My October Happiness Project: The Nooks and Crannies (Deep Clean)
October in the Pacific Northwest is typically the start of the nine month long rainy season. (Ok, that might be a little dramatic, but not really.) The cooler temperatures and constant drizzle can lead to some serious home maintenance concerns. Keeping the gutters in good working order, watching out for leaks or moisture damage and being wary of water accumulating around the property is necessary. Not only are there concerns about the well-being of the exterior of the home, but there is also the worry of moisture accumulating within the house, aka mold and mildew. The worst.
Being the environmental and budget conscious person that I am, I am not one to want to blast the heat in the house through the cold months. The problem is that with there being so much moisture in the air and not enough heat and air movement to keep interior surfaces dry, even the most unsuspecting nooks and crannies become breeding grounds for mold. And mold is seriously bad for our health. Especially for those like myself who are uber sensitive to allergens.
My fear of mold lurking in my home keeps me up at night, especially once the rainy weather sets in. For those who live in high moisture areas, staying on top of cleaning “wet” areas is essential to keep the home environment healthy. October seemed like the right month to focus my efforts on tackling as many of those “not-so-fun but I-will-feel-so-much-better-when-it-is-done” cleaning projects as possible. I made a list of those tricky areas in the house deep clean that need a good deep clean (i.e. under and inside appliances, grout, toilet tank). The goal for October was to try to check as many off the list as possible.
For the past year or so I have been using a weekly cleaning schedule to help keep on top of house chores. In the past I would end up waste an entire weekend day trying to clean the entire house all at once. I would miss out on a whole day that I would have rather been doing something fun with my family. Now with a cleaning a schedule, I try to do a sweep of one room in the house each week day. Monday is bathroom day, Tuesday is living room day and so on. The goal is to spend 30 minutes to an hour cleaning and tidying as much as I can in that day’s designated space. This approach has been working great to keep the house continuously in good shape while not feeling like I’m wasting precious time cleaning. As part of my October resolutions, I decided to do a review of my cleaning schedule and incorporate some of those less fun cleaning tasks. By tackling those tough cleaning projects more consistently throughout the year, I can stay on top of keeping them more manageable.
I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty details of my month of cleaning adventures, but I thought I would share some recommendations for low-waste, toxic-free home cleaning.
Vinegar is your best friend. Skip all those super nasty, cancer-causing cleaning products at the store that come in wasteful plastic packaging. All you need for most cleaning projects is a glass bottle, a repurposed spray nozzle, vinegar, water and your favorite essential oils. Fill your bottle half with water, half with vinegar and about 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil combo. Lavender, citruses and eucalyptus are popular for everyday cleaning.
For tackling mold and mildew, use a tea tree essential oil and straight vinegar mix. Spray and let sit for a day. Then wipe clean and rinse.
Pour a cup of vinegar into your wash cycle to help keep mildew out of your towels and to soften them sans chemical softeners. This also helps keep your washing machine happy.
Save old clothes, like holey socks, to use as washable cleaning rages. Skip buying wasteful paper towels and sponges all together.
Put a reminder in your calendar and give your appliances (dishwasher, laundry machine, refrigerator, etc.) a wipe down once a month (or as often as possible). This way you avoid letting these yuck cleaning projects from becoming extra miserable.
Pinterest is an excellent resource to educate yourself on how to tackle the tricky cleaning projects, such as appliances. Just remember to specify “natural” and “non-toxic” cleaning solutions in your search.
Use a washable fabric shower curtain liner and put it through the wash once a week to keep the mildew at bay and avoid buying those toxic and non-recyclable plastic liners.
All you need to clean your oven is baking soda, a spray bottle with water and a natural scrubby pad. Pour the baking soda on the spills. Spray with water to make a paste. Let it sit for a while, then simply wipe up and give a little scrub as needed.
Don’t mix vinegar and baking soda together for cleaning. They cancel each other out.
I didn’t get to everything on my list this month, but I will keep working on them a little bit at a time. I do sleep better at night knowing that the layer of dust under the washer and dryer and the mold accumulating in the wheels of the dishwasher racks have been eradicated. If you have any genius natural cleaning hacks, please do share!