5 Tips for a Well-Stocked Pantry

A well-stocked pantry makes cooking and baking easier and it keeps the kitchen running smoothly – I love having a well-stocked pantry.  With three always hungry children, I have found that there are a couple things that really help us keep the pantry stocked, easy to access, and simple to see what we have and what we need.  (Keep reading for an amazing affiliate offer from my favorite place to stock our pantry!)

5 Tips for a Well-Stocked Pantry:

Choose containers wisely – Don’t buy that big box of containers and expect them to fit and work in your space. Measure your space, measure the containers, and double check those measurements.  I like glass containers for direct food storage (rice, pasta, dry beans, nuts, etc.) and plastic handled bins for snacks, mixes, and pre-made items.  Once you have your space set up, label, label, label.

Arrange so you can see what you have – It’s a pain to find a can of expired artichoke hearts hiding behind the pasta sauce.  Use tiered organizers and keep things arranged so you can see what’s lurking at a glance.

Group like with like – The golden rule of organizing is to group like with like.  This rule most definitely applies to the pantry.  Five cans of tomato sauce should be grouped together with other canned goods.  Not only does this make it easy to locate but it allows you to see what you have at a peek.

Separate cooking from baking – This simple organization tweak works really well for keeping those supplies close together but separate.  I keep baking supplies (sugar, baking soda, baking spray) and cooking supplies (olive oil, vinegar, sauces) on large turntables.  Not only does it keep these supplies grouped together but it takes up less space in the pantry.

Buy more than one item at a time – Anytime I have one pantry item on my list like salad dressing, kidney beans, rice, black olives, etc. I ask myself if I will use this ingredient again in the next couple months.  If the answer is yes, I always buy multiples of that item.  This saves time, helps with menu planning and keeps shopping to a minimum.

I’ve found the easiest way for me to keep the pantry stocked is to place a monthly order from Thrive Market.  I’ve mentioned it before, but my favorite online resource for natural and organic food and pantry goods at a huge discount, is Thrive Market.

See that Primal Kitchen dressing?  It’s SO good – I like to mix the ranch with the honey mustard for a fun twist on ranch dressing.

Thrive Market is an online grocer that makes it possible to buy all the healthy foods and products you want at prices everyone can afford. Thrive Market offers all the natural products and non-GMO foods you love for 25-50% less than what you’ll find in traditional retail stores—all delivered straight to your door.

Thrive Market has a great offer for Clean Mama readers! Sign up for FREE and save an extra 25% off your first order plus free shipping!

Even our dog Stella looks forward to the Thrive deliveries 😉

Want to see more pantry organization posts – head here!

I used 4 basic organizing items in the pantry – acrylic bins, glass mason jars (this post has a couple sources and details), acrylic turntables, and acrylic tiered storage.  I chose all clear storage because I like being able to see everything at a glance and I find that it’s easier for the kids to grab their own snacks and gather supplies and food for their lunches.

I labeled the glass storage jars (and I love how this functions) – check out this post for all the details and sources.how-to-label-jars

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

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Organizing A Simple Pantry

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Sometimes the littlest changes can bring the biggest results.  Switching out wire shelving with wood shelves was a game-changer for our pantry.  I always look for simple systems and ease of use when planning out a new system and the pantry was no different. One of the biggest frustrations for me in our kitchen were the shelves in the pantry.  The wire shelving wasn’t stable enough to hold glass storage containers and it wasn’t functioning the way I hoped.  I know it’s a little detail and the shelves were fine, but by adding something like stable shelving, it completely changed how I could organizing the space.  The concept is simple – add wood shelves (we hired this out), new storage solutions, more space, and an additional shelf.  Want to take a peek?

Here’s the before:

Keep Food Storage Easy - Create Different Zones via Clean Mama

The during – everything was removed, holes were filled, and the space was painted.

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Once the shelves were in I used Post-It notes to plan the space:

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Then I lined the shelves with plastic shelf liner (non-stick) to protect the surface of the shelves:shelf-detail-clean-mama

Next was the fun part – filling the space.  I used 4 basic organizing items in the pantry – acrylic bins, glass mason jars (this post has a couple sources and details), acrylic turntables, and acrylic tiered storage.  I chose all clear storage because I like being able to see everything at a glance and I find that it’s easier for the kids to grab their own snacks and gather supplies and food for their lunches.

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Once I had the space planned out I filled jars and bins and placed everything into the pantry.  Then I arranged and re-arranged and lived with it for a couple weeks, tweaking it a bit for out needs.  And here’s where it’s at today – I’m sure it’ll be tweaked a bit but as of right now we’re loving it.  I added labels to the picture so you can see what’s where – the shelves aren’t actually labeled 🙂

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One of the reasons I wanted to add wood shelves was so we could add turntables for baking and cooking supplies – I love this feature.  Not only does it make it easy to access, it frees up so much space.  I also love the tiered storage for canned goods.  I could put the canned goods on the second to the top shelf and still be able to see everything.  (The crock holds potatoes and/or squash and the basket holds grocery bags.)

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I separated the baking and cooking supplies on the middle shelf – this is also where I put the majority of the glass storage. I like having all the cooking and baking supplies grouped together.

Here are a couple more views:

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See that narrow shelf at the very top?  I keep bags of flour and ‘overstock’ of vitamins and Halloween candy up there 🙂

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So that’s the pantry redo – 6 shelves and the whole pantry gets a new life.

I labeled the glass storage jars (and I love how this functions) – check out this post for all the details and sources.

how-to-label-jars

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

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How to Label Jars for Pantry Storage

how-to-label-jars

Last week we overhauled our pantry – new shelves, fresh paint, and a whole new look.  I was going to do one big blog post on the whole process but when I posted this picture on Instagram I had so many questions on what I chose for my dry storage, that I decided to do a quick post on how I set it all up.  Go here for a full ‘tour’ of the pantry, but here’s a quick tutorial of what I did for the dry storage.  The best part?  Each jar is about $1 WITH the lid!  Chic and affordable pantry storage is my jam.

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After searching high and low for jars that didn’t have any logos or designs on them, I FINALLY came across mason jars at my local Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the quart sized jar so I ended up purchasing them from Anchor-Hocking directly.  (Keep reading for links – I’ll link everything up at the end of the post.)

Once I found the right jar, I wanted a lid that didn’t have a ring or a rubber seal.  A two or three piece lid is a little too cumbersome for storage (for me) and I like the ease of a one-piece plastic lid.  Some other jars that I considered had a metal lid with a paper liner – like a cracker jar – that would work, but I really like a 100% dishwasher-able storage option.

Here’s my step-by-step process:

Buy jars

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Wash jars (I ran them through the dishwasher) and allow to thoroughly dry

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Use an oil-based marker to label jar – if you want a consistent look, make a template or use a ruler to keep the ‘label’ at the same spot on each jar.

QUICK TIP:  Use lemon essential oil to remove the marker if needed.  Just a drop on the surface will quickly remove the paint.

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Decide how you’ll label your jars – all caps, lower case letters – think it through and pre-write it out if necessary.  (This might sound tedious, but if you are taking the time to hand-label the jars, you will probably be annoyed if you don’t love the way it turns out.)

I wrote what was in the jar on the front

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Then I wrote cooking instructions and an expiration date (if needed) on the back

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Decant dry goods and apply the lid – if you have a powdery ingredient to transfer, make a funnel with parchment or waxed paper to make sure everything makes it into the jar

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Continue the process until you have your jars completed

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Arrange the jars on your shelf

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Sources:

Glass Jars – use any glass jar – I love the Anchor Hocking Mason Jars for this project.  They’re a slightly different shape and there isn’t any branding or designs on the sides, making it perfect for dry storage like this.  I bought some jars at Wal-Mart and some online at Anchor Hocking.  I also found them online at Farm & Fleet if you have one near you. (The jars through Anchor Hocking DID NOT have lids and the ones at Wal-Mart have a gold 2-piece lid.)

Lids – I always have these lids on hand for just about any food storage (I use mason jars for just about everything).  These Ball canning lids are my favorite because they seal extremely well, can be placed in the freezer, and are top rack dishwasher safe.

Marker – An oil-based paint marker is the most semi-permanent marker you can use for this project.  Choose a color or black or white – match it up with your kitchen or pantry.  I chose the white medium tip because it looks clean and it shows up the best with a variety of colored contents.

Psst….if you’re looking for healthier alternatives for your pantry, I love Thrive Market – most of the ingredients in my dry storage containers came from Thrive.  Check it out!

Thrive_Sharing_0004_5

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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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Three Kitchen Cleaners to Stop Buying and Start Making

Three Kitchen Cleaners to Stop Buying and Start Making - Clean Mama copy

Despite what commercials, ask advertisements and media may tell consumers, cleaners don’t need to contain toxic chemicals, unnatural scents or bright colors in order to clean well. In fact, the ideal cleaners can contain as few as three to five ingredients to be effective on just about any surface or for any need.

Kitchen cleaners can easily clutter your under the sink storage as well as bring some harsh and unnecessary chemicals in to your home. Today I am sharing three effective, cost efficient kitchen cleaners that are not only safe and incredibly affordable, but will also give their commercial brand competitors a run for their money. Still on the fence as to whether DIY cleaners are really all that they are hyped up to be? I challenge you to choose one of these cleaners and try it out for yourself. I think you will pleased with just how effective these natural kitchen cleaners are.

Nightly Sink Scrub

Nightly Sink Scrub and Brush - Clean Mama

I love using this sink scrub in the evening after the dishes are done and the sink is emptied. Works beautifully to shine up the sink as well as remove surface stains.

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops clove essential oil
  • castile soap (or dish soap) – This is not added to the baking soda until it’s used – keep reading!
  • container with a lid or a shaker top (I like a mason jar, this one specifically :)) – I’ve previously used a shaker top but have switched to a lid – either way works!
  • sink safe scrub brush – I use this one and keep it under my sink in a vintage mason jar.  I can toss the head in the dishwasher to sanitize it as needed.

To Use:

  1. Put baking soda in your container
  2. Add essential oils to the top of the baking soda
  3. Stir and combine with a kitchen knife
  4. Wet your sink
  5. Sprinkle liberally in your sink
  6. Add a squirt or two of dish or castile soap
  7. Scrub with a sink-safe scrubber
  8.  Rinse thoroughly

Sink Scrub

Marble and Granite Spray

Marble + Granite Cleaning Spray on Counter

I am amazed by how wonderfully this stone cleaner works at a fraction of the price. One of my favorites!

  • 3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon castile or dish soap (if you want your spray to smell like your dish soap, use that)

TOOLS:

  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoon
  • funnel – this just makes it easier to pour liquid ingredients into a spray bottle
  • spray bottle

Combine ingredients, close spray bottle, shake, and CLEAN!

 

All-Purpose Spray

All-Purpose Spray - Clean Mama

This cleaner works perfectly on just about any surface you can dream up (except for marble, granite, and stone because of the acidity/pH level). Even better, it’s kid friendly.

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (lemon and clove is my favorite blend)

Ready to simplify your cleaning while keeping it safe and cost efficient? Try one or all three of these kitchen cleaners out today!

Check out this post for 3 BATHROOM cleaners you should stop buying and start making.

3 Bathroom Cleaners to Stop Buying and Start Making - Clean Mama

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Simplify Mealtime : Put Together a Cutlery Caddy

Simplify Mealtimes with a Cutlery Caddy - Clean Mama

I pulled out this cutlery caddy from the top of the pantry the other day, cleaned it out, and set it back up for use on the kitchen table again.  You see, we used to have it on the table a couple years ago but our youngest starting getting mobile and climbing and everything was game.  That meant he pulled everything out and it was a new target for him.  At the time, I was annoyed that this darling little caddy that made my life easier had to be stashed away (along with so many other things), but as I pulled it out the other night I was thinking about how quickly they grow up and time flies.  So here’s my second attempt at the cutlery caddy – so far, so good!

Cutlery Caddy - Clean Mama

Why this works:

If your meal time is anything like it is in our house, the minute we’re all finally sitting down, someone drops a spoon or a fork, needs a napkin, etc.  Having a simple cutlery caddy simply makes it easier – the kids can set the table from the caddy or help themselves when needed.  Another perk?  It’s ready to take out to the picnic table for impromptu meals on the patio.  Truly, I love it.

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Gather your supplies:

  • caddy – look for something that you love, that matches your decor.  This one is from Crate & Barrel but I’m not seeing it online.  Here’s a darling galvanized steel one that’s similar – I might have to snag it for the patio 🙂
  • I used these Ball canning jars to contain the silverware and straws – I find that the jars keeps things neater and it’s easier to keep clean.
  • items for the caddy – what are you getting up for?  Silverware, straws, salt and pepper, napkins, etc.  I got these darling cloth napkins from HomeGoods – here they are on Amazon, but HomeGoods was much cheaper.

Supplies for Cutlery Caddy - Clean Mama

It’s such a simple solution to one of those annoying problems – have you ever tried a cutlery caddy?

Simplify Mealtimes with a Cutlery Caddy - Clean Mama

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How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances - Clean Mama

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have seen pictures of my refrigerator in my cleaning routine pictures.  Every time I post one of them, I am asked how I get my stainless steel to look so shiny.  How do I keep those pretty appliances looking new and not smudgy and full of fingerprints? If your house is anything like mine, they are covered in the latter more than they have that sleek showroom look.  I’ve tested and tried just about every brand on the market and have come to the conclusion that not all stainless steel cleaners are created equal AND not every brand works on every stainless steel appliance. Different appliance brands use different grades of stainless steel and they react differently with various cleaners. I can attest to this in my home because different products work on each stainless appliance.  This is why I set out to find something that worked on all of my appliances.

Wipe in the Direction of the Grain - Clean Mama

What’s the best way to clean stainless steel appliances?

The first thing you need is a SOFT cloth to apply your preferred cleaner to the appliance.  My preference is a microfiber cloth – most specifically, a Clean Mama HOME Polishing Cloth. Of course I’m biased, but I researched and searched for the PERFECT microfiber cloths and then had them made for my line.  These cloths WORK!

gray polishing microfiber - cmh

Through my research, testing, and trial and error, here are my top 3 favorite ways to clean stainless steel appliances – every single method uses a microfiber cloth for the application.

My Top 3 Methods for Cleaning and Polishing Stainless Steel:

Favorite Products to Clean Stainless Steel - Clean Mama copy

Choose one method – these are my favorites:

water (applied to the cloth) + microfiber polishing cloth

white vinegar (applied to the cloth) + microfiber polishing cloth

Williams-Sonoma Stainless Steel Cleaner (sprayed on stainless steel) + microfiber polishing cloth

Other methods to try:

club soda – spray on stainless and wipe in the direction of the grain

olive or baby oil – apply to a dry cloth and buff in the direction of the grain

window cleaner – some people swear by this technique – I suggest using a non-ammonia window cleaner

Application Process:

Apply water or cleaner to a microfiber cloth and clean quickly.  Quickly buff away any residue. Don’t let the cleaner dry on the stainless before buffing it in to the surface.  I recommend using a microfiber cloth that is designed to be used on stainless steel.

When applying cleaner you need to wipe your cloth in the DIRECTION OF THE GRAIN of the stainless steel.  This is because dirt can get trapped in the grain of the stainless steel.  This method not only cleans better, but your stainless steel will appear much cleaner this way.  I keep a little stack of microfiber cloths in a kitchen drawer with my bar mop cloths so I can easily wipe appliances as necessary.

Bar Mop Cloths in Drawer -Clean Mama

Do you have stainless steel appliances?  Any stainless steel appliance tips to share?

Have you visited my shop Clean Mama HOME?  Pictured below are my candles – available in two amazing scents – CLEAN HOME and FRESH LAUNDRY.

clean home candle burning - cmh

 

 

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How to Reduce Paper in the Kitchen

How to Reduce Paper in the Kitchen - Clean Mama

One of my most clicked on posts and ideas is how I cut way back on paper towel usage in the kitchen.  A few years ago I felt like I was going through a roll of paper towels every day and if you’ve ever bought paper towels you know that that can get a little bit pricey and wasteful.  So I tried to figure out a way to get kick the habit.  I rolled up bar mop cloths in a clear glass jar and put it where my paper towel holder used to be.  Five years later, I’m happy to say that I am still using the same jar and idea!  I still use the occasional paper towel, but I love the way bar mop towels clean counters and the whole kitchen.  They truly work better than paper towels and they are so much prettier!   I now have aqua and white bar mop towels in my shop – these incorporate all my favorite features into one beautiful and functional towel.

Rolled Bar Mop Towels - Clean Mama

What’s so great about bar mop cloths?

Once I figured out how much I enjoyed using the bar mop cloths, I found them to clean better than paper towels – no streaking, no/less lint, I can clean all the counters with one cloth.  And they just plain feel better – soft and luxurious.

Close-Up Bar Mop Towels

Tips and tricks to reduce paper in the kitchen:

  1. Stop buying paper towels and put away your paper towel holder.
  2. Buy at least a dozen bar mop cloths, put the cloths in a container where your paper towels used to be.
  3. Use one or two cloths every day to eliminate possible cross-contamination.
  4. Have a plan for the dirty towels – I put mine on a hook under the sink and then in a basket when they’re dry.
  5. Have kitchen towels that you love and keep them in a convenient place for hand drying (by the sink or dishwasher) – put out fresh ones nightly.
  6. Use microfiber on appliances (microfiber will last through 300+ washings).  I love my new Clean Mama Home microfiber cloths – the polishing cloth works amazingly well on stainless steel!
  7. Add fabric napkins if you’re feeling ambitious – this is something that I tried but went back to paper when my youngest was a baby and haven’t gone back yet.

Bar Mop Cloths in Drawer -Clean MamaI keep extra bar mop cloths in a drawer with these microfiber stainless and glass cleaning cloths.

Make your homekeeping a little more enjoyable by adding pretty products in the kitchen and reduce your paper waste in the process!

Kitchen Towels - Clean MamaThis is my kitchen hand and dish towel drawer – organized towels make it easy to find what I need and just nice to look at when I open the drawer.

Here are a couple of my favorites for reducing paper in the kitchen:

Bar Mop Cloths – aqua and white
Kitchen Towels – gray and white
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – gray/polishing
Anchor Hocking Jar – glass

The Clean Mama HOME Bar Mop Towels and Kitchen Towels are in my shop – perfect for cutting down paper towel usage!

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You might also like this post:

How to Launder Kitchen and Cleaning Cloths main via Clean Mama

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In the Kitchen with The Complete Book of Home Organization

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, look you know that Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons and I are dear friends.  We’ve partnered up to bring you great challenges, printable bundles, and content.  To say that I was excited to hear that she was writing a book would be an understatement.

*Make sure you read all the way to the end of this post for a chance to win an autographed copy!

The Complete Book of Home Organizationvia

When The Complete Book of Home Organization showed up at my door, I was so excited to see what Toni had to share!  And let me tell you, it’s not only a beautiful book, it’s so informative and motivating.  The soft, flexible cover, rounded corners, silver corner protectors, beautiful photographs and illustrations are just amazing.  It makes me want to organize every inch of space in my home.

Kitchen via

The book is structured as a 15 week challenge that you can take and organize your entire home and (even your car) or you can use it to inspire small spurts of organizing when you have the time.  Either way, it’s an awesome book with realistic and doable organizing ideas.  Toni does a Home Organization 101 Challenge on her blog every year – it starts today if you’re interested!

The kitchen is one of my favorite spaces to organize and make more efficient so I thought it would be fun to show you how The Complete Book of Home Organization inspired a little kitchen organizing in my own home this week.

Organized Kitchen Towels via Clean Mama copy

I organized my bar mop and stainless steel cleaning cloths (Clean Mama Home found here).

Organized Every Day Kitchen Items via Clean Mama copy

I straightened up my every day tools and seasonings.  I love this little spot by the stove.

Organized Measuring Cups and Spoons via Clean Mama copy

I organized my measuring cups and spoons.

I just know you’ll love the layout, organization, and practical tips found in The Complete Book of Home Organization.  

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Follow me on Instagram for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Complete Book of Home Organization today!

The Complete Book of Home Organization can be found anywhere books are sold – I used links to Amazon in this post but you can also find it at Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Complete Book of Home Organization but I would have purchased it myself and am only recommending it to you because I LOVE it!  This post contains affiliate links – you can see my policy here.

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Come Clean Challenge – Week 1 – Kitchen

Clean Your Kitchen in a Week and Keep the Rest of the House Tidy at the Same Time - Clean Mama

This month I’m doing a Come Clean Challenge to jump start the 2016 cleaning calendar theme – Come Clean in 2016.  Each week this month I’ll have simple, and daily tasks to work on – don’t worry about getting everything done, try work on a little something every day and your kitchen will be cleaner than it was at the beginning of the week. For instance, for small appliances, you can just clean your coffee maker or if you have more time, tackle all of your small appliances.  Make the challenge work for you and your schedule but don’t get discouraged by what you can’t accomplish, concentrate on what you can get done in short chunks of time.

Not sure how to incorporate cleaning the kitchen AND keeping up with other household tasks?  Here’s what I do….

Start with the daily tasks and make sure those get completed – wipe counters, check floors, one load of laundry, clutter THEN when those are completed or started, I do the weekly tasks – Monday is bathrooms day, Tuesday is dusting day, etc.  I work QUICKLY and get the task finished up in about 15 minutes.  This week I’ll be working in the kitchen during meal prep times – so while I’m prepping lunches or cooking dinner I’ll probably be clearing the counters, cleaning a small appliance or two, and cleaning out the refrigerator. Think of ways to maximize your time in the kitchen by adding another task or two to what you’re already working on.  This simplifies cleaning the kitchen and makes that time I already am spending in the kitchen more worthwhile.

On the checklist for this week and a little bit of direction:

  • Clear and Clean Kitchen Counters – start by completely clearing the counters.  Put everything on your kitchen table, wipe the counters with your favorite cleaner and put only the things that you use at least weekly back on the counters.
  • Clean Small Appliances – wipe down your small appliances.  If you have time to clean them more extensively, take the time to do it!
  • Purge and Clean Refrigerator and Freezer – empty the refrigerator, wipe it clean and put the food back.  Repeat the same process with your freezer.
  • Clean Oven – use your self-cleaning option and/or look below for how I clean my oven with natural ingredients.
  • Clear and Clean Pantry – empty your pantry or food storage cupboard and get rid of any expired items.  If you have extra pantry items that you don’t know if you’ll use (and they haven’t expired) donate them to your local food pantry.
  • Drawers and Cupboards – choose one or two drawer or cupboards (or more) and completely empty, get rid of unused items, wipe clean and return items.
  • Catch Up on any Uncompleted Tasks – Run out of time or energy to complete tasks during the week?  Catch up on this day!

Some blog posts to inspire and give you some guidance:

4 Simple Steps to Clear Kitchen Counters (for Good)
How to Clean Your Coffee Maker – Drip and Single Serve
The Best Way to Clean and Organize the Refrigerator
How to Organize Kitchen Towels
3 Ways to Organize Baking Supplies
How to Clean Your Oven
8 Ideas for Organizing the Pantry

Come Clean Challenge - Clean Mama

Get your FREE Come Clean Challenge worksheet here and the cleaning calendar for January 2016 here!

Catch up on the posts here:

Come Clean Challenge – Free Printable 
Come Clean Challenge Quick Start
Week 1 – Kitchen
Week 2 – Living Spaces
Week 3 – Bathrooms
Week 4 – Bedrooms
Come Clean – Wrap Up

The images in this post feature NEW products from Clean Mama HOME – have you seen my brand new line?

bar mop closeup - cmh

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HOW TO SPEED CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN IN LESS THAN 15 MINUTES + FREE PRINTABLE

How to Speed Clean Your Kitchen in Less than 15 Minutes + Free Printable via Clean Mama

Sick of spending your evening in the kitchen cleaning?  This is my nightly kitchen cleaning routine and the method I use any time I need to get the kitchen cleaned up in a hurry.  The secret to getting the kitchen clean in the least amount of time?   Having daily cleaning tasks and a simple cleaning routine.  Grab this month’s FREE cleaning checklist here.  And you might be interested in the 6 things I do every day to keep the house clean.  Having a simple daily cleaning routine is a huge timesaver.  Better yet, treatment it makes speed cleaning an easy and effective way to clean up.  This checklist isn’t for deep cleaning the kitchen – like washing cabinets and appliances, but it works wonderfully for keeping the kitchen clean on a daily basis.

How about a couple simple and easy speed cleaning shortcuts you can use today?  Start with number one and work your way through the process, print the free printable if you need a reference sheet.

  1. GATHER YOUR TOOLS
    Keep your favorite kitchen cleaning tools and cleaners in a caddy or container under the kitchen sink so you can grab them and clean anytime.  My must-have caddy tools?  Kitchen sink scrub, scrub brush, all-purpose cleaner, disinfecting cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, microfiber cloths, bar mop towels, sponge, and dish soap.
  2. SET A TIMER
    Setting a timer is a great way to motivate to clean quickly.  Eliminate any distractions, set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can get done.
  3. QUICK DECLUTTER
    Start by collecting anything on the counters and kitchen table.  Don’t take the time to put these things away right now, but put them out of the kitchen for right now.
  4. UNLOAD/LOAD DISHWASHER
    Did you know that it only takes 3-4 minutes to unload a dishwasher and put the dishes away?  Don’t procrastinate on this one – just put the dishes away!  If you have dishes on the counter or sink, load them in the empty dishwasher.
  5. CLEAN THE SINK
    Give your sink a little scrub and get it ready for the next day – you’ll be amazed how this simple task can propel your kitchen cleanliness.
  6. WIPE SURFACES
    Spray down any hard surfaces (counters, kitchen table) and wipe clean with a cloth or sponge.  Wiping down counters and cleaning sinks is on my daily routine so this is fairly simple.
  7. QUICK SWEEP OR VACUUM
    If your floors need to be swept or vacuumed, concentrate on high traffic areas, corners, and visible dirt.
  8. PUT OUT FRESH TOWELS
    Don’t underestimate the clean look of fresh towels.  Replace your kitchen towels with clean towels as you’re making your final sweep.

And that’s it!  If you start putting this little routine into practice, your kitchen will be so much easier to keep clean – guaranteed!

Grab the FREE PRINTABLE here!

How to Speed Clean Your Kitchen in Less than 15 Minutes via Clean Mama

If you like this free printable, you’ll love my shop, Clean Mama Printables!

Everyday Complete Kit - main - Clean Mama

Check out these great speed cleaning and organizing posts – just click on the image to go to the post:

How to Speed Clean Your House in Less than 30 Minutes via Clean Mama 1

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

How to Speed Organize Any Space via Clean Mama

 

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How to Clean Cast Iron

Cast-iron frying pan

Curious about the best way to clean cast iron?  It’s not as difficult as you might think!  Cast iron cookware use has been on the rise in recent years. It’s incredibly durable, versatile and non-stick, making it a true workhorse in the kitchen. Some people are scared off by the need for a little extra care compared to traditional pots and pans. With several cleaning techniques and tips, caring for cast iron doesn’t need to be anxiety inducing. You will be able to keep your cast iron free of rust, well-seasoned and clean.

How to Clean Cast Iron via Clean Mama

Materials Needed:

  • Cast iron cookware
  • Sponge with scrubbing surface or a stiff bristled brush
  • Paper towels
  • Vegetable oil
  • Coarse salt

In order to make your cleaning job much easier, it is imperative that you clean your cast iron as soon as possible, preferably while it is still warm from use. Unlike traditional cookware, cast iron will not benefit from soaking in your sink. Exposure to water for long periods of time can lead to rust issues.

How to Wash your Cast Iron

Wet Cast Iron in Sink via Clean Mama

Wash your cookware by hand in hand with hot water and a scrubbing sponge or stiff bristled brush. There is no need for dish soap, just some extra elbow grease in order to remove most residue. Under no circumstances do you ever want to put cast iron in the dishwasher.

Sprinkle Wet Cast Iron with Kosher Salt via Clean Mama

If you have stubborn food residue that needs a little extra care, sprinkle some coarse salt in the pan along with water to make a thick paste the consistency of toothpaste. The salt granules will work to loosen up those stubborn bits. If you need some extra care beyond the salt, try boiling some water in the pan.

Dry and Oil

Protect with Vegetable Oil via Clean Mama

When your cookware is clean, dry with a towel. Apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the inside of your cookware using paper towel. This step will help to enhance the non-stick nature that cast iron is so good at.  In addition, it also helps to prevent rust. You can also wipe down the outside of the cookware with a light coating of vegetable oil for the same reasons. Just be sure not to saturate with too heavy of a hand of oil.

When All Else Fails

Despite following the above cleaning techniques, there are times when your pan may develop a little rust. In this event you can use steel wool or a halved raw potato and salt to remove the rust. Sprinkle some salt in the pan and use the cut side of the potato to gently yet effectively rid the pan of rust. It sounds like an odd cleaning combination, but the moisture from the potato combines with the gentle abrasive nature of the salt to do the trick. You may need to reseason your pan in order to restore the nonstick surface at this point.

With these cleaning and care techniques, your cast iron cookware should last for years to come, providing a durable and versatile cooking alternative to traditional pots and pans.

Here are a couple more ‘how to clean’ posts you might be interested in – just click on the images:

How to Clean a Gas Cooktop via Clean Mama

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker - Drip and Single Serve via Clean Mama

How to Clean Any Kitchen Sink via Clean Mama

How to Clean Your Dishwasher via Clean MamaHOMEKEEPING SOCIETY BUTTON

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Goodbye Germs, Hello Clean Sponge – 3 Ways to Safely Sanitize Your Sponge

Goodbye Germs, Hello Clean Sponge - three ways to safely sanitize your sponge via Clean MamaIt should come as no surprise that sponges rank right up there as one of the dirtiest items in the typical kitchen. They are put to work on a variety of cleaning tasks, from scrubbing dirty dishes to wiping up drips and spills. Due to their absorbency, the material that they are made from and what they are typically used for, they excel at trapping germs, food particles and general nastiness. With minimal care and effort, you can easily sanitize and care for your sponges to ensure that they are not only clean but have a long life span as well.

Today I’m sharing my favorite three methods to clean and sanitize your sponge safely and effectively. While bleach might seem like the obvious choice, I prefer to stick with non chemical methods and cleaners that are safe in the home and around children. Pick your favorite method to clean your sponge easily and safely.

TIP:  If you use a kitchen sponge daily to wash dishes and wipes surfaces, you should also disinfect your sponge daily to keep kitchen bacteria from being spread as you’re washing dishes and wiping down surfaces.  A sponge will last at least two to three weeks with daily disinfection without disintegrating or losing its effectiveness.  Toss your sponge when it starts to show wear.

Dishwasher Method:

Wash sponges in the dishwasher via Clean Mama

This method is great for an end of the day routine and it’s what I do with my kitchen sponge (and I also wash the scrubber of my dish wand nightly too). After finishing up with your sponge, give it a good rinse and squeeze and put it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Be sure to use the Heated Dry option if you are able to. The next morning, or when the cycle is complete and has cooled, squeeze your sponge and it’s ready to go.

Microwave Method:

Sanitize sponge in the microwave via Clean Mama

This method is perfect for the middle of the day when you have used your sponge to wipe up lunch remnants or errant drips and spills and want to give it a quick yet effective clean. Begun by rinsing it out and get it as crumb and dirt free as possible. Saturate it with enough water that it is soaked but not dripping profusely. You want it to be wet enough that the heat from your microwave doesn’t burn the sponge but not so wet that it leaves a puddle in your microwave. A minute on high should be sufficient to clean your sponge, but keep an eye on it regardless.  Be sure to let it cool before removing it.

Vinegar Method:

Soak sponge in white vinegar via Clean Mama

If you don’t have a microwave, prefer not to use one or are looking for a different method to clean your sponge, a good soak in vinegar also does the trick. Fill a container with enough full strength vinegar to submerge the sponge. Rinse the sponge throughly to remove any solid particles or remnants first. Allow the sponge to soak for a good five minutes, rinse, squeeze and use. That’s it!

All three methods of sponge cleaning do a superior job at disinfecting and killing germs and pathogens that can make your family sick. Make sponge cleaning a part of your kitchen cleaning routine to give germs the boot!

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How to Clean a Gas Cooktop

How to Clean a Gas Cooktop via Clean Mama

We’ve all been there. You turn your back on the stove for a moment and before you know it, that pot of oatmeal has bubbled over the top or the tomato sauce has managed to spatter over the entire surface.

Gas Cooktop BEFORE via Clean Mama

Regardless of whether your gas stovetop is covered in the remnants of last night’s dinner or just needs a good cleaning, today’s post is for you. There is no need for harsh chemicals or stinky concoctions – just a little elbow grease and a common kitchen ingredient or two. Let’s get started!

Simple Tools to Clean a Gas Cooktop:

  • warm water
  • dish soap
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • bar mop cloths or dish cloths
  • dish towels

How to Clean a Gas Cooktop:

Begin by removing the grates on your stove and placing them in an empty sink. If possible, remove the knobs and the burner covers as well.

Remove Grates and Accessories via Clean Mama

Fill a bowl or container with warm water and a squirt of dish soap. Place the knobs and burner covers in the bowl and allow them to soak while you tackle the cooktop and grates.

Soak Accessories in Warm Soapy Water via Clean Mama

Dampen a soft cloth (I use bar mop cloths) with warm water and a touch of dish soap. Thoroughly wipe the entire surface of the cooktop using a circular motion. Avoid using too much water as you don’t want any water to sneak down in to the mechanisms of the stove or gas outlets.

Use a Damp Cloth to Wipe Clean via Clean Mama

After wiping down the surface with the water and soapy solution, rinse and wring out the cleaning cloth thoroughly. Wipe down the entire surface once more to catch any errant crumbs and soap residue.  Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

Scrub and Rinse Grates via Clean Mama

Ready to tackle the grates? For me, this is where the need for more than soap and water kicks in. Food that has sat and baked on requires the help of a little extra cleaning powerhouse: baking soda. Baking soda is perfectly suited for this job as it is a mild, safe abrasive that is both economical and effective. Sprinkle a little directly on to the damp grates and scrub using your wrung out cleaning cloth with a bit of soap.

Use Baking Soda to Remove Tough Stains via Clean mama

If you have some stubborn baked on bits that need some extra oomph, add a dash of salt to the mix. Sprinkle a little salt on to the grate as it sits in your sink and use the same damp cloth and dash of soap to scrub away those more challenging spots. The salt is just a bit more abrasive, but is still gentle enough to not damage your grates.

Let Thoroughly Dry via Clean Mama

After you have scrubbed off all the residue, give the grates a good rinse, wipe them down with a warm, damp cloth and dry. I like to lay out a large towel and lay the grates on them to dry until I put them back on the stove.

Remove Knobs via Clean Mama

The final cleaning step is to take care of the knobs and burner covers. The knobs won’t likely need much for cleaning other than a simple wipe down and rinse. Dry them and put them on the towel along with the grates. If your burner covers are in need of more than just soap and water to clean, you can follow the same procedure as you did with the grates. Enlist the help of baking soda or salt as needed. Thoroughly dry when they are clean to your satisfaction.

AFTER Gas Cooktop via Clean Mama

Make sure everything is thoroughly dry and reassemble. Stand back and enjoy that clean and shiny stovetop!

How to Clean a Gas Cooktop - Simple, Step-by-Step Directions via Clean Mama

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How to Organize Snacks and Lunches to Encourage Independence

How to Organize Snacks + Lunches via Clean Mama

We’re halfway through the summer and one of the best things I did at the start of the summer was to take a little time to organize some snack and lunch options for the kids to access.  Maybe it’s just my kids but it seems like they’re always hungry and this really helps because they can quickly choose a snack and aren’t standing in front of an open fridge looking for something to eat.  They don’t have open access to these areas any time of the day, but if they need an afternoon snack, they can choose one thing from the refrigerator or pantry.  Even the littlest member of house likes being able to choose a snack or put together a couple components of lunch too.

A couple purchased snacks and lunch items, zip top bags, and some storage bins are all you’ll need to give your kids some independence and healthy snack and lunch choices.  (I found the bins pictured here at Target and Amazon).

Snack and Lunch Ideas via Clean Mama

Snack and Lunch Ideas:

  • yogurt
  • yogurt tubes (in the freezer)
  • cheese and cheese sticks
  • pretzels
  • popcorn
  • crackers
  • nuts
  • cereal bars
  • fruit – oranges, apples, prepped seasonal fruit
  • apple sauce
  • guacamole – great for dipping veggies in
  • veggies – carrots, cucumbers, peppers, snap peas, small tomatoes
  • dried fruit

Measure Out Serving Sizes and Put in Zip Top Bags via Clean Mama

Use a measuring cup to portion sizes and put in a zip top bag.

Mix Up Different Crackers for Your Own Custom Mix via Clean Mama

Mix up a couple types of different crackers to make a snack mix.

Keep Snacks in Bins to Keep them Organized via Clean Mama

Once you’ve portioned out the snacks and lunch components, put them in an accessible place – I keep bins in the pantry and the refrigerator.

Keep Refrigerated Snacks Accessible via Clean Mama

What else would you add?  Do you think this would help your kids with snack and lunch choices?

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