General Tidiness Advice
When she wants general housecleaning tips, my colleague Tera Forrest, youth services librarian, turns to websites that offer a full array of advice.
Martha Stewart Home & Garden
You may have been doing your own laundry for years. Still, Martha Stewart offers tips on how to do it better. “Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out,” she suggests, “to prevent pilling.” She also gives instructions for properly loading a dishwasher, vacuuming any surface, and a cleaning checklist for each season.
Good Housekeeping: Home and Organizing
The Hearst Media website that corresponds to its print magazine is heavy on the ads. Still, it offers sound advice for home-making, including organizing, cleaning, decorating, and repair. Explore “52 Home-Organizing Tips” to keep clutter at bay. Or, learn how to clean windows faster. (Hint: Clean them on a cloudy day.) Readers chime in with their suggestions in the comments.
Facebook (and real life) friend Miriam Nakamura writes: “I have been using vinegar instead of bleach for many years.” She buys jugs of the stuff and fills spray bottles with it. “My darn HE front load washing machine would stink before I started using a ¼ of vinegar in the softener cup when washing whites or rags. It kills mildew smells after the kids have left their clothes packed up after a trip.”
Housekeeping and Organization
This New York Times site hosts advice from professional cleaner and mother-of-five Sarah Aguirre. Aguirre is a big believer in getting organized before you get organized. That is, she makes lists of chores and offers advice on getting the kids to do them! Follow her directions for both a 15-minute cleanup for every room or deeper, intense cleaning. She shares a list of cleaning supplies that belong in every home and also information about their shelf life. Did you know that bleach loses its effectiveness after 6 months? (I’ve had mine for years.)
Ask a Clean Person
The Hairpin columnist Jolie Kerr offers cleaning advice to young people who have never had to do it before. Recent questions that she has answered include how to clean a juicer, how to get jeans stains out of a carpet after an intense make-out session, and then, seriously, how to make a bed. I suppose that, if the bed had been made, the carpet would have been spared.
Corporate librarian Erik Adams chimes in: “Careful with vinegar and whites. If you use bleach (which I do), adding vinegar will create toxic chlorine gas. Of course, it will also kill the mildew. Another way to keep your front loader smelling nice is to just leave the door open when it isn’t in use.” (Warning: Adams is not kidding. Mixing vinegar and bleach creates a deadly combination. Do not try this at home to see for yourself.)
Clean & Organize: iVilllage
NBCUniversal (NBCU) owns this site, which mixes helpful household advice with advertising. Browse photo-themed entries under “House Proud” or search the site’s Q&As for expert answers to reader housekeeping queries.
The Kitchn: Life in the Kitchen
The Kitchn, a daughter blog of Apartment Therapy [www.apartmenttherapy.com], was founded in 2006 by Maxwell and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan. Visit this site to get ideas for cooking, sure, but also find tips for cleaning and organizing your cooking space. The Housekeeping and Cleaning section [www.thekitchn.com/categories/housekeeping_cleaning] offers advice for the modern kitchen, including techniques for sanitizing sponges and cutting boards. Follow The Kitchn on Twitter [@thekitchn], Facebook, and Pinterest [http://pinterest.com/thekitchn].
Speech teacher Julia McDermott uses vinegar mixed with Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap [www.drbronner.com/DBMS/LS.htm] to clean almost everything in her kitchen. “It gets pretty much everything clean including the floor, and there’s no worry if it gets on food, dishes, utensils, or food preparation surfaces.”
Boise’s Housekeeping Channel, in conjunction with the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), offers professional advice for keeping the home in top condition. Browse its articles by category (bathrooms, pets, motivation) or type (articles or video clips). Got stains? Try its stain removal wizard for advice.
Anne Cohen, minister and mom, says, “I use vinegar to take out the smell of barf in the car.” She also used vinegar when her cat brought mice into the house and they crawled up into the furniture to die. “It took the dead smell out of the springs and upholstery. Gross, I know.”
Marla Cilley, a “sidetracked home executive” from North Carolina, is the “FlyLady.” Cilley offers a whole year-full of ideas about how to quickly organize and maintain the home — along with suggestions for getting a little exercise. Her basic message is that we all need to get on top of the chaos in our lives so that we can love ourselves. She encourages (some would say nags) her email subscribers through “baby steps” toward control over their clutter and, ultimately, their lives. Watch her videos and listen to her podcasts.
Ants. Although she is a minister, Ann Cohen hates them. She writes, “We use baby powder on window sills and other entry points when we have ant infestations. Works like a charm.”
An alternative to the FlyLady is the “Organizer Lady,” Sandra Felton, who has been helping folks deal with clutter since 1980 (1999 on the web). She encourages us all to make a quick, clean start of each day and then turn around to briskly make the bed! A former hoarder herself, Felton fashions her advice on the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program. Join her Yahoo! Groups to find social help from other “messies” on the web.
Sister-in-law Pamela K. Bartley offers her housecleaning tip: “Do it in the nude. Saves on laundry!” Friend Susie Dashiell answers, “Pamela, we used to have ‘naked day’ on laundry day at my house. That way, for a few precious hours, all the laundry was done.”
Speed Cleaning Rules and More
Jeff Campbell, one of America’s leading home cleaning experts, and his “Clean Team” offer rules from their books about how to clean things quickly along with guidelines for keeping a home-clutter free. Buy his favorite speed-cleaning products on the site too, including an apron especially designed to hold all the cleaning tools that you will need as you speed-clean your house.
When Vermont resident Pat Brownlee looks for a specific household tip, she starts with Google. “If I’m just browsing, I use Pinterest. That’s right. Sometimes I’ll read tips ‘just to read them,’ as my mom would say.” Search for “Boards” with the word “housekeeping.” You’ll be clicking and repinning cleaning ideas for the rest of the day.