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A Clean(ish) House



The Expedit from Ikea houses Sabine's toys. One bin also houses cat supplies. Another bin holds Sabine's blankets. Another houses random stuff that we have not put away (everyone has one of those drawers!)

The Expedit from Ikea houses Sabine’s toys. One bin also houses the “cat station.” Another bin holds Sabine’s blankets. Another houses random stuff that we have not put away (everyone has one of those drawers!)

A reader asked me to share some of my cleaning techniques. I am no Martha Stewart, by any means, but am working on maintaining a cleaner, more clutter-free home especially now that Sabine is becoming mobile and into everything! Before I get started, I need to be clear that I stay at home with Sabine right now. I’m in school part-time, but for the most part am home daily with her. This makes a HUGE difference. We also live in a 900 square foot apartment and work hard to embrace what I call “livable minimalism.” There is very little clutter in our home and much of what we do have has a very well thought out place to live. Our furnishings are simple, inexpensive and functional. One day I’ll have beautiful things, but right now, Ikea suits us just fine! I’ll write more later on our form of “livable minimalism” if anyone is interested.

The average day in my house runs sort of like so: 

Crack of dawn (5-6 a.m.) Sabine wakes up. I have coffee and breakfast and play with her until about 8 a.m.

At 8 a.m. Sabine has breakfast in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher (which we run at night after she goes to bed), load any new dishes, wipe the counters with my home made cleaner (I’ll do a post on my cleaners tomorrow), and do a quick sweep with our tiny broom and dust pan.

The Professor takes out trash and recycling on his way to work.

Next, Sabine plays in her Circle of Neglect (bouncer) while I scoop the cat boxes. I have a pretty meticulous cat box routine brewing that so far is working well. I switched to flushable litter two weeks ago and really like the convenience of it. It is one less thing I have to go out to the trash shoot with and it is ridiculously low dust – important when you and your cat are asthmatics. I keep a cat “station” by the living room litter box. In this bin we have disposable gloves (cause it is much faster to strip off gloves should there be a baby emergency than run and wash your hands), the litter scoop, a old plastic container to carry the poops/pee clumps to the toilet and our pink dustbuster. The dustbuster plug runs into the bin so it charges while put away.

I scoop the litter box in the living room, flush the turds and then carry my scoop and container to the second litter box in the bedroom and scoop those turds. Then I use the little dustbuster to quickly suck up the litter that was tracked out of the box and flush that down with the second load of turds. I top the litter off periodically with some fresh to keep it from getting too low. I also use litter box liners to make the monthly change easier. I toss the gloves, wash my hands and hug my kid.

Kitchen and litter boxes are done in under an hour.

About every three days or so I load Sabine up in the K’Tan after this and I do the floors of the main house. We vacuum the rug, vacuum the hardwoods with our amazing little hardwood vacuum (highly recommend) and then run a quick mop with home made cleaner over the hardwoods. I use this mop and love it.

Doing floors with Sabine in the K’Tan is a WORKOUT. Some days I count it as my “cardio.” 🙂

Sometimes she takes a nap after this. If she naps I use this time to tidy up the main areas. I pick up shoes, coats, sort and discard mail and run my happy duster over everything. I spray and wipe down the dining room table and end tables, which always have new coffee rings on them. (Hello no sleep for nine months).

If Sabine does not nap, I still manage everything but the dusting, but it takes a little longer. I let her play on the floor and talk to her as I go.

I wipe down the bathroom daily when I shower with my reusable makeup pads. I am still using the two packs of organic cotton reusable breast pads I bought before I got pregnant. They were WAY TOO BIG for my tiny boobs so I use one to remove my makeup and one to apply astringent each morning. I use pure olive oil to remove my makeup, and then use this pad to swipe the sink. The little oil left behind keeps soap scum from sticking to the sink bowl. I use the astringent pad to wipe the counters after I apply my makeup. Then I toss the used pads in one of those little laundry bags for delicates. Every week the bag is zipped closed and tossed in with our load of towels.

Then we are done with chores until about 4 p.m. when the Pre-Daddy Cleaning Frenzy goes down.

The 4 p.m. Frenzy

This is when we clean up the day’s disaster. Toys get put away in the bins (even though they just come back out), anything I was doing like studying, crafts, etc. gets put away. We make the beds if they were not made in the morning and straighten our bedrooms. Sabine plays on the floor and explores while I do this. Every few days I set her in the crib with some toys and quickly run the vacuum in the bedrooms and then run the duster over the furniture.

After our Norovirus bought in January, I also disinfect Sabine’s changing table and diaper pail once a week. Probably overkill but OMG, so much horror came out of us in a four day span that I will do anything to avoid a repeat. Every few days I take out the diaper trash. We ended up getting the really expensive but super awesome Ubbi diaper pail and it works great for containing odors AND uses regular old trash bags. I add a scoop of baking soda and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to the bottom every now and then to help keep it fresh.

At 5:00 we start dinner.

I get 30 minutes to prepare dinner each night so meals are carefully selected. Sabine sits in her high chair and eats Cheerios (we graduated from Puffs!) and watches a 30 minute Baby Einstein video. By the time her video is over dinner is usually on the stove/in the oven and she and I play on the floor in the living room while I occasionally pop into the kitchen to stir/check the food. While I cook I TRY to keep dishes washing as I go, but I am a notoriously messy chef and this does not always happen.

Weekly/Monthly Chores

Each Monday is laundry day. We do four loads each week of mine and Sabine’s clothes: one light, one dark, one sheets and towels and one random (blankets, slip covers others, etc.). The Professor does his own laundry. We fold laundry together in the afternoon, a task that takes 3 times as long when your “helper’s” form of entertainment is tossing your neatly folded piles around. But she has fun so what can I do?!

Recently I discovered that I can throw the non-slip tub liner in with the towels. I only buy white towels so they get bleached regularly. The bleach and hot water clean up the tub liner so nicely and is ridiculously easy for me. One less thing to scrub.

Every Thursday, which is the Nanny day, I clean the bathroom. I wipe the sink, mirror, shelves and toilet with home made cleansers. I sweep the floor and usually just “mop” it with some spray and a paper towel. Our bathroom is so small it just does not warrant dragging out the mop.

Our groceries are delivered each Sunday. I take this opportunity to clean out any spoiled food and quickly wipe down the fridge. Nothing elaborate, just a lick and a promise. I replace a little bowl of baking soda to help absorb any gross fridge odors then. The old baking soda is put in the sink and used to scrub it.

Once a month I empty the litter boxes completely, wipe them out, change the liner and fill them with fresh litter.

About once a month I oil the kitchen cabinets. Several have some water damage from the previous owners and oiling keeps them looking better and preserves them. I use Murphy’s oil soap for a good wash down and then apply a thin coat of mineral oil to the damaged cabinets. I also try to wipe the baseboards, straighten our drawers, restock diapers, etc. once a month.

Once a month I also do a very detailed clean of our bedrooms. This is when I mop these floors, move furniture and do serious dusting to help with my allergies and asthma. I also clean the tub and shower monthly.

That pretty much sums up the cleaning routine around here. I really think it is made infinitely easier by owning less. Everything we do own has a place and all the places are carefully thought out and easy for us to use. Tomorrow I will post my cleaner recipes and in a few weeks I will do a post on our storage and organization solutions. In the meantime, any questions? Any great cleaning tool recommendation? How do you keep your home tidy?




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  1. April 16, 2014

    You’re Martha Stewart compared to me! Good for you!! I wish I had a routine like this!

  2. Romy Yourex #
    April 17, 2014

    Wow, you are amazing.
    I don’t really have a routine, and the house is far from as clean as I want it to be. I seem to always come across fun sensory play ideas that involve great messes (making goop, a sand table in the middle of the living room, creating a “snowy world” with cornstarch and food coloured water, making playdoh etc.). I don’t like cleaning while Sawyer is up either. In part because I feel like I should be playing with him and also because he’s very mobile now and will follow me wherever I go and not always in the safest ways. I do sometimes put him in a wrap but he loves exploring now that he is more mobile and doesn’t want to sit in it unless we are outside or in public somewhere with lots to see.
    As a result though, most of my cleaning is done in a frenzy because I just realized how messy it really is or because someone is coming over 😉

  3. April 17, 2014

    I need a housekeeper.

    • Shelley #
      April 19, 2014

      Haha, seriously.

  4. Sara #
    April 17, 2014

    I am so impressed and inspired by this post! I have been telling my husband we need some kind of routine for cleaning around here. I finally cleaned our kitchen floor last night after I put my twin boys to bed, I am embarrassed to say how long it had been since I had done this. I am going to come up with a plan now, and I can not wait to read about your recipes for your cleaning supplies, I like the smell of Mr Clean but I don’t think it is best for my boys.

  5. April 17, 2014

    And now I feel like a dirty person. 😀

  6. jak #
    April 17, 2014

    How do I keep my home tidy?

    I don’t. There is simply NOT TIME.

  7. jesicabrennan #
    April 17, 2014

    Holy shit you’re clean! That is all.

  8. April 17, 2014

    You are so organized. It’s just not in me to strictly delegate my time. We have even less square footage than you, so as-it-needs-doing works fine here.

    Your helper will get worse before she gets better, but Abby is a super helper now! She’s big (and careful) enough to empty the bottom dishwasher rack and hand us dishes to put away, and she’s a beast when it comes to napkin folding.

  9. April 17, 2014

    Wow. You are such a good wife and mom. I feel like a slob lol. I seriously gotta get cleaning now.

  10. Shelley #
    April 19, 2014

    Omg THANK YOU! I’m sorry I’m just getting around to reading this. Unfortunately it wasn’t because I was cleaning! :-0

    All I can say is, you’re an inspiration. I just don’t have the cleaning gene, as much as I like a clean house. I try to keep the kitchen clear of dishes and dirty bottles, maybe wipe down the counters, and I’ve just started seeing the benefits of sweeping. But I’m home all day and it’s just so hard for me to keep it tidy. Our house is less than twice the size of yours but is definitely bigger and we have way too much crap overall. I want to change all that but I feel overwhelmed.

    I guess my main question is, do you feel like you’re cleaning all the time??? I see how you do a little bit all the time here and there but… Do you?

    Thank you so much for this post!

    • Shelley #
      April 22, 2014

      I also really really want to hear more about livable minimalism.

  11. April 19, 2014

    You’re amazing. I don’t even do this without kids! But thanks for the inspiration!

  12. April 21, 2014

    You certainly sound like Martha Stewart to me – your routines are so efficient! We moved a few months ago and I cleaned out massive amounts of clutter. Now we have a more minimalist environment and it is much easier to keep it tidy.

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