Monday, November 19, 2012

Guest Post: Cleaning in style

lazy housekeeping

This is not how I clean house!

ladies of leisure

This is more my style!

Bonnie's Household Organizer: The Essential Guide for Getting Control of Your HomeMany years ago, when I was a young bride-- back in the 1900's, as one of my students used to say-- I read a book called Bonnie's Household Organizer. It changed my life! It taught me some very smart principles of keeping house that can be adapted to any size house, or any schedule. Then I read several of Don Aslett's funny but smart housekeeping books (Do I Dust or Vacuum First?) and adopted some of his ideas. Add Flylady, and you have a perfect combination of housekeeping brilliance! And notice I'm saying house keeping, not just cleaning. Here's the lazy way:

Prevent dirt and grime.

  • Place mats or rugs inside and outside doors, and from hard floor to carpets. These will catch lots of dirt before it gets where you don't want it.Do I Dust Or Vacuum First?: Answers to the 100 Toughest, Most Frequently Asked Questions about Housecleaning
  • Wipe sinks and faucets after you use them to keep them shiny and prevent spots and buildup. Standing water will cause all kinds of ugly!
  • Wipe up spills while they are new-- you can get them up much faster than if you wait.
  • Let water and chemicals do most of the work. Spray the cleaner on the spot and let it sit a minute; don't just start scrubbing. Chances are you will be able to wipe it up easily. Water works just as well for dried up food spills.

Set up systems to make things easy and automatic.

  • I keep a "Goodwill box" in my closet-- a kitchen trash can, with liner. As soon as I realize that something doesn't fit, or gets replaced, (or my hip daughters veto something that's older than they are) I toss it in the can. As soon as the bag is full, I tie it up and take it to Goodwill. They get the clothes, I get the tax writeoff-- it's a win-win!
  • Keep all things that you will use for one project together. For instance, my envelopes, return address labels, and stamps are all in one place. I also keep sympathy, wedding, baby, and birthday cards there. When I'm really with it, I have baby and wedding gift cards there too!
  • All of my monthly bills are paid by auto draft. I make sure there is a "pad" of extra money in my account so it won't bounce, and every single payment, even my tithe, comes out automatically. The credit union writes and sends checks to the places that don't accept electronic drafts. Think of the time and postage this saves!
  • Keep multiples of items that you use regularly in convenient places. I finally realized that scissors are not that expensive, but walking to the kitchen drawer every time I needed them drove me nuts and gave me one more reason to procrastinate. So now I have one in that drawer, one across the kitchen where I mix things up, and another pair in the desk. All labeled to prevent theft by unscrupulous children.
  • If you can clean everything in one session, a cleaning caddy with all your tools works well. I used to do that, but now I can't clean all at once, so I keep cleaner and paper towels under all the sinks so I can give a quick wipe when I get a minute. There's a bathroom cleaner and toilet scrubber in every bathroom.
  • Don't clean it unless it's dirty. My bathroom mirror is a huge 5X7 foot one. I'm 5'3' so only a small part above the sink gets splashes. That's the part I wipe every time.
  • Keep extra trash bags in the bottom of the can. You don't have to (climb the stepstool if you're like me and) get the box out every single time. Every step you save is some time saved, and that will add up! (Then you can blog some more!)

Eliminate and declutter regularly.

The more STUFF you have, the more maintenance is required. Goodwill, the library, your friends-- somebody needs what is lying around unused in the back of your closet or bottom of your drawer! In the book Getting Things Done, David Allen said that your file drawers should be no more than 75% full, because if it's hard to file things away, you won't do it. When I read this I had a light-bulb moment! I thought-- what a great idea for any storage container! My too-stuffed closet for example: if I'm going to wear the blue jeans tomorrow or the next day, it's so much easier to lay them across the chair than to hang them and stuff them in the jam-packed closet!

How to pare down?

  • To earn its keep, YOU should consider it useful or beautiful. (to paraphrase William Morris)
  • It's okay to get tired of things, or replace them, as long as you are not adding credit card debt!
  • You don't have to keep every gift ever given to you.
  • If it's a free hand-me-down and it doesn't fit right, get rid of it. Don't worry that it cost somebody else an arm and a leg.
  • If you work someplace like I do, a school district who buys a T-shirt for everything, you can end up with 15 or 20 in just a few years. You don't need that many! I know some charities make children's clothes from old T-shirts. Find something to do with them, or give them to Goodwill!
  • When you get a new pair of shoes or jeans, toss a pair of the old ones. Yes you need some yard shoes, but not 4 or 5 pair.
  • Don't buy more stuff if you have something else that works almost as well or can borrow it. I had to quit buying books because I ran out of space. I buy only occasionally, books that I want to keep. If I can't get something at the library, or through interlibrary loan, I will often buy it planning to donate it to the library after I read it. (Of course, Kindles and such eliminate that problem-- but be careful not to spend unnecessarily! Another post...)

Get the most bang for your buck.

  • Neat and tidy go a long way. Keep baskets to collect things you use regularly, and don't want to put up every time, like magazines, games, kids' toys, etc.
  • Floors, beds, and tables are your largest surfaces. Start there. Save the pantry shelves for later.
  • Cook in bulk. This saves shopping, prepping, and cleanup time, plus that critical just-home-from-work, ravenous, brain-dead crisis can be averted! Pop it in the microwave and supper is ready!
Okay! I hope I've given you some ideas. If I've sparked something new, please share it!

Guest Blogger Melinda Stanton
Hi! My name’s Melinda and I’m a teacher. Not just a school teacher- I am that too, but I love teaching anybody anything. Nothing scratches my itch like somebody saying that something I said helped them, or something I showed them made a difference. I like to cook, to read, to garden. I’ve lived over 50 years (just a little bit!); I’ve been married to the same man (He always signs himself “Mr X”) for over 30 years; and all of our children are self-sufficient, tax-paying adults who we love to visit and socialize with. I love the Lord and have served in 2 churches throughout my married life. Our house is paid for and we have no debt.

You can read my Guide to Life here, and see more about it.
I say all that to say– my life works. It might seem dull to some- no drama or fireworks. But I love it. Contentment and peace– that’s what you’ll find at Auntie Em’s house. Sit down and visit a while, and you can find it too.

If you would like to read more about Melinda, you can find her on the web in the following places:


  1. Thanks Mel! I'm so excited to be here!

  2. This is good stuff. You can teach me!!! I honestly have no system for housekeeping. I just do random stuff everyday, probably not the best plan.

    1. Well if you do enough random stuff it will eventually meet up and you'll get everything done... but I play favorites too much (Like cleaning the bathroom, hate dusting!) so I have to have more of a system LOL!

  3. That first picture is not how I clean house either - but one thing I can say about it...I sure love that background color! :-)

    1. ME TOO! We could just paint all our walls that color and not notice the clutter and dirt.. maybe?

  4. I love posts on cleaning...I love Don Aslet's books although I have never owned one (I borrowed it years ago) and Flylady is just the person to keep me motivated without getting overwhelmed!!

    Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home Wednesdays this week.

    1. I read all of his books and love them too.. I like to read Flylady and make plans... I just have to be careful not to spend all my time PLANNING then not DOING anything! (The Book of James speaks to me-- be DOERS of the word!)

    2. I have read all his books, and I love Flylady.. I just have to be careful not to spend so much time PLANNING that I don't actually DO anything lol!! Thanks for your comment!

  5. Oh good for you! It's so nice to know what works for you exactly! Thanks for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him last week! Blessings!

  6. Mel, thanks again for the chance to guest post! I've gotten lots of visits, and see quite a few clicked over here too-- hopefully they stayed around a while!

  7. Hey, this is a great post. I really the point made by you about decluttering on a regular basis. This eliminates a lot of unwanted things thereby providing cleanliness and tidiness.

  8. I love the idea of a Goodwill box!


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