Showing posts with label Cleaning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cleaning. Show all posts

Jan 2, 2019

Most Popular Posts from 2018

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Another year come and gone. To me, it seems time speeds up each year! But now that Chritmas and New Year's are over, I need to hunker down and get to work. I'm currently finishing up a historical fashion book for Dover Publications. (Years ago, historical fashion books were my mainstay and I've enjoying getting back into that subject.) And as usual, this year I want to try to make this blog better than ever...meaning, I want to hear from you! What do you wish I'd blog more about? Let me know in the comments or through a social media message.

This is also the time of year I look at this blog's stats to see if I can understand my wonderful readers even better. It's always fasncinating to see which posts you like best.






I also look at which posts are all-time favorites:
Happy new year!

Dec 28, 2017

Top 5 Most Popular Posts for 2017 - Plus Top Posts of All Time!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

2017 is nearly at an end, which means it's time for reflection and maybe some new goals. This year has certainly been a life-changing one for me: Reversing my diabetes (and most of my other health complaints) through a keto diet; hubby no longer commuting 92 miles one direction in order to get to work; and my need to do more to help support my family financially. And one of the things I always do around this time of year is access this blog.

So let me ask: What are my readers (you!) needing from me? Please, let me know in the comments below!

Another way I learn what readers want is to look at this blog's most popular posts from the previous year, and for the entire life of the blog. (Did you know I've been writing this blog since 2009?! Holy smokes!)

Most Popular Posts from 2017

# 5. Catnip for Human Medicine 
This popular post was inspired by the catnip patch that came with our homestead - and which our cat (who also came with our homestead) adores. I was surprised to learn catnip is so beneficial for humans, especially for helping us relax. It also repels mosquitos better than DEET. Find out what else catnip is good for by clicking here.

# 4. How to Get Out from Under the Laundry Pile
A lot of you struggle to keep up with your family's laundry, and in this post, I give you my best tips for how I make laundry easy and stress-free.

#3. Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?
The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (buy it here) hit the world by storm in 2017, and my third most popular post definitely reflects that. In it, I dispell myths about using pressure cookers as pressure canners. Be sure to read it before you can!

#2. Cauliflower Chowder Recipe
Combine the Instant Pot and a keto recipe and you get my second most popular post from 2017. This is actually a revised version of a non-keto, non-Instant Pot recipe I posted in 2015. It's been a family favorite, so when I went keto, I was thrilled it was easy to make low carb. It's also easy to make in the Instant Pot (or slow cooker/crock pot, or the stove top).

 #1. 50 Low Carb and Keto Thanksgiving Recipes
When I started eating keto in December of 2016, I never dreamed that keto recipes would turn into the most popular posts on my blog! It's really a testament to this healthy diet, which truly works for treating type I and type II diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, metabolic disorder, sleep disorders, pain, infertility (especially PCOS), multiple sclerosis, and other diseases - not to mention for losing weight, especially when the pyramid diet fails. (I've lost 45 lbs., my husband has lost 60 lbs.) Keto works, my friends!

Most Popular Posts of All Time

#5.  Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets
Here's a little secret: I hate pickled beets. But my family loves them - and, apparently, so do you! This post from 2014 continues to be among my most read.

#4. The Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net
I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves a good apron - or two, or three, or...Since 2011, this post has pointed ya'll to some pretty awesome, free patterns for my favorite kitchen accessory.

#3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible
I'm so happy at least one God-centered post is popular on this blog! ;)

#2. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings & Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen!
It turns out, greasy kitchens are my specialty. I also specialize in finding "lazy girl" ways to clean. This post from 2014 combines both these "talents."

#1. How to Train Chickens
This has been my most read post since 2012, which cracks me up! I'd have never thunk it. But I guess hubby and I are pretty good at getting our hens to cooperate and do the things we want them to.

Jun 15, 2017

Spring Cleaning Roundup

Some time ago, my sis-in-law remarked that she loved the cleaning posts on this blog. I literally laughed out loud - because I am a true messy at heart. But maybe that's the appeal. As much as I appreciate the need for good housekeeping (and homekeepers), I usually try to find the easiest, fastest way to clean things so I can move on to other stuff. So with that in mind, I present to you my most popular cleaning posts. Just in time for the procrastinating spring cleaner - like me.

Throughout the House:

How to Clean a Popcorn or Textured Ceiling 

How to Easily Clean Ceilings and Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen

How to Easily Remove Stains from Carpet - without Chemicals

Why Every Housewife Needs Safety Goggles

In the Kitchen:

How to Clean a Really Dirty Stove Top

How to Clean Really Dirty Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

How to Easily Clean a Super Duper Dirty Cup
In the Bathroom: 

 How to Clean Soap Scum Easily & Naturally 

The Easy Way to Get Mold Off Grout

In the Laundry Room: 

Cheap, Effective Fabric Stain Removal 

The Easy Way to Remove Grease from Fabric

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Why I Don't Use It 

Natural Alternative to Dryer Sheets

Why You're Using Too Much Laundry Detergent

Mar 23, 2017

How to EASILY Remove Hard Water Stains from Sinks

clean hard water stains
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full  information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Now that the plum trees are blooming and we are getting occasional sunny days, I have the itch to spring clean. And boy, does this place need spring cleaning! As you might recall, it was a dirty mess when we took possession of it last July, and I was so utterly exhausted (mostly from my as-yet-undiagnosed diabetes) that I didn't do a deep clean. So now I want to tackle some of the cleaning jobs that have been bugging me all winter.

One of those was our bathroom sink.

The sink itself is newish, but because the old well had a high mineral content, it had brown stains around the drain and the faucet. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, but they wouldn't come off. Then I bumped into a post at The Thrift Home that suggested using vinegar to clean those hard water stains.

First, let me say that I'm not someone who lauds using vinegar for cleaning everything. I haven't found it very effective for most cleaning jobs, in fact. But for this cleaning job? Worked like a charm!

How to EASILY Clean Off Hard Water Stains from Sinks

You'll need:
Paper towels (thin, clean cotton rags would probably work, too)
White distilled vinegar
Old toothbrush

1. First, clean the sink and fixtures as you normally would.

The area around the drain and faucet of my sink always looked grungy.
2. Place some pieces of paper towel over the affected areas. I used half pieces, torn into strips and doubled over.

3. Pour a little white distilled vinegar onto the paper towels, until the towels are completely saturated.

4. Walk away.

That's the best part...walking away and doing something other than cleaning ;)

5. After an hour or longer (or when you finally walk into the bathroom and notice the vinegar smell and think "Oh, yeah. I was cleaning!"), remove the paper towels.

6. Use an old toothbrush to clean the affected areas. Without much scrubbing, brown gunk should come right off. In fact, if I need to do this cleaning job again, I'll try just wiping the affected areas with a damp sponge or cloth.

7. Rinse.

Much better!

You're done! So easy! And very effective.

Sep 22, 2016

How to EASILY Clean a Super Duper Dirty Cup

I have exactly two mugs in my cupboard: one for the Mr. and one for moi. The rest are - you guessed it! - still in our shipping container. And both these mugs (the Mr. uses his for coffee and I use mine for tea) are totally gross. They look super duper dirty, even though I've run them through the dishwasher multiple times and even, occasionally, hand washed them.

But that's okay, because I know a handy dandy little trick that makes cleaning those nasty looking cups a breeze.

Today, I finally got around to it.

How to EASILY Clean a Really Dirty Coffee or Tea Mug

1. Pour about a teaspoonful of baking soda in the cup.

2. Pour a drop of dish detergent into the cup, too. (I used Dawn.)

3. Fill the cup with warm water.

4. With a sponge or cleaning cloth, clean the mug. (HINT: You don't need to scrub like your life depends on it!)

5. Rinse.
My clean mug, all ready for a nice cup of orange spice tea.

See? So easy peasy I'm almost embarrassed to post it. But judging by my friends' dirty coffee mugs, I'm betting a lot of people don't know this trick! ;)

Apr 5, 2016

Daily Cleaning Checklist - and House Showing Checklists, Too

It is finished. The scrubbing, repairing, and painting is done and our house is officially on the market. We had seven glorious days of sunshine - just enough time for our painter to give the house a new, fresh look. And then, BAM! It started raining. Pretty sure that was God's way of saying, "Yes, that was Me holding back the waters in answer to your prayers."

But the challenge isn't over yet. Now I have to keep this house spotless. Maybe for a naturally tidy person that would be easy. But tidiness doesn't come naturally to me. And I have two messy kids, and a messy husband, too.

So I'm using to-do lists to tame the madness. I have an every day to-do list and a couple of to-do lists for when the house is about to be shown. My everyday list is something most of us should be using everyday, anyway. Something I'm learning (I'm a slow learner, it turns out) is that it's best to clean before it looks dirty. In other words, if you clean it every day (or close to it), the job will be quick and so much easier.

(P.S. Even if it's something I normally do every day - like keeping up with dishes - I added it to my list. It feels good to have all the chores listed in one place - and then check everything off!)

My everyday checklist looks like this:

(You can download this list in a format that can be edited by clicking here. Also check out my Mama Chore Charts.)

* Vacuum.
* Vacuum under the kitchen table after every use.
* Mop.
* Clean sinks as used.
* Wipe down tubs/showers as used.
* Clean toilets.
* Do dishes after every meal.
* Remove clean dishes from the dishwasher right away (so dirty dishes can go directly into it).
* At least one load of laundry every day.
* Pick up. (Don't let anything sit out overnight.)
* Make sure flowers or fruit designed to pretty things up look fresh and appealing.

When the house is about to be shown, I'm using these checklists. (Totally inspired by Suburble, whose lists are prettier, but not as practical for me personally.) The first is if I have less than an hour to prepare:

(Click here to download these lists in a format that can be edited.)

* Make beds.
* Close toilet lids.
* Empty all trash bins.
* Hide small trash bins in cupboards.
* Put out nice towels.
* Tuck small appliances into cupboards.
* Open curtains/blinds.
* Turn on all lights.
* Grab a box and put all clutter - anything sitting out - into it. Tuck box into a closet. (After the showing, it's important to retrieve the box and put it's contents away.)
* Put out "From the Owners" binder. (More on that in a coming post.)

If I have at least an hour before a showing:

* All of the above.
* Vacuum and touch up bare floors.
* Clean toilets.
* Sweep porch.

Mar 28, 2016

How to Brighten Dingy or Yellowed Whites

Last week, as I was preparing to put the linens back in our freshly painted main bathroom, I noticed the white valance for that room was looking...well, not so white. It was a bit yellowed and dingy. (Imagine that, after a decade of use!) Otherwise, the valance was in great condition and I really didn't want to replace it just to leave it with the house after we sell it, so I researched a few ways to easily brighten the white valance. These methods work equally as well for clothes or linens.

First, Why Do Whites Get Dingy or Yellow?

Turns out, there are lots of reason white fabrics turn dingy or yellow:

* Washing them with colors, which bleed in the wash.
* Storing them improperly, so they touch cardboard or wood.
* Stuff in the air, including smoke and grease.
* Overuse of chlorine bleach.
* Using too much laundry detergent or fabric softener.
* Drying the item too hot or too long in a clothes dryer.

How to Brighten Whites

Washing soda can help whiten whites.
When cleaning anything, it makes good sense to start with the most gentle cleaner, only trying more harsh cleaners if the more gentle ones don't work. Therefore, I've listed these cleaners approximately from most gentle to most harsh/least natural. On the other hand, if you don't have, say, lemons laying around, but you do have ammonia, you may as well try ammonia first!

Baking Soda - In a sink or bucket, stir together 1 cup of baking soda with 4 quarts of warm water. Once the soda is dissolved, add the fabric and soak for about 8 hours. Rinse and launder as usual.

Lemon Juice - This is really old school, but it works well. Fill a large pot (like a stock pot) with water and add two lemons, sliced (not just halved). Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add the fabric and let soak for about an hour. Rinse and launder as usual.

Vinegar & Borax - Use 1/2 cup each of white distilled vinegar and borax (found in the laundry aisle or on Amazon) in the washing machine.

Washing Soda - Fill a sink or bucket with 1 gallon hot water and add 1/2 cup washing soda (found in the laundry aisle or on Amazon; it is not the same thing as baking soda). Add the whites and soak for 15 minutes before laundering as usual.

Bluing works as well today as it did way back when!
Bluing - Another old school method. Follow the manufacturer's directions. (You'll find bluing in the laundry aisle, or at Amazon.)

Ammonia - Fill a sink with hot water and add 2 tablespoons ammonia. Soak for 15 minutes. Rinse in cool water and launder as usual. (This is the method I used on my valance; it worked like a charm!)

Chlorine Bleach - Pour up to 1/4 cup of bleach into a gallon of cool water. Soak for 5 minutes, then rinse and launder as usual. Use bleach only occasionally, as it can lead to yellowed whites.

Oxygen-based Bleach - (like OxiClean or Clorox 2) Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and add oxygen-based bleach, according to the manufacturer's directions. Allow to soak overnight, then launder as usual.

Mar 14, 2016

What You May Not Know About Choosing The Best Vacuum

Have you ever wondered whether one vacuum is better than another for the condition of your carpet? Or even if your vacuum could be damaging your carpet? I hadn't - not at all - until recently.

You see, our house has wall to wall carpeting in the living areas. At first, I didn't think we could afford to replace it before selling the house, but it turned out we could, thanks in part to a good deal from a local (i.e., not big box) flooring store. (Thank you, Lord!)

I always knew there was hardwood under the carpeting, but I expected it to be in bad shape. Imagine our surprise when we ripped out the old carpeting and discovered THIS:

Gorgeous, right? I took lots of photos because, frankly, we don't have the time to repair the floor where the carpet tacks were, plus a few little other areas that need some TLC. But if someone else wants that lovely floor, I can show them it's there, nicely protected by a new carpet pad and carpeting:

Anyway, once that new carpet was installed, my husband asked me to look into it's warranty. He'd heard that using a Dyson vacuum, like the one I have, nullifies carpet warranties. I'd never heard this, but I dutifully called the flooring company and asked about it. The lady I talked to said she'd heard this rumor, too, but didn't know if it was true. She dug up the carpet's written warranty, though, and gave it to me. And I read: "Vacuum regularly with a Carpet and Rug Institute of Approval vacuum cleaner." Hmmm....

So I Googled said Institute and found their list of approved vacuums. There was not one single Dyson listed. And, frankly, there were a lot of vacuum manufacturer names missing. I was seriously surprised.

Reading a bit further, I found the criteria for vacuums that end up on the Carpet and Rug Institute of Approval list:

  • The vacuum has to remove a certain number of dust particles; 
  • and "the vacuum should not affect the texture appearance of the carpet more than a one-step change based on one year of normal vacuum use."
The second standard is the one our local flooring company warned me about. "If your vacuum doesn't allow you to adequately adjust the height of the brush roller, it won't be on the list," the flooring lady told me.

My Dyson allows me only to raise the brush roller up completely (for non-carpeted floors); it does not allow me to otherwise adjust the height of the brush roller. That means it could be really harsh on carpet fibers, ultimately voiding carpet warranties and leading to a quicker carpet death. While I've always said I loved my Dyson for being great at picking stuff up, it turns out at least some of it's ability to "suck" was probably damaging our carpets.

So if you have carpet you want to last (and remain under warranty), be sure to check out the Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval vacuum list. You might need to buy a new vacuum!

Feb 9, 2016

Lazy Girl's Guide to Spring Cleaning (or getting a house ready to sell)

If you were to knock on my door these days, you'd find me covered in paint head to toe. Because when I paint, that's just what happens. Yes, friends, I am working my patootie off painting and cleaning these days. And I got to thinking, it is spring cleaning time(ish), and really all I'm doing is really intensive spring cleaning. So I think some of my little tricks for making the work easier and faster will translate to your house, too - whether or not you're putting your house up for sale.

Don't Use a Sponge or Cloth...Use a Mop!
Do you still wash walls and ceilings with a wet cloth or sponge? Then you're working too hard. Instead, use a mop. Better yet, use a Magic Eraser mop. Not only will you scrub less with one of these things, but you will almost never need to use chemicals - not even the natural kind. A little hot water and a Magic Eraser mop will clean almost anything - even a greasy kitchen ceiling.

And, oh yeah, they work great on floors, too. (Nothing gets my vinyl floor cleaner!)

Get Yourself Some Magic...Erasers, That Is

Got grubby baseboards? Dirty window trim? Icky crown molding? Or stubborn dirt on nearly any hard surface? Don't use elbow grease - use a Magic Eraser sponge. It does a better job - and it shortens cleaning time.

You can buy large boxes of generic "erasers" off eBay, or you can get Walmart's brand (they even sell a container of 12, which will probably last your entire spring cleaning and then some), or there are these, which are only 14 cents each. I always cut each eraser in half because I think they last longer that way. Also, remember that you don't have to press hard with these things - and not doing so will also make them last longer. (Of course, it's always smart to test a surface in an inconspicuous spot first, just to make sure the sponge doesn't remove the finish.)

Don't Sweep and Dust...Vacuum!
The next fantabulous tool you should use is a good vacuum. (I love my Dyson.) Years ago, I posted tips on how to use your vacuum to make housework easier; check it out, if you haven't already. (P.S., when I have a sticky, dusty mess, or just an area with a lot of debris that might clog up my vacuum, I borrow my hubby's shop vac.)

Have Some Popcorn
Speaking of vacuums, they are a real necessity if you have ceilings with bold texture, like acoustical (i.e. popcorn) ceilings. Sure, some people recommend scraping down those popcorn ceilings - but it's quite a project (and requires re-texturing the ceiling, unless you want every little flaw in said ceiling to show). From everything I've read, all but the newest (1990s - forward) popcorn ceilings contain asbestos, and therefore should only be removed by a pro, anyway. (Don't worry; the asbestos is only dangerous when it floats in the air and gets breathed in - i.e., during removal; if you leave the texturing in place, it's not a health hazard. Also bear in mind that popcorn ceilings were invented to help sound proof homes and prevent them from sounding echo-y, and as so don't remove them if you don't like an empty-sounding house.) 

To clean deeply textured ceilings, you can only use a vacuum; see full instructions here. (Be sure to wear safety goggles, since bits of the texturing may fall down.) But nothing spruces up any ceiling better than slapping on a couple coats of paint.  I've been doing that with ours, and I'm amazed by the difference! I really didn't realize how much our ceilings (which haven't been painted in 15 years) were making the rooms look drab. 

The photo doesn't do my ceilings justice. In real life, the freshly painted ceiling is bright and the bumpy texture much less noticeable.

Now, I've painted popcorn ceilings with a thick nap roller before, and it does work - but it's terribly messy - and it doesn't work nearly as well as a slitted foam roller designed for acoustical ceilings. So grab yourself one of those before you begin, then apply paint in both directions; for example, paint left to right, then run the roller front to back, too. I recommend two coats. You'll also want a small paintbrush to cut in the areas near the wall; you can also use it to touch up any little spots that still didn't quite get enough paint. Layers of paint minimize the texturing, too. (Admittedly, though, in order to really get the edges of the ceiling well covered with paint, you're probably going to end up with paint on the wall, too. So it may be a job best left for a time when you want a fresh coat of paint there, too.)

Don't Do It All At Once
Nothing wears down a busy, tired mama more than trying to do all the spring cleaning at once. The good news is - there's no reason for that! Instead, go through your house now and making a list of all the cleaning and repairs that need doing. (I have a free printable for this purpose, here.) This is often recommended before you sell your house, but it's a really handy tool even if you're not planning on moving. Once your list is written, you can just work your way down it as time allows.

Plus, there are few things more satisfying than checking off things on a to-do list. Right? Right!