Making Life Simple – Cleaning, Organizing, and Home Management Tips, Tools, and Resources

Making Life Simple - Cleaning, Organizing, and Home Management Tips, Tools, and Resources - Clean Mama

In an effort to round up some of the best posts from 2015 I decided to bring it to you indexed style.  Every single post I put on the blog I think about if it’s really making everyday life easier, simplified, and just a little bit more enjoyable. I hope you find this post helpful and encouraging!  Divided into categories, you’ll find content easy to locate.  Call it the motherload of cleaning and organizing tips or your new favorite reference post on Clean Mama. Read on to see what I have to say about routines, DIY cleaners, homekeeping, organizing, spring cleaning, kid stuff, menu planning and more!  Thanks for reading and homekeeping along with me!

Routines:

Want to make a cleaning resolution that actually lasts past January?
Keep your home cleaner with these six daily tasks.
Wondering just why you should declutter?
Speed clean your home in 30 minutes. Perfect for busy days and unexpected guests.
Feeling overwhelmed? Do one of these simple tasks.
Practical cleaning tips no matter what your work schedule or lifestyle is.
This free daily routine printable is perfect for posting and helping keep yourself accountable.
One simple tip is all it takes for a clutter-free home.
Reset your home in just five days with this routine and printable.
Ready for some deeper fall cleaning? This routine and printable is perfect for getting home ready for autumn.
Clear these six surfaces when your home starts to feel cluttered.
Use a basket to help contain all those random items that need to find a home.
Wondering what the secret to a clean home is?
Ready for a restart and a cleaner home? Check out this Come Clean Challenge and free printable.

DIY Cleaners:

Fantastic resource for making all sorts of your own natural DIY cleaners.
Get rid of dirt, smudges and sticky fingerprints on your cupboards and woodwork with this DIY cleaner.
Clean your dish disposal naturally.
Sanitize your sponge and get rid of germs with these three different methods.
Make your home smell lovely with these natural stovetop simmers.
DIY cleaners perfect for the kitchen.
Cut the sharp vinegar smell with this citrus scented vinegar recipe.

Free Printables:

Assortment of all sorts of to-do lists perfect for any home and routine.
Looking to sell your home and want to be ready for showings? Use this printable checklist to help.
Make meal planning a breeze with this weekly printable.

Bathrooms:

How to get and keep your shower clean. Includes DIY cleaner recipes!
Get rid of the gunk and grime in your bathroom once and for all.
Clean your whirlpool tub and jets with this routine.
Speed clean ALL your bathrooms in just 15 minutes.
Make your bathroom cleaning and organizing a breeze with these tips.
Toilet care game changers to help with those annoying toilet related cleaning tasks.
Organize your toiletries logically with these organizational tips.
No chemicals necessary with these 8 DIY bathroom cleaners. Printable included.

Kitchen:

Clean your kitchen sink, no matter what the surface, following these cleaning suggestions.
Four homekeeping skills you need in the kitchen.
Clean your drip or single serve coffeemaker with ease.
How to clean clean every nook and cranny of your gas cooktop.
Help maintain your cast iron cookware with these cleaning tips.
Speed clean your kitchen in 15 minutes! Printable included.

Organizing:

Some of my favorite tools and products that help me stay organized in my home.
Declutter and clean your entire home in just 30 days. Includes printable list to help you get started today.
How to speed organize any space in 15 minutes.
Create a simple yet efficient command center for your home.
Clean and organize your entryway for guests with these tips.
All sorts of great tools and products to help you clean and organize.
Use printables to help organize your schedule and life.
Make a thank you note caddy to make easier work of note writing.
Simplify the holiday season so you can enjoy it.

Recipes and Meal Planning:

Ready for an easy and delicious make ahead stir fry recipe?
Busy week? Check out this week long menu plan for help getting dinner on the table fast.
Seven time-saving meals perfect for crazy weeks ahead!
Organize your recipes for effective meal planning.
Make ahead mix and match grilling menu perfect for get-together and holidays.
Put together a s’mores caddy for the ideal summer treat.
Add structure to your meal planning routine to make meal prep time easier.
Have a batch of cookies ready anytime with this make ahead tip.
Make 6 to 8 meals in about an hour using ground turkey as the star ingredient.
Make ahead baking mixes are perfect for when you want baked goods ready in a hurry.
This Buffalo Chicken Ranch Dip is perfect as an easy and yummy appetizer.

Floors:

Wondering what the best tools, products and methods are for cleaning your hard surface floors?
Clean your hardwood floors using vinegar and one of these three methods.
Use one (or all!) of these DIY floor cleaning recipes to clean naturally and without chemicals.

Laundry:

Laundry Day vs. Laundry Every Day – find a laundry routine that works for your schedule and life.

Spring Cleaning:

Some of my favorite tools for spring cleaning.
Be armed and ready for spring cleaning with a little help here.
Spring clean your home in 30 days.
30 minute tasks to get your home cleaned in 30 days this spring.

Helpful Homekeeping and Cleaning Tips:

Keep your vacuum in tip top shape with a simple but effective cleaning.
Wondering what the best way to vacuum, wash your pillows, do laundry or clean your mattress is?
Clean your upholstered, leather or microfiber furniture to freshen, brighten and remove stains.

Kids:

Put together a kid-safe cleaning caddy for some help around the home. Includes a safe DIY cleaner recipe too.
Enlist some help from kids with these age-appropriate tasks.
Preschool age-appropriate chores that are actually helpful! Includes free printable.
Encourage your school-aged child(ren) to pitch in with these chore ideas. Free printable included.
Be ready for a picnic anytime by packing the perfect picnic bag.
Encourage independence in your kids with these lunch and snack packing tips.

Making Life Simple - Clean Mama

 

Did you see the launch of Clean Mama HOME?

Clean Mama Home Microfiber Cloths

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FREE Printable – Bill and Payment Organizer

FREE printable Bill + Payment Organizer to Help you Organize Your Finances via Clean Mama

Money is a subject that no one really wants to talk about, but everyone deals with in some way.  Today I’m sharing a free printable for a Bill + Payment Organizer that I hope will encourage you if you’re feeling like you need to see those bills on paper too.  This is  how I always start when I’m putting together my bill and payment checklist for the new year.  Usually I just jot everything down on a piece of notebook paper but this year I decided to put it down on paper and add it to the budget section of my homekeeping binder.  I’ll be able to use it as a reference down the road and it’s much cuter than scratching some thoughts down on paper.

If you’re wondering why I’m not using an app or the computer or some fancy tracking software, ask I will just say that I’ve tried that and I use software for numbers that go to the CPA, but for daily/weekly/monthly money tracking, THIS is the only way that works for me and my husband.  Here’s why:

  • I keep track of any debt, bills that are paid, savings progress, etc. on paper and it’s so great to be able to just grab my notebook and produce the information.
  • All the information is in front of me – I am tracking the things that are important to us (like debt reduction, loans, etc.) and we can both see it at a glance.
  • No trying to see those itty bitty numbers on a phone or computer.
  • We love to see progress.
  • I love paper and would rather have those things easily accessible in case something were to happen to the computer or technology we’re using.

What programs do I use?

  • I use Outright/GoDaddy Bookkeeping for all business information, tracking, and what goes to the CPA.
  • We pay bills online through our bank, so I can see there that a payment was made and cleared, but I can also see it on my paper checklist.

So here’s how I use this Bill + Payment Organizer:

  1. Write down ALL outgoing bills and payments in the top section – this is like a brainstorming session for your finances.
  2. Next to the bill, write a number for the date that the bill is typically due.
  3. Write down your bills and payments in day order in the second section.
  4. Write the date that it’s due in the ‘due’ box.
  5. Check off what category it belongs to.

Free Printable Bill + Payment Organizer via Clean Mama

Now you have all your bills and their due dates in one place for easy reference!  Once you’ve completed that you can put it in a binder, on a clipboard near your bill paying area, or put it on a file folder and put your monthly bills in that folder.  I take it a little further and transfer that information into my bill and payment checklist (pictured above with the free bill and payment organizer) in my Everyday Budget + Bill Paying Kit.  I also track debt and use a handful of other pages to make dealing with money a little easier and definitely cuter!  You can see my budget kits below (the link is under each image) and if you have your own business, my Everyday Work @ Home Kit is great for small business owners to track all that important info too!

Organize Your Finances with this FREE printable Bill + Payment Organizer via Clean Mama

Download your FREE Bill + Payment Organizer here!

 

Everyday Budget + Bill Pay Kit - main - Clean Mama

Everyday Budget + Bill Pay Kit

Streamlined Life Budget + Bill Pay Kit - main - Clean Mama

Streamlined Life Budget + Bill Pay Kit (includes printable budget envelopes)

Everyday Work @ Home Kit - main - Clean Mama

Everyday Work @ Home Kit

If you like this free printable, you should check out my FREE PRINTABLES page!

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Make Your Home Smell Good : Fall Simmers

Make Your Home Smell Good - Fall Simmers via Clean Mama

I love the way a warm scent can conjure up memories or just make a smelly room smell better.  Want to invoke that fall feeling in your home? Try a little simmer – it will get your home smelling fallish in a hurry.  Gather any combination of the following ingredients – you only NEED one or two things, but you can combine to your heart’s content.

Make a Simmer via Clean Mama

Ingredient Ideas:

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • apples
  • cranberries
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • fresh herbs
  • extracts – vanilla, and almond, etc.
  • essential oils (just a drop or two is all you need) – optional but a drop or two will up the scent-ification
  • 4 cups water

Here are 3 scent ideas to get you started:

FALL SPICE

Citrus and Clove Simmer via Clean Mama

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • cloves

THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving Simmer via Clean Mama

  • sage leaves
  • cranberries
  • oranges

HOMEY GOODNESS

Homey Goodness Simmer via Clean Mama

  • vanilla
  • cinnamon sticks
  • cloves

Combine ingredients with water in a saucepan and put on your stove.  Set heat to low and let the ingredients simmer away as long as you’d like.  (Keep an eye on the water so it doesn’t boil over or scorch.)

Simmer on the Stove via Clean Mama

TIP: If you have a small crockpot you can combine the ingredients and let your simmer bubble away on low all day.

Make Your Home Smell Good - 3 Fall Simmers via Clean Mama

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Homekeeping Skills You Need In the Bathroom

Homekeeping Skills You Need In the Bathroom via Clean Mama

Keeping house is not instinctive for most people, order it’s a learned behavior and habits that need to be repeated (all the time, pill unfortunately) to be effective.  Here are 5 most-asked questions regarding tasks for cleaning and maintaining bathrooms answered in true bossy-pants fashion.  Try out my techniques and see what you think!  Hopefully my methods are time-saving and effective for your homekeeping endeavors.  Keep an eye out for more posts in this series.  Happy homekeeping!

Make a Bathroom Cleaning Caddy

I find it very helpful to have a small bathroom cleaning supply caddy stored under each bathroom sink to make cleaning up a breeze. It also eliminates searching for and dragging around supplies from bathroom to bathroom. I find that if I see a need to do a quick clean up in the bathroom I am more inclined to quickly clean it up right then and there versus running to another room to gather the supplies I need.  If I am supervising bath or shower time, sick I like to use that time to spray and wipe down the counter, toilet and floor surrounding the toilet. Of course, never leave your child unattended and consider the age of your child or children as you work.

I find the following items to be helpful in my mini bathroom cleaning caddy:

The recipes below are from my book, The Organically Clean Home – find out more here if you are interested!  If you are not interested in making your own cleaning products, stock your cleaning caddy with your favorite disinfecting cleaner, glass cleaner, and scrub.

 

LAVENDER + LEMON DISINFECTING SPRAY:

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vodka (excellent germ-killing properties, feel free to substitute rubbing alcohol for similar results)
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water (distilled or boiled and cooled)

Mix together in a glass spray bottle, spray on surface and allow to sit for 10 minutes to disinfect before wiping.

 

LEMON + CLOVE SCRUB:

  • 2 cups Baking soda
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops clove essential oil
  • container with a shaker top – I used a Ball canning jar, cut cardstock for the top (instead of the metal lid and punched 4 holes with a standard hole puncher.

Sprinkle on surface before using a sponge or cloth to gently remove surface stains and polish.

Washing and Caring for White Towels

If you are looking to simplify your laundry routine, one of my favorite fixes is to switch over to all white towels.  You can wash all your towels together, they can be washed on hot without fading or color changing and you can wash them with oxygenated bleach to remove stains without any spotting or fading. I also love how white towels match any bathroom decor and add a little spa-like feel as well.

In order to keep your towels soft, fluffy and white, it’s important to launder your towels the correct way. While fabric softeners claim to make towels softer while adding scent, they actually coat the fibers with a layer of water repelling residue. This residue causes the fibers get dingy over time and makes it harder to truly get clean. I like to wash my white towels with hot water, detergent and a scoop of oxygen safe bleach (powdered oxi-clean). I also like to add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser (or a softener ball) to help the detergent work more effectively as well as soften up the fibers.

Under the Bathroom Sink Organizing

It doesn’t take long for clutter to accumulate under the bathroom sink. Between a garbage can, hair tools, toiletries and random odds and ends, it’s easy for disorganization and clutter to take over.

Check out these tips for quick and easy organizing tips:

CLEAN: Begin by emptying out the cupboard and wiping it clean.  Toss or donate anything that isn’t used regularly, is expired or is just clutter.

CONTAIN: The next step is to separate and group like items together and place them in a container.  I like using open plastic storage containers for easy access to products.  Keeping items contained also ensures that any leaky products won’t ruin your cabinets.

CLEANING CADDY: For me, the most important item under the bathroom sink is a bathroom cleaning caddy.  Keeping your most-used cleaning sprays and tools at the ready make it easier to spot clean a bathroom or completely clean it when you have a pocket of time. See the suggestions above for creating your own bathroom cleaning caddy.

GARBAGE LINERS: Ready for an easy tip? Keep a small roll of garbage can liners or several extras in the bottom of your garbage can.  This saves both time searching for an empty bag as well as little messes. Keeping the garbage cans lined keeps the mess in the bag and makes it easy to collect come garbage day.

Make Your Shower Cleaner

With the amount of use that a shower gets, it doesn’t take long for soap residue, water spots and grime to accumulate. Coupled with the warm, humid environment of a typical bathroom, mildew and residue can become a real problem in no time. Rather than spending time scrubbing with harsh chemical based cleansers or buying expensive, commercial shower cleaners, try out this lightly scented, effective and natural daily shower spray instead. Not only does it work to eliminate residue and germs but it’s an economical and safe choice as well.

PEPPERMINT DAILY SHOWER CLEANER SPRAY:

  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix and store in a spray bottle.  Spray shower or tub daily after showering has occurred.  No rinse needed.  Use a squeegee at the end of your shower time to help with water spots and remove excess water as well.

Organize Your Bathroom Toiletries with Ease

Toiletries and products have the tendency to accumulate and reproduce in no time. Before you know it, your bathroom closet, cupboard and countertops can become overrun with toiletries, makeup and beauty supplies, sure to make finding anything in a reasonable amount of time a challenge.

Ready for some easy organizing? Begin in your bathroom with this process:

  • Completely empty your spaces, including drawers, shower stall, shower organizer, cupboard, or any other area you are storing your toiletries.
  • Spray all surfaces with with your favorite all-purpose cleaner and wipe area clean.
  • Toss any toiletries that you haven’t used in the last month, are expired or that you don’t see yourself using in the near future.
  • Follow the best rule of organizing: group like items together.  If you have lots of sample-sized toiletries put them in a box, bin, or basket for guests or for future
  • Look in to a suitable drawer organizer or storage solution. If you don’t have any in your bathroom drawers, consider picking up a couple so your toiletries can stay organized. Consider the size and contents of what you are storing in your drawers in order to get the best option to maximize your organization and storage.
  • Short on storage space? Condense your toiletries down as much as you can. This will simplify your routine and toiletry storage.

Here are a couple more posts that you might enjoy as you venture down the homekeeping highway – simply click on the image to go to the post!

How to Speed Clean ALL Your Bathrooms in 15 Minutes via Clean Mama

Six Things I Do Every Day to Keep the House Clean via Clean Mama

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

HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY BUTTON

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Homekeeping Skills You Need to Know

Homekeeping Skills You Need to Know via Clean Mama

Keeping house is not instinctual for most people, it’s a learned behavior and habits that need to be repeated (all the time, unfortunately) to be effective.  Here are 4 most-asked questions answered in true bossy-pants fashion.  Try out my techniques and see what you think!  Hopefully my methods are time-saving and effective for your homekeeping endeavors.  Keep an eye out for more posts in this series.  Happy homekeeping!

The Right Way to Vacuum

Use the five following tips in order to vacuum your carpet thoroughly.

  1. Use the crevice attachment on your vacuum first. Vacuum all the edges before the carpet.
  2. Vacuum horizontally first.
  3. Vacuum vertically next. By vacuuming the floor in opposite directions, you will assure that the carpet is lifted and any dirt, hair and pet dander is effectively removed.
  4. Vacuum beginning in the corner furthest from the door and vacuum your way out of the room. This will leave you with those satisfying vacuum lines.
  5. Use a carpet neutralizer if your carpet is in need of a little freshening. Try my favorite homemade recipe below.  I love that it is free from artificial scents. You can also put a drop or two of essential oil on a cotton ball and put it in your vacuum’s canister or bag to freshen the air as you vacuum.

Carpet Freshener

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 10-20 drops essential oil
  • container with a shaker top

Mix, put in container with a shaker top.  Sprinkle on carpet and let sit for 15 minutes to absorb odors and vacuum up.

The Right Way to Wash Pillows

Considering how much time and use pillows get, it sometimes doesn’t occur to people to wash them. There is no need to toss them or deal with clumpy, lumpy pillows anymore – just wash them! This method works great on feather or synthetic pillows, but take care with your foam pillows. You can wash foam pillows, but not dry them as the heat will cause them to fall apart and melt. Don’t forget about your throw pillows!

  1. Remove the pillowcase and pillow protector. If you aren’t using pillow protectors on your pillows, I highly recommend getting them. They keep surface stains and accidental spills from reaching your pillow.
  2. Set your washing machine to a gentle, warm wash. Make sure that it is on the largest capacity setting as well. I like to wash two pillows at a time to keep the load balanced, but no more than three to assure that they get as clean as possible. Use a gentle detergent as well. After the washer has completed the cycle, I like to do a quick rinse cycle to get all the detergent out as well as another spin cycle to remove as much moisture as possible.
  3. The key to keeping your pillows in pristine condition is to avoid high heat when drying. If your pillows are foam, you will want to avoid the dryer and line dry. If your pillows are synthetic, you can dry on a low to medium heat. Down or feather pillows need less heat, so use your low or air setting. I like to check the dryer after about 30 minutes in order to check the pillows and make sure they are not settling in to the corner of the dryer. Put a tennis ball in a sock if you want a little extra fluffing of the fibers.

The Right Way to Do Laundry

The task of doing laundry is not a favorite for most. By the time one load of laundry is carefully folded and put away, the pile seems to multiply before long. Implement these five tips to help make laundry a bit less tedious and quicker.

  1. Do not overload your washer. While it is tempting to try squeeze those extra items in, your clothes will not get as clean and you will end up putting extra wear and tear in your washer and dryer.
  2. Use the recommended amount of detergent. Adding extra will not make your clothes any cleaner and will only add extra residue, causing your clothes to look dingier.
  3. Utilize the cold water feature on your washer. You can safely mix your light and dark loads when you wash and rinse in cold water. I recommend washing new brights with brights for at least three times to prevent bleeding.  I wash sheets and towels separately on Saturdays and with hot water and the sanitize cycle.  I typically wash kids clothes as one load mixed up whites and colors on cold and my husband and my clothing separately and as two loads each – one for darks and one for whites.
  4. Just say no to fabric softener! Fabric softener actually coats individual fibers and leaves a residue that causes clothes and fabrics to not get as clean. Try using vinegar in place of softener to fluff up those towels and clothing while deodorizing at the same time.
  5. There is no magic schedule or formula to solve laundry issues. My preference is to complete at least one load of laundry a day, from washing to putting away to prevent a pile-up.  It’s much less overwhelming than staring down six laundry baskets on the weekend.

The Right Way to Clean Your Mattress

Cleaning your mattress is a task that many forget to do or put aside for another day. Considering how much time we spend sleeping, it’s important to take care of and clean your mattress in order to extend its lifespan and keep it fresh and clean.

  1. Rotate your mattress twice a year in order to keep the material well-distributed and help to wear evenly. Pillow top mattresses can be rotated 180 degrees while standard mattresses can be flipped and rotated.
  2. Use a quality, waterproof mattress pad. Not only will this protect your mattresses from stains and spills, but it will also help deter dust mites and dander. Wash your mattress pad on a regular basis.
  3. Vacuum your mattress on a regular basis. Use the crevice tool and vacuum the entire surface of your mattress, taking care to get into every crevice. Doing this will ensure that you rid your mattress of surface dust mites, dirt and dust.
  4. Surfaces stains should be tackled as soon as possible in order to prevent permanent damage. Use a clean, dry towel to remove as much of the stain as possible. Follow this up with using a little dish detergent or liquid soap and gently blot any remaining residue. Take care not to use too much liquid as you don’t want it to reach the foam or inner layers of your mattress. If you have a large or stubborn stain, you can use the upholstery cleaning tool on your carpet cleaner. Blot up extra moisture with a dry towel and use a fan if necessary to speed up the drying process.
  5. Mattress in need of a little freshening up? Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil and sprinkle on your mattress. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes and vacuum.

HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY BUTTON

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Recipe Binder Redo : How to Create a Recipe Organizational System that Works

How to Create a Recipe Binder System that Works via Clean Mama

I have been using a recipe binder for years and I am convinced that it’s the reason meal planning works in our house.  Do I have every week’s meals planned out perfectly?  No.  Do we ever order out unexpectedly because I couldn’t get my act together?  Of course.  But when it comes down to it, having favorite recipes in one place, printed out and ready to reference is just so, so great.

Clean Mama's Recipe Binder Kit via Clean Mama

If you are reading this and thinking or saying, I have all my recipes saved on the computer or on Pinterest, or an online recipe account, and I don’t need that hassle or mess or clutter, keep reading because I am here to tell you that keeping your recipes sorted and organized in a binder is actually more of a time saver than hopping online.  Why?  Cue the distraction of the Internet – hopping online to grab that recipe will probably lead you to Facebook or Instagram which will lead you down a rabbit hole and you’ll forget what you were looking for anyway.  Or maybe that’s just me?  In this online centered world, I crave moments without that constant connectivity and love thumbing through cookbooks and recipe binders.  Can you relate?

Extra Pages - Clean Mama's Recipe Binder via Clean Mama

Curious enough to keep reading?  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a binder (or 2 or 3) – (I used this binder to make my binders) I have recipes split into 3 binders (every day recipes, desserts, and holidays/celebrations)
  • plastic sleeves to put the recipes in – this protects them, but you could omit them and three-hole punch the recipes if you’d prefer
  • that stack of recipes that you have in your kitchen cupboard or drawer – put them to use!
  • Clean Mama’s Recipe Binder Kit – this is what I used (of course) but you could create your own dividers and pages and everything else, but it’s much easier to grab the kit 😉
  • a little time – I completely re-did my recipe binders to launch this new product and it took me about an hour including taking pictures.  So it will take you a little time, but I know it will pay off in meals on the table.

Once you have your supplies, it’s time to get started – here’s what you need to do:

  • gather your supplies
  • print out dividers/categories
  • gather your recipes
  • put your recipes in plastic sleeves and sort them according to your categories

Set up supplies via Clean Mama

 

Assemble Binder via Clean Mama

Here’s what’s included in Clean Mama’s Recipe Binder Kit (42 documents – individually saved and EASY PRINT as one document):

Dividers for Clean Mama's Recipe Binder via Clean Mama

INSTRUCTIONS – ‘How to Make a Recipe Binder’
SUBSTITUTIONS – This for That page
MEASUREMENT EQUIVALENTS
3 TITLE PAGES to choose from : Family Recipes, Recipe Binder, Dessert Recipes
RECIPE PAGE – FILLABLE/EDITABLE – type in your favorite recipes, save, and print
LABELS – print, trim, and use in dividers or make your own by printing on cardstock
36 CATEGORY DIVIDER SHEETS:
• Recipes to Try – keep track of recipes you want to try in your binder
• Family Favorites – keep track of winner dinners
• Meals for this Month
• Breakfast
• Appetizers
• Salads & Dressings
• Sandwiches
• Salads & Dressings
• Sandwiches
• Soups & Stews
• Side Dishes
• Rice & Grains
• Beef
• Pork
• Poultry
• Seafood
• Weeknight Meals
• Pasta & Sauces
• Vegetables
• Slow Cooker
• Pizza
• Grill
• Make Ahead
• Vegetarian
• Gluten-Free
• Paleo
• Yeast Breads & Rolls
• Canning
• Holidays & Celebrations
• Desserts
• Quick Breads
• Cakes & Frostings
• Cookies & Candies
• Pies & Tarts
• Blank
• Other
Once you’ve printed out the sections that you want to use and have begun setting up your binder, keep moving quickly and you’ll be surprised how quickly the binder comes together.  As you’re getting your binder set up take the time to toss/recycle any recipes that you’ve been holding onto and haven’t made and probably won’t make, or any recipes that you made that aren’t super great or worth making again.
Extra Pages - Clean Mama's Recipe Binder via Clean Mama
Included in Clean Mama’s Recipe Binder Kit are labels that you can use for dividers – you can print and trim and place in dividers or make your own.
Labels for Clean Mama's Recipe Binder via Clean Mama
I make my own by simply printing them out on cardstock, trimming down to size, and use packing tape to adhere to the divider pages.
DIY Labels via Clean Mama
Labels via Clean Mama
Now that you have your Recipe Binder all set up it’s time to put it to use!  What’s the perfect way to put it to use?  Make a menu plan and utilize the binder for success.  My top 3 categories/pages are:
• Recipes to Try
• Family Favorites
• Meals for this Month
Menu Planning via Clean Mama
Use these categories and pages to organize and plan as you’re getting started.  Keeping a quick reference guide to favorites and recipes to make keeps it simple and eliminates time wasted while you’re figuring out ‘what’s for dinner’.
Binders Close-up via Clean Mama
Keep your recipe binder where you’ll use it – I keep my recipe binders with my cookbooks.  I love cookbooks and recipes and menu planning – if you can’t tell by my little cookbook collection.  I plan menus with both handy and accessible and find that this works really well in our house!
Recipe Binders and Cookbooks via Clean Mama
Go here to get  Clean Mama’s Recipe Binder Kit in my shop.
Clean Mama's Recipe Binder Kit via Clean Mama

 

If you need a little help with your menu planning, I have an adorable menu planning notepad in my shop and menu planning kits as well. Click on the images below to see them in my shop.

Menu Plan for the Week - Full - Clean Mama

On the Menu Clean Mama Printables

I also have menu planning pages included in every month of HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY – getting food on the table shouldn’t be difficult!  Need a little inspiration?  Here are some blog posts with my favorite recipes and menu planning tips.

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Homekeeping Skills You Need In the Kitchen

Kitchen Homekeeping Skills You Need In the Kitchen via Clean Mama

Keeping house is not instinctual for most people, it’s a learned behavior and habits that need to be repeated (all the time, unfortunately) to be effective.  Here are my top 4 clean kitchen techniques for you to try out for yourself.  Keep an eye out for more posts in this series.  Happy homekeeping!

How to Clean a Refrigerator

With all the activity that goes on in the fridge, it’s doesn’t take long for crumbs, spills and drips to take center stage. With 15-30 minutes and this simple DIY cleaner, you can get your fridge sparkling clean and debris free! The warm water and soap help to dissolve those spills, drips and crumbs while the baking soda acts as a natural deodorizer.

Three ingredients are all that’s required with this cleaner. Mix together:

-4 to 6 cups warm water
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon castile or liquid dish soap

Start by emptying your fridge and be prepared to work quickly to assure that your food stays cold. Submerge your microfiber cloth or dishcloth in the mixture and wring out until almost dry. Wipe down the shelves, repeating until all the shelves and drawers have been wiped clean. Rinse and wring as necessary. There is no rinsing of the shelves required but you can dry if desired. Put all your food back, taking care to group like items together and dispose of expired and unnecessary items while you are at it. That’s all there is to cleaning out your fridge!

Streamline your time unloading and putting away dishes with these tips on loading your dishwasher correctly. Bonus: get your dishes cleaner, too!

How to Load a Dishwasher

Start by rinsing your dishes with a quick rinse to remove excess food. If you aren’t ready to load your dishwasher quite yet, stack your dishes on the counter according to type. This is a big time saver when you are ready to load the dishwasher because everything is all ready to be placed together.

Use a small colander to rinse the silverware and keep it contained after meal time. Simply bring the colander to the dishwasher after rinsing and load. Keep your glasses and glassware on the top and bowls and plates in the bottom. Keeping them grouped simplifies putting them away as all you need to do is stack or group them and put them in their proper spot.

Don’t forget to wash your sponge nightly to keep them germ free. If you have the option of using a sanitize cycle on your dishwasher, use it in order to kill all the germs on both the sponge and dishes. Be sure that you aren’t  blocking the arms of the sprayer with any large pots and pans as well.

Start your dishwasher off right by running the hot water in your sink so the dishwasher starts out hot. This helps to rinse dishes and clean the dishes more effectively from the get-go.

How to Clean Your Oven

Skip the toxic chemicals and clean your oven with ingredients you probably already have on hand. This DIY cleaner works like a champ to remove baked on, caked on, leftover food and crumbs.

Mix up:
-1/2 cup water
-Enough baking soda to make a paste, or approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup
-1 tablespoon Castile soap or dish soap

Dip a sponge in to the paste and spread all over your oven to coat. Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes. Use a clean sponge and wipe clean, rinsing with warm water. Repeat the rinsing with a sponge and warm water until the oven is thoroughly clean and has no residue.

With all of the soapy water and washing that goes on in a kitchen sink, you’d think that it would stay clean but unfortunately sinks can get grimy in a hurry. Try one of these natural, non-chemical based scrubs to clean and shine up your sink in no time. No scratches!

How to Clean Your Kitchen Sink

Stainless Steel:
-2 cups baking soda
-10 drops lemon essential oil
-10 drops clove essential oil
-Squirt of castile or dish soap

Put the baking soda in a jar, add the essential oil and top the container. Shake well to combine. Sprinkle up to 1/4 cup in your sink, add a squirt of dish soap and scrub well using a scrub brush. Rinse well and air dry or wipe with a paper towel or cloth

Porcelain Sink:
-1/2 cup baking soda
-1/4 cup vinegar
-5 drops lemon essential oil
-5 drops clove essential

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl until it is a paste-like consistency. Add more or less vinegar as needed. Apply to sink and use a scrub brush in a circular motion. Rinse well with water and dry with a paper towel or dry cloth to give it a little shine.

Solid Surface Sink:
Use the stainless steel scrub recipe to keep your sink shiny and debris-free.

Cast Iron Sink:
Use the porcelain sink recipe to keep your sink from dulling or scratching.

HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY BUTTON

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Homekeeping Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Homekeeping Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season via Clean Mama

The Organically Clean Home has been out for a little over 6 months, and just a year ago I was turning over the manuscript to the publisher.   Have you purchased it?  Do you love it?  How about giving it as a gift!  We’re heading into that busy holiday season and I thought I’d give you a couple ideas of ways you can use The Organically Clean Home as a gift.  Shoot, you should probably just purchase a few copies to have on hand for gifts (ha!).

I am a big fan of giving consumable gifts – gifts that get used up.  Fancy hand soaps and lotions, candles, food, spices, condiments and other items that the recipient will use and might not buy for him/herself.  No clutter left behind and a little something special for as long as it lasts.  So these cleaning-related gifts fit the bill for the consumable gift giver in me.  I have a handful of ideas, but all you really need are a couple foundation pieces and I bet you can come up with the perfect gift for your recipient too!

Disclaimer:  Cleaning products as a gift are not for everyone, but for that friend or family member that loves things like this, it’s a perfect gift.

Ingredient Ideas for Homekeeping Gifts via Clean Mama

Gather some of your favorite items to clean with and put together a unique and personal gift this holiday season!  Here are some of my recommended ideas (you’ll see links at the bottom of the post if you are interested in purchasing any of these items):

  • The Organically Clean Home (of course!)
  • caddy or container – the ones you see in my pictures are from the dollar section at Target – they were $3 and I just got them this week.
  • microfiber cloths
  • small dusting wand
  • sponges
  • dish cloths and dish towels
  • white vinegar
  • castile soap (bar and liquid)  – you can find the little travel sized castile soap in the travel section at Target.
  • spray bottles
  • essential oils
  • super washing soda
  • borax
  • epsom salts
  • small notebook (the one pictured is from Staples)
  • twine and washi tape for cute wrapping and details

Give the Gift of The Organically Clean Home this Holiday Season via Clean Mama

JUST THE BOOK – wrap with a little twine or in a dishtowel and you’ve got a fun little gift.

DIY Cleaning Gift Kit via Clean Mama

DIY CLEANING GIFT – mix up your favorite recipe and give it away with the ingredients you used to make it.

Great Ideas for Hostess Gift via Clean Mama

ULTIMATE CLEANING GIFT – put together your favorites tools and products in your price range.  Give a handful of ingredients that are needed to make some of your favorite recipes.  Put in a cute caddy or container and you have the perfect hostess gift or other holiday or birthday gift.  If you have a friend that enjoys homekeeping, this might be just the gift to give.

Ideas for Cleaning Gift Basket via Clean Mama

Most of these items can be found on my Amazon favorites pageGo here to see more DIY cleaning recipes and ideas.

Have another idea for incorporating The Organically Clean Home in a gift?  Share in the comments!

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3 Ways to Make Your Life Easier Today

3 Ways to Make Your Life Easier Today via Clean Mama

Now that fall is in full swing, I thought it would be a great time to talk about making things a little easier around our homes.  Today I’m sharing 3 ways I take a load off and make life easier during this busy time of the year.  If I had to narrow down 3 things that really help me keep it together, these are my top three ways that I make life easier.

daily cleaning routine

CLEAN A LITTLE BIT EVERYDAY – don’t stress yourself out with trying to clean your whole house at once.  Try my cleaning routine and clean a little bit every day and reap the benefits of a mostly clean house most of the time.  It’s a freeing feeling to let go of that idea of perfection (it doesn’t exist!).  Need a little structure and a whole lot of flexibility?  My cleaning routine is ideal for working and stay-at-home moms and anyone else that is looking for an easier way to clean a house.

FREE-Make-Ahead-Recipe-List-via-Clean-Mama

PLAN YOUR MEALS – without a plan, you’re stuck with throwing together whatever or eating out.  Having your menu planned out is a huge time and money saver.  Make a list of all your favorite make-ahead meals and try to cook at least one or two a week to simplify your life.  Use your slow cooker and/or make double and triple batches of favorite and freezable recipes.  Eat one batch for dinner and freeze the rest.  Lasagna, enchiladas, soups, and casseroles all make great freezer meals.

3 Free Printable To Do Lists to Jumpstart Your Productivity

WRITE IT DOWN – Putting pen to paper is so great for getting ideas out of your head and on paper.  Grab one of these free to do lists, write it down, check it off, and get it done.

How about you?  What do you do to make your life easier?

This post is sponsored OxiClean.  I am a 2014 ambassador for OxiClean™ Laundry Detergent .   I’ve been using the unscented, perfume and dye-free liquid laundry detergent.  I love that I can use it to pre-treat and to wash clothes with, but if I forget to pre-treat a stain, it’s probably going to come out anyway.  It’s safe on all fabrics, whites and colors and uses the power of OxiClean to get tough, dried on stains!

OxiClean Laundry Detergent

 

Available in Fresh Scent and Perfume & Dye Free (my favorite and perfect for sensitive skin and those of us that don’t like added fragrance).  I really like that OxiClean Laundry Detergent’s stain fighting abilities are meant to help moms take a load off their day.

You can read my full disclosure statement here – rest assured, as always, I never recommend a product that I don’t use and love.

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FREE DIY Cleaning Recipe List

Organize Your Cleaning FREE Printable - DIY Cleaning Recipe List via Clean Mama

I love making my own cleaning concoctions – I know exactly what is going on the counters, ask toilets, recipe and other surfaces  in our home.  Yesterday I shared 8 great DIY Kitchen Cleaner Recipes and today I thought it would be fun to share a free printable to jot down some favorite recipes to try or just to keep as a list.  Use it in your cleaning planner or your homekeeping planner – the next time you’re trying to remember how much vinegar and water goes in your floor cleaner, take a peek at the list and you’ll be ready to mix up your concoction!

FREE Printable - Favorite Cleaning Recipes via Clean Mama

 FREE Favorite Cleaning Recipe Printable via Clean Mama

Grab the FREE  DIY Cleaning Recipe List here in my shop or here on Googledocs.

This FREE printable coordinates perfectly with my brand new Everyday Cleaning Planner in my shop. It’s a great addition to the kit or use it by itself – it works perfectly in a cleaning planner – go to this post to see how I made mine.  You can see the entire Everyday Line here in my shop, and read more about the whole Everyday Line here on the blog.

Everyday Cleaning Planner - Clean Mama Printables

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How to Make a Cleaning Planner

How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama

If you want to figure out a way to keep your cleaning routine in order, you might want to put together a little cleaning planner – a place to plan your cleaning.  This can be part of your homekeeping binder or notebook or you can create a stand-alone cleaning planner.  If you’ve been working at keeping up with a cleaning routine or just starting out, what’s the best way to keep it that way?  Work with your homekeeping style and find a way to keep track of what you have already done and what needs to be done.  Need a little inspiration and some cuteness to kick your routine in gear?  Put your planner together in a way that makes sense for your home, style, and budget – it might just get you excited enough to follow through this time!

  1. Choose what size you’d like to use – my preference is a standard letter size (8 1/2 x 11),  but this would be great as a smaller planner as well!  (Keep reading for helpful posts on reducing the sizes and printing 2 to a page.)
  2. Once you’ve determined the size you’re going to use, you need decide what sections you need in your planner.   Here are my sections:  cleaning planner, quick cleaning, cleaning checklists, monthly cleaning, cleaning recipes, cleaning remedies
    Dividers in a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama
  3. Print.  Print.  Print.  Decide what you’d like in your cleaning planner and print it out.  I used my Everyday Cleaning Planner for this, but you may have cleaning printables that you’d like to use or you might want to use free printables to fill up your planner – here are my freebies. Print Cleaning Checklists - How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama
  4. Punch your pages – I used a discbound notebook and a discbound punch, you can also easily use a 3 ring binder and hole punch for this project as well. Hole Punch and Assemble - How to Make a Cleaning Binder via Clean Mama
  5. Put pages in your planner and add any extras you may need – stickers, a plastic envelope, pens….Weekly Cleaning Checklists via Clean Mama
  6. Put your cleaning planner where you’ll use it and USE it!  The beauty of a cleaning planner is that you’ll be able to see what’s been cleaned, when it was cleaned, and keep on top of things a little better.  I love a tidy home, but I don’t love spending a lot of time doing the homekeeping – my system does the trick!How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama

This post exclusively uses the Clean Mama Everyday Cleaning Planner – sold here in my Etsy shop – this planner has pre-filled AND editable/fillable pages so you can customize your own cleaning planner.

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I do have other cleaning kits in my shop that you might be interested in as well – The Streamlined Life Cleaning Kit, The Classic Cleaning Kit available in aqua + lime and brights.

How to Make a Cleaning Planner Infographic via Clean Mama

 

A couple helpful printable posts you might be interested in:

I used the following products to create my cleaning planner  (all products were purchased with my own money and I love them – there are no affiliate links in these links):

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How to Combine Your Planner + Homekeeping Binder

Let’s keep things SIMPLE!  Today I’m going to show you how I merged my homekeeping binder and planner into one wonderfully simplified binder.

How to Combine Your Planner and Homekeeping Binder to Simplify Your Life via Clean Mama

This was a pretty simple project with a big outcome.  The whole purpose of a homekeeping binder and a planner is to have a central place to keep your calendar and other important home items.  For me it’s like my brain on paper.  I feel so much better with everything written down – it’s less to remember and I can keep track of important items like home maintenance, bill paying, and my cleaning routine.  A checklist for me is half the battle when it comes to getting things accomplished – they simplify things for me.

If you have a planner and/or a homekeeping binder, consider merging the two to save space, time, and your sanity.  For me, it’s great to have everything streamlined and in one place.

Start by choosing the format you want to use.  You can use a 3 ring binder or a discbound system or a notebook.  I held off on the discbound system for a while because of the cost, but I have to tell you it’s totally worth it (for me).

Choose the Notebook Size and Style that Works for Your Life via Clean Mama

Next, you’ll need to decide on the format size that works for your life.  My personal preference is 8.5×11 for many reasons – I can write in the larger format a little more easily, pages from school or other mailings can just be punched and added to the binder, and I can still take it with me if I need to, but I keep my planner at home in my kitchen or office most of the time.

Use Dividers to Keep Sections Organized via Clean Mama

Add dividers for your sections – you’ll need to determine what sections you want, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • calendars
  • daily
  • blog
  • business
  • home maintenance
  • fitness
  • money
  • menu
  • kids
  • cleaning

Use Pockets to Keep Accessories Handy via Clean Mama

Add pockets for stickers and other accessories you want to keep handy.  I use these little stickers to make pages and to flag little reminders in my homekeeping planner.

Once you’ve decided on the size and format of your homekeeping planner you need to FILL it!  That’s the fun part (says the girl with the printables business).  Start with a printable planner or calendar first.  Once you have that in place add to your categories.  This doesn’t have to happen overnight or in an afternoon, but as you add checklists and to do lists I’m guessing you’ll find that it’s a huge time saver and organizational tool and you’ll continue adding to it.  For me, the calendar, cleaning, and bill pay sections are the most important and helpful for tracking items during the month.  The Streamlined Life Bill Pay Kit is an essential and has really helped us with tracking and eliminating debt.  If it’s cute and functional, I’ll use it – if you’re the same, you’ll love the kit!

Here’s how a little infographic on how I filled up my homekeeping planner (I used printables from my shop and The Streamlined Life Complete Kit):

Update:  I give away a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar every month – look in the sidebar or previous posts to find this month’s calendar.   You can start ANYTIME!

(If you like this calendar style, you’ll love The Streamlined Life Series in my shop!)

I used the following products to create put these kits together in a binder and to photograph  (all products were purchased with my own money and I love them – there are no affiliate links in these links):

How to Combine a Planner + Homekeeping Binder via Clean Mama

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Binders

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles.  Today we’re talking about BINDERS!  They are my favorite tool to organize paper.  I feel like my binders are like my homekeeping brain on paper – all the things and ideas I have swirling around can be put to paper and filed away in a neat and tidy way.

 

Why use a binder?
  • Isolate a subject or a variety of subjects in one, easy to locate place.
  • Portable filing system – no need to haul a filing cart or box around.
  • Inexpensive – there are so many different types and styles of binders, you are sure to find a style that you like and fits your needs.
  • They can be stored in a drawer, on a bookshelf, in a cabinet, on top of your desk.
  • Use one subject per binder or many subjects per binder – flexible!
  • Reusable – binder not working for one thing, switch it up and use it for something else.
What can you put in a binder?  The options are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started.
  • Homekeeping tools (cleaning checklists, maintenance schedules)
  • Budget and bill pay information
  • School papers (phone numbers, teacher info, etc.)
  • Important papers that you don’t need all the time, but you might need to grab in a hurry (insurance paperwork and forms, automobile info, banking/investment data, etc.)
  • Projects – separate by specific projects or keep a binder with all your projects in one place
  • Recipes – one of my all-time favorite binder projects

Want to see how I use binders in my home?  I use them everywhere and for most types of paper storage.  Here’s a round-up of posts on a few types of binders to get you started:

How about you?  Have you hopped on the binder bandwagon?  What do you use binders for?
Inspired to start a binder collection?  Well it’s your lucky day –  I’ll be back later TODAY with a BIG giveaway sure to get a binder started for you!  Any guesses as to what the giveaway is?
Clickhere to see all the posts in this series.
LIKE my Facebook page for a brand new FREE Facebook Fan Freebie! Make sure that you add me to your notifications if you want simple daily cleaning reminders.

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How to Make a Cleaning Binder

If you followed along this past month, you worked with me to get your house clean in 31 days.  What’s the best way to keep it that way?  Work with your homekeeping style and find a way to keep track of what you have already done and what needs to be done.  Need a little inspiration and some cuteness to kick your routine in gear?   How about making a cleaning binder or notebook?  Build it in a way that makes sense for your home, style, and budget – if you have a couple bucks to spare and a binder might just get you excited enough to follow through this time, go buy a binder.

Here’s how I put together a cleaning binder (I keep cleaning printables in my homekeeping binder, but I thought it would be fun to make a binder specific to cleaning tasks) to keep my routine on track.
{Links to all of the printables are at the very bottom of this post.}
I bought some cute supplies from Staples and the new Martha Stewart line (Martha also has 5×8 binders which would be super cute too – did you know that you can resize any pdf printable to this size in your printer preferences?)
I decided on these categories:
weekly cleaning
seasonal + deep cleaning
calendars (I always include a calendar in my binders, for reference and tracking of dates)
special cleaning lists
I added a plastic pouch to keep stickers, pens, post-its….
placed my printables in the dividers {November Cleaning Checklist}
{Once-A-Week Cleaning Checklist – from The Cleaning Kit}
{Weekly Cleaning Checklist – from The Cleaning Kit}
{Deep Cleaning Checklists – free}
{2013 Calendar}
{special cleaning checklists}
and that’s it – now I’m ready to track my cleaning in one handy binder.
Looking for the printables shown in this binder how-to? 
The Cleaning Kit (my best seller from my Etsy shop) {brights} and {aqua + lime}
cleanhousekit1
2013 Calendar from my shop

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Repurpose or Toss

Is it just me or do you sometimes look at a product and wonder if you could repurpose the container somehow?  I will buy a brand of pasta sauce for the container – sauce “x” jar has a better shape than sauce “y” jar or I”ve been known to buy a container of Trader Joe”s coffee just for the container, pharmacy knowing that the coffee wasn”t my favorite.  Repurposed containers are great, ailment but they can lead to hoarding (exaggerating…sort of).
These puff containers are a great example of an ideal container to repurpose – an easy to remove label, they wash up easily, different colored lids (fun for color coding or adding interest), and they could be used for so many things – kid small toy storage, pens, markers, homemade wipes and baby wipes, car activities…..

 

Here are a couple things to look for when you repurpose a container:
easy to remove label – if the label doesn”t come off or doesn”t come off easily, it”s probably not going to be a great repurposed container (unless the label is a pretty one – see the Twinings tea cans below)durability – make sure it has more than one use left in it – for instance, you don”t want to repurpose a water bottle as a best online casino water bottle when it clearly says for one use only.

stockpile – if you find yourself stockpiling an item and not using it, it”s probably not a great repurposed item (my pasta sauce containers are a great example – I thought I”d reuse them for bringing flowers to friends, storage for dried goods…but truth be told, they”ve been sitting in my cupboard for over a year.)
clever use – if the repurposed item has a clever repurpose, chances are you”ll use it and love it because you”ve reinvented something
Some great ideas for repurposing everyday items – you can find most of these in my organization hacks Pinterest board, along with many more:

source

source
(after seeing this, I regretted putting the pasta jars in the recycling bin!)
What”s the moral of this post?  If you have eleven glass pasta jars in your cupboard taking up the whole shelf for over a year, put them in your recycling bin.  If you see a container that could serve a new, clever purpose, repurpose it!
You asked, I listened…the Busy Mama Kit is in BRIGHTS and it”s 50% off through Tuesday!

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Overwhelmed? Find success in your homekeeping with my latest book, Simply Clean! Dismiss