By Laura Kohler
Topping the New Year’s Resolutions lists, right up there with eating healthier and exercising more, is having a cleaner home. Here are some quick, easy habits to pick up that will help keep down the mess.
Keep a sponge and some vinegar cleaner in the bathroom. Not only is it handy for accidents, but it can also reduce germs and cut down your cleaning time. A quick wipe down of the sink and faucet every night will keep down the buildup of grime and calcium chloride and stop you from having to scrub later. Making an effort to wipe down the kitchen counters after dinner in the evenings not only keeps them clean, but since you have to put away what’s on the counters to be able to wipe them down properly, it also ensures you don’t wake up to a disaster before breakfast. Just remember to toss the sponge in whenever you do a load of laundry to keep it clean and germ-free.
If you find yourself struggling to put things back where they belong as soon as you’re done with them, consider putting a laundry basket or Klapp-box in the hall. Do a quick sweep of a room when you leave it, and put everything that doesn’t belong in that room into the laundry basket. Then, when you have a moment, you can grab the basket and put the things in it away properly. This keeps the clutter contained and is easy to carry. (This is also a great way to declutter! If you’ve left the basket a bit longer than intended, and haven’t needed anything in it, consider just tossing the contents.) You can also keep your child’s mess in check this way. If they’ve left their toys all over the living room, and you need it clean fast, collect the toys in a laundry basket and have them put the toys away later.
Did you know that most toys, and many household items, can go either in the washing machine or the dishwasher? I have a hard and fast rule about my daughter’s toys: if it won’t survive a wash cycle, it wasn’t meant to be. (Wooden toys are the exception, because dry wood is naturally bacteria resistant).
There are actually quite a few household items that will benefit from being run through the dishwasher! Collect your child’s bath toys once a month and run them through the dishwasher (top shelf only). I have found that just about any plastic toy will make it through a dishwasher cycle on the top shelf and come out sparkling. Toothbrush holders, soap dishes and dish racks and the like are good examples. Most pet dishes and toys are also dishwasher safe (and plush squeaky toys can go in the washing machine). Even most parts of your refrigerator, stovetop, oven, or microwave may be dishwasher safe (just check the manuals before you try to wash them).
Stuffed animals should be washed and dried on a regular basis. Pop your child’s favorite stuffed toy in the machine in the morning and it will be dry in time for bedtime. You can gather up Lego or Duplo, put them in a pillowcase, and run them through the washing machine. Most stroller covers and sleep sacks can be washed on a gentle cycle. Non-leather shoes can also go in a pillowcase into the washing machine. But be careful not to submerge anything electronic (that includes battery-powered!). A quick wipe with a soapy cloth should do the trick for toys that make sounds or the like.
Keeping a clean home can be daunting and is certainly time-consuming, but if you try to do a little bit when you can, you may find it easier to stay on top of the mess!