Category: cleaning and organization

A Simple Method for a Sink that Sparkles!

by Davi, Guest Contributor

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in keeping a clean home is the power of homemaking habits. Repeating the small, boring chores makes a big impact on your home. Intentional habits allow us to better organize our time. They allow us to spend less time with chores and more time with family.

Morning and evening routines are important because they enable us to start the day with a purpose, rather than reacting to what the day brings. My morning list includes making the bed and wiping down the bathroom counters. In the evenings, my list includes cleaning the high chair, sorting the mail, and cleaning the kitchen sink. Every evening after dinner, I rinse the sink and empty it of any dishes. The sink is the heart of the kitchen, and when my sink is clean, my whole kitchen feels clean.

Once a week, the kitchen becomes the focus during the day. This is the day I wipe down appliances, straighten the pantry, clean out the fridge, and deep clean the kitchen sink. Cleaning the sink last feels like the frosting on the cake- the last step when I give myself a pat on the back and admire the room.

Steps for a Stainless Steel Sink that Shines

Step 1: Quick Clean the Basin
Using warm water and a sponge, rinse out the sink to remove any food particles and empty the strainers.

Step 2: Scrub the Basin
Sprinkle baking soda in the basin and scrub in a circular motion with a soft sponge. This will remove any stuck on stains, but is gentle enough that the baking soda won’t damage your sink. Don’t forget the area around the disposal and to scrub the strainers as well.

Step 3: Remove Hard Water Stains with Vinegar
White vinegar is one of my favorite cleaning tools. It’s an excellent way to remove hard water stains, soap scum, and a great general use cleaner. I keep a 50/50 mixture of water/white vinegar in a squirt bottle for cleaning purposes. Spray the vinegar into the sink (the baking soda/vinegar mixture will fizz) and then rinse with warm water.

Step 4: Clean the Garbage Disposal
My favorite way to freshen up the garbage disposal is to drop a slice of lemon into it and turn the disposal on. The lemon cleans while also making the disposal smell great. We have a lemon tree in our backyard so we always have frozen lemons in the freezer.
Another easy, inexpensive way to clean your disposal is a garbage disposal refresher. The DIY refreshers contain ingredients you most likely already have.
Finally, using a dishcloth or paper towel, dry your sink basin.

Step 5: Make it Shine
The last step is my favorite because it makes my sink look brand new. Buff the sink basin with a dish cloth or paper towel using baby oil (olive oil also works great too).

Avoid These Mistakes With Your Stainless Steel Sink

  • Don’t leave wet sponges or rags on the sink to dry. This can cause bacteria to grow and leaves water stains. Rubber dish pads should be taken out to dry for the same reason.
  • Steel wool or steel brushes are too abrasive for your sink and can cause permanent scratches.
  • Leaving dirty items in the sink can cause stains that are difficult to remove. Wash dishes as soon as possible.
  • Don’t use bleach in your sink. I’ve made this mistake by soaking clothes in the sink in a bleach mixture. The sink will look very clean afterward, but over time the bleach will remove the finish.

Following these steps will leave you with a sparkling sink that looks immaculate!

What is your “must do” chore in the kitchen?

Davi writes at Homegrown Simplicity about intentional living, motherhood, and minimalism. She is passionate about helping mothers find joy in the ordinary by removing the clutter from their homes, minds, and life. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter for simple living inspiration.

How to Crisis Clean

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clean a disaster

I know what you’re thinking. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to crisis clean. We would have habits and routines and the house would never be completely out of control!

I completely agree. However, when we’re completely honest, most of us have had times where our homes were completely out of control. My son got the stomach bug last winter, and that was one of those times for me. I dropped everything else to take care of him. That was good and the right thing to do, but my home needed some serious help when he was better.

I had kept all of the sheets clean, but other than that? Oh man. Toys on the floor, dishes piled all over the counters, unsorted mail on the table…you get the idea.

Honestly, sometimes our homes are out of control because of laziness. I’ve been there. When we’ve lost control, a sense of overwhelm hits us as soon as we walk in the door. When my home has been in that state, it’s not a place of rest any more. It’s a place of stress that makes me feel frazzled.

But we don’t have to live this way. By doing a few basic tasks, we can make a huge impact on our homes…and on our sanity.

How to Crisis Clean:

Throw away trash. Hopefully everything made it into the trash can during the crisis. If it didn’t, dealing with trash is the best way to start. Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step plan for getting one’s finances in order is designed to give you a psychological “win” quickly. He suggests saving $1,000 in an emergency fund before you do anything else. When you feel you’ve been successful at one step, it gives you motivation to continue. Dealing with the trash first is the same principle.

Catch up on your dishes. It’s okay if you have to run the dishwasher more than once in one day. When I have it together, we don’t need to run it more than once a day because we have a small family. But life happens.

While the dishwasher is running, sweep your kitchen and wipe the counters.

Run one load of laundry. It starts with one load. I generally do one load a day. Depending on how long the crisis lasted, you might need to do more to get back on track. It’s okay. I wash all of my sheets, towels, and bathroom rugs after we’ve been sick.

Clean the sink and the toilet. In my opinion, these are the highest priority areas in your bathroom. The sink tends to collect hair, toothpaste remnants, and other gross things. We won’t go into detail about the toilet. If you have little boys, the floor around the toilet is also high priority.

Your house won’t be 100% perfectly clean just from these things, but it will be better. Better is good. Especially when you’re coming out of a crisis.

To download a printable checklist to help you get out of crisis mode in your home, click the button below.

The Power of Homemaking Habits

cleaning habits

When I was first married, I was overwhelmed by keeping my home. Of course, the fact that I was pregnant and sick and operating with about half of my usual energy wasn’t helping, but I also had no routine.

I was operating under the incorrect idea that the key was to get things clean Once and For All. Unfortunately, that’s not how it actually works. People who have clean houses work at it, and they do boring tasks over and over. There is no way to escape this fact. Sadness.

The benefit of habits though, is that eventually they become second nature and you don’t have to actively think about them as much. I’ve reached this point with some household tasks, but definitely not all.

My husband and I will be celebrating our second anniversary this summer. I finally feel as if I have some level of control over my house. This is in large part due to some homemaking habits that I have established.

I always have a cardboard box for Goodwill donations. Always. No exceptions. I used to think that decluttering was the kind of thing where you went through your house and got rid of stuff every few months. What I’ve learned is that I’m constantly finding something else that needs to go to Goodwill. Alternatively, I’m always finding that my toddler has outgrown yet another article of clothing that needs to be packed away in a storage bin. We get sales flyers and junk mail all the time, and those have to be sorted, examined, and then tossed. The key is to deal with the clutter immediately.

The dishwasher is run once a day…about 90% of the time. I’m still working on this. Sometimes I try to justify not starting the dishwasher because there MIGHT be room for one more fork…but that’s really just procrastination. I need to stop that.

I load the washing machine every morning. I don’t actually do a load of laundry every single day, because we only have three people in our household and we don’t generate enough laundry to need to do it daily. However, the act of gathering the laundry and putting it in the washer allows me to stay on top of it. When laundry is piling up and making the hampers overflow, I get stressed. Stressed is not good.

I make my bed every day. It just makes the bedroom look nicer, and it doesn’t take long.

I make sure the bathroom counters are clear each morning. Not everyone does this, but it drives me crazy if there is makeup, shaving cream, razors, toothpaste, or anything else of that nature piled all over the bathroom counter.

My deep cleaning skills still need some work, but implementing these five tasks into my routines has improved the appearance of my home!

What cleaning tasks do you do every day?

101 in 1001: Update #1

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101 in 1001

This is my first update on my 101 in 1001. I’m planning to write one of these every 3 months or so. Instead of the more traditional New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to do a list of 101 things to be done in 1001 days instead. My 1001 days began on December 15, 2016 and will conclude on September 12, 2019. I broke down my goals by category when I wrote the original list, so I’ll be doing that here as well.

Faith

  • I’m still on track to finish reading through the Bible in 2017. I just finished 2 Samuel. Reading the Bible is one of the items in my habit tracker in my bullet journal. Having that reminder has helped a lot with consistency.
  • Another goal was to find a place to contribute at church. I signed up to be in the nursery rotation. I’m hoping to be able to help with some other things too, as the need arises.

Family and Friends

Homemaking and Organization

  • I finished making the list of 101 things (that was a task in and of itself).
  • I decluttered my closet. A lot of things were worn out or didn’t fit. It’s much easier to find things that I can actually wear now.
  • I organized the pantry, which was a one time task on this list….but looks like it’ll actually be an ongoing saga.
  • I’m getting into a groove with doing the daily cleaning tasks from How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.
  • All of our pictures are on the walls. You know you’ve really moved into a new place when you have pictures on the walls.
  • I decided to use my bullet journal instead of a designated blogging planner, but I have posts planned for the next two months. Now I need to write them all.
  • I’ve learned how to use a bullet journal and I love it!

Health

I did an experiment where I cut out sugar, dairy, and gluten from my diet for 30 days. While I didn’t see the type of improvement I had hoped for, it was worth a shot.

Writing

  • With the exception of one week, I’ve managed to stay consistent with posting on my blog twice a week.
  • I bought a domain name.
  • I’ve written three guest posts, which you can read on Veronica Anne, Raising Arrows, and Homemakers in Action.
  • I created a printable, which is now available for free when you subscribe to my newsletter. Subscribe by clicking on the button in the sidebar!
  • I chose a word of the year: brave. I’ve continued to think of that often.
  • I learned more about blogging by watching some videos.
  • Participated in my first link party.
  • I commented on more of other people’s blog posts.
  • I set up a newsletter in January.

Cooking

  • I made a month long meal plan, which ended up turning into 28 Days of Meal Planning.
  • I also tried out making refried beans from scratch, which was surprisingly easy and tasty!

Reading

So far I’ve read 13 books from the Rory Gilmore Challenge:

  1. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  2. Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
  3. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  4. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller
  5. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  6. A Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
  7. Rapunzel – Grimm Brothers
  8. Emma – Jane Austen
  9. Merry Wives of Windsor – William Shakespeare
  10. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  11. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  12. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
  13. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (It was disturbing.)

Just for Fun

The only thing I got to from the “fun” category was judging at a debate tournament. I judged the semi-final debate round at an NCFCA tournament, which was a lot of fun!

I’m glad I chose this method of goal setting. What are your goals? How are they going?

Increasing Your Cleaning Motivation with Podcasts

cleaning motivation

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here. 

I admit it: I don’t love cleaning.

According to my RAs in college and my husband, I’m fairly competent at it, but it just doesn’t bring me joy. Inviting people over seems to be the best way to get me motivated to clean. However, there is only so much of that one can do.

Before I got married, I’d always lived with my large family or in a dorm full of girls. There was always someone to chat with while I did mundane tasks such as cleaning. Once I got married, I started having a lot more alone time. Despite the fact that I’m a strong introvert, the silence just seemed unnatural.

I recently discovered the wonders of podcasts. I have no idea why I didn’t start listening to these sooner! You can listen to lectures on a wide variety of topics for free. Listening to an episode while I work on household tasks both breaks the silence and provides some brain stimulation. It’s a win all around.

A lot of cleaning experts will tell you to set a timer while you clean. Instead of doing that, I’ll start a 30 minute podcast and work on a cleaning project until the episode concludes. This has the same benefit as the traditional set-a-timer method, but it’s much more interesting.

Since I set my cleaning time as my podcast time, I almost look forward to cleaning. Almost.

My Top Podcasts

  • Homemaking Foundations – Jami Balmet hosts Homemaking Foundations, blogs at Young Wife’s Guide, and posts weekly video podcasts on YouTube. Did I mention that she has two sets of twin boys and a newborn baby girl? Okay, while I’m over here wondering how she manages all that, go check out her podcast. Seriously. I want to be more like Jami when I grow up. Jami got married young like I did, has boys (though more of them than I do), and loves books, so I can relate to her. Homemaking Foundations covers spiritual disciplines, freezer cooking, marriage, motherhood, goal setting, reading, and much more. It’s my favorite podcast.
  • Homemakers in Action – Like Jami, Becca Day runs a podcast, a blog and a YouTube channel. Phew. Becca has a really fun British acccent. Becca is a young wife and mother who chats about homemaking skills and how to manage your home, even if you aren’t a naturally talented homemaker. She brings hope and humor to women who are just starting out in their homemaking journeys. Homemakers in Action just launched recently, but I’ve enjoyed both of the episodes so far.
  • Politico’s Nerdcast – I have been a politics nerd for about nine years now. While I had to cut back my consumption of news media during the 2016 campaign, election, and aftermath, I do still like to get caught up periodically. The Nerdcast has more in-depth analysis than a standard news article or clip.
  • A Slob Comes Clean – I first discovered Dana K. White when I was a new homemaker dealing with a challenging pregnancy and fighting my exhaustion to keep my house clean. As someone who is also of a more creative bent, I relate to Dana’s personality. Though she is funny…I’m not really funny. If you want to listen to somebody give you a pep talk about cleaning while you’re cleaning, A Slob Comes Clean is the way to go. I also really like her ebook Drowning in Clutter.
  • Brilliant Business Moms – After a long hiatus, Brilliant Business Moms recently made a come back. Beth Anne does a Q&A format with moms who run businesses. If you run an Etsy shop, a blog, or even a brick and mortar business, you’ll enjoy the tips on business from people who understand the critical importance of balancing work and family life.

Do you listen to podcasts? What are some of your favorites?

 

Living out Your Priorities

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living out your priorities

Lots of tasks fight for our attention every day. We can’t do it all. In light of that reality, we have to start setting priorities. But how do we decide what is or is not a priority?

Crystal Paine runs the well-known site Money Saving Mom. She is married, has three children, and runs a successful business. If anyone is busy, it would be Crystal. In 2014, she released a book called Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. She recommends taking the time to sit down and figure out what your priorities are, and then to spend your energy on things that support those priorities.

My list went like this:

  1. Following God and growing as a Christian
  2. Being a good wife
  3. Being a good mother
  4. Being a good steward of my home
  5. Blogging

It’s a pretty standard list. After I wrote it, I realized that to evaluate how well I was doing in these areas, I would have to dig deeper. Sure, I said I wanted to grow in my faith, but what specific things was I doing to work towards that?

After giving it some thought, I wrote out specific action items under each priority.

Following God and growing as a Christian

Being a good wife

  • Wake up with my husband each day and spend time with him before he goes to work
  • Speak honoring words about my husband to others

Being a good mother

  • Pray for my son every day
  • Read to him every day

Being a good steward of my home

Blogging

  • Work on creating great content and reaching more women who need encouragement

goals

Goals are good, but they are worthless without action. I decided to write out a sample schedule of a typical day to see what areas take up most of my time. If something that’s a lower priority is taking up a disproportionate amount of time, then that needs to change.

After I wrote out my typical day, I color coded each task by category (faith, marriage, motherhood, homemaking, blogging/other).

setting priorities

My schedule should reflect my priorities. I enjoy blogging, but it’s not as important as taking care of my son. I typically work on writing from 6:15-7:00 and then again for an hour during my son’s nap. I try not to work on it while he’s awake.The bulk of my time is going towards taking care of my son and taking care of my home, which makes sense for this season of my life. After I looked at my standard day, I decided that I want to focus on spending more time doing family activities in the evenings.

What are your priorities? How are they reflected in your daily tasks?

Decluttering without the Angst

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decluttering

Some people are naturally organized. Their motto is “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Their dishes are always done. They have effective routines in place. When the house is cluttered, it drives them crazy and they feel as if they can’t function.

Drowning in Clutter? (Don’t Grab a Floatie…Drain the Ocean!) by Dana K. White is for the rest of us.

I write a blog about homemaking. Please don’t think this means that I’m a perfect homemaker. I’m a work in progress. When I got married, I knew most of the basics of how to clean, but I struggled with when to clean. A lot of homemaking is doing the same things over and over again. The key here is consistency, and that’s something that has taken me about a year and a half to achieve.

As I worked towards keeping my house under control, I found Dana’s podcast. Ladies, Dana speaks to my soul. I think it might be the fact that we’re both former theatre people. For some reason, creativity and clutter issues seem to go together.

I never had to declutter the amount of stuff that she describes, largely because I discovered her tips early on in my adult life. Even so, her ideas are still helpful when decluttering a small or medium amount of stuff.

My favorite concept from Drowning in Clutter was ditching the Keep Box. Dana frequently says “Keep Boxes are Procrastination Boxes!” I was skeptical of that at first, but trying it revolutionized the way that I declutter. In a perfect world, I would be able to sit down and complete an entire decluttering project without any interruptions or distractions. I don’t live in a perfect world.

Even before I had a baby, I would get distracted by some other project. When I got distracted, I would leave my keep box in the middle of the floor. There it would sit, mocking me and making me trip when I returned to the room later. Sometimes it would sit for days before I quit procrastinating and put the contents away properly.

Using Dana’s method means that each item goes where it needs to go RIGHT NOW. You don’t dump everything on the floor. Instead, you take one item at a time and deal with only that item. Once that item has been handled, you move to the next item.

a slob comes clean

Drowning in Clutter contains numerous other decluttering strategies to help you conquer your clutter. This ebook is unique because it’s written by someone who actually struggles with home management. It’s not a book for people who adore and enjoy cleaning and organizing. If you’re in that camp and just want to take your decluttering to the next level, I would suggest The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo instead.

Drowning in Clutter is only $5.00, and can be purchased by clicking here.

What strategies do you use for decluttering?