When I see a smudge or dirty spot, I clean the area right away. If I see something that needs dusting, I dust it. Once a week, I dust the entire house. The bathroom gets used the most, so on a daily basis I wipe this or that and it is clean and kept clean. It only takes a few minutes and when cleaning day arrives I don't have to work as hard.
What four letter word do housekeepers all have in common? Dust. Although house dust is comprised of harmless particles of natural materials like skin, hair, pollen, insect parts, plant matter, paper and other natural fibers-it can also be contaminated by a wide variety of pollutants like heavy metals, pesticides, hydrocarbons, synthetic chemicals and other toxins. Here are some tips for keeping your home as dust-free and healthy as possible.
Dust Reducing Tips:
Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter) on all of your floors and surfaces. HEPA filters catch dust and trap it effectively so you can safely dispose of it outside the home. Many vacuums catch large particles and blow the smaller particles back out into the air. HEPA filtration prevents this re-circulation and isolates all the contaminated dust you capture.
Vacuum floors and upholstered fabrics once a week to avoid dust build-up.
Vacuum or (when possible) wash curtains and drapes frequently in hot water.
When vacuuming, improve ventilation by opening doors and windows. Send children and pets out of the room.
To kill any dust mites that might be present, bedding and mattress pads should be washed at least once a week in hot water that is at least 130 F. If you don't want to set your water heater that high, use the commercial grade washers at a laundromat.
Allergy experts recommend washing your pillows occasionally in the washing machine. Feather pillows can be washed using a delicate cycle and a small amount of detergent. Dry them on low in the dryer with several tennis balls to restore their fluff.
Dust frequently, at least weekly. Avoid feather dusters or other tools that simply stir up dust so you can inhale it before it settles back onto surfaces.
Use a damp cloth or mop instead, rinsing frequently in a bucket of hot water.
Use wood or other hard surfaces for flooring wherever possible. Non-carpeted flooring won't trap dust and pollutants and is easier to clean and maintain.
Where you need something soft, use washable rugs made from natural fibers that won't off-gas toxic chemicals or require the use of toxic adhesives.
Avoid using traditional spray cleaners or furniture waxes when dusting. These products contain a variety of synthetic chemicals and are considered some of the most toxic cleaning products available.
Keep walkways and entrances to your home free of dirt, soil, and other materials that can get tracked into the house.
Make use of doormats near exterior doors, and vacuum them regularly to make sure they don't become a source of dust.
Shoes are one of the prime ways dust (and pollutants) enter the home. Post a friendly sign asking everyone to remove their shoes before entering.
Get rid of excess clutter. It attracts dust and makes it harder to keep surfaces clean. (It also makes your brain dusty.) Store and display collections and knick knacks in glass cabinets or display cases.
Ban smoking in your home. Tobacco smoke contributes to the particulate pollution burden your home's dust carries (especially the volatile organic compound benzene). Secondhand smoke also poses a direct threat to your health.
Purify the air in every room with a plant. Plants naturally absorb many of the toxic gases that a modern home traps inside. NASA studies have shown that spider plants, philodendron, and pothos can absorb as much as 80% of the formaldehyde in a room in 24 hours.
Washing your pets regularly and keep them well-groomed to cut down on dander. With a bit of training, even cats will tolerate the occasional bath.
Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
I save money a number of different ways by keeping a clean house. This may seem like "too much work" to some people or you may say it "takes too long", however I have not found that to be the case. True, I am a SAHM, but I do have other activities that keep me busy throughout the day, such as running a farm, and being a home schooling teaching mom. I find that I can clean our home in about 45 minutes a day. My children also take part in cleaning; as each is responsible for their own room and bathroom. They share laundry and kitchen chores. We don't buy fancy cleaners or air fresheners. We do a lot of our cleaning with lemon juice and salt, vinegar, baking soda, some bleach, and soap and water. For air freshener, we usually burn a candle or use a match. I will go through the typical home, room by room, and point out the ways that keeping it clean is saving us money.
Entryway or Doorway
I keep our entrances clean and free of clutter. First off, I don't want a guest (or anyone else) tripping over clutter and getting hurt or suing me. I keep a rug by each door for dirty or wet shoes to go onto. By encouraging people to take their shoes off at the door, it saves the life of the carpet and my carpet cleaner. I also make sure that once the shoes are cleaned and dried, that they then go into their proper closet.
Living room, Family room, Hallways and Bedrooms
I vacuum or sweep daily. I also vacuum the heat registers and cold exchange ducts weekly. This keeps dust out of the air and makes it easier for those with allergies so that they do not have to take their allergy medicine as often, making it last longer. It also helps the furnace not to work as hard so the motor will last longer.
Weekly (or more often if we use the fireplace), I wipe down the light bulbs with a damp rag, while the light bulbs are cold. Dusty lights do not put out as much light, which makes a person unnecessarily use a higher watt bulb, or turn on more lights than necessary. I also clean the globes on the ceiling light fixtures every month or more often. It only takes a couple of minutes for nice bright results.
I hit the windows once a week on the inside with a vinegar and water solution. The outside I get about once a month. I do have newer windows and I can get the outside from the inside. This allows more light into the house, keeping the lights off.
I wipe down the TV screen and electronics every few days. This keeps dirt and dust from collecting on them and making them last longer.
Once a day, I take a rag damp with vinegar water or bleach water (diluted) and wipe surfaces down to help prevent the passing on of germs. These surfaces include the remote controls, telephones, door and cabinet knobs. It only takes me about 5 minutes to do the entire house.
I don't like clutter in the house. I have been in houses where it is cold, and I see that they have boxes and stuff stacked up over the heat registers. I make sure ours are uncovered while the A/C or heat are on. I also make sure that clutter or shoes do not block doorways. This ensures that doors can be completely shut. I keep our closet doors closed so that we are not paying to heat or cool the inside of the closet.
Twice a year, I rotate and flip the mattresses and then vacuum them. This extends the life of the mattress. If you have a larger/heavier person in your home, you would probably want to flip and rotate them more often.
I wash the curtains every few months and rehang them in the opposite window. This allows them to sun fade more evenly and be replaced less often. I just throw them in with the regular laundry and line dry.
Kitchen and dining room
I keep my kitchen cabinets and pantry clean and organized. Why pay to go buy a spice or can of something you already have just because you can't find it? I run through the cabinets and pantry weekly, and rotate foods according to the dates on them. I do the same with the refrigerator. This prevents food waste and spoilage. Why spend money buying food to rot away? That's gross. When I do dishes, either in the dishwasher or the sink, I add several tablespoons of bleach or vinegar. This helps to kill germs and prevent colds from being passed on. I regularly clean the coils of the refrigerator and freezer, so that the motor doesn't have to work so hard and overheat. My trash is emptied daily, and my wastebasket is washed out at least once a week with soapy water to prevent it from smelling bad. This also helps to not attract bugs and other creatures into the house. (Anything that is a food item, I try to feed to the chickens or dog to cut down on feed costs.)
The bathrooms get wiped down daily with vinegar water or bleach water. I keep lots of cheap toothbrushes on hand and change them frequently. This helps to cut down on colds and sore throats. The bathroom trash is emptied daily. I make sure wet towels are hung up to dry and not sitting aro und to mildew. This increases the life of the towels. Often you will find our bathroom windows open about 1/2 inch at both the top and bottom for air circulation.
In the Basement
We keep a clean filter on our furnace and A/C unit. This prevents dust and dirt from being blown through out the house and also helps with allergies and to prevent sicknesses.
I stay on top of our laundry. I try to do a load daily. This way, we aren't buying more socks or underwear because it's all dirty . I can also have time to line dry it by doing a load a day. We use cloth napkins in our house at mealtime, and this also ensures they are always clean, so no one is using disposable ones. (The cloth napkins just go into the next load of laundry, regardless of the color).
You must stay organized in the office. If you don't, you misplace bills and get charged late fees. I keep all the office supplies in one area. I have found since I organized the office two years ago, that we have not had to buy any pens or pencils since. Any free ones we get from businesses or vendor shows go into the pen and pencil bin. I also keep our coupons organized in a bin in the office. We have a special file for warranty information. That keeps us from paying for repair calls that we may not need to.
Yard, Garage, Barn
Keep these areas clutter free! Put items, tools and toys back away when you are finished using them. This prevents garden hoses and toys from being lost, run over with the mower (causing you to buy new and pay for mower repairs). Why does my brother have 4 snow shovels? Because he keeps forgetting where he left them. Ours are hung on nails in the garage and barn. Our hoses are kept rolled up to prevent them from being run over, mowed over, frozen or chewed up by a dog. When we buy motor oil, or wiper fluid, it ALWAYS goes on the same shelf in the garage. If it isn't there, we know we are out. We are not buying more when there is a case of it laying all spread out in the barn, basement and garage. Tools need to be put back where they belong so they are not lost and needlessly replaced, or allowed to get rusty and broken. Make sure everything has its own home, and gets returned to it. Keeping tools picked up also prevents someone from having an accident, such a stepping on a pitchfork. Above all, stay organized. Always keep items in the same spot. That way you are not buying what you don't need.
Declutter! Turn unwanted items into cash. Sell them; get them out of the way. If it's trash, then put it out with the trash. Otherwise, you are basically storing garbage, paying yourself to heat and cool it, and to clean around it. Also, you can donate items and get a receipt for your taxes.
If you try to wait to clean, you shouldn't. Just get it out of the way so you can hang out with friends and family. Also, don't yell at your kids if they don't want to clean, because you remember being a kid don't you? You didn't want to have to spend your weekend having to vacuum or do dishes of fold laundry did you?
My number one housekeeping tip is to have a place for everything, and to put everything back in its place as soon as you are finished with it.
The one and only thing I don't put back immediately is the iron-that goes on top of the stove until it cools completely. Letting it cool atop the range means people see something on the stove and instinctively think HOT, plus, I have to put it away to cook. Win-Win:)
If you make a habit of putting things away every time, you're ahead of the game because the house stays tidy all the time.
When I hear "housecleaning," I think of a person who comes in and does a thorough job of cleaning out a house... getting rid of the deep grime and junk, deep-cleaning carpets, washing walls and windows, getting into the closets and under beds, etcetera... really CLEANING that house. Sort of a one time thing to get a house that has slipped behind back into shape and ready for daily maintenance tasks. An expensive, dirty, lengthy, thorough job.
When I hear "housekeeping," I picture someone who comes into an already fairly clean house and does small maintenance tasks like laundry, dishes, dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc. The sorts of things which most people just do from day to day. In other words, keeping the house clean.
If you are offering both of these sorts of services, be sure to outline in your policies what each one is and is not. You don't want to come into a home expecting to just dust and sweep but discover that first you will have to scrape up filth and throw out mounds of garbage! And on the other hand you wouldn't want to over-charge someone for simple light dusting.
Be sure the customer knows what the price will be for deep cleaning versus "light housekeeping." You might want to visit first to get an estimate of the job, or charge more for your first visit but after that charge less because it will just be upkeep.
If this is in conjunction with a companion or sitting service, the usual form is doing "housekeeping" in the form of small tasks, sometimes including cooking meals (my mother used to do this sort of work). If the customer expects more (clean out my fridge and de-clutter my closets), charge more accordingly. But be sure that both parties know what to expect for your service so no one feels cheated.
I'm a young mom of two toddlers. One is 3 yrs old and the other is 17 months. I find I am constantly picking up after them, it's kinda overwhelming. And also at the end of the day I am tired and don't wanna do much cleaning after they go to bed. I am the type of person that needs 8- 9 hrs a night.
One of the ideas I have come up with is to put them in their bedroom with a baby gate and sweep and mop the floor for 30 minutes. And just play with them in the bedroom until the floor dries. What are some of your ideas to keep your house clean with your kids, babies, etc.?
Having raised four kids and knowing the sheer number of excess toys their kids have, I'd subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy. If the kids aren't swamped in dozens of toys, not only will your home automatically be neater, they'll appreciate what they have. Giving away their older, gently-used toys will make some poorer child very happy. Thrift shops of all stripes are more than glad to process them, and of course there's always the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. I'm also an advocate of turning cleaning into a game, a la Mary Poppins (without the magic, of course, lol!) Poor as we always were, I never could make the "chore chart" work for my brood. Simply put, I lacked the means for those cash incentives.
*** Tips and strategies for keeping your house clean from the ThriftyFun community.
When cleaning, do every job as fast as you can and time yourself. You'll then know it's not such a chore if you know each task is only going to take a few minutes. I think it was Parkinson's Law that said "Work expands to fit the time available" and that's certainly true of housework. If I work fast, I can clean the entire house in 3 hours. If I don't, it can take all week.
During commercials, I pick up things. As soon as I hear my show come back on, I stop cleaning. That way, I'm not sitting around wasting time watching commercials and my apartment stays clean without putting in hours at a time. I reward myself with TV time by speed cleaning.
The easiest and only way to really keep the house clean is to first pick up the clutter and put it in it's place. You can't get to the dust unless you can reach it. With that in mind, here's what I do:
Tidy up first.
Dust with a vacuum as much as you can, if there is someone with sensitive lungs.
Do cobwebs with a duster or a broom
Make the bathroom and the kitchen top priorities. Use cleaners that are meant for the kind of cleaning you're doing. A spray bottle with a few teaspoons of bleach will kill the germs on countertops.
My most favorite cleaning item is a feather duster (about $5 at Walmart). It makes dusting fun and easy. Another tip is to do a little something every day, so cleaning up doesn't become such a big deal. And you can make great use of the commercial breaks on TV, you'll be surprised how much you can get done in several 3-5 minute breaks.
Designate A Day For Each Room
I once read that the most successful housewives did this: One day was designated to one room. Like Mondays: Kitchen; fridge, sweep, mop, and clean counters. Tuesdays: Living Room; dust, vacuum, so on. Of course, clean as you go. But this insures that you have at least hit a room once per week. For laundry: we have white night, colored night, and towel night.
By Tracy Elaine
Imagine A Clock
Here are some tips I read long ago. When the room is out of control and you don't know where to start, just imagine the face of a clock. Pick a corner to be 12 and work your way around. For the bathroom, in a pinch, grab a wad of toilet paper, slosh alcohol onto it and wipe the sink/counter then do the toilet, starting at the top, then flush the wad away.
When I start to tidy a bedroom, the very first thing I do is to make the bed. My college roommate taught me this trick and I'm teaching it to my kids now. It makes the whole room look cleaner and gives you the oomph to continue. I find that this works well with the couch cushions in the living room as well.
Don't Be Like Me :-)
Do not live in the country; gravel and dirt get tracked into the house on the shoes, like my home. If you do have kids; get them to have chores to do. Before they can use the car for the evening, they have to clean up the kitchen or maybe wash up the bathroom. They want a privilege, okay, this is what needs to be done.
Don't have dogs or cats in the house (like I do), especially shedding ones (like I do, a Cocker spaniel). They also track dirt into the house and leave fur/hair everywhere in the house.
Electric forced air furnaces blow the dust in your home around, whereas radiant heat and baseboards do not. A girlfriend just moved into a newer home. She is now complaining about having to dust all the time. If you do have a forced air furnace in your home, get the duct work cleaned out once in a while.
Do not do any renovations to your home that requires drywall, like we did. It makes lots of dust when installing and priming with paint. The sanding down of the walls, lots of dust again.
Do not open your windows in the home. The wind will blow dust into your home and you will have to dust more often. This just isn't done in my home. I like fresh air.
Do not place bird feeders at the front door like I have. Now I also have sunflower shells coming into the house, tracked in by the kids, husband, dog and myself.
Teenagers/kids and their friends can also create quite a mess. Make your teenager/kids clean up their own mess after the "party". Don't you do it for them.
Do not be a collector of anything. The more stuff you have, the more things to take care of and clean. This is not happening here in my home either, I love collecting perennials (more to clean in the garden). I collect or have many crafting hobbies, more stuff, and I love reading, more books.
I remember way back to life in our first apartment just after we got married, no extra stuff, no kids, no pets, lived in town, no birds, gone to work all day (no one home to mess up the place). Boring, would much rather have what I have now, with all it's work and cleaning up to do!!
I made myself up a schedule. Each day I clean one or 2 rooms, do one or 2 loads of laundry. And during the seasons, I mow one section of the yard. I'm normally done within 2-3 hours and then I have the rest of the day to myself. And my house always stays clean.
I even have a day to clean the car in there. But if for whatever reason I am unable to do a certain day's cleaning I don't worry about it. I just skip it and move on the next day. Unless that room is extremely messy and it's not one I can just close the door on, in that case I just add it to the next day and just do a "lick and a promise" so I'm not embarrassed about it. Then the following week I make up for it. This schedule has made my life so much simpler and I have so much more time now to enjoy the day. (04/28/2009)