Lean Cleaning

Happy spring! But spring cleaning? No thank you. How about Lean Cleaning!

It’s nice to have a clean home. And as homeowners, there are a few items that require regular deeper cleaning. But maybe it doesn’t have to be a big commitment. Spring cleaning to me implies months of putting off cleaning only to be met with a week’s (or month’s) worth of work come spring.

How about, instead, keeping your home in a way that requires less cleaning? Own fewer things, take better care of said things. One of my favorite benefits of Essentialism in the home is that it takes less effort to clean. Picking up is so easy, it doesn’t even make my to-do list. Most horizontal surfaces are empty so dusting the WHOLE HOUSE takes less than five minutes. Vacuuming is quick… or I think it is, I’m not the vacuumer ;)

Have a few house rules like no shoes on in the home, clean up right after a spill, and use more natural products. Most soaps and shampoos cause the build-up of soap scum so using natural, vegetable-based personal care products makes cleaning the shower so much easier. Also, consider your expectations around a clean home… our home magically became cleaner when we stopped needing it to be squeaky clean and smell like perfume.

How about cleaning a little bit week-by-week, choosing one deeper chore to do on Sundays? Keeping a home clean is a lot easier than cleaning one that hasn’t been touched in months. Prevention, regularity and a little elbow grease are all you need. If something spills, clean it up then. Save the bigger home maintenance tasks for the weekend (like wiping down the dishwashers, washing the pillows, vacuuming the fridge condenser), doing just one a week.

I touched on Lean Cleaning way back in my first post (wha?!) Why I’ve Stopped My Target Habit and I thought it was time to go into a little more detail and dedicate a whole post to it! As I mentioned then, I was first inspired by Bea at Zero Waste Home and then did further research, adopting the book Green Housekeeping. (If you have tougher or more specific cleaning tasks… check it out.) Our initial adaptations felt a little complicated but we quickly landed on super simple solutions!

1. Dish soap or Castile Soap. We use Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap or Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap and dilute it 1:1 with water. It’s not only our primary hand dish washing soap, it helps us cut grease anywhere: on the stove top, the floors, and even on laundry stains (a small amount diluted with water and left to sit).

For an all-purpose cleaner: combine 1 tsp dish soap with 2c of water in a spray bottle (add a splash of vinegar if desired) and use on almost anything! We don’t even keep a spray, instead just using a little dab of dish soap on a damp rag for surfaces that need more than dusting.

For an all-purpose scrub: create a paste of 1:1 dish soap and baking soda and use it for surfaces that need a bit of grit like the sink or tub.

2. Baking Soda. I have calmed down a bit with my baking soda obsession but it’s still in almost everything around here: the above scrub, any deodorizer, our deodorant, toothpaste, and face exfoliator (see my honey mask!). It even helps suds-up natural shampoo.

For a drain cleaner: sprinkle 1/4c baking soda down the drain, followed by 1c of vinegar, let it foam for a few minutes and then flush with a gallon of boiling water.

To clean a crusty pan: combine 2 TB baking soda with 4c of water in the pan and bring to a boil, turn off the heat, let cool, and wipe away! Heat helps most stubborn stains. 

+ Bonus: buy baking soda in bulk! It's also supposed to work well removing stains from rugs or upholstery which we’ll try if we ever get through an old bottle of Begley's Best.

3. Vinegar. (Distilled White, the kind in the big jug for $1.99) Oh vinegar, what can’t you do? Vinegar disinfects, removes odors, leaves surfaces shiny and organics soft. Use it to wipe down your fixtures, windows, toilets, grout and even remotes. Also, use it as the rinse aid in the dishwasher and the fabric softener in the washing machine.

For an all-purpose glass and surface cleaner: mix a solution of 1:1 water and vinegar in a spray bottle and wipe with a rag or microfiber cloth. Add a little dish soap if greasy.

For a leather refresher: mix the above spray with a tiny bit of olive oil and wipe down surfaces.

For a floor cleaner: dilute 2 tsp of vinegar in 3c of warm water and spray onto floors, wiping with a rag. (For marble, we do the same but with dish soap in place of the vinegar!).

+ I love the idea of adding citrus peels or essential oils to the vinegar spray but haven’t tried it yet. The citrus or tea tree oil or lavender would not only add a nice scent but also further the antibacterial properties! Any tips?

++ As a general rule in our home. If something (or someone) is greasy or scummy, we use baking soda. If they're dry, we use vinegar! ;)

4. Vacuum (or rubber broom). Our vacuum not only dusts our wood floors weekly, but it also removes dirt, hair, and cobwebs from the baseboards, ceiling fixtures, and the rug. Another great option is a rubber broom with a microfiber rag attached (homemade reusable swiffer!) and then you can swap out the dry rag for a wet one with diluted vinegar for mopping!

5. Microfiber cloths (and maybe a few rags). Yep, they clean every surface around here. We use them to wipe or dust everything and if something is a little sticky, we add a little dish soap and water. We also keep a few rags around for when we have a bigger task and microfiber isn’t necessary. Our microfiber cloths were gifted (but these would work) and the rags are old t-shirts.

Our home feels and smells cleaner than when we used more specialized heavy-duty products. These products are simpler, way less expensive, healthier and easier to use!

This is how we keep our home clean 90% of the time. We currently hire out some of the harder tasks like scrubbing the tub, mopping the floors and washing the outside of the windows. If we regularly did those ourselves, we’d probably have a couple of more items around like a scrubbing brush and a lot more rags. ;)

+ So here are Items that you don't need to buy: stainless steel cleaner, glass cleaner, tile cleaner, bleach, dryer sheets, fabric softener, paper towels, tissues, wipes, sponges, buckets, toilet cleaner, air fresheners, trash bags, and most things on the Target essentials list. ;)

Do you have any homemade or simple cleaning solutions to share? I don’t like cleaning but I like talking about it. <3