Some of my friends tease me about the way I stress over maintaining a clean house. And, my husband has taken to saying things like, “but, YOU love cleaning” when I ask him to help out. Truth is, although I do love a clean house, I do not love cleaning! I am sure I am not alone, so here are my top cleaning tips and tools to help you prepare for the holiday season:
- Clean rug = Clean room: I have a mix of linoleum, hard wood and carpeting in my home. And, although I really do like the look of hard wood and the ease of linoleum, I honestly love the feel of carpetting. However, my carpets are a light cream color which is a nightmare to keep clean. That is until I drag out my handy dandy steamer. I have a Bissell QuickSteamer which I bought on impulse at a Walmart a few years ago. It was impulsive simply because I already had a Bissell ProSteamer which set me back almost $300, but was such a monster to maneuver that it gave me backaches when I used it. The QuickSteamer is a smaller, much lighter, much cheaper (around $80) version, and much to my surprise, I think it works just as well, if not better than its monstrous cousin. I am not sure if they sell my exact model anymore but this one looks pretty close http://www.bissell.com/Products/p/quicksteamer/product.aspx. My regular weekly vacuuming is done with another Bissell beauty, the Bissell Momentum. It was under $100, but has been WAY better than my old $300 Kenmore. It is light and just does an overall great job. I love having a bagless too, because you can really see the fruits of your labor (i.e. the hairballs and dust bunnies).
- Keep the Toxins to a Minimum: I used to use all the fancy cleaners that were designed to go in the steam cleaner – big mistake. Those things are potent on dirt, but they are in a word – scary. I noticed that my cats would always sneeze and act very lethargic after I cleaned the rugs. I would also get a sore throat and just feel lousy overall. I didn’t quite make the connection until I read a story about Kelly Preston & John Travolta’s son having health problems related to their frequent rug cleaning. I now simply use hot water mixed with a capful of Kids N Pets, which is a fabulous enzymatic cleaner that cleans very well. It works great as a spot remover too between full carpet cleaning – which I only do once or twice a year (hey, I told you I didn’t really like cleaning). You can get Kids N Pets in the carpet cleaning area of Target http://kidsnpetsbrand.com/products.htm. I use the All Purpose Cleaner and I like it much better than the foam version that is specifically for carpets. On the anti-toxin note – baking soda and vinegar are the best cleaners going. Plus they are cheap and totally safe. I have spray bottles of vinegar in every bathroom and the kitchen.
- Smells Clean, Is Clean: Aromatherapy works wonders. The right smell can set the mood and can definitely trick your mind to think an area is fresh and clean, even when it isn’t. While I really love candles, I am learning that they aren’t always safe because the wicks can contain lead. As an alternative, essentials oils are a great and potent solution. My favorite has become peppermint which is both energizing and relaxing at the same time. This time of year is especially good for scenting your home with peppermint. I use a terracotta decanter which I put just a few drops of oil in, and the scent naturally diffuses through the room. I was told by a friend that putting the oil in a little water over a tea light is another effective way to spread the oil’s scent (there are special holders for this purpose – don’t just put the oil near a tea light because it is flammable).
- Clear the Clutter: In order to give the illusion of clean, I have developed an elaborate system of baskets. There are baskets on the kitchen table to catch the mail and bills, and baskets on the couch to contain my husbands magazines and newspapers. There are even large baskets in the kitchen housing the cat food and the recyclables. Eliminating clutter is even more effective at making a hom look clean than the nitty-gritty dusting and scrubbing.
So, there you have it, my personal cleaning secrets. I hope they will help you prepare for the holiday season.