Create a Cleaning Routine that Works

create a cleaning routine with printables

Writing things down will change your life.

I’m not kidding! It sounds a little dramatic to say it like that, but it’s true. Just check out any of those “what successful people do” articles or books and that’s always part of it. That, and having a routine.

Write a list and create a routine for your housecleaning and be amazed! List out your chores and stick to a routine. The list keeps you on track. And the routine streamlines your efforts which in turn frees up your time for more enjoyable things. Creating that chore list and routine may be easier said than done. So I have a few tips that I’ve learned in my short experience as primary housekeeper.

Free printable chore chart —-> Download

First, for your typical housecleaning tasks, determine if you are a do-one-thing-each-day kind of person or a bust-and-get-it-all-done-in-one-day person. I am the latter.

I’ve tried both methods, when Little Man was very little the first approached worked pretty well. In those first months of motherhood, I was too tired to do a whole day of cleaning, but doing a little something every day kept the house at a reasonably clean level. I see how this would also work very well for families where the parents both working out of the home. Freeing up your weekends for family time instead of housecleaning sounds appealing to me.

Now that Little Man is a little older I’ve switched back to my favorite method. I really love the feeling of a fully clean house once I get it all done. Working at home gives me the flexibility to spend a half or full day cleaning during the week. This allows freedom on the weekends for friends or family time as well.

Once you have your method determined, you need to write a list of tasks and plot out a rough routine. Bathrooms on Tuesdays? Floors on Wednesday? Whole house on Fridays? Personally I like to clean on Thursdays or Fridays. We often have friends over on the weekend so if the house is already clean, I don’t have to make a big to-do about having guests.

cleaning clothes

There are some cleaning tasks on your list that can be done monthly or seasonally. Rotate those in on a particular day or as part of your weekly cleaning day. As long as you do them regularly, it makes the cleaning process so much easier. I tend to add in organizational or decluttering tasks to this list as well. Clearing out my closet of unused items is always freeing.

Don’t forget to write down the daily tasks as well. Most likely you won’t forget to do the dishes since you’re going to need them for the next meal, but writing it down will help lock it in as part of your routine.  Instead of always playing catch up with your daily tasks, be proactive in getting them done.

I’m not going to claim perfection in that area, but I do strive to always clean up after myself before moving onto the next thing. One of the most helpful proactive tasks I’ve done is to do a quick pick-up before bed. I go through the living room and straighten blankets and pillows, pick up stray toys, and ensure shoes aren’t scattered about. It makes for a smooth morning.

After you have your chore lists written down and a rough idea of when you need to accomplish those tasks, it’s time to start implementing a routine. It may take a few tries to get into the swing of things or find the right fit.

I have my master cleaning list on a chore chart you can print here —> Download

If you are the primary housekeeper like me, it can help keep you on track and stick to your routine. Or if you share responsibilities with a spouse or older kids, this is a great list to post on the fridge so you can assign tasks or see what’s already been done.

Again, I’m more of a get it all done at once kind of cleaner so this chore chart is laid out in that manner, but it could be adapted to a daily cleaning list too. Pick a different room each day and do the chores, rotating monthly and seasonal tasks as well. Remember you have to find the routine that works for your family.

Now you have some tracks to run on to create your own housecleaning routine. Start writing that list and change your life!

Print your chart here —> Download

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Clean Your Microwave in 3 Easy Steps

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clean your microwave

How often do you clean your microwave? If you’re like me, not often enough! Yikes!

I don’t use my microwave very often. Growing up, we didn’t even have one, so I’m used to reheating food in the oven. I don’t think I could ever actually cook a meal in a microwave…that just seems gross to me. And I’ve read somewhere or other that microwaving your food kills all the good things in it during the quick heating process.

If you’re sticking to a minimalist kitchen, you don’t need a microwave, but currently we have room for one and it is convenient sometimes. I’ll use it for reheating coffee, melting butter, and the occasional reheat of lunch when I’m in a time crunch. I’ll also use it to speed up my soap making. Cocoa butter and shea butter take forever to melt in the slow cooker.

Regardless of how often you use your microwave, you do need to clean it every so often. I had some butter pop in mine the other day, and just realized I had left the mess when I pulled my sticky coffee cup out. (As I write this it makes me sound like a complete slob. Hm…maybe I should reconsider this confession…)

Instead of ignoring it, I decided to test one of the many life-hacks I see all over social media. I saw a fancy little meme about placing a wet sponge in the microwave for a few minutes, heating it up, and then bam, steam bath for the microwave and all the grim comes off in seconds. Of course I’m skeptical because I read it on the internet (and even more so because it was on Facebook).

But I thought I’d give it a try. And guess what? It works!!

I didn’t have a sponge, but tried a dish cloth instead. I added a little soap to the process since it seemed like the right thing to do. And the whole thing only took about 2 minutes.

Clean Your  Microwave in 3 Easy Steps:
  1. Place damp cloth in your microwave and “cook” for 1 minute.
  2. Carefully remove the cloth and add a dab of liquid castile soap. (It may be hot!) Wipe out the grime.
  3. Rinse the cloth in hot water and wipe out any remaining stickiness.

Yeah, it’s that easy. Why did I put off this simple task? Now that I know it works, no more excuses. None for you either!

Have you cleaned your microwave lately?

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DIY Household Cleaner with Citrus Infused Vinegar

citrus infused vinegar title

‘Tis the season…for oranges? Yes!

It’s easy to think that citrus fruits are in season during the warm months. When you think oranges, you think warm tropical climates. Which is true,those oranges may be growing in a warm climate, but the rest of the northern hemisphere is headed toward colder weather. This why you will see clementine and other citrus fruits on sale in the stores in winter.

It is very convenient these days how most fruits and veggies are available year round in the grocery stores. But it is actually better for you to eat fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Thankfully it’s easy to get the seasonal foods when you shop at a farmer’s market or join a CSA. Navigating seasonal choices at the grocery store is a little more tricky.

All that to say, you can feel good about increasing your citrus intake this time of year. Hmm…citrus naturally has a lot of vitamin C…which is great for battling colds…which happens easily this time of year…coincidence? So eat more oranges, lemons, and limes! And instead of throwing away all of the citrus peels, there’s something you can make with them.

Citrus Infused Vinegar!

As I’ve removed the commercial chemicals from my home and become “green” in my cleaning supplies, I’ve learned that vinegar and baking soda are excellent cleaners. Unfortunately vinegar is not my favorite smell. In comes the citrus.

Adding orange and lemon peels to my vinegar, not only masks some of the scent of the vinegar, but it also aids in the cleaning. Lemon is especially helpful. It’s acidity makes it naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. Both of those are nice qualities for household cleaning!

To make your own Citrus Infused Vinegar, all you need is some citrus peels, vinegar, and a jar! It’s really quite simple. Place your peels in the jar and cover with vinegar. Close the lid and let rest for a couple of weeks. Once the vinegar is infused you are ready to go!

You can pour the vinegar in a spray bottle and use straight. Or you can dilute in some water and add some essential oils for an extra boost to the cleansing capabilities. I like melaleuca, lavender, or On Guard blend.

When cleaning the toilet or bath tub, I add some baking soda to create some extra powerful cleaning action. I will sprinkle baking soda in the toilet bowl and then spray in the citrus infused vinegar. The fizzing is slightly entertaining so it makes the toilet cleaning not quite as horrible.

I have also found that using citrus infused vinegar and baking soda is a much more effective cleaner than anything else, even bleach! I used to always use a bleach cleaner for the toilet and bath tub, but I don’t need to anymore. The mildew in our shower is kept at bay and the stink in the toilet is gone when I use the vinegar. It really amazes me how simple products can be so effective!

I’m sure you don’t like suffering with the artificial chemical smell of commercial cleaners. That stuff always gave me a headache! So, if you are trying to take baby steps to a more natural life, this is an excellent next step to take. It is quite simple (and cheap!) to make your own household cleaner with citrus infused vinegar.

Who’s ready to eat some oranges?

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Thursday’s Thoughts – Simplify

It seems to me that Spring is finally on the verge of arriving. I realize much of the northern parts of our country are still under inches of snow, but here in Tennessee the sun is finally shining!! The forecast is showing highs above fifty and sunny skies, which I will welcome with outstretched arms. (It has been miserably dreary here lately which does not help me or my husband’s mood. Lets just say it has been rather cloudy in my house this past week.) All to say, this burst of sunshine kicks me into organization mode.

For some reason, when the sun starts shining and I feel Spring coming, I am compelled to organize, clean, and purge my belongings. Indoors and out. I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation and I must get my surroundings in order. The time change is approaching too, and that means I have no excuse to get myself outdoors walking/running after work.

The first thing on my list is my closet. My husband and I share the tiniest closet in the creation of all closets and most if it is my stuff. In some ways I bugs me, but honestly it probably helps me maintain a creed of Keep Life Simple that I adhere to. There are always a few items in my closet that “I know I’ll wear again someday.” Usually that someday never occurs. It is time to remove those items from my life!! Good-bye Hawaiian print dress that I am saving for a luau that I will never attend! Good-bye red button-up shirt that I could wear at Christmas! Good-bye black dress pants that are really too small and got hemmed too short that I really don’t like to wear!

Shoes, purses, yarn, kitchen cabinet, and books (Yes, I may get rid of a few books) are also on the list of areas to simplify. I’ve also found many tips and tricks on Pinterest to help organize cabinets and such. It is time to implement those pins.  A trip to the dollar store for some much needed bins and containers is in my future as well.  There are also a few stray items that hover in corners around my house. These things are about to be evicted. I’m tired of seeing them and they are cluttering up my life.

Well those are the thoughts that are haunting me today. It is obvious cleaning is on my mind this week. I’m blaming the sunshine. Be encouraged and get your house ready for Spring!!

Method or Madness

There is nothing better than the feel of a freshly cleaned house. Everything is put away, the bed has fresh sheets, all the surfaces are dust-free and the floors aren’t crunchy or sticky! (It rarely gets to the point of crunchy floors, but I must admit it has happened.)

Follow me on my house cleaning routine:

La da da, I get out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning. A thought crosses my mind, Oh, I should clean house today. I proceed to make some real food breakfast, typically consisting of random veggies and eggs topped with hot sauce. If I’m in the mood I pull out my French Press and make a delicious, oil infused, flavorful cup of coffee. I find myself sitting on the couch, still in my PJs that mismatch my robe and slippers. Bella (the cutest dog in the world) is continually sitting by the door waiting for me to let her out and then two minutes later bangs her nose against the door for me to let her in. She has trained me well. Between the times I get up to let her out and I’m sitting an enjoying my coffee a thought crosses my mind again, I really need to clean house now so I can enjoy the rest of the day. I reach for a Christmas themed notepad that is sitting in the coffee table drawer and make a list of things I want to accomplish that day, including my cleaning list.


I will most likely not look at my list again. I might wander back to it to cross off a few things, but it will end up back in the drawer. I find random lists of things from time to time and marvel at myself for my odd listings. My set of cleaning chores is always the same, I really don’t need a list. I always need to dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms, sweep, and mop. Every now and then I’ll throw a deep clean in there such as dust baseboards or wash curtains.

To continue with my narrative (forgive me if I get off track), I wander into my bedroom and change from PJs to yoga pants and a different t-shirt. Washing my face and brushing my teeth are also mandatory for getting myself in a productive mood. My movements form this point on are rather erratic, yet methodical. I go back and forth from one room to the other, always carrying some stray item that needs to go somewhere else. I find some socks in the study and carry them to the laundry room. I find a hairband on the dryer and carry it and fresh hand towels to the little bathroom. I find earrings and leftover Apple Cider Vinegar face mask mix and carry the items to my bedroom and then the kitchen. And so it continues until the random things are moved from one place to where they belong. I wonder to myself whether it would be easier to carry a basket and pile up all the things from one room in there and then go and deliver it as I go. That doesn’t work. For some reason the best way for me to get the house completely picked up is to go from room to room. I don’t like feeling confined in one room, picking up, cleaning it and making sure all the colors are in the lines. I have to wander! But I need my list! I can’t figure myself out!

On to the bathrooms. Using my homemade harsh-chemical-free cleaners I start on the sink, then the toilet, and then I can’t stand cleaning that bathroom any longer and flee to the other one. I start in on the sink, the toilet and then I grab the bath mat and run out the front door! Shake that mat and then I go grab the others from the first bathroom. Back and forth I go all the time wondering, why don’t I just finish up this room and then move on.

That would just be too boxed in for me. Through analyzing my erratic cleaning movements and my insistence on a list that I don’t actually use, I have found that I am part abstract and part concrete. I’m not sure if I just can’t decide in between the two. Or if deep down I’m wired to be concrete and learned my abstract methods from my mother. (Nature versus Nurture?) Whatever it may be, there is a little insight into my cleaning day. I’ll spare you the details about dusting without toxic dusting spray and chasing my dog around with the vacuum. Somewhere before, after, or in between I will add in a run and a bath for Bella. Finally after all the madness of getting the house cleaned I will shower and then enjoy the fresh scent and calm feeling of a clean home. (And then my husband comes home with muddy shoes.)