Housewife...housework?



A gentleman of our acquaintance said to me…Iowa Housewife…I thought you’d have stuff about how to clean your house and laundry on your blog.  Well, I can tell you, I don’t like to write about cleaning because I don’t like to do it – and I don’t think Myrna does either.  We do it because, simply, somebody has to, and a clean house is a pleasure to live in.  So, while kicking this around with my husband, we came up with a few simple “rules” that make life easier at our house.
Don’t make a mess
This is my husband’s housecleaning philosophy in a sentence – and I can tell you it sure makes life easier for me!  I recommend training your whole family in the philosophy – even if you think you’re not seeing progress, don’t give up.
Clean as you go
Myrna taught me this when we were still at home – it goes with don’t make a mess.  If you can’t avoid a mess, clean it up right away.  Wash up your dirty dishes as you cook or can, hang up your towels and clothes, have a basket or hamper for dirty laundry that everyone uses-we keep ours right in the closet.  Put away a project or toys before you get out the next one.  Wipe down the bathroom when you’re done with your shower.  Hang up jackets, have a place for shoes by the back door.  You get the idea.  Half your housecleaning is done and you won't be flustered by drop-in guests.
Uncluttered
Take a hard look at tabletops, the tops of chests, and shelves – choose one larger decorative item for a table instead of lots of small ones.  I saw an article in a home magazine recently that showed how to decorate your coffee table – they had so much stuff on it that there wasn’t a place to put down a book or cup of coffee, much less a place to park your feet!  On the table between our favorite chairs, I only have a reading lamp and a couple of coasters – even my husband doesn’t mind dusting it.  Uncluttered is peaceful and actually more comfortable – folks don’t have to be so careful.
Along these lines, when you choose furniture, think about having to clean or dust it – simple lines are easier to clean.
Have good tools
I don't believe in having a lot of cleaning products, but I have learned that good tools make any job easier.  These folks haven't paid me to recommend their products - I have just found them to be good, workmanlike tools.  I have had better luck looking in hardware stores and lumberyards for better equipment than discount stores.  They have paid me back by giving me long, long use.
I like a good squeegee and window washing mop, like the ones from Ettore.  I have had mine for years - and they sell refill blades and mop heads, although I haven't needed them yet.  I also like a good quality broom like this one from Quickie - it's shorter and thicker than many brooms and is worth looking for.  I love my Bona mop - recently I convinced Myrna to buy one, and I think she likes it too.  I have extra mop heads so I can wash mine every week.   Some spray bottles, good rags (I like microfiber), a scrub brush and a good vacuum cleaner and you are set for almost anything.
Don’t have too many cleaning products
Don’t bother with every new cleaning product – they are expensive and you have to store them somewhere!  I make good use of microfiber cloths and mops and a spray bottle of vinegar and water.  There is no soap residue from vinegar and water. 
Consumer Reports recently recommended Comet cleanser for the toilet – less toxic and cheaper.  The directions are on the can.
A good stiff scrub brush does wonders for scummy stuff – Grandma had the right idea here. 
Wiping down wet areas like the tub and sinks with microfiber rags cuts down on mold and mildew.  If you do it right after your shower, you usually don’t even need a cleaning product.
I like a good squeegee and a window washer (a mop on a handle) for windows and mirrors – watch professional window cleaners do sparkling windows in a flash.  I use a few drops of dish soap in water in a spray bottle. 
I use the same mixture of dish soap and water (half and half) in those foaming hand wash bottles. I don’t need fancy scented stuff to get our hands clean.
Use glycerin soap like Neutrogena for baths – it doesn’t leave a residue on your skin or your shower walls. 
Have a cleaning routine
Mom and Grandma were right – a day schedule for cleaning and laundry cuts down on grief and forces you to keep up.  If you clean as you go and keep down the clutter, it takes a lot less time to clean.
Don’t have anything you don’t want to clean.
It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t really want to clean and maintain “collections” of stuff – I sure wish I’d learned that sooner.   I’ve cut down what I want to keep – just what gives me pleasure.  When our grandmother died, she had cabinets full of beautiful collectibles, and drawers full of unused sheets and towels – almost all gifts to a woman who didn’t really “need” anything.  That’s helped me realize I don’t really want so much to store and maintain.
My husband always asks “Where are you going to put it?” when I want to buy something…it can be annoying, but he’s right.  And when you find yourself wanting to buy containers to store your stuff…ask yourself if you just need to get rid of the stuff instead.
 Take a cue from Europeans - have fewer, better clothes.  Clothing that doesn't fit or you don't wear just makes getting dressed more difficult - it's just harder to make a decision. 
The same thing goes for toys – both adult and children’s.  If you’re tired of picking it up, get rid of it.
Sell it, give it to charity, don’t buy more, don’t let your friends and relatives give you or your kids more stuff.
And our grandmother’s situation taught me one last rule, use what you have.  Don’t “save” it for whenever – enjoy the stuff you do keep.  Use it, display it, and enjoy it everyday.  Life is short.
We had some young neighbors who couldn’t put their car in their garage because it was full of household goods they thought they might need when they got a bigger place.  When they eventually moved, we watched them discard most of what they had stored because they didn’t want to pay to move it.  They could have had use of their garage all winter if they had done that when they first moved in.

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