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Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Saturdays: Secrets of a Clean Freak

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Survivor Saturdays: Secrets of a Clean Freak

I was cleaning my house in preparation for a visit from my in-laws. It was no small task with M gone on another trip. After I put the finishing touches on our bedroom, I texted M with "room clean! show ur folks our closet and u will sleep there." I chuckled, and thought... what better topic to tackle for Survivor Saturdays, then surviving a daily task... housecleaning! Cleaning always took last priority when M was in residency. By the time I worked, picked up the kids, changed and fed them, paid the bills, did a load of laundry, and answered all my messages... I just didn't have much energy left. I am a clean freak, but I know when to let go.

My world changed when I hosted a cleaning party (I kid you not!) where a representative demonstrated cleaning supplies and techniques and gave advice on cleaning quickly. The tips were based on a book called Speed Cleaning. This company no longer does parties, but their website is still up and I order stuff from there all the time: The Clean Team. Take some time to click "All Products" and start going down the list. You'll love some of this stuff.

I also discovered a few tricks of my own that many of my friends have adopted and enjoyed. Here are my secrets to cleaning house quickly, and to my satisfaction...

General tips:
The first thing you need to do is get yourself a caddy. There are all kinds of cleaning caddies, but you can even use a tool caddy. Put everything you need to clean in the caddy, and move it from room to room with you. Clean each room completely rather than spending time running back and forth to sweep, then clean, then dust... get the picture? This saves valuable time. The caddy should have handy extras like a razor blade, paper towels, rags, garbage bag, etc. Also bring a laundry basket or box with you so you can collect things that don't belong there. Also, if you can, keep cleaning supplies under every bathroom sink. That makes for a quick and easy cleaning right when you see something, and it makes your caddy a lot lighter. Now, on to the dirty details.

The trick is to never let it get dirty. That cleaning company used to sell a product that made a silicone protective coating on the shower. Soap scum didn't form and everything beaded up and ran off. The product was discontinued due to HAZMAT laws, but I found that if I cleaned my shower walls and glass completely (magic erasers are great for that) and then used Rain-ex (the car glass stuff) all over, it does the same thing. The trick is to put two coats on the first time, and then clean and repeat every 2-3 months. In between, use a squeegy after showering. If your hubby isn't willing to participate, make him shower first, so you can shower and then squeegy down. Also try it on the mirrors, but know that some mirrors end up looking streaky. Don't know why. If you follow these simple tricks, all you have to do weekly is wipe down the sinks & toilets, and keep the floors clean.

Get an herb chopper that has a straight blade (looks like a half-moon). Before you wipe down the counters, run the straight blade over the counters to remove any dried food debris. After you clean the counters, protect them with a product like Gel-Gloss or Rock Doctor's Granite Polish, depending on the surface. Clean and polish your dining table, and cover it with a tablecloth. If the doorbell rings, remove it and reveal a beautifully clean top. The rest of the time, the cloth can collect all the crumbs it needs to.

Living Room:
Designate a nearby small drawer, cabinet, or trunk to scoop and hide clutter when unexpected company comes. I actually installed a closed cubby between studs to hide stuff in. Prefab stud cubbies are expensive, but a small trunk in a corner works fine.

I let my boys designate one drawer for a junk drawer. When it won't shut, they have to sort through it. The rest of the time, I don't care what they do to clean their rooms. My husband is a bit harder. I surrendered our closet floor to him. He can drop anything and everything in there, as long as it isn't in our main bedroom where people can see. If I'm decluttering our room, I often scoop up his stuff and throw it in the closet. If he misses it, he looks for it there.

Carpets, Rugs, and Other Stainables:
I use this incredible product called Pet Oops that has enzymes you have to "wake up" by mixing it with warm water. This stuff eats up any bodily fluid... baby poop, blood, vomit, food, dog urine, etc. It literally disappears right in front of you. The key is NOT to use cleaning products before treatment because the chemicals kill those hungry little boogers and then they don't do their job. We used a whole bottle on a bed mattress once when our middle got a stomach virus. Amazing stuff.

Don't make the mistake I made. Be firm and consistent in assigning chores to your kids. If you don't, the bad habits will escalate until the housework is overwhelming. M and I disagreed on how stern we should be with assigning chores... mainly because he knew HE would have to do some, too. After several years of getting nowhere, I decided to pick my battles. I could kick myself. Now here I am, with teenagers who have bad habits that are difficult to break. My husband realizes the price we're paying, but that's water under the bridge. If your spouse is not reinforcing your children picking up before moving on, taking dishes to the table, putting clothes in a hamper, and whatever daily chores you assign... fight that battle like nobody's business. You don't want to be where I am... trust me.

So now you know some of my cleaning secrets. I hope it saves you some time and makes cleaning a little more manageable.

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Blogger faith said...

those are great! thanks for sharing them with us. i'll definitely have to take a look at the clean team.
one that i really like and find pretty helpful is flylady.com. she's got 31 beginner babysteps even to start getting you into a good routine and it's great! it's something i'm definitely easing into myself.
i also like what you said about getting your kids into a good routine now. i'm working on getting my oldest used to cleaning things up. he's only 3 but he's great about rinsing his dishes off and putting them in the dishwasher!

November 21, 2009 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

You just reminded me os when my boys were around 3 and 5. They had a toy box in the living room, where they were supposed to put their toys when they cleaned up. One day, the 3 yr old was mad at the other for taking a toy, so he peed right into the toy box!

November 21, 2009 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger B'Aylana said...

Those are great cleaning tips. The only thing that bothers me is the type of chemicals used. I recommend substituting products from Seventh Generation, Method, or Shaklee. Those won't emit toxins into your homes and, therefore, into your family.

November 21, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

Great job, Kathi! We have chore charts with our kids. Those help us a lot.

November 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Tasha said...

I'm going to the store and buying RainX tonight! Cleaning the shower is my LEAST favorite chore.

November 24, 2009 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Timani said...

Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing, I'm going to check into those products. The gel-gloss sounds fabulous to me!

I completely sympathize about teenagers and cleanliness!!! I have 3 teens, who helped more when they were little. Now getting some to do chores is beastly and we're trying to sell a house, not a fun combo! Not a happy mom! I agree, fight that battle!

November 25, 2009 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

Timani, I feel your pain. lol

November 25, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

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