How to Use Vacuum Cleaner Attachments – to Clean Just about Everything

 

A vacuum cleaner that works well is one life’s luxuries.  You might not feel this way if you don’t love your vacuum cleaner, but I’m here to show you how to get the most out of your vacuum cleaner so it works for you, not against you!

Over the last couple years I’ve been doing quite a bit of market research on vacuum cleaners and air quality. Through my research I’ve found that the very best vacuum cleaner you can buy is one with a HEPA filter and a bagged system.  So when my Dyson started to go, I switched to Miele.  The difference is incredible – there are so many features that I love on the Miele, the most noticeable one is not having to empty the dust bin.  I found that there was dust everywhere in this process which pretty much defeated the purpose of vacuuming.

These vacuuming tools are the ones I use the most and the ones included with most standard vacuum cleaners. Knowing what each tool can be used for will help you use your vacuum to its full potential.  If you’re in the market for a new vacuum cleaner, make sure it has some on-board attachments so you can simply grab and use them as you’re vacuuming.

Vacuum Cleaner Attachments

Crevice Tool
Oh the crevice tool, my favorite attachment – I use the crevice tool every single time I vacuum. It features a narrow nozzle that fits in tight spots and corners. It also works well along the edge of baseboards and in hard-to-reach spots like corners and vents.

Flex Crevice Tool
This is a Miele tool that’s flexible and perfect for going under appliances and getting at those spots that most vacuum cleaners can’t get to.

Upholstery Attachment
This small tool has a felted fabric surface that makes it perfect for delicate fabric surfaces like drapes, mattresses, couches, and chairs.

Turbobrush or Small Vacuum Cleaner Head
This stool has powerful suction and looks like a mini vacuum cleaner head. This attachment works well on stairs and

Dust Brush
A dust brush attachment typically has a circular brush head and is especially effective at picking up dust and particles without scratching surfaces. It works particularly well on window blinds, shelves and wooden surfaces.

Now that you have a better idea of what those common attachments are for, let’s look at just how to use your vacuum and attachments effectively on most of your household surfaces.

How to use your vacuum more efficiently

Hard floors
I vacuum all the floors in our house at least once a week (on Wednesdays) and sweep in between. I love using my Miele Canister for hard floors – it’s amazing! This is my personal preference, but I find it easier to keep all the floors cleaner that way.

Carpeting
Most carpeted surfaces will do well with just the vacuum. Areas that receive a lot of traffic such as entrances and main living spaces may need a more frequent vacuuming, but most carpeted areas can be vacuumed once a week.

Stairs
It can be difficult to maneuver a large vacuum along a stairway. I recommend using a canister vacuum or more portable vacuum. You can also your vacuum hose with a smaller handheld attachment. Use the crevice tool along the edges and corner and use the upholstery tool for the tread if you needed.

Walls and Ceilings
Use the circular dust brush attachment and start at the ceiling. You may need to add an extension to your attachment or use a step stool or small ladder in order to reach higher surfaces. Work your way down from ceiling to floor in a vertical motion as you vacuum.

Blinds
Use the dust brush attachment – close the blind slats so they lie flat and vacuum. Reverse the blinds so that the slats are lying the other way and repeat. Repeat monthly or as needed.

Upholstered Surfaces
Use the upholstery attachment on mattresses and fabric surfaces. Work in a horizontal or vertical motion from top to bottom. Use the crevice tool in the tight corners and seams. Use the dust brush on leather furniture to reduce any risk of scratching.

Mattresses
The vacuum cleaner is the best way to remove dust and dust mites from the surface of the mattress when you rotate your mattress. Make sure that the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner is clean and slowly vacuum all of the crevices. Follow up with the upholstery tool to vacuum the surface of your mattress.

Vents
The dust brush tool works fabulously in those tricky vent slats for furnace and air conditioners. Dust seems to collect here especially during seasons when the furnace or air conditioner is run more frequently.

Baseboards
Start with the crevice tool and get in the space between the baseboard and floor or carpet. Use the dust brush attachment to run along the baseboards in a horizontal motion.  A thorough monthly vacuuming of your baseboards is ideal.

When you utilize your vacuum and its attachments as designed, you will find your cleaning tasks to be more efficient.

Both of my Miele vacuum cleaners are from Vacuum Cleaner Market.  Not every one needs 2 vacuum cleaners – but as a cleaning expert, I find it essential 😉 .  I keep the tank vacuum downstairs where we have hardwood floors and short, berber carpet and the upright lives upstairs for the plush carpet. I love that Vacuum Cleaner Market makes it so simple to see what attachments you might need and once a customer buys a Miele from VCM, they are emailed a super helpful user guide for their model.  If you’re interested in a Miele vacuum cleaner, but think it’s out of your price range, you might be surprised to learn that they have vacuums in all price ranges for any home. You can also purchase filters and bags from Vacuum Cleaner Market – they offer FREE shipping on orders over $25 and free gifts for orders over $100!
Vacuum Cleaner Market provided the Miele Cat and Dog Complete C3 Canister Vacuum   for me to test out and review – rest assured, I only review products that I love and have tested and use in my own home. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
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DIY Laundry Stain Bar

This is a super simple DIY cleaning idea for the laundry room – a DIY Laundry Stain Bar!  This solution works best on simple clothing stains that are fresh and not set-in.  I love this natural and non-toxic alternative to stain sticks and sprays, try it the next time you have a stain that needs some attention.  My favorite way to use it is on kids’ clothes and dirty pants’ knees from playing in the dirt.

Grab your supplies – water, a bar of Castile or vegetable-based soap (you can find castile soap at Target, Wal-Mart, your natural food store, and Amazon), and scrub brush if necessary.

Use a knife or scissors to cut the top off the wrapper. This creates a little storage case for your bar and it will keep your hands from getting soap on them (not that that would be a bad thing).

You can store the bar in the wrapper when not in use and it will dry out completely in a couple minutes after using it.  Push the bar up a bit out of the wrapper to use it.

Wet the top of the bar under running water or in a dish – I like to use a dish because it’s more controlled.

Rub into the stain and re-wet if necessary.

Scrub if necessary with a clean, soft bristled brush.

Launder as usual and admire your stain-removing abilities!

I love talking about natural laundry solutions – go here to see more of my tips!

Have you purchased my new book, Simply Clean?  It will change the way you clean in the best possible way!

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How to Clean Electronics

Electronics are dust magnets, they can be difficult to clean and keep clean and their surfaces can be damaged by cleaning them incorrectly.  Here’s how to clean most electronic surfaces quickly and with ease.  I’m also adding links to my favorite electronic dusting and cleaning products – some links may be affiliate links.

Consult your owner’s manual for directions and never directly spray cleaner on your electronics or devices.  Spray the cleaner on a microfiber cloth first and wipe in one direction. Turn your electronics off before cleaning – if they are warm or on they aren’t as easy to clean.

COMPUTERS + LAPTOPS


Dust with a microfiber cloth or a mitt.  Use a soft, small (clean) paintbrush to dust keys and small  crevices.  Canned air also works well to dislodge dust and other small debris that can be difficult to remove.  Depending on your manufacturer’s suggestion, you can most likely use a barely damp microfiber or screen-safe cloth to effectively clean the screen.  Getting the screen wet (or spraying anything on it) will most likely ruin or damage the screen.

TELEVISIONS

Dust with a microfiber wand duster or microfiber cloth starting from the top/left and working down to the bottom.  I like using a wand duster when I’m doing weekly dusting to quickly dust TVs.  Make sure you start with an not dusting duster to ensure that you aren’t just spreading around dust.

CELL PHONES + TABLETS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Remove any cases and covers.  Wipe with a barely damp microfiber cloth and/or a screen wipe (the ones linked and pictured work great!) to effectively clean and disinfect.  Wipe any keys or frequently touched areas with a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol or an alcohol wipe to disinfect surfaces.  Make sure you aren’t getting any part of the devices wet as it can quickly damage the screens and devices.

BLU-RAY/DVD PLAYERS

Use the vacuum cleaner’s soft brush attachment to vacuum any dust from behind and under the player.  Wipe with a soft, barely damp microfiber cloth.

REMOTES + CONTROLLERS

Use a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol or an alcohol wipe to disinfect surfaces.  If you have pesky crevices use a cotton swab or toothpick to dislodge debris.

This post is part of a series all about Homekeeping Basics.

Have you purchased my new book, Simply Clean?  It will change the way you clean in the best possible way!

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How to Clean Your Kitchen Appliances in Under an Hour

This is a great method for deep cleaning all your appliances quickly, seasonally, spring cleaning (are you doing my spring cleaning challenge?), or just a cleaning whim.  Feel free to split it up and do one appliance at a time, but the magic in the method is that you can thoroughly deep clean ALL your kitchen appliances quickly.

Ready?  Make sure you have about an hour to dedicate to this job – it’s frustrating to be mid-project and have to stop.

GATHER a couple cleaning supplies – castile soap or dish soap, white vinegar, a scrub brush or old toothbrush, all-purpose, non-toxic cleanermicrofiber cloths, and bar mop towels or cleaning rags.
FILL your kitchen sink with hot, soapy water.
OVEN – If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can run that option, but because it’s a smelly job it is best done after a quick clean up of food on the interior and with the windows open.  If you don’t have this option or don’t want to stink up the house, heavily spray a non-toxic degreaser or all-purpose cleaner in the interior of the oven and shut the door, letting the cleaner work on the grease.  Once you’ve treated your oven, you’ll want to clean the stove top – here’s how to clean a glass stove top and a gas stove top.
MICROWAVE – take out the glass plate in your microwave and put it in your sink.  Spray the interior of your microwave with non-toxic, all-purpose cleaner OR put a bowl of water and lemon/lemon juice in the microwave and run it until the water boils (3-5 minutes).   Let the cleaner or steam do its job.  Here’s a post with the full instructions for this method.
DISHWASHER – do this after you have run the dishwasher and its ‘clean’ and empty.  Remove the racks, spray the edges with cleaner and wipe clean.  Check the trap at the bottom for any food or blockages and clean out the filter if your dishwasher has one. Put a cup or two of white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a normal wash cycle.  Here’s a post with very specific instructions on how to clean your dishwasher if you’re interested.

REFRIGERATOR – throw away anything old or expired, take the rest of the contents out of the refrigerator and take out all removable drawers and shelves.  Put the drawers and shelves in the soapy sink and let them soak.

  • Mix up 1 teaspoon of dish soap (or my favorite, Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Orange castile soap), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and about 4-6 cups of warm water.
  • Wipe down the shelves with a well rung out microfiber cloth, bar mop or dish cloth.  Repeat until all shelves and drawers have been wiped clean.  Dry if necessary.
FINISH UP – go back and wipe and dry the microwave tray and the refrigerator drawers and shelves.  Wipe the interior of your oven after the self-cleaning cycle has completed OR if you used an all-purpose cleaner, you can use a non-toxic scrubbing cleaner or baking soda to clean and polish.
SPRAY and WIPE the fronts of your appliances – I like to use microfiber window/glass cloths on my stainless steel appliances for a streak-free shine.  Here’s a post with more details on my favorite method.
That’s it!  In an hour of active time (if you run the self-clean option on your oven and run your dishwasher, it will take a little longer, but that’s time that you aren’t doing any cleaning), your appliances will be spring cleaned!

Have you purchased my new book, Simply Clean?  It’s complete with quick cleaning checklists and guides and it will change the way you clean in the best possible way!

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How to Clean a Microwave

Cleaning a microwave isn’t difficult but it’s definitely a neglected task – out of sight, out of mind.  Food splatters and spills happen and if your house is anything like mine, it’s much easier to the close the door than wipe up those drips and spills.

How to Clean a Microwave

Fill a glass bowl or measuring cup with 3-4 cups of hot tap water.

Cut a lemon into chunks and place in the warm water.  

Put the bowl of water and lemon/lemon juice in the microwave and run it until the water boils (3-5 minutes). 

Let the steam do its job – don’t open the door for at least 5 minutes.  Let the steam work to dissolve any grease, drips, and grime.  Repeat if you don’t see steam on the inside of the microwave.

Take out the glass plate or tray in your microwave and wash it in your sink or dishwasher.

Wipe the interior of the microwave clean.  If you need a little extra cleaning power spritz with white vinegar or non-toxic all-purpose cleaner.  Use a sponge or a microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe clean and rinse and wring as you’re wiping .

Wash and dry the glass plate and return it to the microwave.

HAVE A CLEANING THE MICROWAVE TIP?  SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS!

If you haven’t pre-ordered my new book Simply Clean, don’t miss the amazing bonuses and coupons included in the download packet – Simply Clean comes out in less than 2 weeks! Go to this post for more info!

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How to Choose a Vacuum Cleaner

Over the years I have owned and tested A LOT of vacuum cleaners. The thing about vacuum cleaners is that if you ask anyone their opinion, a.) they have one and b.) either they LOVE their vacuum cleaner or they HATE it.  So today, I’m going to save you the trouble and tell you some essential criteria for any vacuum cleaner and give you a handful of suggestions in all price ranges so you can make a more informed decision.  Because it really stinks to get a brand new vacuum cleaner and have it work great for a month and then it completely loses its suction and ability to pick anything up.  Ugh – been there, done that.

I also asked my Facebook Group – Homekeeping Society (not a member? just request to join!) their opinions too and asked for suggestions of vacuum cleaners that they LOVE and wholeheartedly recommend. My recommendations are based on my own experience, testing and research, recommendations from readers and Facebook group, and ratings from the retailers and Amazon.

My Vacuum cleaner musts:

  • purchase the best that you can in your budget
  • look for attachments (bonus if they are stored ON the unit) – crevice nozzle, hose, upholstery brush, dusting
  • look for a HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air) – to be rated as a HEPA filter, a filter must keep tiny particles .3 microns in size or larger at 99.97% – this means that it’s keeping most particles whereas a non-HEPA filter vacuum is blowing those particles back into the air which in turn goes right back in your home.  If you have allergy sufferers or anyone with asthma, this is most-definitely a must!
  • cord long enough that you don’t have to unplug it from room to room
  • multi-level filtration – if you don’t need/want the HEPA filter, make sure you have more than one filtration system to catch and hold dirt and dust
  • After having numerous vacuum cleaners with a canister/dirt tank, I prefer a bagged system and truth be told, it’s the main reason I switched from Dyson to Miele.  (I was sick of the dirt/dust escaping when I would empty the bin.)
  • look for a brushroll that can be turned off for vacuuming hard surface floors
  • check the weight of the vacuum cleaner and test them out – make sure it’s easy for you to maneuver

I’ve pulled together a couple favorites in 4 categories – these are vacuums that I recommend based on the above criteria in a variety of price ranges.  I hope it helps you in your search for the perfect vacuum! I’ve also added affiliate links under the image to purchase if you’re interested – the vacuums are in order of price, low to high and I’ve added a * to the ones that I have owned/tested or currently own and recommend.

Best robotic vacuums

iRobot Roomba 650  – Neato Botvac D80 Robot (Pets and Allergies)*

Best tank vacuums

BISSELL Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum – Eureka Mighty Mite Bagged w/Pet Attachments– Electrolux Ultra Flex Canister Vacuum – Miele Complete C3 Bagged Canister

Best Stick or Handheld Cordless vacuums

BISSELL Natural Sweep Dual Brush Sweeper – BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum – Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Upright Vacuum Dyson V6 Handheld Vacuum Dyson V6 Animal Cord Free*

Best upright vacuums

Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away – Hoover Platinum Collection Lightweight Bagged Corded Upright with Canister  – Oreck LW100 Magnesium SP Bagged Upright* – Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Plus Allergy* – Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog Upright Bagged*

What do you think? What’s your criteria for a vacuum cleaner? Have a favorite to share?

I’m loving my Miele – I love that there’s no dust or debris whipped up while I’m vacuuming and I love the ease of having the attachments on-board for on the go cleaning.

It hits all of my criteria and then some (but it’s pricey).  The HEPA filter and bagged system is one of the best out there – if you’re used to buying new vacuum cleaners every couple years, it makes sense to purchase a better one that will last for years to come.

 Change the way you clean – Order SIMPLY CLEAN today!

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The Cleaning Closet

This past fall we embarked on three major closet organizing projects – in one week!  I cannot take credit for any of the work of installing and building these closets and organizers (we hired someone), but I can take credit for the plan and organization of each project ;).

I’ve had a ‘cleaning closet’ since we moved into our home eight years ago.  It’s a large coat closet in the mudroom – you can see the before here.  I’ve experimented with a lot of different combinations of shelves and organizers, but always knew that a dedicated closet system would be the best route when it was in the budget.  We have a Martha Stewart closet system from Home Depot in our master closet and love it so much that  I ‘built’ one online and had it installed.

As someone that LOVES to clean, sells homekeeping products, and tests all sorts of cleaning products and tools for a living….the cleaning closet is dreamy!  It keeps my supplies organized and cute simultaneously.

Here’s what we did:

  • completely emptied the closet
  • removed the wire shelving and hooks
  • filled holes
  • painted the closet interior white
  • installed shelving

Once everything was installed, it was time to figure out the best way to organize supplies and goods.

This took awhile – I didn’t want to spend a lot of money filling it up with organizers but I still wanted it to look cute and coordinated.  I pulled out what I had and started there.  Once I had taken inventory I decided that I could use a couple baskets to pull the area together.  I keep clunkier things like dog stuff, batteries, and light bulbs in the aqua woven baskets and decided not to label them because you can pretty much see what’s inside by peering in the basket.

You’ll see that we also keep some shoes on the shelves in here as well – my husband and I keep smaller shoes and sandals in this closet.

I used cleaning buckets (found in my store) for a couple caddies – one is my dusting caddy and the other is for sprayers for my glass spray bottles.  I keep bathroom supplies in each bathroom in the same cleaning bucket to keep cleaning the bathrooms easy.

The far right section of the closet is just for floor items and dusters – the top shelf holds floor and carpet cleaning supplies. Keeping like items together is always a good idea when you’re organizing – it makes locating anything that much easier.  I used giant S hooks and knew that they’d work great for hanging tools.

My favorite shelves – DIY cleaner heaven – this is where I keep Borax, baking soda, washing soda, and Epsom salt, empty glass bottles, Castile and Sal Suds soaps, and a handful of pre-mixed DIY cleaners – here are oodles of DIY cleaner posts.  Did you know I wrote a book, The Organically Clean Home, about DIY cleaning?  You can find it here – it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

Here’s a close-up of one of the cleaning buckets – totally ready for a new recipe or two 🙂  This also works well to allow any sprayers to completely air dry after being washed out.

The top shelf is more or less decor but still items we use – clothespins, scrub brushes, bars of castile soap.

Love having my cleaning recipes right on the spray bottles – this makes DIY cleaning a breeze!  You can find my glass spray bottles and DIY cleaning recipe labels here.

If you haven’t set up a dusting caddy, you totally should!  This post details my dusting caddy in detail.

I use my Clean Mama Home white bar mop towels for a lot of cleaning – they wash up beautifully and have a luxurious look and feel.  Keeping a basket of them at the ready makes it easy to use them.

And of course my beloved Clean Mama Home microfiber cloths have their own shelf too – I have a basket of utility cloths (aqua), a basket of polishing cloths (gray), and a basket of microfiber pads and dusters for the floor.

If you’re looking for the products in the post, you can find all of the Clean Mama Home products in my shop here and I’ve added a slider below with some of the other products that I used in my cleaning closet.  I hope it helps you as you organize your cleaning supplies!  If you haven’t considered eliminating toxic chemicals in your cleaning, I hope you try out a DIY recipe or two and give it a try. It’s easier than you might think!

This post is part of my HOME TOUR – go here to see more of our home – I’ll keep adding to it in 2017.

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Dog Odors Be Gone

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If you follow me on Instagram you know we recently adopted a puppy.  This isn’t our first puppy or dog – my husband and I both grew up with dogs and we had two labs before our little Stella.  Having a pet is a wonderful experience with lots of rewards and responsibilities.

If you’ve ever wondered if your home smelled like ‘dog’, I’m guessing you might welcome a couple tips to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.  With a couple regularly cleaned areas and practices, your home won’t smell like a dog or dogs live there and you can open your door without wondering what it smells like to the person on the other side.

If you’re reading this and thinking that I’m not a ‘dog’ person, I love dogs, I just don’t like my home to smell like one 🙂

Have a cushion or blanket for the pet and wash it frequently

I like the idea of pets having specific areas that they sleep on.  This keeps the pet oils and fur off furniture as well as keeping the smell contained to a washable area.  Washing this cushion or blanket weekly or as needed will keep the scent out of your home.  With a puppy, we use old bath towels in her kennel.  They can quickly be washed and dried if needed and even tossed if necessary.  When purchasing a bed for your pet, look for one that has a removable, washable cover.  If it doesn’t have a removable cover, make sure that the bed itself is washable.  If you have soft toys for your pet, toss them in the washing machine when you launder the bedding.

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Try this fabric sanitizer spray on pet bedding to keep it smelling yummy:

LAVENDER FABRIC SANITIZER SPRAY

If you need to sanitize/freshen a dog bed or your furniture, this spray will become a new favorite.  Lavender essential oil is soothing and calming and considered safe for pets.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil (not all essential oils are safe for pets – do your research before using essential oils around them)

Add ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine.  Spray on fabric to freshen – let dry completely before using.  If you are concerned about water on fabric, test in an inconspicuous area first.  Feel free to use this spray on other fabrics as well 🙂

Fabric Sanitizer via Clean Mama

Shampoo carpets regularly

Clean carpets are the key to keeping that dog smell out of your home.  I recommend purchasing an at-home carpet shampooer and having a professional carpet cleaner shampoo carpets every six months to one year.  I love this carpet cleaner and I use this rug shampoo in it.

Brush and bathe frequently

Dog oils are the biggest contributors to that ‘dog smell’, so it makes sense that brushing and bathing would be the best way to keep the smell down to a minimum.  Wiping feet when dogs come in from outside can also keep dirt down.  In a pinch, these grooming wipes work well.

Use a lint roller

Keeping fur off furniture with a lint roller is an easy way to keep the smell out of your home.  Roll fur off furniture and clothing right away and you’ll find that the smell won’t linger the way it would if you just left it.

Vacuum regularly

I vacuum weekly (on Wednesdays) but I do sweep and vacuum up daily little messes as needed.  Keeping tabs on the fur is helpful to keep the smell away.  If you have a canister vacuum cleaner, empty the bin after each vacuuming session to keep the oils and odors from accumulating and if you have a bagged vacuum cleaner, change the bag frequently.  I always recommend purchasing the best vacuum cleaner that you can – look for one with a HEPA filter that’s made for getting pet hair and dander off and out of your floors and carpets.  I recently purchased this vacuum cleaner and I am loving it!  (I have been looking for a bagged vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and that’s why I switched.  I’ll give you more details in an upcoming post.)

Use an enzymatic cleaner for accidents

With pet accidents it’s important to completely remove the scent of any accidents so they don’t come back to it and re-mark that area.  An enzymatic cleaner will break down the stain and any scent – this one is my favorite – I make sure to always have it on hand.  It works great for kid stains too 😉

Use a natural air freshener

When all else fails, spritz something in the air to combat that dog smell.  I never recommend using artificial fragrances as air fresheners.  My favorite choices for air freshening are essential oils (lemon and clove are my favorite scent combination) and natural, soy-based candles.  Eucalyptus and lavender are good choices for dogs – soothing and non-toxic to them.

Do you have a dog or dogs?  What’s your best tip for keeping your house smelling like you don’t have one?

Here are two posts that should help if you’re looking for natural air fresheners, sanitizers, and odor absorbers – just click on the image to head to each post:

One Ingredient Odor Absorbers - Clean Mama

3 Natural Odor Eliminators - DIY Recipes for Common Household Odors main via Clean Mama

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How to Get Rid of Marks on Dishes

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It’s normal – if you use silverware on ceramic dishes (I have Fiesta dishes) you will see little gray marks and scratches appear over time on your dishware.  The marks come from the metal from the metal from silverware scratching the surface. If you have small scratches, you can try water, dish soap and a little baking soda.  If you meet a little resistance, I recommend the powdered Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Before we move on, I will tell you that I have tried just about every natural scrubbing cleanser out there to see what actually works the best – all of these will eventually remove the marks, but the Bar Keeper’s Friend powder worked the quickest and with the best overall results.

cleansers-clean-mamaHere’s what I tried:

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Once you decide on a method, gather your dishes and line them up to clean them quickly – assembly line style.

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Wet the dish and a cloth or paper towel and apply the powder or cream – rub in a circular motion.

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You’ll need to use a little elbow grease, but the marks will come up easily in a minute or so.  I prefer to use a paper towel because the black marks can stain – if you have an old t-shirt that is a great option.

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Wash the cleanser off the plates and run them through your dishwasher.  Look at the ‘brand new’ dishes!

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Have you tried to remove the gray marks on your dishes?  What has/hasn’t worked for you?

There are affiliate links in this post – go here to see my full disclosure policy.

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How to Clean a Glass Cooktop

how-to-clean-a-glass-cooktop-clean-mamaFrustrated with your glass cooktop? The most common complaint I hear for glass stovetop owners is how they show every single spatter, drop and food remnant. It takes seconds for those little spills to bake on and once they are there, they are difficult to remove. There are plenty of commercial cleaners on the market but they don’t always deliver on their promise to clean and they come with a pretty hefty price tag.

Today I am sharing with you my favorite glass cooktop cleaning recipe. It contains gentle, natural ingredients that really pack a punch to help soften and remove those tricky baked on remnants of who knows what without scratching or damaging your cooktop. The best part? You simply mix, spray, let it sit and wipe. That’s it! The majority of the work is done while you wait for this cleaner to do its magic. That’s my kind of cleaning.

Glass Cooktop Cleaner:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons castile soap
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • optional: add up to 7 drops essential oil – lemon and orange are great choices!

Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle and gently shake to combine.

add-baking-soda-clean-mamaI find that it works best to pour the baking soda in first – use a funnel to keep spillage to a minimum.

add-castile-soap-clean-mamaThen add the castile soap.

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And finally the water and essential oils if you’re using them.

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Shake vigorously.  Once the solution is dissolved, it’s ready to use.

Spray the solution onto the glass cooktop surface and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Spray again and wipe clean. Rinse any remaining residue and dry with a clean, soft cloth or paper towels. Microfiber cloths will give a streak free shine and are ideal for drying and polishing glass cooktops.

Any remaining cleaner can be stored for a week but the solution will settle – just shake it well before using.

how-to-clean-a-glass-cooktop-clean-mama

Looking for my favorite method for cleaning gas cooktops?

How to Clean a Gas Cooktop via Clean Mama

This recipe is from my book, The Organically Clean Home – find out more here!

The Organically Clean Home - Clean Mama

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How to De-Stink Active Wear

How to De-Stink Active Wear - Clean Mama

Between my husband and me and our active kids, we have gathered quite a collection of active wear. We love it for working out in, playing golf and sports and general running around. What I don’t love, however, is the tendency for activewear to hold on to the general sweat and body odor smells from its wearer. If you are frustrated by the stinky smell even after laundering, I have some tips, tricks and product suggestions to help leave your active wear smelling fresh and feeling clean.

  1. Keep your activewear separate from your everyday clothes. I like to keep an extra laundry basket in our closet solely for this purpose. One errant shirt can stink up an entire load of your everyday clothes.
  2. If you are not going to wash your workout clothes immediately after wearing, be sure to let them dry thoroughly before putting in the laundry basket. We drape freshly worn, sweaty clothes over the edge of the laundry basket until they are dry. At that point, they can be put in the laundry basket to eventually be washed.
  3. Wash your workout and activewear on hot with a cool rinse if you have that option on your washer. Line or hang to dry or dry on low heat to avoid shrinking.
  4. Please note that this is my unsponsored opinion – My absolute favorite detergent for washing our workout wear is The Laundress Sports Detergent.  I use this exclusively on our workout gear and am always amazed by just how well it works to remove those stubborn smells. I have tried numerous commercial options you may see on your laundry product shelves and in my opinion, nothing compares in effectiveness to The Laundress product.The Laundress Sport Detergent - Clean Mama
  5. Try washing your activewear with just vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. Start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain white vinegar. Vinegar serves to neutralize odors and is gentle on fabric. Wash on hot with detergent after the initial load.
  6. Have some sports gear that can’t be washed? Put it in a big ziptop bag and put it in the freezer for 24 hours. While this method may not remove all the odor, it sure helps to cut the stink.

How to De-Stink ActiveWear - Clean Mama

 

If you are frustrated by the residual odors left in your workout and activewear, try out these tips and tricks to neutralize them in no time.

You might like these laundry posts – just click on the image to go to the post:

Keeping Your Whites White - Tips + Tricks that Work - Clean Mama

Laundry Day vs. Laundry Every Day - Two Methods that Really Work via Clean Mama

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6 Unexpected Ways to Use Sponges to Clean Up Summer

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I am a compensated 3M-sponsored blogger. Opinions are my own and additional products used in the project were selected by me.

The summer is full of fun and sun and all things vacation, but with that comes some difficult cleaning conundrums too!  I have some easy tips today to show you how to clean up those tricky spots and messes with a simple and effective cleaning tool – the sponge!  Add a little warm water and your favorite liquid soap (castile OR dish) and you have all you need to tackle those tough spots.  Let’s get started!

1 - Gather Supplies2

Grab your tools and supplies:

Window Screens and Frames

3 - Rinse Screens Thoroughly

Take your screens off your windows and fill a bowl or container with warm water and a squirt of soap.  Set your screens up near a hose, preferably with a spray nozzle attached.   Wet the screens, one at a time, dip your Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge into soapy water and carefully use the yellow side to wash the screens, rinsing the sponge frequently.  Then take the scrubber side to the screen frames to remove any built up dirt and grime.  Rinse and dry thoroughly before returning to the windows.

Door tracks

When doors are open more with the warmer weather, those dirty tracks are more obvious.  Clean them up with a quick swish of a Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge.  Keep your soapy water handy and rinse thoroughly.

Grill

4 - Clean the Grill4

The beloved grill – the oven of the summer.  With all the food preparation that happens on grills during the summer, it’s important to keep it clean in between uses.  Use a Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge to wipe the surfaces with a little soap and water.  Use the scrubbing side to easily remove grease spots and stains and stuck-on stains.  Wipe away the dirt and grime with the sponge side and rinse with clean water and the sponge.

Siding

5 - Siding - during

If you have bugs, dirt and grime on your siding, a little soap and water goes a long way with a Scotch-Brite Easy Eraser.  Soak the easy eraser in soapy warm water and wring out.  Go in the direction of your siding and wipe (or erase) those stuck on spots.  Rinse with warm water and admire your work.

6 - Siding - after

Flower Pots

9 - Flower Pots

Flower pots should be cleaned out between seasons or plantings but if you have stubborn stains or mineral deposits leaving your flower post looking a little worse for the wear, grab your Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge.  Use soap and water and a little elbow grease to beautify your flower pots in a hurry.

Bikes

Cleaning bikes is one of my kids’ favorite summer activities.  The concept is simple – set up a bike wash (like a car wash) with buckets, sponges, and the garden hose.  Wet the bikes, scrub them with the sponge side of a  Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges and rinse thoroughly.  Not only does the bike wash station keep the kids busy with a fun activity, but the bikes get clean.

Now that you know how simple it is to clean these hard-to-clean spots, grab a sponge and clean it up!

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Are You Making These Cleaning Mistakes?

Are you making these cleaning mistakes? Clean Mama

If you are spending time cleaning, make sure you’re making the best use of your time and energy by avoiding these cleaning mistakes!  (No judgment here, just trying to help you figure out the best and most efficient way to clean your home.)

Vacuuming More Than Necessary

Save your energy and vacuum weekly and do a thorough job.  Spot clean during the week as needed.  Then on the day that you do vacuum (I like Wednesdays) vacuum horizontally in each room and then vertically in each room.  Yes, you are going over the carpet twice, but this technique ensures that the carpet is lifted and the dirt that may be embedded is removed.  This is especially helpful if you have pets to remove pet hair and dander.  Vacuum from the furthest corner away from the door and vacuum your way out of the room.  This will give you those beloved vacuum lines that say,  ‘I just vacuumed’.

Cross-Contamination

When you wipe down surfaces, are you wiping the same area multiple times or wiping the mess back over your just cleaned surface?  Make sure you’re wiping LEFT to RIGHT and TOP to BOTTOM in a soft Z pattern.  This will effectively clean your surfaces and keep you from wiping dirt and bacteria back over your clean surface.  Make sure that you are also changing microfiber cloths or cleaning rags frequently to keep the bacteria away.  This post shows you how I speed clean my bathrooms and change out microfiber cloths to avoid cross-contamination.

Not Leaving Cleaners on Long Enough

If you’re cleaning bathrooms or your kitchen counters and spraying and wiping right away, you’re wasting time and cleaners.  It’s important to thoroughly saturate your surfaces with your favorite cleaner and let it sit for 10 minutes.  This will let the cleaner do its job, sanitize, and dissolve any stuck on particles making your cleaning a little bit easier.

Using Fabric Softener on Towels

Did you know that traditional fabric softener actually coats the fibers of towels making them less absorbent and fluffy?  Instead, add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of traditional white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. Vinegar serves to actually soften the fibers as well as add a little cleaning power to your laundry routine. I like to buy a jug of white distilled vinegar at our Costco. At under $5.00 for an economy sized container, you can’t beat the price. No need to worry about any residual scent from the vinegar either as you won’t be able to detect it on your clean laundry at this dilution rate.

Using Dirty Sponges

There’s no need to use dirty sponges when all you need to do is toss it in your dishwasher nightly.  Did you know that sponges are one of the dirtiest things in your house?  Get in the habit of tossing your sponge in your dishwasher or sanitizing it in the microwave every night and you’ll eliminate that risk of spreading germs all over your kitchen.  Here are 3 ways to safely sanitize your sponge.

Using Vinegar on Stone Surfaces

I love using vinegar to clean with but it’s important to know WHAT it works on and what it doesn’t.  If you’re using vinegar on your marble or granite counters, the acid in the vinegar will eventually etch away the surface.  If you want to DIY your cleaners and are looking for one that is safe for marble and granite, try this one – it’s awesome!

Emptying Your Vacuum Canister or Bag and Cleaning your Vacuum Cleaner

Make sure you’re emptying your vacuum canister after each use if you have a canister vacuum and if you have a vacuum cleaner with a bag, change it when necessary.  Make sure you’re cleaning your vacuum cleaner frequently as well – this will ensure that your vacuum lasts for a long time and you aren’t dragging dirt around the house as you’re vacuuming.

Not Cleaning Those Most-Touched Areas

It’s no wonder that germs can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours.  If you’re looking for ways to cut down on that spread and transfer in your home (especially when someone’s sick or during flu season), reach for a cotton pad and a bottle of rubbing alcohol.  Saturate the cotton pad and carefully wipe over those most touched areas in your home: light switches, remotes, and electronics.  The rubbing alcohol effectively kills germs, dries quickly, and is safe to use in your home.

Cleaning Garbage Cans

Yes, garbage cans hold garbage, but keeping them clean will keep odors down and keep germs from congregating.  Bring the garbage can(s) outside, spray them with your favorite all-purpose cleaner, let it sit for 10 minutes, and rinse thoroughly with your garden hose.  Let them sit in the sun to dry and naturally kill germs before returning them inside. Use garbage bags in large and small garbage cans to line them and keep them cleaner for longer.

Which cleaning mistake have you been making?  Have one to add?  Share it in the comments!

If you are new here and/or curious about my cleaning routine, go to my START HERE page – you’ll find helpful links to get you started with cleaning less and enjoying life more.

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The Down and Dirty of Cleaning Tile and Grout

The Down + Dirty of Cleaning Tile and Grout - Clean Mama

Do you have a love/hate relationship with the tile in your home? Love the way that it looks but irritated with how quickly the grout goes from white to gray? Or maybe you inherited some not-so-clean looking tile in your current home from the previous owners. Regardless of how old or new your flooring  is, it doesn’t take long for tile to get grimy, especially in those high traffic areas like the kitchen, mudroom or entryway. There are several different methods and cleaners that can help you clean your tile and grout well. Try one of my suggestions out and see what you think!

Cleaning Grout:

One of my favorite DIY recipes to help brighten grout is a simple combination of cream of tartar and lemon juice. This method takes a little more elbow grease but it works really well to remove some of those surface stains in the grout as well as naturally lighten the grout. This works especially well on colored grout. Here is what you need:

Lemon Grout Cleaner:

  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • lemon juice

Combine the cream of tartar with the lemon juice to make a thing paste the consistency of runny toothpaste. Apply to the grout and use a small stiff bristled cleaning brush to scrub the grout. Rinse and wipe dry.  If you don’t have lemon juice, try a little water to make a paste.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

  • put a sprayer on top of a hydrogen peroxide bottle and spray white grout to rid it of mold and mildew.  Reapply if necessary, scrub and rinse.

If your grout is past the point of cleaning and has stains that you cannot remove no matter what, then a commercial product may be right for you. Home Depot carries a fantastic product called Grout Renew by PolyBlend. It comes in a variety of colors to match any grout color and works as a stain and sealer on grout lines. While it can be time consuming to apply, it is ideal for when no scrubbing or cleaning works to remove stains or brighten your grout. It also works well if you’re looking to update the look of your grout.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 8.51.00 PM

Cleaning Tile:

My favorite way to clean our tile floors on a weekly basis is by using a steam cleaner. Steam cleaning is about as simple as it gets and uses just water to clean. My favorite steam cleaner is the Bissell Powerfresh Steam Mop. All it requires is a quick initial vacuum or sweep to remove dirt and crumbs and a couple minutes to heat the water.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 8.57.25 PM

If you prefer using an actual solvent based cleaner, I have several DIY recipes that are perfectly suited for tiled floors. Both contain readily available household ingredients and are safe to use on any sealed tile floor. The Lemon and Peppermint Tile Cleaner is mixed and sprayed while the Citrus Tile Floor Cleaner is intended to be used for mopping. If you prefer not to use essential oil or don’t have any on hand, you can certainly eliminate them as they are mostly intended to just add scent.

Lemon and Peppermint Tile Cleaner:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil

Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray thoroughly on tiles and allow to sit for 5-15 minutes. You can scrub if necessary, rinse and allow to air dry or dry using a clean cloth.

Citrus Tile Floor Cleaner:

  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops orange essential oil

Mix the Borax, water and essential oils in a mop bucket, stirring to dissolve. Mop as you normally do. Rinsing is usually not required. If your floors are extra dirty, you can add a drop or two of castile or dish soap to help cut the dirt. You may want to have a bucket of clean water on the side to rinse instead of using the cleaning bucket water. This will help eliminate streaking.

If you are looking for a new method or a more natural approach to cleaning your tile and grout, try one one these recipes or products out. Let me know what you think!

Please note: If you have marble, granite, or travertine tile you should not use vinegar, lemon, or anything acidic to clean them because the acid will etch the stone.  Steam cleaners work well as does this recipe.

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Quick Fridge Declutter – Get Your Fridge Back

Quick Surface Declutter - Get Your Fridge Back - Clean Mama

It doesn’t take long for the refrigerator to become a clutter hot spot. Random papers, notes, photographs, artwork, receipts and other paper clutter seem to migrate and reproduce at a faster rate than humanly possible. Rather than using your fridge as a vertical storage option, let’s look at some quick and easy decluttering tips as well as organizing tools to help clear off your fridge and keep it clean and minimal.

Remove everything

Begin by taking everything off of the fridge – front and sides. This includes magnets, stickers, reminders and anything that is on the surface. Designate one pile for recycling, one pile for filing and one pile for what you want to put back on the fridge. The “keepers” should be papers or things that you refer to on a regular basis and photographs that are current and/or ones you want to keep on display.

Clean the Surfaces

Once you have cleared your fridge of everything, use your favorite all-purpose cleaner or stainless steel cleaner and thoroughly wipe down the entire front and sides. Now that it’s clean, it’s time to decide how to organize and display without creating a lot of visual clutter.

Think through your Organization Methods

A fun idea for writing notes on the refrigerator is to use a Boogie Board – they come with a ‘pen’  and magnet on the back  so they can just be popped right onto the ‘fridge’.

boogie

via

Rather than using magnets or tape to display photos, consider using clear plastic magnetic photo frames. This keeps them uniform as well as protecting the photo itself. These are available at office supply stores or photo stores. There are options on Amazon as well in various sizes and layouts.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.03.45 PM

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You can use larger 8” x 10” frames for important papers that are referred to regularly, like school calenders, lunch menus, schedules and contact lists. These are also great for displaying special artwork or drawings that you can easily rotate.

Another easy way to contain and keep important papers at your fingertips is to hole punch papers on the top left corner and hang them together on a magnetic hook or suction cup. This keeps them all in one spot and is a great method for papers that you may need for the month but not for the entire year.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.19.49 PM

 via

Encourage your little artists to choose one or two special pieces of artwork at a time and rotate frequently for an ever-changing art show. Displaying them in a special frame can add a bit of extra pride in their creations as well.  I love these acrylic clothespins with magnets attached for rotating artwork and other papers.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.27.35 PM

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Another option for stainless steel refrigerators is the Choopaboard – it’s a magnet for stainless steel refrigerators and a pretty cool option if your kids love displaying items on the ‘fridge or using magnets.

Notepads with a magnet attached to the back are also a great option for keeping lists and notes on the refrigerator.  Here’s one of my favorites.

weekly_planner_-_Clean_Mama_Home_1024x1024

With minimal cleaning and a little thought, you can ease the visual clutter on your fridge and keep important papers, calendars and schedules at your fingertips.

What are your MUSTS on your refrigerator?

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