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The Yearly Clean by Sonia Nunez, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sonia Nunez

 Ah yes, spring cleaning. To some who love to clean, it can be their second Christmas. To everyone else, it’s a dreaded chore.

Spring cleaning is something that doesn’t necessarily need to be done in the springtime, or even just the spring. However, there are certain cleaning chores that should be addressed at least annually, and it’s usually good to do many of these during a time of year when you can open windows for fresh air, and do some outdoor chores as well.

We’ve listed some here to consider; a good suggestion is to read through this material while considering your own home, and making an actual list of the chores you want to accomplish during your spring cleaning. If necessary, break up this chore over the course of two days or two weekends so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Mattress and box springs. Your mattress and especially your box springs can collect dust and dirt. Use a vacuum cleaner hose and attachment and run them over both items.Refrigerator coils and underside. Pull the refrigerator out from the wall and then, using your brush attachment, vacuum the dust from every crevice you can find. Detach the vent from the front and vacuum there, too. While the fridge is pulled out, clean the floor underneath it.

Air vents. Your air vents collect a lot of dust over the course of a year. Unscrew them from the wall or floor and vacuum when you can.Laundry room floor. Move your washer and dryer out from the wall and clean around and underneath. Wipe down both appliances.

Attic/basement. Both rooms probably need some attention when it comes to cobwebs. Also, take this opportunity to toss out anything you’re storing that you know you don’t need any longer – broken appliances you’re never going to fix, tools that are rusted or unusable, clothes you’ll never wear again, and so on. These types of things are simply cluttering up your home and creating even more dirt.Garage. The garage probably needs some attention when it comes to dirt that’s built up in corners. It’s a good idea to pull all your cars and move equipment – lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc. – out of the garage before cleaning rather than trying to work around them. Get rid of things you’re storing unnecessarily, including tools, sports equipment, and so on. After the garage is swept and shelves are washed, take the time to organize some things while putting them back. Group like with like – sporting goods in one corner, camping equipment in another, and so on. This makes things easier to find and maintain.

Closets. If you do your annual cleaning during the transition of a season, chances are you’re taking out some clothes or linens and preparing to store others. Take this time to dust out any corners of your closets. Toss out unused or expired medicines or other items from where you store your toiletries. Go through your clothes, and get rid of what you know you won’t wear. If they’re in good shape, donate them. Toss out the rest.Ceiling fans. The tops of these blades can get very dirty and dusty, especially ones located close to the kitchen, and especially if you have a smoker in the house. Use a long-handled duster, or pull a chair up to them and use a wet rag to sponge them off.

Corners. All the areas of your home that don’t get cleaned regularly – windowsills, entertainment centers, bar, bookcases, tops of shelves and cabinets, underneath beds, etc. – should be addressed during your spring cleaning.Your cleaning tools. Check your tools, including brooms, mops, scrub brushes, toilet brushes, and so on. Some should just automatically be tossed and replaced (the toilet brush, for example).

The Panic Clean by Sonia Nunez, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sonia Nunez 

If you have unexpected company coming, there are some things you can do to make your house at least look and feel clean, even if you don’t have time for a full cleaning.

 Grab a laundry basket or similar container and run through the front rooms picking up clutter.  Remember to go through the basket later and put things where they belong – you don’t want to lose that heating bill or favorite paperback! Do a quick clean of the bathrooms – use a paper towel and window cleaner to wipe down the faucets, sink, and mirror.  Use a wet rag to wipe the counter.  Close the shower curtain to hide the tub.  Spray the toilet and clean it quickly; take your used rag and wipe down the seat, lid, and tank.   Only vacuum the rooms your guest will see; you can also quickly vacuum the kitchen and bathroom floors to get up any dirt there.  

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Cleaning Methods by Sonia Nunez, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sonia Nunez

 

 

Any wood floor can be cleaned with a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with a gallon of warm water.  Never get wood floors too wet or allow them to dry naturally.  Finished wood floors often can be cleaned just with water.  However, the finish will eventually wear off, and you’ll either have to re-finish the floors or start waxing them.  Additionally, if you do not dry the wood floors after cleaning them, the water will leave unsightly marks.

 When it comes to marble or granite, such as for countertops, always clean them according to the manufacturer’s directions, usually available from the company that installs them.  Never use anything other than what’s recommended, or anything abrasive, such as powdered cleansers, steel wool, metal scrapers, wire brushes, and so on.  These products are porous and still sensitive, and can be scratched. Wooden cabinets in the kitchen probably will do well with a mild degreaser.  Laminate cabinets can be washed with a degreaser or a product like Fantastik.  Make sure you wash around the handles especially, where there is a buildup of not only kitchen grease, but oils from your hands as well. 

Cleaning the face of a fireplace is a project that demands patience.  Fireplace stone and brick may be hard, but they’re also porous.  This means it has plenty of tiny holes for soil to accumulate in. Cleansers designed specifically for fireplaces are available at most home stores.  You can even purchase ones with a slight tint to them, to bring your older fireplace back to life.  Make sure the floor around the fireplace is covered with a drop-cloth, as these tinted cleansers can stain other surfaces. The best way to clean windows, or any large expanse of glass, is with a squeegee.  It does a faster and better job.  You need a professional-quality squeegee and a window wand.  If you’ll be cleaning high windows, you also will need an extension pole.  The basic process is simple – apply the cleaning solution with the window wand and pull the dirt and water off with the squeegee.www.motherhoodincorporated.com  

Cleaning Methods by Sonia Nunez, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sonia Nunez

In addition to cleaning wood floors, Murphy Oil Soap makes a great laundry pre-spotter, especially on organic stains like grass or blood.

 Bleach is not a “cure all” for housecleaning.  It typically doesn’t work on floor grout, for example, or rust stains.  Use the right cleaner for these areas and spots.                       For hard water stains around your faucets, use CLR or Lime-Away.  You can also buy muriatic acid at the hardware or home supply store, and cut it with water, but be careful of doing this.  Muriatic acid is highly toxic and has heavy fumes; you may be better off purchasing the other products mentioned and using those.

 Wipe down mini-blinds with a damp fabric softener sheet.  This eliminates the static that causes dust to stick.  The same trick works for TV and monitor screens. Many stains should be addressed with products designed specifically for them, for example, pet stains.  If your pet has soiled your carpet or furniture, purchase a product from your pet supply store for just such problems and use them according to the directions on their label.  Don’t think that regular carpet or upholstery cleaners will do the job – usually these just aren’t strong enough. Squeegee water off shower walls and doors after every use or wipe them down with a towel; this prevents mold and soap scum buildup.  Keep the squeegee in the shower for such use.  For tile walls or frosted shower doors, apply a light coating of lemon oil periodically to help prevent build-up.  For a porcelain tub, apply a light coat of boat or car wax to the sides (never the bottom) of the tub. www.motherhoodincorporated.com

Keeping Kids Stuff Organized 2 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sandra Beck

Contain the clutter. Of course toys will be used in areas of the home other than just the kids’ bedrooms, family room, or toy room, however, these other areas of the home should be thought of as off-limits when it comes to storing toys there. Part of the bedtime routine should be to remove toys from the living room, dining room, and so on. Make it an unacceptable practice to leave toys strewn about.

Or, keep bins and baskets in these rooms, and toys should be put in there when not in use. The bottom line is that things should not be left spread out in one room or over all areas of the home. You wouldn’t think of leaving your car parked in the middle of the street overnight; so too, children can learn that things need to be put where they belong when no longer in use.

Teach your child that each toy or groups of toys needs a home. When they go to put toys away, they need to put it in its “home.” This will help children to keep toys in their place.

These bins and baskets do not need to be expensive and you don’t need a professional that will come in and design a closet system for you. Plastic totes are usually available at any store and are usually very affordable. Shoes boxes can be painted or papered and used. Make it a craft project for the child and he or she will be more likely to use the container. Dollar stores usually have bins and baskets as well – laundry baskets, food storage containers, and desk organizers can work just as well for your child’s toys.

Make it easy for them. By using bins and cubbyholes that are easily accessible to the child, you can encourage him or her to do their share in keeping things organized. Don’t think that your child’s room needs to look like a showcase – wooden pegs on the wall and a nice stack of plastic bins may not be your idea of a model room, but can be much easier for a child to use when it’s time to hang up clothes, put toys away, and so on.

Label these bins and hooks so they know what goes where. If they’re too young to read, use pictures. Many families have a digital camera and a printer, so take a quick photo of the toy, jacket, or whatever. You can cut a picture of a train from a magazine and use that for where your child will store the train set, or cut out the front of the box the toy came in.

Organize like with like. Try to keep similar things organized together. So, one bin for stuffed animals, another for sports stuff, another for video games, and so on. This also makes it easier when they want to play with a certain toy – they know right where the video games are or their train set, and so on.

Purge at Christmas and birthdays. You might take the time a few days before these occasions to have the child go through his or her room and pick some things they want to get rid of, to make room for new things. Knowing that they’ll soon be getting presents makes this purge much easier on them.

Go for quality. With the many dollar stores that have sprung up in recent years, it’s become so tempting for parents to constantly buy their children small and cheap toys. Instead of getting them a huge pile of cheap junk, go for quality toys or possessions that will last long. It’s best to spend your money on a couple of great things than a whole bunch of cheap things that will break and be relegated to the junk pile in no time.

Downsize your possessions. And of course the best tip when it comes to organizing is to own less! The less things you own, the easier it is to organize. It’s tempting to give in every time your child wants a new toy, gadget, or piece of sporting equipment, but you do need to show some balance. Wanting to give to your children is commendable, but not having limits is damaging to you and to them. Be selective, and teach your children to do the same.

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Keeping Kids Stuff Organized by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sandra Beck

Let’s face it, very few kids are organized by nature. Keeping their belongings neat and orderly just isn’t a priority to them – if they even know what those words mean in the first place!

As a parent, you probably understand the importance of keeping some order even when it comes to your belongings. Realizing that your kids’ rooms are cluttered and unorganized may give you the impulse to simply run in and purge old toys and toss together everything else, but resist this urge! Your children’s things are theirs, and just haphazardly tossing things away may be hurtful to them, even if they haven’t touched that particular toy or read that particular book in years.

So what to do? How to bring some order to the chaos? Here’s some tips:

Identify the important. The first step in de-cluttering is identifying which toys and other possessions are truly important to the kids. What do they play with, what do they love? Then get rid of as much of the rest as possible, keeping only those they use and love. But remember, you do need to get the kids involved in this process. It’s easy for you to think that a particular toy is no longer used, when in fact, it could be greatly missed.

Children of course are hesitant to toss out anything, not realizing that even if they got rid of half of their items they’d still be left with quite a bit! So be delicate in this process. Ask them to choose one thing they no longer want, then make it two. Have them choose between two toys so they feel as if they’re keeping something, not throwing something away.

You might also implement the rule that for every two new things they get, they need to get rid of one old thing.

Donate! Find a local charity that you can give some things to. This can also help with the child’s attitude of getting rid of things, if they know that their old doll or teddy bear won’t be thrown away but will go to another child that will really love and appreciate it. Older children especially can be taught this lesson of giving.

Leave space. When you put the important stuff back, don’t try to fill up each drawer, shelf or closet area. Allow there to be some space around the objects. It’s much nicer looking, and it leaves room for a couple of extra items later if necessary. Also, this lets the children get used to the idea of having some room, not of stuffing every corner with a “thing.”

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Keeping Everyone Organized by Sonia Nunez, Motherhood Incorporated

by: Sonia Nunez

You’ve got the kids all organized – now what about everything else in your home?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with trying to keep all of your own things organized. Between work, activities at your kids’ school, your own hobbies, friends, and actually running the household, it can seem like there’s a million things that you need to juggle and stay on top of constantly.

And who hasn’t suffered the consequences of being disorganized? Whether it’s running out of toilet paper or forgetting to pay an electric bill, or just not being able to find that important piece of paper, being disorganized can be a problem and a hassle.

But take heart! Even the busiest, most distracted person can find ways to get organized and stay on top of everything without losing it. Here’s some tips:

De-clutter! The less you have, the less you need to store. Many people could probably be a lot more honest with themselves when it comes to the things they keep. Seriously, what are the chances you’ll fit back into those clothes you wore in high school, or are ever going to fix that broken toaster? So obviously the first step in getting organized is to get rid of things so you have less things to organize in the first place.

If you’re the type to get overwhelmed with de-cluttering, break it down into manageable steps and work at it a little bit every day. Today, clean out one drawer in your dresser. Tomorrow, tackle another drawer. (You can do one drawer a day, can’t you?) Next week, you can take ten minutes every day tossing out items from the garage, or the basement, or the office, or wherever. As long as you make sure you do something every day, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll accomplish over the next few weeks and months.

And if you’re the type who hates to see things “go to waste,” consider donating what things you can. Clothes, household items, small appliances in good working order, all these things can typically be donated to your local Goodwill, Purple Heart, Kidney Foundation, or other organization – and you may get a nice write-off for your taxes as well!