Good Housekeeping

Welcome  A couple weeks ago, I did some housekeeping on the blog.  Now that the calendar says spring, even if the weather is not cooperating, I’m starting spring cleaning at home, too.  All this housekeeping has got me thinking about some personal clean up, and I’m not talking about hygiene, either.  I’m so glad you could join me today.

Food For Thought  Okay, let’s start with that blog housekeeping.  I learned a lot about myself and my blog in that process.  I discovered that I’ve grown a lot, personally, spiritually, and as a writer, in the past nine months.  I’ve been reassured that I do not know everything, even after months of research, but I am still willing to learn when it’s something I’m passionate about.  I have been amazed at my growth in the areas of flexibility and perseverance with obstacles, especially in technology.  I can step back and smile at my progress, but more importantly I can smile at the integrity I’ve kept in this process.  Keeping true to my mission is more important than making a few cents or dollars.  I can smile at my honesty, knowing that even if some people don’t love what I do, I am being true to myself, which is something I’ve not always been able to do.  At the surface level, I learned that I am extremely paranoid about blogging law and copyrights, which prompted my four-day clean-up session on the blog, just to make sure my work is protected along with the work of others.  I would be devastated if I somehow violated rules or regulations.  While I admit I’m not great at legalese, I try very hard to stay informed on these topics.  I am also incredibly thankful, and offer this same suggestion to other bloggers, that I didn’t go cheap on my hosting and security services!  My host company does a great job, and even though I’m not considered even in the medium traffic tier, it’s worth paying more for the extra security features and ease of use.  Never, EVER cheap out on internet security!  Cut corners somewhere else.  Like for me, I do all my own photography, other than what I get from Pexels in their free, public-use stock photos.  And I don’t have any fancy photo equipment either, although my food photography is one of the areas I know I need growth and improvement.

Reading an article about blog and website law led to my tidying up on my website and social media platforms.  Most of my readers would never know that anything was done, but that’s okay.  I know all the nooks and crannies that needed attention, and just like that feeling you get when you clean out that closet or cabinet that no one else looks in but you, I feel better because I know it’s clean.  Several times a year, I get that same feeling with my house.  I know I’ve put off some cleaning projects that are a little bigger than the basic day-to-day cleanings.  Then I set aside some time, buckle down, and tackle those to-do’s.  But my work space and my home are not the only places I need to set aside time for some good housekeeping.

Every now and then, probably more often than I’d like to admit, I look at my spiritual life and know I need to do some cleaning.  Maybe I’ve noticed my attitude getting more and more negative, which leads to nagging or anger outbursts.  Maybe I’ve put off my Bible study for a few days, that then turned into weeks, or longer.  Maybe one or two skipped church activities has found my family out of touch with the rest of the congregation.  Maybe my prayer time has become nothing more than a complaining session to God.  Maybe I’m just rusty with my faith and belief, allowing doubts to creep in.  Whatever the case may be, it’s time to dust the cobwebs out of the corners of my spiritual life, open up the windows to my soul, and let the fresh air of the Holy Spirit blow through.  Breathe in…ahhh…did you get that?  It’s the feeling of a refreshed spirit.  Rejuvenated by clearing the clutter, I am able to once again enjoy my daily walk and live my life in a clean environment without the messy distractions.  Are you ready for some good housekeeping?

Today’s Scripture  Psalm 51:10, ESV  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Today’s DIY  Yes, it’s time to buckle down and get to that spring cleaning!  Since I don’t work outside the home right now, I actually don’t mind cleaning, most days.  It makes all the difference in the world when you actually have time to get it done!  Whether you’re a work-at-home mommy or a momma that has to find balance between an outside workplace and the home front, everyone likes tips and tricks that make our cleaning efforts more efficient.  Today, I’m going to share ten of my favorite cleaning hacks.  Please note, I am NOT sponsored by or compensated by any of the brands mentioned in this post.  I am simply sharing tips from my own opinions and experiences.

Tip 1:  Okay, this one is completely crazy, but I just had to try it when I saw it at Forever Free By Any Means.  Using Kool-Aid to clean the toilets…whatever citrus flavor you prefer, not that you’re going to drink it, but the citric acid is important for the cleaning part.  I use lemon because that’s what I like when I’m cleaning.  Here’s what I can tell you about this trick:  It’s economical at only 33 cents per cleaning!  It makes your toilet bowl smell amazing!  It is not a cleaning trick I use every time, as I’m old school bleach when it comes to cleaning places that have bacteria and such.  But in a pinch, this quick trick brightens the bowl and smells clean in a matter of a few minutes.  Just dump an entire packet of citrus-based Kool-Aid in the bowl, let sit for about 10 minutes, swish the brush around the bowl, and flush.

Tip 2:  Now this one is probably my FAVORITE trick!  Cleaning out the microwave can be just annoying!  Not only do you have greasy splatters and microwaved-on food stains, but the space is so tight and confined, it can be hard to reach in and really get a good scrubbing.  This trick is your new best friend!  Place two cups water in a glass bowl or measure.  Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and half a lemon, cut-side up.  Microwave on high for five minutes, then let stand for three minutes, without opening the door.  The steam action is going to do all the work and release the gunk.  When you open up the microwave, remove the bowl of water, then take a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe out the inside of the microwave.  I never have to scrub!  Every now and then the turntable will have a tricky spot on it, so I just dip my cloth in the lemon and vinegar water while it’s still hot and use that to scrub the tricky spot on the turntable, and it comes right off!  Note–you will likely smell the vinegar while it microwaves, but it’s not real strong.

Tip 3:  Got a stinky and/or clogged disposal drain?  Mix up a little garbage disposal cocktail.  Slice one lemon and place just inside the drain of the disposal and add about six ice cubes.  Run warm water into the drain while you turn on the disposal.  The lemon will deodorize the drain naturally while the ice will break up and work as an abrasive to rid any gunk off from inside the disposal or the blades.  Two minutes and no harsh chemicals!

Tip 4: Tell me if you can identify with this scenario.  You have guests coming over any minute and you’re dashing to tidy up the house and get the bathrooms cleaned.  You go to grab the container of Clorox or Lysol wipes, but find YOU’RE OUT!  No time to go to the store or come up with a homemade solution.  Do you have dryer sheets?  They will work as a cleaning wipe for your sinks, counters, and toilet surfaces.  Grab one, or two, out of the box and dampen a corner slightly.  Run over any surfaces that need wiped down and follow with a clean paper towel, if necessary.  This trick has even removed make-up stains from our bathroom sinks!  There are many other dryer sheet tricks out there, but consider this my public service announcement:  I DO NOT recommend dryer sheets for cleaning electronic screens or mirrors!  Dryer sheets are abrasive and will leave scratches!  Learn from my mistakes, please.

Tip 5:  Speaking of dryer sheets, they make pretty good shower and tub cleaners, because of that abrasiveness I just mentioned.  I was surprised how well the soap scum came off.  Just get a dryer sheet, or two, wet and wipe down the shower walls and tub.  Rinse with hot water.  It was so quick!  It also left the shower smelling great and my hands were soft afterwards.  By the way, I get my dryer sheets at Dollar General and they’re a box of 120 for $3, so dryer sheets can potentially be an economical cleaning option.  For more dryer sheet hacks check out 101 Days of Organization.  Just remember my disclaimers from above!

Tip 6:  Ugh.  I hate our porcelain kitchen sink!  The same sink that was installed when the house was built in 1989 is the same sink we have now, after living in our house for 13 years.  An almost-thirty-year-old porcelain sink is bound to have stains, scratches and chips.  It looks ROUGH!  Some of those things, like the chips, cannot be cleaned away.  If I don’t like looking at scratches and chips, I’ll just have to get a new sink, and that’s not going to happen right now.  But the stains?  Well, I found something that actually does a pretty good job with those.  It’s Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser.  While the sink is still not spotless and new-white, it is WAY better than it was.  This product removed tea and coffee stains and even took away paint splatters…green from 3 years ago, yellow from 9 years ago, and blue from 11 years ago!  I’m hooked on this new cleaning product.

Tip 7:  Anything and everything that hangs out by my stove gets a greasy residue.  I can wipe down counters every evening after cooking, and still miss some of those build-up spots, like the range hood or the back of appliances.  If you’ve got a build-up of grease on your kitchen surfaces, try this homemade cleaner:  2 cups hot water + 1 cup white vinegar + 2 tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid.  Mix together and dip a sponge or cloth in the solution and wipe down surfaces, rinse, and repeat.  Extra greasy surfaces may require a little more, ahem, elbow grease!  This solution did wonders for my range hood and Kitchen Aid mixer that sits beside the stove.

Tip 8:  Have you ever had starchy potatoes or pasta boil over onto your glass stovetop?  I always seem to be left with brown scorch marks, no matter how quickly I try to get it cleaned up.  You can remove them with this homemade glass cooktop cleaner: just combine a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap with a teaspoon of baking soda to form a paste.  Rub it onto any scorch marks and then rinse with a damp cloth.  Dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaking.

Tip 9:  Interested in a multipurpose cleaner?  You can mix equal parts vinegar and water, add a few drops of essential oil, like sweet orange, and you have a quick and easy spray for your countertops and general surfaces.

Tip 10:  Okay, this one is a little bit of a comparison study.  As you can imagine, being someone who loves to cook and bake, my oven gets NASTY!  Yet, I believe that is my least favorite chore, so much so that the last oven we owned, I don’t think I ever cleaned it!  Well, a few years ago, my husband bought me this wonderful new range with a double oven.  It was pristine!  I vowed I would keep this one clean.  Uh-huh, sure.  I don’t like using the self-cleaning cycle because it’s so hot and stinky and I hear it’s really hard on the ovens, decreasing their life-span.  So, I decided to try the “magic” oven cleaner everyone has been talking about on Pinterest.  Combine 2 oz. Dawn dish detergent, 4 oz. lemon juice, 8 oz. white vinegar, and 10 oz. warm water.  Since I have two ovens, I was able to do a comparison for which cleaned better–the homemade cleaner or the oven’s self cleaning cycle.

So, the homemade cleaner did make an improvement, but it took a lot of elbow grease to get the stuff to come off, and it didn’t remove everything.  The self-cleaning cycle on the oven took 4 hours and made our house stink for a day, but NO scrubbing on my part!  The cycle reduces the gunk to ashes and I simply had to wipe out the ash with a damp sponge.  So much easier and more thorough, enough so that I would say skip the homemade stuff unless you don’t have much to clean to begin with.  Ovens have those built-in cleaning cycles for a reason.  Happy cleaning!