Category Archives: Cleaning

Trying to fit it all in…

Seriously, if this year needed a subtitle, like they do in the movies, this would be the one for me.

fitting it all in

I am in something of a reflective mood today, after I attended the funeral of a friend’s Father yesterday.  I went to support my friend, and I was so proud of how she held herself together and dealt with the raw emotion that goes along with these sorts of occasions.  Having been there myself, not so long ago, I know how useful it is to have people to lean on.  But as with every funeral, it makes me think about things.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday and today is how frantically (even maniacally) busy I am.  I have no idea how I had the time to go to work.  I am a full time homemaker and even now I don’t always get to all of the jobs that I want to get to. I dread to think what the place would look like if I was out of the house 10 plus hours per day with a commute on top.  The garden would be a wilderness and the dust bunnies in the house would be unionising and militating for self rule!


As it is, I haven’t managed to get a duster or a vacuum around the place in three weeks (but to be fair, I was out of the country for 10 days!) and I feel like such a slattern.  I am doing a deep clean in every room today, in the vain hope that keeping on top of it will be easier thereafter.  Yeah… I am not hopeful about that either.  Also, the fact we have a meeting with our new Adoption Social Worker tomorrow morning is also rather a motivating factor.  “Yes, this is how tidy the house will never ever be again once a child arrives in our lives”

I have told myself off, and I am attempting to cut myself some slack, but it is really hard.  I set such high standards for myself, and I get cross with myself (and whoever is standing close by, to be fair) when I can’t reach them.  Perfectionism is a total b*tch. But practically speaking, is keeping the house clean the most important thing?  No, not really.  Keeping it hygienic is different from keeping it perfect.  It is hygienic.  No one is going to contract a communicable disease when coming into this house.  You might get cat and dog fur all over you, but in this house, that is how we accessorise!  I have a plaque somewhere that says “Welcome to our home – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be fun”.  That is what I am aiming for.

As I go around the house getting into some fairly mucky corners, I am thinking that I need to reassess my priorities.  I don’t think I actually have a set of them at the moment.  Everything is at the top of the list, and that is not a sustainable way to be.  In fact, as I have been uncomfortably close to having a total meltdown this week, I can tell that sustainability is out of the window and running down the path screaming.  Somehow I need to reassert some control over everything that I need/want to achieve.  I can feel a big old list coming on.


Any reader of this blog will know that I love a good list.  But having one is just the first step.  Then you need to prioritise the list.  No point having a list of stuff which is all a priority because then you look at it and go all clammy and sweaty palmed and think “EEP! Where do I start!”.  So, you need a system.  When I was at work and dealing with competing priorities from every which way, I used a simple ABC method.  A’s were the things I needed to do.  The ones where the ONLY person who COULD do them was me.  The ones with a time limitation that was measured in microns, or at the very most hours.  B’s were the jobs that it would be nice to get to.  The jobs that would make people smile a little bit, or the one’s that would make my job a little easier if they were out of the way.  C’s were the jobs which I would get to eventually, but no one one would holler about if I left them.  Or the ones I could delegate to someone else.

Transferring that system to the house then…  A’s would be the stuff that makes the place safe; B’s would be the tasks I might have put off for a while but once they are done life will be a little better;  C’s would the bits which can stay on the list until someone says “A dust bunny actually talked to me”.  (I am thinking painting.  I hate painting.)

I wonder if I can extend that system to the garden as well?


How to make a natural air freshener

What is the weather doing where you live?  In the UK, it is raining.  It always seems to be raining, but at the moment, it is making extra special efforts to get wetter and wetter.  I shouldn’t complain really, because it is what makes our country so lush and green.  But you can have too much of a good thing.  I suspect people are beginning to look around for a decent blueprint for the manufacture of an Ark.

english rain

Given that weather, it makes opening the windows to get some fresh air around the place really hard.  Things are beginning to smell a tad musty.  I began to wonder if there were any recipes out there for some homemade air freshener.  Of course there are!!


My chosen recipe is to be put into a spray bottle, the sort you might get from the garden centre or a DIY store.

air freshener

You take 16 fluid ounces of water, 15 drops of lemon or lavender essential oils, 15 drops of rosemary essential oil and 15 drops of tea tree essential oil.  You put them altogether, you mix them all up, and you spray them at will!  You could probably change some of the essential oils, but this is a nice combination of antibacterial and antiseptic oils.  I might put it some cinnamon, but I am completely addicted to that smell!

freshener gel

You can also make your own gel air freshener.  If you make up some jelly using clear gelatin sheets, or vegetarian gelatin, then add food colouring and essential oils, pour into small receptacles of your choice, and then let them cool and harden.  These last for between 6 and 7 days, sometimes longer, depending on temperatures and how quickly they go mouldy.  They do go mouldy eventually, but it is great fun to make these and scatter them about the place.


Until the weather improves around here, the essential oils are out for atmospheric improvements!



Home energy makeover… in just 12 minutes…

Sunday is a day for spiritual renewal.  But not just for people, houses need a bit of a lift every now and again as well.  You will probably recognise the signs.  When you feel your mood dropping as you walk into a room, or into the whole house.  Chances are you need to shake up the energy in the house a little bit.  Here are some feng shui tips to do just that.

open windows

First of all, open all the windows.  Getting fresh air into the place makes it smell lovely, and if the weather is good enough to do it, it seems a shame not to.


Dusting and polishing the surfaces in a room always makes it feel better, as does vacuuming and mopping floors.  Make the house sparkle for that energy uplift.  Make sure any bins you have are also clear.

fluffed pillows

Fluff up your pillows and cushions, water your houseplants, and blast your favourite music out (with consideration to your neighbours!)


If those things haven’t worked, then you can try burning a sage wand or a beeswax candle, sprinkling lavender oil in each corner, or just changing your light bulbs to brighter lights.  If needed, switch on the lights.


Mainly, for this Sunday, I am going to be counting my blessings, taking deep breaths and smiling broadly!  We are commemorating an anniversary for our family this weekend, and when I think how far we have come in the last 2 years… well, I can do nothing more.


Sunday Morning

Let’s get the rest of the house clean…

The kitchen is now decluttered (did that on Saturday) and is now freshly painted as well.  The place looks great, and I am so pleased with it.  Now, I just need to deep clean it and keep it that way!  Obviously my trusty steam cleaner will be used to great effect, but it is always useful to have a cleaning spray on hand to wipe up some spills and messes.

If you eat a lot of citrus fruit, you can make your own citrus enzyme cleaner.  Take the peel of the fruit (lemons, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit) and put in a large glass jar.  When the jar is packed full of the skins, put in white vinegar to the top of the jar, screw the lid on and put the jar in a dark warm place for a couple of weeks.  Shake the jar when you happen to be passing and then at the end of the two weeks, drain the vinegar and reserve it.  Put the citrussy vinegar into a spray bottle with some water to top it off, and I swear, it is a fabulous cleaner for the kitchen and bathroom.

citrus fruit

Another recipe is using 1 tablespoon of borax or borax substitute,  1 tablespoon of washing soda, 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap, 1 cup of vinegar, and 4 cups of hot water along with 25-30 drops of essential oil.  Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl until they are all combined and then pour into a spray bottle.  Spray on to the surface of your choice and then wipe off with a damp cloth.  This spray is suitable for practically any surface.

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen floor is a magnet for spills.  I clean the floor regularly, and although I use the steam cleaner most often, you can also use this recipe for a floor cleaner.  Take 1 cup of white vinegar, half a cup of bicarbonate of soda, 8-10 cups of hot water, 1 tablespoon of borax, 1 tablespoon of washing soda, and 30 drops of essential oil of your choice.  Mix the ingredients in a large bucket until all the powdered ingredients have dissolved.  Use a mop or sponge to wipe down the floor and then use a towel or rag to dry it to avoid accidents.  Shiny, lovely smelling floor.

washing soda

Our kitchen also has a stainless steel gas hob.  You can clean that using 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, half a cup of vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water.  Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle.  It will fizz and foam, but when it stops bubbling, put the cap on and then spray the stainless steel hob and wipe clean.  Dry it with a lint free rag.  If you want to add a shine, then you can use a bit of olive oil on a soft rag.  Rub the rag over the stainless steel and enjoy your handiwork.

Do you have a dishwasher?  You can make your own dishwasher detergent using 1 cup of baking soda, 2 cups of borax, 1/2 cup of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar added to the rinse compartment.  Mix the first three ingredients well and store in an airtight container.  To use, add 1 tablespoon to each of the 2 compartments in your dishwasher and don’t forget the vinegar in the rinse compartment.

furniture polish

The only thing that I think we haven’t covered is how to clean the wooden furniture.  Take 3/4 cup of olive oil, the juice from 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 3-4 drops of essential oil.  Dampen a rag and squeeze out excess water.  Dip the damp rag into the furniture polish liquid and wipe on the surface of the furniture.  Buff off with an old towel.  This can also be used on the stainless steel parts of the kitchen as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-cleaning series.  You will forgive me if I leave this topic alone for a bit now, because I am up to my neck in doing in real life.  On the upside, these recipes are really rather environmentally friendly as well as being purse-friendly.  I hope you feel inspired to spring clean with me.  I like the idea of others suffering the same pain as I am!  Misery does love company! 😉

Natural Products to clean your house with…

Yesterday we started with Laundry, and today we are going to move onto cleaning other parts of the house, all with natural products.  Just as Spring is pretending to make an appearance!  (I don’t believe it yet!  I am a cynic!) As a reminder, the list of ingredients we are going to need is White Vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda, Lemons or Lemon Juice, Salt, Olive oil, Bar Soap, Liquid Dishwashing soap, Washing Soda, Borax or Borax substitute and essential oils of your choice.

lemon juice

This week I am painting the kitchen and our downstairs toilet and sink.  Getting the toilet sparkling and clean is definitely one of those tasks that I need to do before the house goes on the market.  A really good toilet cleaner is to use 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup of white vinegar as well as 10 drops of essential oil.  It is a bit fiddly to use, as you need to shot off the flow valve to the toilet and flush once or twice until the water is completely drained.  Pour the bicarbonate of soda in the bowl and then pour in the vinegar, making sure to get the vinegar around as much of the bowl as possible.  Add the essential oil.  The bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar will react and fizz spectacularly.  This is completely normal, so don’t worry, and use your brush to scrub the bowl to get rid of any stubborn stains.  Once done, turn the water back on and flush the toilet.  Sparkling toilet.

Incidentally, if you want to horrify yourself, you can also use a bottle of Cola.  Pour directly into the bowl, swish and swipe around then leave it for an hour or so and flush the toilet.  It will be clean.  If the cola does that to the toilet bowl, what on EARTH is it doing to your Gastrointestinal tract?!  Just a thought…!  (I am hoping the same cannot be said for Root Beer, because I love Root Beer.  Please do not experiment and tell me if it works… sob…!)


Now we have the toilet clean, what about a cleaner for the rest of the room?  Well, if you use 3/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda, about a 1/4cup of lemon juice (probably the juice from 1/2 a lemon), 3 tablespoons of salt, 3 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice, you can make a homemade bathroom cleaner.   Mix all of those ingredients together in a medium bowl to make a paste, then use a sponge to apply to the bath,shower, walls and sinks.  You might need the test a small area to make sure the paste does not scuff the bath surface. If it does, just leave the salt out of the mixture.  Make sure you rinse the area well with water and a wet rag and then clean with a dry rag or old towel.  The place will shine!

white vinegar

In our bathroom, we also have mirror which gets a lot of abuse.  It has all kinds of stuff on it and it looks disreputable.  But you can also make a homemade glass cleaner.  Take one and a half cups of white vinegar and one and a half cups of water along with 5-10 drops of essential oil and put into a spray bottle.  Then use the wiper of your choice.  I like to use crumpled up newspaper.  Gets the glass to a beautiful shine and with no streaks.  This cleaner can also be used on windows.

My house is going to shine like a diamond!  Now… who want to buy a house sized diamond!  😉

Doing the Laundry…

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is lined with various cleaning products.  You know the type of thing.  The ones you get seduced into buying at the supermarket when you are desperate for something to get rid of the limescale on our taps, or in your bath, or just to make the house shine and smell nice.

cleaning products

I am firmly of the conviction that you can clean your house without resorting to those manufactured chemicals with lots of things in them that I can’t pronounce.   Sometimes you need the big guns, but nature provides stuff that is just as good.  As my hubby and I are moving house, cleaning is on my mind, and my goal is to do it all from natural sources.

First tool in my arsenal is the steam cleaner.  We have one which you can use to clean the oven (very efficient!) as well as steam around the taps, sink, bath and tiles and the other hard floor surfaces we have around the house.  It is great.  Keeps the place hygienically clean and doesn’t give you a headache from the chemicals.  If you add a drop of essential oil in the water reservoir, it makes your house smell fabulous as well.  My favourite is either Neroli (Orange Blossom) or Lemon.


So, what will you need to have in your cupboards to make some cleaning products?  The shopping list is white vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda, Lemons or Lemon Juice, Salt, Olive oil, Some kind of bar soap, liquid dishwashing soap, washing soda, Borax (or borax replacement) and essential oils of your choice.  You can pick up most of these from your supermarket, but if you can’t find them, try the internet.

At the moment, I am trying to get on top of the laundry.  It seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I want to conquer Mount Washmore and keep on top of it while we are trying to sell the house.  With the ingredients listed above, you can make a very inexpensive laundry detergent.   Take 1 bar of soap, 1 cup of borax or borax replacement and 1 cup of washing soda.  Grate the soap bar into a big bowl, mix well with the borax and washing soda.  Store in an airtight container and use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  It works better in warm or hot water, but if you want to use cold water then dissolve the mixture in 1/4 cup of hot water.  For really tricky stains on your clothes, you might want to include a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and some white vinegar in the washing machine.  This mix will fizz, but the fizz is what gets the stains out.

laundry ball

Of course there are also Laundry balls you can buy, which mean you will never need laundry detergent at all.  The agitation of the washing machine and these spiky balls basing against the clothes gets dirt and stains out.  I have never used them, but I have friends who swear by them.

Tomorrow, I will give you some more natural cleaning recipes, all using the ingredients listed above.