Homemaking 101: The Business of “House Keeping”

Crystal Miller


In this lesson I am discussing some “nuts and bolts” of cleaning the house.  It is often the least liked job for many, however having a clean home just feels good, is less chaotic, and gives the whole family a sense of peace.  I can’t claim to be the best housekeeper in the world but I was raised with standards that I like to keep and that I want to pass on to my children.  I want them to grow up in a home that is organized and clean.  Those are good goals for the home.  Last month I discussed having “systems” for all the areas of your home and having a cleaning system is just as important.  I am certain most of you have some system in place; however as with all systems maybe it needs tweaking or evaluating and this months issue may give you some “food for thought” in this important area. 

As I was reading in a book the other day (Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, and excellent book by the way!) there has never been any major plagues caused by poor housekeeping ~smile~ but most of us would confess our houses could be a little better than they currently are.   I know mine could and generally speaking I keep a fairly neat home.  I think cleaning house has several aspects to it but mainly I want to touch on, the equipment and the types of cleaners to use.  This month’s article will be discussing the equipment or rather the “tools of the trade” and next month we will discuss cleaners. 

What are the basic tools of keeping a home clean?  You really don’t need any more than a bucket and some rags for cleaning house.  That is the bare minimum.  With that and some cleaner you can take care of everything.  Obviously having a bit more than this can be very helpful! ~smile~ as I am not a person who really enjoys getting down on my hands and knees to wash a floor, but will do that occasionally when it is needed.  However as I walk through the stores I am bombarded with a overabundance of gadgets and cleaners and products all designed to make cleaning either easier, faster, motivating or perhaps more fun, “If I just had a nifty disposable mop than washing the floor would now be fun?!”  ~smile~  In the end I have come to feel that much of what is out there, aside from ending up as more clutter in my home,  is just more ways to spend my money and I am not convinced that the end result is worth my family’s finances going in that direction.

When making choices in what types of cleaning supplies I want to have on hand I do consider my finances.  Whenever anything disposable is bought, whether wipes, or mop covers or toilet brushes, etc..  I think of the fact that we pay twice for this type of thing.. once to buy it and again from the trash bill to dispose of it.  

My basic list of cleaning supplies consists of cleaning rags and cloths that I wash regularly and a mop that my sweet Mother-in-Law brought to my attention (and bought me J ), called a “Sh-Mop”, which I love!   And of course, buckets and a few selected cleaners, both homemade and a few purchased. 

Tools to maintain your home after cleaning would consist of a good quality broom and dust pan as well as a vacuum cleaner.  Brooms and dust pans are everywhere and all types have their good points and bad.  I found an angle type broom at Costco and that has held up well and done a great job.  I have purchased brooms in the past where the bristles would fall out or any plastic on it falls apart quickly.  So I do examine my brooms carefully before buying them.

Vacuum cleaners seem to be a different problem.  For years I had an old vacuum that my mother had given me. This vacuum worked wonderfully, but it was old and I felt it may not last too much longer.  Several years ago I decided it was time to upgrade to a new one and was so disappointed at the downhill decline of quality over the years.  The motor on the vacuum (a well known brand) simply blew much of the dust right out the bag and out the plastic cover that housed the bag.  After much trial and error and purchasing of vacuums, some cheap and some expensive I have finally found one that works like a trooper and can handle the volume of dust and dirt that accumulates in our home as well as being handled by my children who are not always the most gentle on machinery! J   We purchased the “Big Vac” from The Clean Team and have been so pleased with it!

For basic cleaning, I use cloths that are 100% cotton cloths that were purchased from The Clean Team and have lasted me for several years. These are nice on windows and mirrors, places where you don’t want lint left behind.  For basic rags that can be used to clean and dust I buy those inexpensive dish cloths that come in large packages at Wal-Mart or similar type stores.  These packages are usually around $5.00.  They last for about a year before they are worn out.  Then I send them to my husbands shop.  He uses them when he works on our vehicles or needs them for cleaning up after oil changes, spills and such.  He just throws them away when he is done. 

I use a Sh-Mop for the basic daily maintenance of floor cleaning.  A Sh-mop is a product that is sold again from The Clean Team (I seem to be mentioning them often, I don’t get any perks for telling you about them, I just find them to be a company with some good quality products and they are great to do business with).  I have also purchased a similar product from a local Home Depot.  I think they call it a wood floor cleaner or mop.  Basically it has a flat, rectangular surface with a handle attached.  To use this mop there are cotton covers, made with a terry cloth fabric, that fit over the base.  I have a bucket of floor cleaner that I keep in my laundry room and I dip my cotton cover in the floor cleaner and put it over the Sh-Mop base.  I mop my floor and then remove the cover and toss it in a basket of cleaning rags that will get cleaned in my washing machine.  If my floor is really in bad shape then it may take 2 or even 3 covers to get it clean.  I never dip one of these covers into my wash water more than once.  So my cleaning water stays clean and lasts me several days and I don’t deal with buckets of dirty floor water and no wringing of dirty mops out either.  You can see a picture of a Sh-Mop here: http://www.thecleanteam.com/catalog_f.cfm 

What to clean with?  Again there is no end to what types of cleaners can be found in the grocery store aisle.  I will purchase an all-purpose cleaner such as 409 or Pine Sol to have it on hand.  However as I read more and more on the chemicals in the cleaners I have begun to make a lot more of our household cleaners.  I have been pleased with results and cost savings.  The next lesson on this subject I will be discussing household cleaners and giving recipes for making your own cleaners.




Clipart by www.countryclipart.com