2 January 2008

Simple cleaning

The way I do my housework has changed considerably since I started living more simply. In days gone by I would sometimes just quickly do what I absolutely had to do and sometimes I would ‘not see’ what was around me. When my boys were young, I felt so tired I didn’t want to do anything, and when I did do what had to be done, I felt resentful because I was working, looking after the boys and their activities AND the housework.

When we moved here, I got help in the house but when I closed down my business, I started doing my own house work again. However, by then my attitude had changed. I liked being at home, I felt good being in my own space and I wanted to make our home a warm and comfortable haven for my family, myself and our friends. I think that made the attitude change happen – I could see a reason for the work. It wasn’t just tidying up after three others, cooking their meals and washing their clothes, I felt I was caring for them, and myself, through this work. I had changed from seeing housework as a demeaning activity that no one wanted to do, to a dignified and generous way of caring for my loved ones. Once that shift in attitude happened, it was a breeze.

I'm well aware that you may not have experienced that change in attitude towards cleaning yet, but you're reading this post so I know there is an interest in simplifying your life, and that is a good start. If you have the interest you might gain some motivation by reading and taking part in the activity I suggest later in the post. So don't dismiss this after you finish reading, join in and it might make a difference - it might be the start of your attitude change.

In the old days, I wanted to do the least amount of work in the smallest amount of time. I didn’t think about the work, it was just unwanted work that I had to do. When I started thinking about the nature of housework, when I understood why I was doing it, and when I realised it was an expression of love for my family and myself, I didn’t want to do it quickly, I slowed right down and did my work mindfully. Instead of grabbing the most expensive all purpose cleaner I could find, I made my own cleaners and I organised myself for the task at hand. It made a difference to how I worked and it reduced the amount of mass produced chemicals I used – this was a good thing for both our health and the health of the planet. It also saved money because I wasn’t buying expensive cleaners – one for the floor, one for the surfaces, one for the plastics, one for the glass, well, you get the message.

I’ve had a couple of emails lately asking how to start simplifying a home so I thought it would be a good idea to write about green cleaning and how to cut costs in each room of the house as we go through it. Below are most of the ingredients we’ll use as we go from room to room, but as all our homes are different, we might need to add others as we go.

The laundry is a convenient place to make up your cleansers and to store your big bottles of cleaning ingredients. Make up three small kits – one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom and one for general cleaning. Keep your cleaning equipment close to the area you will clean. For example, keep rubber gloves and a small bucket full of your homemade cleaners under the kitchen sink, keep another kit in your bathroom cupboard and your general kit in the laundry. Make sure you don’t mix up your kits or use the bathroom kit in the kitchen or the bathroom kit in the living room. Maintain your general hygiene procedures and make sure you keep each kit in its own area. You may like to colour code them or mark them in some way.

Your home cleaning kit will include a small four litre bucket or old ice cream container, rubber gloves (if you use them), terry or cotton cloths for cleaning or polishing and whichever of the homemade cleansers you choose for that area. Of course, you may decide to knit cleaning cloths of a specific colour for each area. That can be a good ongoing project for you when you sit and relax after dinner at night.

Bicarb aka baking soda
Washing soda
Pure laundry soap or homemade soap
White vinegar
Tea tree oil
Eucalyptus oil
Liquid bleach

Please note: Ammonia and bleach must be used sparingly but they do have a place in the simple home. If you’ve never used ammonia before, NEVER open the bottle and sniff it, it will blow your head off. =:-O

All these products will cost you about $30 to buy at the supermarket and you’ll have enough for your various cleaning jobs for many weeks.

Tomorrow we’ll start cleaning our bathrooms using the list above. Get your aprons ready. : - )

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