My Must-Have Cleaning Products
• multi-surface Pledge anti-bacterial spray
• baking soda + vinegar in the stinky laundry (1 cup+1cup and presoak for about 30 minutes) & you can’t bleach it
• Oxi-Clean (for stains) (make a paste with water and use old toothbrush to scrub on laundry stains, carpet or upholstery stains, etc.)
• vinegar + dawn for mopping
• comet for bathrooms
• glass cleaner (NOT WINDEX)
• freeze vinegar w/ slices of lemons in ice cube trays, (pop out and save in gallon Ziploc bags) run through disposal occasionally
Getting in a routine
• Every day list:
• Kitchen counters, sink, table
• Pick up
• Few times a week/weekly:
• bathroom sinks, counters, toilets
• replace towels
• change sheets
Every day- pick something from the “random” list:
• glass (on doors/mirrors not in bathrooms)
• a shelf in the fridge- (best time- is the day before a grocery trip or right before you leave when you’re making a list)
• Randomly pick a day to do non-dishes in the dishwasher without the heated dry, if necessary
• fixtures (wash in dishwasher)
• bath tub toys (wash in dishwasher)
• toilet brushes
• other baby toys or toys that get dirty often (MegaBlocks, Legos in baby accessory containers, Playdoh toys, etc.)
• Wash throw blankets, bathroom rugs, curtains
• microwave / fridge water area
• change filters
• clean out expired food from fridge and pantry (play guess what food this is game with kids and blindfolds)
• push all the furniture out of the way (easiest on hard floors) and mop/vacuum- get the kids to do hidden baseboards. Tell them you have a surprise when you get it clean. When it’s clean and before you move the furniture back- have a dance party, wrestling match, or play twister in that clean, open space. When they can see how dirty under couches get, they are more likely to understand the need for cleaning up. When everyone pitches in for some “projects” it gets done quicker (unless everyone helping is under the age of 4... haha- they’ll like the dance party though!)
How can the kids help?
I. By Age
• matching socks, folding washcloths/rags/burp cloths, etc stacking underwear
• picking up toys by category (2 yr old suggestion: Claire, you get all the balls and toss them in that bucket) - put 1 of each type in a bin/bucket to help them get started. Use a timer, make it a game, everyone helps (boys like to make it a race, say, “ready, set, go!”)
• dryer sheets on base boards (or other low molding)
• unload silverware from dishwasher
• unload dryer into laundry basket
• DUSTBUSTER (steps, under table, furniture where pet sits)
• feed pets
• taking out trash and/or bringing the bins back from the street
• get the mail/newspaper
• make bed
• teach them to use the steam mop & broom
• put their laundry away
• set table
• clear dishes
• load/unload dishwasher
• help make packed lunches
• wiping surfaces with clorox wipesSet a timer after dinner for 15 minutes- everyone collects his/her stuff (including husbands) and puts it where it goes.
Where to start:
Rule of thumb: if it can be done now in a few minutes or less, do it immediately
• Plan ahead- make a list a put it on the fridge of your cleaning to do in a week- check it off when you do it. Don’t feel bogged down by a busy day, use a freer day to do more. Add your “random” chore on the list for the week.
• repurpose- shoe boxes, animal cracker containers, card boxes, wipes containers, formula containers, zip-up linen bags (for swim wear, seasonal socks, scarfs, flipflops-- put on top of closet shelf) etc. --- add some construction paper, scrapbooking letters or sharpie and viola!
• Use these for small toys (army men, dress up jewelry, legos, stickers, art supplies, or in your own stuff- hair accessories, makeup, under the sink for hotel toiletries, razors, nail polish)
• Bins, baskets, buckets
• everything has a place
• where do shoes go? (where do out of season shoes go?)
• where do backpacks go?
• where does dirty clothes go?
• LOW Hooks for kids towels on back of kid bathroom door
• I could put this away but by encouraging my kids to do it most of the time, I am teaching them that it doesn’t happen by magic and they all work together to keep the house sane. I can expect them to put a towel on a hook and I am freed up to do the things that they aren’t capable of doing or helping with yet.
• What do you do with clothes?
• Color coded bins for gender- labeled with size and/or seasonal info
• keep shoes separate (and other accessories)
• Color coded bins for mom & dad
• Always have a bin that kids clothes are going into (b/c they are getting too small. If you put it on the kid and it doesn’t fit, toss it in immediately.)
• If it’s visible, it’s more likely to be used and enjoyed.
• Help your hubby organize the attic (map it out, literally & tape your map on the floor at the entrance)
• One zone for seasonal, keepsakes, clothing, baby items, luggage, one Miscellaneous area
• Color code every room. (if you color code furniture, do it the night before and when everything is in the new home remove the tape immediately)
• Write on the box enough info to help you prioritize unpacking.
• Prep- for attic/garage
• Use suitcases for extra heavy stuff
• Fill a box with heavy books in one layer on the bottom and add light items on top that go in that room- (kid books +stuffed animals or cookbooks + kitchen towels or table cloths)
• UNpack- kitchen and kids rooms first (you can immediate live and the kids can play while you do other rooms)
What to keep, what to pitch:
• Ask yourself
• When was the last time I used this? (or wore this)
• For too-small clothing- (is replacing it expensive? will it be out of style? is it pretty worn out already?)
• Did you just discover it and haven’t been missing it?
• Is it something that should be replaced regularly and this is a good time?
• toilet brushes / sponges
• mop / broom
• shower curtain liner
• bathroom rugs
***IF YOU THROW IT OUT- Keep a list so you’ll know to replace it when you arrive in your new home
• Do you want to open a box and find this and have to give it a new home?
• Do you have space for it? (If everything has a place and there isn’t room for certain items consider donating them to the salvation army or local charity)
GOALS for the big picture in your home.
• Do you feel better if a certain room is clean/organized?
• Focus on high-traffic areas of the house when in a pinch for time. (kitchen/living areas/guest bathroom/big kids rooms)
• Cleaner home = healthier environment for family living
• Probably between you or your hubby- one of you feels loved and happier in a clean/organized environment- so do it in a way to love him or to keep your own sanity
• Are you more likely to host friends over, play dates, or other guests when your house stays clean? Have you ever thought to yourself, I’d love to have them over but there’s no way I could tackle this mess... ?
• Start organizing in a small way- have one organization project per week: a closet, a drawer, a bathroom cabinet, the medicine area, etc. You can’t do it all today, but it will surprise you how much getting the “inner workings” of your home organized with help everything run smoother. When you organize that space- wipe/dust/vacuum it out before you refill it.
Top To Bottom Cleaning Checklist (Printable)
Clean-Up Cards for Kids (Printable)