can of coke can also do wonders for those lavatory bowls. Just pour it in a leave it for a while.
Have a great weekend with your parents.
LOL! Dust bunnies make very nice pets, IMO…and spiders keep the gnats and other flying things in check with their webs, so spiders (most of them, anyway) are our friends and its unkind to destroy the hard work of our friends. I’m all for a laissez faire housekeeping style. 😉
Your smelly surface cleaning solution is very similar to mine except I add peppermint oil to keep the ants away (ants do NOT make good pets, BTW), eucalyptus oil because I like the smell and it also has antimicrobial properties. Plain old vinegar and newspaper are good for windows, but it’s easier to just hang sheer curtains to hide the dirt and stuff. 😉
Heavenly Scent Soaps says
You have me cracking up, too! I’m betting that my house is messier!
Add to those dust bunnies and cobwebs, mud (and stuff) that I track in after being at the barn with my horses, plus dog hair from my companions at home (luckily, we have tile flooring – no carpeting).
But, my soaping room stays pristine with NO DOGS ALLOWED!
And, my hubby and I were BOTH in the military. Boy, we must be slacking!
Have a nice visit with your family!
: – )
Hon, I used to clean houses for a living, way back when we were broke and my soap wasn’t making us much money. There is NO SHAME in your house being dirty as long as you have something else to show for it. Happy marriage, solid portfolio, thriving business. You get the idea.
However, I know how you feel. Both my parents are ex-military, so they thrive on order and organization. This also means a spic-n-span environment. I panic every time they say, “Hey we just flew in from XYZ and thought we’d drop by for lunch!” (We live near RDU airport.) I know about the mad scramble to make things presentable. Just remember that you only need worry about the places your folks will actually see, i.e. counters, sinks, bookcases, etc. Behind the bookcases and under the couch aren’t as important as those other things, especially if you plan on keeping them busy this weekend.
Buck up, hon. You’ll do fine. 🙂
Ive heard stories of housewives dying from mixing 2 cleansers together (fumes mixed I guess), so be careful! I wouldnt be able to handle the irony if the Soap Queen dies from cleaning chemical fumes.
You had me laughing so hard, I nearly fell of my chair. The clorax scene really did it for me. I have mixed clorax with other chemicals in an effort to make my bathroom be “more” cleaner and only found myself passing out wondering why I was on the floor.
A good book on less toxic living is Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. You may have heard of it. The is a wealth of information on household cleaning solutions like the ones you posted.
If your Mom loves you, she will not mind if the windows are dirty. LOL
Those are NOT cobwebs ~ it is antique lace!
what a chuckle!! Especially the “laid back hubby” pointing out the missed spots! lol
You’re supposed to clean the windows??? LOL! No wonder it always looks cloudy outside!
You have described my house! I figure if you name the dust bunnies and spiders then they become pets so can stay (grin).
I will try some of those homemade products. Thanks! And have lots of fun with your parents.