There’s nothing more calming and relaxing than a clean house–but it can feel like an uphill battle to get to a clean house! Unless you’re in a position to hire a professional cleaner, the bulk of the work will likely fall to you. If you find yourself a little short on the energy needed (and a little long on the list of chores to complete), why not try some of these tips and shortcuts?
Over time, I’ve worked hard to cut out commercial (chemical) cleaners as much as possible, both for the sake of our health and our budget. Sometimes it’s hard to find a natural replacement for the products on the market, but in this particular instance, I’ve actually come to love my homemade alternative much better than anything I used to buy!
It couldn’t be easier or cheaper! In a spray bottle, combine equal parts white vinegar and Dawn dish soap (I’m not brand loyal, but in this case, Dawn really does seem to do the job best). Mix well and spray over the surface to be cleaned– bathtub, shower walls, kitchen sink, even the toilet. Let it stand 15-30 minutes (longer for more grime). You’ll want the area to be well-ventilated, because the vinegar smell is a little overpowering.
Once the solution has had time to sit, simply wipe off with a sponge (I usually don’t even need to scrub), then rinse with water. I have put this cleaner to the TEST with some soap scummy, grimy surfaces, and it works like magic every time!
If your microwave likes to sport splashes and splattered food like mine does, and you just don’t have the energy to scrub it out, try this simple trick: fill a microwave-safe bowl about halfway full of lemon juice and a little water. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. While the microwave is still steamy from the heated lemon juice/water, simply wipe down with a washcloth or sponge. The steam and lemon combined tend to loosen even the toughest greasy spots, making it easy to clean!
Boy, those baked-on and cooked-on foods can be a chore to clean! Sometimes it’s more of an arm workout than I can manage. When I have stubborn food residue in my pots and pans, I normally take one of two approaches. First, I add a squirt of dish soap to the bottom of the pan, fill halfway with hot water, and let it sit for a few hours. When it’s time to clean the pan, I use a spoon to scrape any stubborn food still holding on, then just wipe the pan out with a soapy sponge or washcloth.
Once in a while, this isn’t enough. For stubborn pots and pans, I add just a little dish soap, a tablespoon or two of vinegar, and a little hot water. I place the pot back on the stove and let it come to a gentle boil. Once it’s been going at a rolling boil for several minutes, I take a spoon and try to loosen the food. Usually after just a few minutes, everything has come loose and it’s just a matter of running a sponge or washcloth over the pot to make sure it’s all the way clean.
Garbage Disposal Freshener
Garbage disposals can sometimes take on a funky odor. There are products on the market that help minimize these odors, but actually a much easier solution is available. Save a few peels from a citrus fruit, such as lemon, orange, or mandarin (thinner peels are best). Push them down into the disposal along with a few ice cubes. Run cold water and run the disposal as you normally would. The citrus and ice help dislodge food residue and leave a fresh citrusy smell behind.
A cheap, easy, effective cleaner for everything from countertops to windows to furniture is to fill a spray bottle 1/8-1/4 full of white vinegar, a few drops of essential oil (for fragrance), and fill the rest of the way with water. To clean, just spray the solution onto the surface and wipe with a clean cloth. I like to use oils like nutmeg and clove for a homey, spicy smell that lingers everywhere that I’ve cleaned.
Sometimes it can be painful or difficult to grip a duster or rag for cleaning. One super easy, super quick way to dust surfaces in the house is with a sock. Just slide a clean sock over your hand, and wipe down dusty furniture, pictures, blinds, and any other surfaces. Most socks will create a little static cling that helps to collect dust. When one side gets too dirty, just rotate the sock to a clean side. Inside, your hand can be in whatever position is most comfortable and painless: open palm, fist, or whatever works for you.
I have a house full of adults, kids, and pets, so from time to time our carpets need a little deeper clean than I can get with just a regular vacuum. And by deeper clean, I mean I need a way to get the stink out. A super simple solution is to sprinkle baking soda over the carpet. Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes, then vacuum up. The baking soda helps neutralize odors without leaving behind any residue (and it just might help freshen your vacuum bag, too!). This trick works well on couches and mattresses, too. Just sprinkle, let sit, and vacuum!
Easy Floor Cleaning
Vacuuming can be a majorly exhausting endeavor, between moving the heavy vacuum itself and working around a long cord (trip hazard, am I right?). While most of this list is made up of tips and recipes for your own cleaner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this tip for one of my favorite energy-saving gadgets: the push sweeper. There are dozens of these on the market, and all of them have a few things in common: they are lightweight and easy to push, they’re easy to empty without taking things apart, and they make it easy to give your floors a quick once-over. As an added bonus, they don’t use any electricity at all, making them both an eco-friendly option, and one that doesn’t impact your electrical bill. It doesn’t always get into corners well, so eventually you will need to sweep with a broom or vacuum, but for those maintenance cleaning days, I love these little brooms (and they’re inexpensive enough that you could even keep one on each floor of your house, to avoid carrying it up and down stairs!).
What are some of your best cleaning tips to save energy (and money)?