Quickie Clean Up: the Living/Family Room

Are you ready for today's Quickie Clean Up? Let's get started! This is for your living room and/or family room. I live in an older two story farm house and we only have a living room, so that is what has served as our family room as well. There are homes that have both living rooms or sitting rooms and family rooms where you have your television, book cases, bins for toys and so on. This clean up session will work for both.

1. Start up high. Dust down any cobwebs. This is a possible tool for getting to the higher places. Obviously if you have vaulted ceilings you will need something more professional for reaching those high corners.

2. Dust picture frames, pictures and other items hanging on the walls. This would also be a good time to clean mirrors. Microfiber cloths are great for picking up surface dust. They are readily available at many stores This is one option.

mirror

3. Look around the room between shoulder and waist height. Are there things out of place or things that need to be discarded; a candle nub on the fireplace mantle; a vase of flowers that has wilted on the piano? 

4. Dust at this level, not just the surface of the piano or bookshelves, but items also....clocks, book bindings, lamps, candle holders, etc.

5. Look at the other furniture in the room: chairs, couches, tables, coffee tables and so on. Is there anything that belongs somewhere else? Children's toys, that book you finished, DVD's the family was watching last night. Put things back in there appropriate places. If it doesn't have a place, make one or get rid of it.

6. Fold any throws or blankets in the room. Fluff and straighten the cushions and pillows in the room. 

7. Dust or wipe down the chairs, tables, TV stand and other large items like bookshelves. The type of material the furniture is made out of will determine the cleaners that you use. For most things regular dusting with the microfiber cloth will keep things clean. However, real wood surfaces benefit from occasional cleanings with products like Murphy's Oil Soap or other wood cleaners. If your items are made from some sort of strong acrylic or glass, a cleaner like Windex Multi-surface is a safe bet. But know your furniture. Leather couches can be wiped down with a damp cloth and will look fresh. Microsuede or other cloth can be vacuumed.

8. Now look at the floor. What is out of place? If this is a gathering place for the whole family and everyone contributes to the "mess" then everyone should help clean up. I know this is a never ending battle until your children move out, but it is worth it to keep trying to get them involved in the care and keeping of your home. Often a good method is to assign everyone a bin or basket. Throughout the day, their items can be placed in their baskets. At the end of the day or the week, they take their belongings back to their rooms. Here are some possible bins and other things for assigning each member of the family: milk crate,  decorative bin,     basket.           

(As you can see, I am not as adept as my daughter at putting in these links. I'll get there!)

9. Check over the floor for small items like lego pieces, bobby pins or fruit snacks, candies, changes and so on. Pick items up and place the non edibles in a small cup or dish to be redistributed later (the edibles should be pitched).

10. Vacuum.

Some will say to vacuum first and then do everything else as vacuuming can raise dust. If you have a decent vacuum, that doesn't explode dust every time you use it, and you change the bag regularly, you should be okay to vacuum last. I always feel that vacuuming finishes the project. 

Hope these steps will inspire you to do a little more spring cleaning this weekend. Next week our focus will be Easter so be sure to check in for more fun.

Quickie Clean Up: the Bathroom

This week our Spring Cleaning is going to focus on the bathroom. I'm sure you ladies out there don't let your bathroom get as bad as I let mine get, but it never hurts to be reminded of several quick steps we can take to keep them smelling fresh and looking clean.

1. Clean the toilet. This should be obvious and I think to most of us women it is, but it is very easy when life gets busy to just let it go. If you can do it once a week you are super woman! If you get to it every other week, I think that's fine. You decide how often you think you need to clean. If there has been illness in the house you'll want to clean more often. Personally, I'm lucky if I get mine clean once a month....so do as I say, not as I do! Ha, ha.

2. Wipe down the outside of the toilet, the seat, tank, bowl and footers by the floor. It is amazing how filthy this area can get, especially if you have children still living at home.

3. Put away clutter. I usually do this while the toilet bowl cleaner is doing its' job. Clutter accumulates everywhere and our bathroom counters are no exception. Get items back where they belong. Medicine, hair pins, toothpaste all need their own space. Once again, storage is a great tool for organizing and reducing clutter. Storage does not have to be expensive. Go to the second hand store and buy a few glass containers like I did, for your hair bands, Q tips and cotton rounds. The glass looks pretty on the counter and it tidies everything up. There are tons of options on the web. Here are a few:

4. Clean the sink and countertop using a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. If you vanity top is shiny like mine, you want to keep it that way, so don't use Comet or other cleaners with abrasive particles in them. A cleaner like Windex Multi-purpose with Vinegar (my go to, for almost everything), or some of the Lysol products do a great job. There are tons of cleaners out there, so make sure you read labels. Find the right cleaner for the job and for you. 

5. Clean the mirrors. Mirrors can get gummed up with toothpaste spatters, fingerprints, hairspray and makeup.

6. Replace any burnt out lightbulbs. A bright bathroom looks cleaner than a dingy one.

7. Scrub out your tub/shower. Depending on the finish on your tub or shower pick cleaning products that will clean and leave a smooth, shiny finish. There are cleaners that contain bleach that you spray on the tiles then rinse off after a few minutes. I would not recommend using those on a regular basis, but once in a while is great for eliminating mold from the grout in between the tiles.

8. Replace or clean your shower curtain or the doors on your shower stall. Again these are places mold and soap scum can build up.

9. Sweep and mop the floor. As with the kitchen, if you don't have time to do both, at least sweep. Sweeping can go a long way to making the floor look better.

10. Empty the trash.

Honestly, now that I've written this I feel like I should go clean my bathrooms! Hope you are enjoying these quickie clean up tips and that they are motivating you to do some spring cleaning.

Next week, the living room/family room.

Quickie Clean Up: the Kitchen

Spring cleaning often involves deep, intensive cleaning, but the next few weeks I am going to offer tips on quick cleaning. This is the sort of cleaning we should do on a regular basis, but more importantly it is cleaning we can do in a hurry, for instance, when you find out your relatives are going to drop by for dinner, or your husband invites friends over for a game night. 

Since my kitchen is the first room people see when they enter my house that is where I am going to start. I am going to try to keep this to ten steps.

1. Put away clean dishes. (I always have dishes sitting in the drying rack and in the dishwasher after it is done washing. By putting away all the clean dishes you not only have bowls and spoons available for guests, but you have a free dishwasher to start loading up again.)

2. Load the dishwasher.

3. Wash and dry all other dishes and put away. (I do not put certain pans, sharp knives and some of my plastic storage containers in the dishwasher, so what often happens is a pile to the right of my sink of dirty dishes. Get them done. Less clutter on the counter means a nicer looking kitchen.)

4. Clean off the counter tops. (When you are washing those extra dishes take your soapy dish rag and clean off all your counter tops including under the toaster or other small appliances. Don't forget to remove excess papers and other mail that tend to accumulate on the counter. If you are not ready to throw it away, find a place for it at your desk or designate a tray or drawer for papers.)

5. Clean off the table. (My kitchen table is not only the place for eating, but serves as a desk for doing paperwork and a central area for socialization. Sometimes placing a nice wooden or decorative tray at one end of the table can help corral the mail or magazines, not yet looked at. Try to get to this paper as soon as possible, but if you are in a bind, the tray and all it's contents can easily be picked up and moved to an out of the way location while company is visiting.)

6. With the same soapy water that you were doing dishes in you can wipe down the outside of the fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher. This simple act can make your appliances look like new. (For tough grease or sticky stains you might need a tougher cleanser such as Mr. Clean Multi-Surface or Windex Multi-Surface with vinegar.)

7. Wipe down the outside of your cupboards. It is best to use something for wood surfaces such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Just follow the directions on the bottle and you'll have fresh looking cupboards in a flash.

8. Shake out any rugs you might have on the floor. If it is a nice day. I like to shake them, then hang them to let the air freshen them as well. (It is also useful to have more than one set of rugs. I have a rug right inside the doorway so when people step in they can wipe their feet or remove their shoes if they are snowy or muddy. I also have a rug at the sink area. A little padding beneath your feet can make washing the dishes more tolerable and the rug soaks up some the the water that may spatter while I am rinsing or washing.)

9. Empty the garbage. (There is nothing worse than a smelly garbage can, no matter where you keep it.)

10. Sweep and mop the entire floor. (Be sure to remove the dust bunnies that accumulate around the chair and table feet. If time allows use a floor cleaner specifically designed for your flooring type. If you are strapped for time, a Swiffer works great, but make sure the Swiffer clothes are safe for your flooring.)

I've found doing these ten steps keeps my kitchen fresh and clean, even if my fridge is dirty or there is food expiring in my pantry. Those things we will deal with another time.

If you are really in a bind, you can skip some of the steps, like shaking out the rugs and mopping, or wiping down the cupboards, and major appliances. As long as the counter is clean and the sink free of dishes, the table wiped and the floor swept, your kitchen will still look neat and clean.

Next week we will take a look at our bathrooms. Be sure to come back for more Quickie Clean Up tips.


Spring Launch

I decided to use this day on Fluff to let you know what is coming up in March. We all think about spring this time of year. For many of us our desire for spring is one of desperate anticipation for sunshine and warmer temperatures. Others are looking forward to being able to break out their warmer weather clothes and maybe take advantage of those new colors put out by Pantone earlier this year. You can see the new colors here. For some of you, spring means cleaning, throwing away and getting a fresh start.

 Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

I love the fact that we celebrate Easter in the spring. After all, didn't Jesus give us the ultimate fresh start? Isn't spring when we look forward to flowers blooming, trees budding and birds singing? I think they do those things because Jesus rose from the dead! Oh I know, there are real physical, scientific reasons that flowers bloom, trees bud and birds sing, but humor me.

 Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

For the month of March we will be focusing on a spring theme Blog wide! The faith page will focus on identifying sin, confession, a sacrifice of praise and renewal. The fashion page will be all about those spring colors. You'll see the Pantone palette come to life in outfits I pulled out of my closet. We will also have a special bonus on the fashion page on cleaning out our closet. You'll find tips for what to get rid of and how to organize and I'll be looking for your comments on how you accomplish your closet clean outs. On the family page I'll focus on reordering our priorities in our families with questions like, "Who am I neglecting?" and "Who have I offended?" I'll also post ideas for celebrating Easter as a family and starting over. On the friend page we'll spend some time talking about "toxic" personalities and asking ourselves how we are influenced by our friends. We will also be encouraged to pray for friends as well as make new ones. Finally, the fluff will spend time looking at our homes. We'll talk about cleaning, organizing and just trying to make our homes ready for the summer months of sun and fun.

I hope you will join me. Be sure to like and share my post on Face Book with your friends. This helps me get a wider circulation. Have a great weekend and I hope you'll come back next week.