August 31

A 1960s Housewife Cleaning Routine

I grew up with a stay-at-home 1960s housewife in a house that was always spotless, to the point that people called my mom “the white tornado.”  If I recall correctly, this was at the time of those Mr. Clean commercials where the tornado came through and cleaned the house and then the tornado stopped spinning and it was Mr. Clean.  My mother, they claimed, was even better at keeping house than Mr. Clean. 983850_10204918128566163_5246808004367426432_n Even with a husband away in the military and a house full of kids (usually 5, but always at least 8 on the weekends), she got it all done every day.  So how did she do that?  Inquiring minds wanted to know, so I interviewed mom.   Here’s what she had to say about her daily cleaning routine.

Me:  Mom, how old were you when you first got married?
Mom:  I married in 1961, when I was 18 and I had my first son in May of 1962.  Of course, my husband was in the military so it was a challenge in the beginning.  I found our apartment on my own and furnished it while he was away.  Then he came home on leave and that resulted in my second son coming along in December of 1963.

Me:  That sounds like a lot of work for a military wife, all alone.  Did you have help from extended family?
Mom:  No.  I didn’t.  I was actually also cleaning my own mother’s house at the same time.  She lived across the street from me.

Me:  My readers will need to understand that eventually those long separations and the strain of being alone caused some changes in your life.  You inevitably divorced Sean Sr. and then married my father, Don.
Mom:  Yes, and Sean re-married as well.   But we all stayed very close, for the sake of the children.

Me: And dad had some children from an earlier marriage?
Mom:  Yes.  Three.  And then we had three more of our own.

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Top Row: Holly, Laurie, Tracey, Paul and Bottom row: Wendy, Sean, Carol, Kelly

Me.  Yes. I was the youngest of 8 that were regularly in our home including– Sean, Carol, Kelly, Paul, Tracey, Wendy, Laurie, and me.  And there was also Lisa and Francis from Sean Sr’s second marriage who would eventually spend some time with us as well.  How on earth did you manage with so many children?
Mom:   Preparation, organization, and team work.   I started teaching the concept of teamwork to all you kids as soon as you were old enough to help.   I figured if you could manage to take your clothes off at age 2, even when you weren’t supposed to, then you could certainly figure out how to get them in the hamper.   And even the youngest of children can help match socks.   So everyone learned early.

Me:  Give us one example of the type of preparation you speak of.
Mom:  Okay.  One example, our house at the time had two floors.   The second floor had all the bedrooms and the bathroom.   Every morning when we woke up, the older kids made their beds and brushed their teeth and got dressed into the clothes we laid out the night before while I cleaned and changed babies.

I had a changing table on the 2nd floor already set up the night before with all the babies’ needs–cloth diapers, fresh clothes, etc.  I also had a matching changing table downstairs already prepped with everything they would need during the day.  I prepped both the night before at the same time that we prepped the next day’s school clothes for all the kids.

1960s housewife
Mom and Me. 1969

While I finished getting the smaller children ready, any dusting that needed to be done in the bedrooms was done by the older kids (whoever had that chore that week).

Only after everyone was changed and ready for the day would we go ahead downstairs for breakfast.   Once downstairs, no child had any reason to go back upstairs for the entire day, except to use the bathroom, so that area of the house stayed very clean.

Me:  What about the children who were too young to make their own bed or get dressed themselves?
Mom:   As I mentioned before, I spent many years alone with the kids while my husband(s) were away in the military.  During that time we adopted a spirit of teamwork.  Everything we did was about team work.   The older kids would help with the beds of the younger ones.   Then as soon as a youngster was able, they would learn with the help of an older child–each doing one side of the bed.   And eventually the little ones would do it themselves.  Even if the work wasn’t perfect, it was okay.   It was about the effort, and it was about participating with the rest of the family.  This usually makes the little ones feel very good–to do their part.  Everyone wants to feel like they contribute and are part of something.

Me:  But what about toys?  How did we get to those if we couldn’t come back upstairs all day?
Mom:  The only things in the bedrooms were beds, bureaus (Note: those are “dressers” to all of you non-French Canadian readers), 2 small toys or stuffed animals per child, and lots of books.  There was no reason to keep anything else in there.  Those rooms were for sleeping only.  We had a play area downstairs for toys.  But even then, you have to realize that we didn’t have a lot of toys.  We had Barbies and GI Joes, yes.  But mostly we had different activity boxes.  Each box held certain activities such as coloring books and crayons, or paper and scissors, or things like that.   We took one activity box out at a time for projects.  And that mess had to be cleaned and put away before any other toys or activities were taken out.

This method served two purposes.   We would do things that took quite a bit of time and used the kids’ imaginations.  This kept them busy and kept them learning.    We didn’t own a Barbie house, but we made many through the years.  And it would take you kids all morning to build your Barbie town and you’d play with it all afternoon and into the evening.  Or your brothers’ GI Joes would come destroy it. :::laughs:::   Nobody was ever bored.

Me:  That brings two more questions to mind.  I’ll start with this.  What did you do with the babies all day while these projects were going on?
Mom:  Gates.  I relied on lots of gates to keep toddlers safe and in the same area as me throughout the day.  But if we were cutting paper, the toddlers had paper to tear up too.     If we were making cars out of boxes, the toddlers had boxes to play with too.  Everything was team work, starting at the youngest of ages.

Me:  And my next question.   How did you handle it when one child didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing? Or was acting out?   Certainly not all projects went smoothly?
Mom:   If any of the kids wanted to read or go outside and play instead, they could.  But if we were dragging out a project, that was the playing option for that time.  Parents cater too much to children these days.  They let them rule the house.  That creates many problems and it does nothing to prepare children for when they will have to conform to school activities.  It was “play this, or go outside.” That’s it.

Me:  And what about discipline?
Mom:  Most of the time I was able to manage with sitting an unruly child in a chair in front of me for a time with his/her arms folded.   Usually it would be 5 minutes.  I’d tell them why they were there and then when the time was up they had to tell me why they were there.   10628485_10204918128606164_4973294705562964140_nIf they even spoke a single word during the five minutes, we added 2 more each time.   And if they refused to tell me why they were seated there, they would stay in the chair until they did.   That didn’t alway work, but more often than not it was enough.  And when it wasn’t, we used good old-fashioned discipline methods that are not popular today, but certainly were accepted and very effective then.  I kept a nice supply of wooden spoons, but these were reserved for the older kids who dared to refuse to comply.

Me:  I am happy to say that was never me.  Anyway…back to cleaning.   Tell me more about some of your routines that you had in place.
Mom:   Oh.  Let’s see.   (pause) For the diapers–we used all cloth diapers back then– I had a great routine that kept things manageable.  I never had buckets full of dirty diapers because I would take care of them immediately.   We had a double sink in the kitchen and one side was very deep.   I kept that sink open throughout the day so that I could immediately wash diapers and hang them right after changing and settling the baby back in.   Only very dirty diapers were soaked in a  bucket of bleach water, and never for more than an hour or so before taking care to wash and hang those too.  Once you are into the routine, it just adds a couple more minutes on to each diaper change and you never had to worry about the stench of dirty diapers stacking up in the house or having to wash a mountain of disgusting mess.   They were always done.   This also kept me from having to buy dozens of diapers.  If you are cleaning them all the time, there is no need.

It worked the same way with dishes throughout the day.  All were washed, dried, and put away immediately, by me and the children.   Our everyday dishes were unbreakable so that all the children could take part in helping with meal prep and clean up.   Again, it’s that teamwork thing.   If possible, kids helped prepare lunch, and then we all cleaned up.   As soon as a child was able to hold a towel, they could help dry their own bowl.  Maybe not always perfectly, but I’d let them try then tidy it up a bit more as I put it away.   All meals were handled this way.10628485_10204918128606164_4973294705562964140_n

Me:  And none of us complained?
Mom:  There was occasional moaning, but you all knew you didn’t have an option. Everyone who makes messes cleans messes.
Me:  Ah.  Good rule.
Mom:  I learned early on the value of: “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”   If a child was acting up and I threatened to put them in a chair, I learned that I’d better follow through every single time or they would learn that they could act out and get away with it.  So consistency was key.  And you all learned that if I said it, I meant business.

Me:  Tell us more of your routines.
Mom:    Laundry was another big one.  With 7 to 10 people in the house every single day, there was never a shortage of that, so I had several systems in place to keep it under control.   It would start in the morning with bed making.   One child each day would strip his or her bed and put the sheets in the laundry.  We had a schedule for that because we had so many beds to keep up with.   We also had a bath towel and a hand towel labeled with each child’s name.  Those hung on hooks in the bathroom.  You were responsible for making sure that your towels were hung on the hooks, and not left on the floor.  The younger children had lower hooks.  Starting at age 3 or so, they were more than capable of hanging their towels, and I was there to help them figure it out.  This set them up for the later years.  If anyone didn’t hang theirs, they got to clean other parts of the bathroom too, so there was good motivation to keep them hung up.   Face clothes were only used once and thrown into the laundry.  Towels were washed 2-3 sets at a time in rotation just like the sheets.  Otherwise, I would have had two full loads of just towels every day. And considering that everything had to be hung out on lines, that would have been overload for sure.

Every article of clothing was marked for each child.   For items that would never pass down, I’d write the first initial of the child (socks, and underwear, for example.)    For items that would pass down by size, I would use numbers.   So the oldest would start in number ones.  Then those would pass to his brother.  And so on. We then we would just keep a chart of which child was currently wearing number 1s or 2’s, and which was wearing number 4’s, etc.  Some kids grow faster than others, so it wasn’t always by age.  It was always by size.  Writing numbers with a fabric marker (before Sharpies) was easier to see than trying to find the size on a worn out tag.   This was invaluable when sorting laundry.   Once sorted, everyone came to get their pile and put it away.   For the little ones, we had pictures of a shirt on the outside of the shirt drawer, and pants on the outside of the pants drawer, and so on.  So they could put their own clothes away.  Once they learned that they would have to put them away, there was never a problem of a child going and pulling things out of a drawer again.

Me:  I remember that.   I grew faster than my sisters when I hit puberty and got more of the newer clothes.  They didn’t like that. hah!
Mom:  And then a year or so after that there were four of us all in the same size.   We had to expand and then had a huge wardrobe then.  :::laughs::: it was fun.

And also, all throughout the school years, we had clothing designated for school only.   You all changed out of those as soon as you came home.  And every night after dinner, clothes for the next day, including gym clothes, were laid out so there were no arguments or missing items to hunt for in the morning.  Routines, routines, routines.  Very important.

Me:  I remember when my girls were young and Mr. C was working out-of-town for weeks at a time, I struggled to bring three kids under the age of four to the supermarket.   How on earth did you do it with 5-8 kids??
Mom:  It was different in the early years than the later years.   In the early years a few things were very different from now.   First, kids were generally more well-behaved.  Respect and obedience were taught differently.  Secondly, the market was smaller than it is now.   We didn’t have 120 different varieties of cereal or 80 kinds of spaghetti sauce.  So, I’d back up a stroller with the baby, which would be pushed by an older child.   A toddler was in the shopping cart with me.  And the rest stayed just behind me. Walking in line.  Behaving for the most part.    Shopping was quick because I would have prepared menus for the week and knew exactly what I needed.  I never varied from my menus, so no child begged to buy anything.  It was simply not done.  And to speed things up more, sometimes I would send the older children to find products I needed from different areas of the store.  Doing so also taught them early how to shop and find things they needed and kept them from getting bored.

In the later years, once all the children were over the age of six, I changed it up.   I would take one child per week shopping with me and afterwards we would go out for a burger and some quality one-on-one time.   That was a huge treat back then as going out to eat was not possible with a big family and a budget like ours.

Me:  I remember fun burgers from Burger King
Mom:  Yes.  Before happy meals it was just a “Fun burger” with a toy in it.

Me:  Anything else to add to the shopping topic?
Mom:  No but I should note that on weekends I would spend an entire afternoon cooking meals, some of which would be reheated during the week for dinner, especially if there were softball games to get to.  I’d also prep what I could for lunches for the week,  and of course, every night we ate at the table as a family.    No t.v.    No exceptions.
Me:  Yes.  I loved that.  I managed to do that with my girls right up until Steph moved out.

Me.  What else?  What other tips and tricks did you use?
Mom:  One of my favorites was the cardboard clocks.   We had them in the bedrooms so that we could show the little ones what time it had to be before they could come wake me up.  This was great on the weekend.  We would have a cardboard clock set to 6 a.m. on the side of the regular clock.  They would have to wait until the little hand was at least on the six.  It worked well.

Another was my emergency car kit.  I kept a kit in the trunk that had glass jars full of water, cans of fruit cocktail and other prepared foods, changes of clothes.  Anything I could think of that we might need if we ran late or got stranded anywhere.   That kit saved me thousands over the years in fast food we never had to buy.  On a tight budget, that was important.

Me:  What were your go to cleaning products?
Mom: Ajax powdered soap, with borax or baking soda for the laundry.  Bleach was only used to soak diapers.   Vinegar for rinsing in laundry.  Spic n Span once a week on the floors.  (Everyday floor wiping was just vinegar in water.)  And my one and only luxury was paper towels in bathroom.  With so many kids constantly washing and wiping dirty faces and hands, these saved my laundry pile.

Me:  Let’s talk about that bathroom.  What were the routines there?
Mom:  Well we already talked about the towels, and that’s half the battle.   It’s also important to note that we had only a bath tub, no shower until many years later.   So it was easier to just clean a tub than to scrub an entire tub surround regularly.   I simply did that every night after everyone’s bath was finished.  It took just a minute because I did it every day.   Toilet and sink were also cleaned every day.  And boys who “missed” were taught to clean up after themselves.    Of course, the floor was quick mopped daily and deep cleaned once a week with the rest.

We didn’t have carpet in the house.  I hate carpet. It’s dusty and dirty and leads to allergies.

Me:  Did you ever have any cleaning “fails”?
Mom:  Oh yes.  When I first married my husband from Ireland he brought with him a stack of the most beautiful Irish sweaters.   Wool.  I had no idea you could not dry wool in a dryer.  And I hadn’t much experience with clothes dryers at all as we almost always hung our clothes on a line.  Anyway, I had done a bunch of laundry at a laundry mat and dried all his beautiful sweaters and shrunk them to the size of doll clothes.  I cried for months.

 

Me:  Do you have any advice for current day house wives?
Mom:   When my children were growing up, our neighborhood was our support system.  Moms met up outside when hanging laundry.  We had coffee together during breaks.  Our children played together.   We held each other up, watched each other kids, and were generally there for each other.   I understand that things have changed and most moms these days have to get their support on social media.   It’s sad.   That’s not a great replacement for human interaction and it can easily lead to problems where mom stays on the computer instead of getting her work done or even worse, instead of spending time with her children.

My advice is to set time limits.  15 minutes break after one hour cleaning or playing.  Then back to real life.  Don’t get hung up in an on line community.  You will get lost in there for hours and not get anything done except increase stress and guilt.   Go out and find people.   Join clubs.  Join the Y.  Find real people to interact with.   And don’t let your kids get too entwined in that artificial world either.   Make sure they learn how to interact in person too.

 

Another thing I would suggest is limiting toys.  Kids have too many things and no reason to use their imagination anymore.   Those kids have to lead our country someday.   We need to make sure that they have developed thinking skills.  Rotate toys.  Put some away for a rainy day.

 

And, mom should save the hour after the kids are in bed for herself.   Read, take a bath, kick back, enjoy a show.   Enjoy it.  Don’t clean.  Sanity is important too.

Lastly, remember that there are no laws against child labor at home. :::laughs:::  I called it becoming self-sufficient.  Don’t be afraid to have the kids help.   You aren’t torturing them.  You are teaching them, and that’s part of your job as a parent.  You are enabling them to succeed by showing them community spirit, self-sufficiency, and the importance of routines, organization, and personal responsibility.

Me:  Thanks mom.   Love you.
Mom:  Love you too.  Now go clean your room.

 

 

April 11

2016 Spring Cleaning Checklist

Thank you all for the well wishes for my break from blogging.   I just adore you all!  I’ve gotten a bunch of requests for this, so I’m just popping on to reblog one from last year.  I hope it helps those who have been inquiring!

 

Ahhhhh spring. Finally! And with the arrival of the warm weather comes the itch to open windows and begin the annual spring cleaning. I must confess that I look forward to this time every year. There is nothing like a fresh new beginning, and once this thorough once-over of the house is done, everything will be like new again. So where to begin? And how to proceed? Here is a simple Spring Cleaning Checklist to follow to help you through.


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1. Begin by creating a project notebook. Start in the attic and proceed room by room all the way down through the basement and then proceed outside jotting down every single little task, repair, or spruce up that you believe is needed to be completed. It will be an extensive room-by-room list, and will likely feel a bit daunting, but it is necessary for three things. You must be able to plan your schedule. You must be able to have all needed supplies on hand. And you must be able to see in advance where you will need to recruit assistance. You don’t want to get part way into a project and find yourself in a pickle because you can’t do a step alone.

2. Once you have your project notebook completed, divide it into a manageable schedule. Keep in mind that your spring cleaning is not likely to be accomplished in a single weekend. You will likely need to spread it throughout a period of time depending on your other time commitments. Mark your cleaning goals on your calendar, and then plan to purchase (or make!) your needed supplies ahead of time.

I like to do a once through of de-cluttering of the entire house before I begin the deep cleaning. I then prefer to complete one whole room before moving on to the next. Some people like to group chores differently, such as washing all the windows on the same day. Whichever method works for you is fine. Just be sure to schedule it in so that you won’t be tempted to skip out into the fine weather before your cleaning chores are done!

Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-9.00.19-AM3. De-clutter. Begin in the attic. Give away, discard, donate, or sell anything that is no longer useful to you in some way. Then go room-by-room clearing out every drawer, closet, surface and corner and do the same. You will be surprised how much useless stuff has accumulated during the past few months. Finish with the basement and the garage. Typically I do one big yard sale with any items that are saleable. I use the yard sale money to fund my cleaning and spruce ups. (This year my kitchen needs painting, for example.)

4. Start at the top and work down. This means both the top floor of your home and also the top of every room.
For me, I will begin in the attic and then down to our bedrooms and two bathrooms that are on the second floor of the house. I’ll then work down the stairs, to the office, dining room, living room, laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen. Then finally the basement and garage. I estimate the full cleaning will take approximately 2-3 weeks. We should finish just in time to begin the spring yard work. 🙂


Here is a room-by-room guide:

spring cleaning checklist

First, check for critters that may have moved in during the winter. Birds, mice, and other pests will have to be exterminated.
Once you know you are safe from vermin, check for water leaks or other repairs that may be needed.

Then de-clutter. Throw away, donate, or sell any items you can bear to part with.

Organize whatever is left, keeping items grouped according to short-term or long-term storage needs. Seasonal items should be easily accessible. Long-term storage can be kept further back.


Bedrooms:

  • De-clutter both personal items and clothing. If you haven’t warn it in over a year (except for formal attire), get rid of it.
  • Clean drawers, boxes, and any other clutter spots you have acquired.
  • Dust and clean ceiling fans
  • Remove and clean window treatments. Most curtains and draperies can be machine washed. Check the labels.
  • Wash blinds with warm soapy water.
  • Remove window screens and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. Rinse. Wash windows inside and out. Wash window frames.
  • Remove all wall art and clean.
  • Rotate mattresses, clean mattress covers and wash pillows to remove dust mites and molds. Remove and clean dust ruffles. Wipe down the entire headboard, footboard, and bed rails including the space between the box spring and rail where dander and dust tends to collect.
  • Dust and clean all furniture (upholstered furniture should be gently beaten to remove dust and wooden furniture should be waxed.)
  • Wash walls beginning at the top of the wall and working down.
  • Wipe down all woodwork and light switches.
  • Vacuum and wash carpets. Vacuum and wash bare floors.
  • For children’s rooms, wash all toys according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Replace clean window treatments, re-hang wall art, and replace bedding with seasonally appropriate bedding.
  • Clean the door and polish door knob and metal fasteners

Bathrooms:

  • Clean out the medicine cabinet. Discard expired medications and cosmetics.
  • Update your emergency first-aid kit. Especially if you have children, be sure to have Ipecac syrup and other emergency medications on hand. As always, store all medications well out of reach of children.
  • Clean out the linen closet. Discard (or tear into rags) stained and worn linens.50shousewife spring cleaning
  • Clean out drawers, doors, and storage areas. Throw away anything that you have un-necessary duplicates of. (Why do we have 14 hair brushes?)
  • Dust and clean ceiling fans and all lighting fixtures
  • Remove and clean window treatments. Most curtains and draperies can be machine washed. Check the labels. Wash blinds with warm soapy water.
  • Remove window screens and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. Rinse. Wash windows inside and out. Wash window frames.
  • Remove all wall art and clean.
  • Remove shower curtain liner and either wash or replace.
  • Throw away and replace toothbrushes (we do this quarterly)
  • Clean out the screens on hair dryers and other appliances
  • Remove and clean screens on faucets
  • Wash walls from top down to floor. Wash woodwork and light switches.
  • Clean and sanitize bathtub, toilet, and sinks, scales, and other equipment
  • Machine wash bath mats, throw carpets, toilet seat covers
  • Scrub cabinetry and doors and polish metal fasteners and handles
  • Wash and wax floors (where appropriate)
  • Reseal grout where necessary
  • Replace window treatments, wall art, shower curtains, and other decorative items after they’ve been cleaned.

 


Stair ways

  • Remove wall art and clean
  • Wash walls from top down to floor
  • Wash hand rails (and check that they are still securely fastened. Repair where necessary)
  • Wash spindles
  • Wash all wood work, doors, knobs, and light switches
  • Vacuum halls and stairs
  • Wash carpeting
  • Re-hang wall art
  • Change smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries.

 

Office

  • De-clutter personal items, papers, books, receipts. File prior year paperwork and store in attic or basement.
  • Check that current insurance policies are easily accessible in a fire-safe place.
  • Dust and clean ceiling fans
  • Remove and clean window treatments. Most curtains and draperies can be machine washed. Check the labels. Wash blinds with warm soapy water.
  • Remove window screens and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. Rinse. Wash windows inside and out. Wash window frames.
  • Remove all wall art and clean.
  • Wash walls from top down to floor.
  • Clean all woodwork, doors, knobs, and light switches/switch plates.
  • Remove all books and items from shelves. Clean shelves, dust books, wipe down leather book spines with a soft cloth.
  • Clean computer and keyboard according to manufacturers instructions
  • Clean and polish all furniture
  • Vacuum
  • Wash carpet and/or floors
  • Replace all window treatments, art, and other decorative items once clean.

Living Room/ Dining Room/ Den

  • De-clutter. Clean drawers, boxes, and any other clutter spots you have acquired.
  • Dust and clean ceiling fans
  • Remove and clean window treatments. Most curtains and draperies can be machine washed. Check the labels. Wash blinds with warm soapy water.
  • Remove window screens and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. Rinse. Wash windows inside and out. Wash window frames.
  • Remove all wall art and clean.
  • Wash walls from top to bottom
  • Clean all woodwork
  • Remove all books, CDs, videos and other items from shelves. Clean shelves, clean decorative items, dust books, CDs and videos, wipe down leather book spines with a soft cloth.
  • Clean computer and keyboard according to manufacturers instructions
  • Clean and polish all furniture (upholstered furniture should be gently beaten and vacuumed to remove dust).
  • Vacuum
  • Wash carpet and/or floors
  • Wash doors and polish knobs and metal fasteners
  • Replace all window treatments, art, and other decorative items once clean.

Kitchen

  • Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-8.59.45-AM-218x300De-clutter. Clean drawers, boxes, and any other clutter spots you have acquired. Throw away duplicates. Why do you have 3 whisks? And how many measuring spoons does one kitchen need? Where did all those plastic cups come from? Get rid of them.
  • Dust and clean lighting fixtures. Use a good degreaser if necessary.
  • Remove and clean window treatments. Most curtains and draperies can be machine washed. Check the labels. Wash blinds with warm soapy water.
  • Remove window screens and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. Rinse. Wash windows inside and out. Wash window frames.
  • Remove all wall art and clean.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and throughly clean inside/outside and vacuum coils.
  • Defrost the freezer.
  • Sort through food storage. Discard expired items.
  • Sort through spices. Clean shaker tops.
  • Clean out all cupboards, wipe down inside and out
  • Organize storage containers, lids, pans, and baking sheets. Throw away mystery lids
  • Clean stove and oven
  • Clean stove vent and change filters.
  • Clean microwave
  • Clean toaster, coffee maker, can opener, and all small appliances
  • Clean and treat cutting boards
  • Wash walls from top to bottom
  • Clean all woodwork and cabinetry
  • Clean around knobs and polish knobs
  • Clean countertops. Seal granite, if necessary.
  • Scrub furniture and wax, if necessary
  • Clean doors, knobs, light switches.
  • Vacuum and wash floors
  • Change batteries in smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check fire extinguisher and replace if necessary

 

Basement

  • De-clutter
  • Check for infestations of insects, mice, or other intruders.
  • Check for evidence of water infiltration.
  • Lift items off of the floor to protect from flooding
  • Change smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
  • Check for cracks in foundation and floor.
  • Check radon systems
  • Check water filtration systems
  • Schedule cleaning of furnace
  • Dust and vacuum
February 19

Cleaning Checklist for 2/21 – 2/27

Holy Moly it’s almost the end of the month already!  Ever notice how the time flies faster and faster the older you get?   Yeah…   Those “littles” will be all grown up before you know it.   Believe me when I tell you that you will miss the finger prints and messes.  I know that’s difficult to believe right now, but it’s true.

Ok so let’s get to it.  Here is your checklist for the 21st – 27th.  It’s a focus on walls week.   There’s no special trick to this.  Just mix up a bucket of your favorite cleaner and get to it!  Don’t forget the tops of doors and door frames (window frames too), knobs,  and baseboards.   If you do this monthly or so, it’s a pretty quick job.   If someone smokes indoors at your house, you may need to do it every two weeks.   (And repaint ceilings and walls yearly.)

Here they are. Click on each to enlarge or just print out the PDF version below.
to Do list 2:21-2:27
To do list 2:21-2:27 (2)
 To Do list 2:21-2:27 (3)
Click to view or print in PDF:  Cleaning Checklist 2:21 -2:27

February 12

Cleaning Checklist for 2/14 – 2/20

Happy Valentine’s day week (coming up!)  8-50s-love-zowie Here is your cleaning checklist.  Of course it begins on Valentine’s day.   I thought it might be fun to share what special treats we are doing for our honeys below in the comments.   For me, I am sticking to the basics as that’s what Mr. C likes most.   Socks.  And a good meal.   He’s easy. 🙂

Alright.  So here it is.   As always, don’t stress yourself.  Do what you can.  Do it mindfully and with a happy heart.   Otherwise you are just a stressed, unhappy, cranky housewife.   Nobody wants to come home to that.   Remember, if you can’t get to it today, it’ll still be there to do tomorrow.   Nobody will die.

Click on the boxes to enlarge.   Or print the PDF below.

cleaning checklist 2:14-2:20
CLeaning Checklist 2:14 - 2:20 (2)
Cleaning Checklist 2:14-2:20 (3)
Click to print the PDF:  Cleaning Checklist 2:14-2:20

February 6

How to Clean a Top Load Washer

Here is a chore that almost no one takes seriously.   I’m about to show you photos that will change your mind about that.  There are things lurking in your washing machine that you may not know about.  Read on to learn how to clean a top load washer.   Front loaders are an entirely different animal that need a post all their own.  I am still looking for a volunteer to allow me in to clean and photograph theirs.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I have allowed my poor machine to go 6 months without a good cleaning just for this post.  I awoke today almost gleeful to get this job done.   You see, I love my washer.   I used to have a front loader that I loathed.   It always smelled dirty and my clothes were not coming all that clean.   I waited eagerly for it to break so that we could go back to a good-old top loader.   The day finally came and to my chagrin, machines aren’t made like they used to be.   I wanted one that filled all the way up and had a good agitator.   Those are hard to find.   Most are water efficient (aka…don’t fill enough to clean anything, IMHO).   But! We did find one.  I HIGHLY recommend the Speed Queen commercial washer (no, not coin operated).  She is a hard worker.  Does a beautiful job. Start to finish, double load, extra long wash, still done in under 30 minutes.   Spins till things are 70% dry so that my dryer doesn’t have to work so hard.   MUAH!  Love her.  So.. here we go.

This is her:  IMG_2209    I’m going to show you what she looks like when not properly cleaned for many months.  Yours may look similar.  I dare you to check.

IMG_2148 bleach dispenser
IMG_2147 under the rim (without pulling to the side)

IMG_2160 under the rim when you PULL it to the side.  It has some play to it for when it spins.

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IMG_2150 the caked up dispenser cup
IMG_2146 and then the normal dust and grime build up IMG_2152

OH! But that’s not all.  That’s what we can see easily.   Ever smell a disgusting sewer smell coming from your machine and wonder where it’s coming from?

IMG_2174 (1) IMG_2175
Remove the dispenser cup.  Gross eh?   Now some of those cups act like they don’t come off.  Maybe some don’t, but I haven’t met one yet that I couldn’t unclip.  This is why you want to be sure you try to do that.  That’s moldy softener and detergent build up.  There are little holes in that tube so that water can enter and pick up the dispensed softener.  Only problem is that it doesn’t always get out of there.  It cakes up.  You have to go in and get it out of there.  Ideally once every month or two.

OK, so what do we do about all this?  Simple fix.

First, (1a) either clean that dispenser cup in place (if you absolutely can’t remove it) IMG_2166IMG_2161by filling with very hot, almost boiling water and a few drops of laundry detergent. Stir it up and let it sit for 20 minutes.  Then get your wire brush in there and scrape all the much off.  Clean the outside with foam bathroom cleaner.

OR(1b) the preferred method: Take that cup outta there.  Throw it in the sink with extremely hot water and some Dawn dish soap to soak for 20 minutes.  Then get your wire brush and clean it inside and out.  Rinse and dry.  Viola.  That part’s done.

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Next (2) I use Dow Scrubby Bubbles foaming bathroom cleaner because it cuts through soap build up.  I spray everything.
IMG_2158 IMG_2162 IMG_2164     IMG_2168
and wipe.  Spray and wipe under every rim and in every nook and cranny. I use the end of a utensil wrapped in the wash cloth to get into tight spaces.

Now that disgusting moldy thing. (3) you have to attack that baby from multiple angles.  First, get the top layer of crud off with some scrubby bubbles.  Scrub what you can with a brush.   IMG_2183I also have a rubber spatula that I have just for this purpose.  Sometimes I also wedge a washcloth down there.  Eventually I always use the wire brush.   Get everything you can off of there.  You won’t get it all yet.  Just do the best you can.
Then set your machine to HOT water and fill the tub with a tiny bit of laundry detergent.  It will fill that tube almost to the top.  As it fills, scrub.
IMG_2188Keep scrubbing.   Then allow the rinse cycle to run.  Stop it JUST BEFORE THE SPIN CYCLE.

You will note that there is still a bit of scum in there.  That is likely big clumps that couldn’t get out of the little holes to wash away.   You make still have to scrape a bit off, but it should fall off easily.
IMG_2197  Once at the bottom, use a spoon or any other implement to scoop that out of there.  Then allow the washer to finish it’s cycle.

Before you put that softener cup back on, take a look inside.  Note the Fill Line.  It is in there. IMG_2194  Look for it.   THAT is where you are supposed to fill the softener/water mixture to.  Not higher.  Otherwise, your machine is caking up needlessly, and your clothes are building up a residue that is making them get dirtier faster.

You don’t want to do that.

OK,  put that baby back where it belongs.  Then wipe out the inside of your washer.  Little bits of lint and softener pieces will still be in there because they were too large to wash away.  Wipe those all out of there.

Wipe down the exterior.

IMG_2189 IMG_2190

Lastly, change any filters you may have installed (we always install one.  It costs under $50 and saves a small fortune on hard water, sand, or if you have city water, rust stains when they decide to flush the pipes but not tell you.)   You should also check your hoses and replace those with stainless steel braided hoses.  (If you’ve ever had a hose rupture, you know why.)

IMG_2154 IMG_2153 IMG_2199

Now enjoy your clean machine!  Plan to do all that every couple of months.

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February 5

Cleaning Checklist for 2/7 – 2/13

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

Here you go.  Your cleaning checklist for February 7th -February 13th.  It does include some extras that you should get to if you can.   Here’s one additional tip!  When you do the bedroom drawers, donate anything you don’t wear OR, if you are like me and there are cotton items you loved for their softness, turn them into fabric pieces for a quilt. If you find items that are stained or torn or unwearable, strip the buttons and zippers from them before throwing them away.

As always, click on the boxes below to enlarge, or just print out the PDF version.

Cleaning Checklist 2:7-2:13 (1)
Cleaning Checklist 2:7 - 2:13 (2)
Cleaning Checklist 2:7 - 2:13 (3)
PDF Version:  Click to print:  ToDo 2:7-2:13

January 30

Cleaning Checklist for January 31- February 6

Good Morning ladies and gents!

Here is your cleaning checklist for January 31 – February 6 th.  It does include the “extras” that you should get to this week if you have the time.  If you don’t have time, please don’t stress about it too much.   You are a busy person.  Do what you can with as much joy in your heart as you can.   Attitude is everything!

One additional tip!  When you clean your washing machine this week, also wipe down the top of the dryer.  After top surface of dryer is fully dried, apply a sheet or two of plastic wrap across the entire top surface to protect dryer from soap/softener spills and splatter and from the rusting and paint damage that can occur from those spills. Change this plastic wrap as needed, or at least once every 3 weeks.

As always, click on the boxes to enlarge or use the pdf below.   Happy cleaning!


Cleaning Checklist January 31-February 6 Cleaning checklist January 31-February 6 (2)

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PDF Version:  To do 1:31-2:6

July 26

Cleaning Checklist for July 27-July 31

It’s that time again.  Here is your weekly checklist for cleaning July 27-July 31.

As always click on the grid to clear it up and/or enlarge.
**** near any chore means you can skip it if you are short on time (but try to do it)
There’s also a PDF version below.

What’s your least favorite chore?  Tell me below!  We’ll see if we can’t find some easier alternative ways to tackle those tasks.

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PDF Version:  ToDoMonday-Friday

July 21

A Warning for Pregnant Women About Cats

I have a cousin who is much older than I am, but she still sleeps in a crib.  She has to.  She was born with severe brain damage.   The saddest part is that when she was first developing in the womb she was completely healthy.  And then her mom cleaned the litter box.   Here is a warning for pregnant women about cats.toxoplasmosis in pregnant women

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite.  For most people this parasite doesn’t cause any major health problems, so we never really hear much about it, but for a pregnant woman who gets infected with it, it can cause great harm.   Not to mom, but to baby.   Toxoplasmosis in an unborn baby can cause severe brain damage and vision loss.  My cousin has both.

You can get the infection by:

  • Eating infected meat that hasn’t been fully cooked or frozen.
  • Digging or gardening in sand or soil where an infected cat has left feces.
  • Changing an infected cat’s litter box. Cats infected with the parasite pass it on to others through their feces.
  • Eating anything that has touched infected cat feces, including fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed.
  • You can also get the infection by eating food that has touched tables and counters your cat has simply walked on.

Scary right?  Some of these things we may do every day, and nobody warns us.

So how do you know if you have this disease?  What are the symptoms? Sometimes people who are infected do get flu-like symptoms.  They may include swollen glands, muscle aches, fatigue, fever, sore throat and possibly a skin rash.  But here’s the really scary part.  You may not ever get symptoms.  The first you may hear of it may be when there is a problem with your baby.   The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test.  If you do get the infection while you’re pregnant, you’ll need to have your baby tested too. Your doctor can take some fluid from the sac that surrounds your baby and check for the infection.

It is best to just avoid the whole mess to begin with.

How do you avoid this risk?   If you are of child-bearing age and not on any form of birth control, I highly recommend you do not ever clean a litter box or play with a child in a sand box that may have been used as a litter box when nobody was looking.  Assign the litter box task to someone who doesn’t have the risk of unknowingly passing this terrible parasite on to her baby.   If you must clean the box, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands immediately afterwards.  Also, wear gloves to garden.    And as always, keep your countertops clean and disinfected.

It goes without saying that you should take care when preparing food, not just for toxoplasmosis but for many other food-borne illnesses that can occur as well.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!  Be careful out there Mommas.