Tag Archives: cleaning

6 House Cleaning Tips to Reduce Stress

springcleaningFor most people stress and mess are unremitting realities in daily life. In fact, the various stressors and disarrays share a common denominator – clutter – both the physical and mental kind.  Why not then kill two birds with one stone? As long as you have to clean your place, why not use it as a targeted method for coping with stress?

Cleaning carries emotional benefits: Catharsis, clarity, control and change. These good feelings lead directly to self-improvement and empowerment. For example, when you clean out your space, you can distinguish between what inspires you and what no longer serves you.  Getting rid of what you no longer need, makes room for positivism and invites good things into your home, including friends, as you are no longer embarrassed by the mess.

Here are 6 cleaning tasks and their emotional/intellectual/spiritual rewards:

* Washing the dishes helps you to wash away the grief. Circular motions correspond to the circle of life.
* Vacuuming gets rid of the dust and the cobwebs, the regrets which cling and keep you stuck, as you inhale stale air and allergens. Vacuuming helps you to move forward and breathe a purer air, a more authentic version of yourself.
* Cleaning the windows lets in the light when you feel sad, unable to step outside. Afterwards, you can sit or stand by the window, relax and watch others. Moreover, when you open a window, you get ready to step outside and join the good energy – first you rehearse it in your mind and then you do it.
* Cleaning the bathroom helps you to get the crap out of your life or neutralize what pisses you off.  You need to move toxins out of your body and your mind.
* Mopping the floor keeps you in the moment, an opportunity not to think about your worries; otherwise, if you are not fully present to what you are doing, you can slip and slide and fall back into an old issue.
* Overall, housecleaning is great exercise to be envied by gym goers. And exercise efficiently alleviates anxiety and moves stress hormones out of the body.

The next time you clean your space, create a specific intention, a stress-reducing mental component corresponding to the physical act. For example, when you are clearing out spoiled fruit in your refrigerator to make room for fresh, new fruit consider if there might be some spoiled, toxic relationship you need to throw away? Or when you are dusting, polishing your furniture to a brilliant shine, consider what might be holding you back from shining?

Find Your Balance Between Leaning In and Leaning Back

rocksDance guru Gabrielle Roth once pointed out that in tribal cultures if a person felt disheartened or depressed the tribe’s healer would ask these questions:

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Hmmmm….

I’m not disheartened or depressed. But I am busy (hard to relate to, right?). After 25 years working as a writer I’m finally birthing my first solo book—the dream of a lifetime coming to fruition—and I’m too damn busy to enjoy the experience.

That is depressing, isn’t it?

Most of my friends are in the same pickle. They’ve spent years chasing their dreams, developing a business, inventing a product, creating a family, and when it all finally lands on their plate, life goes nuts.

Everything becomes about the baby, the book, the film, the promotion, the (fill in the blank). Suddenly the smile disappears, personal conversations get slotted to midnight, new brow lines appear, and housecleaning… well, at least the dust bunnies in my house are having fun doing-it in every available corner!

Maybe I should take the hint and have some fun too?

But then I realize I’m too busy to date. I’d have to clean the house before inviting someone over. Plus how can I have a good time if there’s this anxious subterranean thought-stream flowing beneath every conversation? I can just see it:

Mr. Right looks deeply into my eyes, reaching past the wineglasses to hold my hand across the (newly washed) tablecloth. “Have I told you how beautiful your eyes are in candlelight?” he breathes silkily.

Crap! I forgot to ask about the mailing list and I’ve got to finish that press release and order books and… My mind wanders back to Mr. Right. How did he get hold of my hand?

“Er, did you say something?” I ask.

Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame would be proud of me. If I “leaned in” any more my whole life would implode. Do you want to know the real joke? The book I’m sweating over is dedicated to remembering how, amongst other many other things, to let go and lean back.

**

What’s the old cliché? You teach best that which you need to learn the most?

No kidding! I need to stop taking my life and my endeavors so doggone seriously: to remember to turn off the computer, turn off Pandora, turn off the cellphone, turn off my anxiety, tone down the mental chatter and really reflect on what I’m doing and what really matters in life.

I need to learn to STOP!

Yeah, I know. Scary thought. I’ve been raised to believe if I stop that I’m being self-indulgent and  – God forbid –unproductive. If I stop, Sheryl Sandberg won’t like me, the world will fall apart and I won’t SUCCEED.

How can I not believe this?

Humans are now called “resources.” Gross National Product is the measure of my nation’s health—never mind in America 26% of the population suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder and 50% suffer from a chronic illness.

I’ve GOT to stop.

We’ve got to stop. It’s becoming a public health mandate. But aside from that, for God’s sake stopping is FUN, if we let it be.

Michael Grab, creator of the amazing picture at the head of this blog, leaned in and did what the world expected and graduated from college. But then he flipped the world the bird and started balancing rocks because it was fun. The practice brought what he calls “a zero point or silence within myself.” It brought him balance. Now his fun is his art-form and his life.

Writing has always been my fun. But I cannot let it own me, drive me, whip me. No no no, that would be a tragedy—my personal tragedy added to so many others in this world.

I need to lean back, to remember to dance and sing.

I need silence and the space to listen to other people’s stories.

Photo credit: Michael Grab,http://www.gravityglue.com

Maintain Your Living Space To Keep It Organized And Clean

Christmas is over. You have lots new stuff. You have lots of old stuff. In fact, if you don’t do something about it soon, you are in danger of a friend or family member reporting you to that show Hoarders. Before things get that out of hand, be proactive and make a pre-New Year’s resolution to put things in order. Here are some great tips for helping you de-clutter and de-stress.

Pick a Room, Any Room. It can seem overwhelming to consider what needs to be done in each room of your home, so micromanage. Begin in one room and stay there, exclusively, until it is done. This does not mean that you have to complete your task at one given time. You might find it helpful to set a timer for one hour and give yourself a break for a bit before continuing. A break might include watching television for 30 minutes, having a snack, or taking a walk. Repeat for every room in your house.

Set Deadlines. While you should take breaks, do not give yourself unlimited time to get things done. Estimate how long it will reasonably take to clean out each room and stick to it. This will help you resist the temptation to take too many breaks!
 
Bring Designated Boxes or Bins into Each Room and label them “Keep,” “Charity/Garage Sale,” and “Discard.” If you are ambivalent about what to keep, think about whether you have used or even thought about an item in some time. Personally, with clothing, if I have not worn a garment in a year, chances are I never will. Then I decide if the item is still useable and can be donated to charity or sold at a garage sale. If not, into the “Discard” bin it goes. If you haven’t used it and it is likely no one else wants it either, there is no reason to keep it and add to the clutter.
 
Be DONE with the Bins! Now that they are all sorted, immediately throw away all bins that say “Discard.” Take the others to a charity drop-off or schedule your garage sale right away. For your “Keep” bins, put them in the rooms where those items will go to be relocated in a clean and clutter-free space (see next step).
 
One, Two, Three, CLEAN! Once your surfaces are cleared, you’ll want to make everything dust and dirt free. Go through your cleaning supplies and make sure you have everything you need before you begin: a fresh mop head, furniture polish, glass cleaner, etc. Gather up your supplies and bring them in to your newly de-cluttered room all at once so that you don’t have to go back and forth between your supply closet, and risk the temptation of becoming distracted elsewhere. A handy cleaning supply carrier is terrific for this task.
 
Re-distribute and Re-Appreciate. Now is the time to get your “Keep” boxes out and give the things you really do love and value an appropriate place on their clean and spacious surfaces. 
 
Commit to Maintain. Once all the hard work of clearing and cleaning has been done, set aside 15-20 minutes a day to keep it that way. You’ll be glad you did!
 
PHOTO (cc): Flickr / .Jennifer Leigh.

 

The Glory of Vinegar! 13 Innovative Ways To Use Vinegar In Your Home

When we’re good to our environment, we’re good to ourselves. We don’t need all those chemicals in the cleaning products we buy, at often a mighty high price, and the environment doesn’t need them either. Because of its acidity, white distilled vinegar is super-effective at killing most mold, bacteria and germs, and it’s eco-friendly. Here are some suggestions how to use vinegar to clean your home:

-Shine chrome and remove lime buildup by making a paste of 2 Tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar.

-For a natural scouring cleanser, mix ¼ cup baking soda with 1 Tablespoon liquid detergent and just enough white vinegar to give it a thick and creamy texture.

-Make your own window cleaner with ½ cup ammonia, 2 cup white vinegar and 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

-Deodorize a garbage disposal by pouring in ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup hot white vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes, then run hot water down the disposal.

-Mix ½ cup white vinegar with ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl, put in the microwave and let it boil to clean baked-on foods and remove odors. Wipe clean.

-Mix equal parts water and white vinegar into a solution to clean the refrigerator inside and out.

-Mix equal parts of salt or baking soda with white vinegar to scrub away stains from coffee and teacups, then rinse clean.

-Polish brass and copper with a mix of 2 Tablespoons ketchup and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.

-Soak a sponge in white vinegar to wipe grease off of exhaust fans.

-Clean grout with full strength white vinegar and a toothbrush.

-Kill germs by spraying full-strength white vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe dry.

-Clean your BBQ grill by spraying white vinegar on it and then scrubbing with wadded up aluminum foil.

-Clean off stickers, decals, or sticky stuff with a cloth dipped in white vinegar.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / elycefeliz

The Glory of Vinegar!

When we’re good to our environment, we’re good to ourselves. We don’t need all those chemicals in the cleaning products we buy, at often a mighty high price, and the environment doesn’t need them either. Because of its acidity, white distilled vinegar is super-effective at killing most mold, bacteria and germs, and it’s eco-friendly. Here are some suggestions how to use vinegar to clean your home:


-Shine chrome and remove lime buildup by making a paste of 2 Tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar.

-For a natural scouring cleanser, mix ¼ cup baking soda with 1 Tablespoon liquid detergent and just enough white vinegar to give it a thick and creamy texture.

-Make your own window cleaner with ½ cup ammonia, 2 cup white vinegar and 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

-Deodorize a garbage disposal by pouring in ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup hot white vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes, then run hot water down the disposal.

-Mix ½ cup white vinegar with ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl, put in the microwave and let it boil to clean baked-on foods and remove odors. Wipe clean.

-Mix equal parts water and white vinegar into a solution to clean the refrigerator inside and out.

-Mix equal parts of salt or baking soda with white vinegar to scrub away stains from coffee and teacups, then rinse clean.

-Polish brass and copper with a mix of 2 Tablespoons ketchup and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.

-Soak a sponge in white vinegar to wipe grease off of exhaust fans.

-Clean grout with full strength white vinegar and a toothbrush.

-Kill germs by spraying full-strength white vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe dry.

-Clean your BBQ grill by spraying white vinegar on it and then scrubbing with wadded up aluminum foil.

-Clean off stickers, decals, or sticky stuff with a cloth dipped in white vinegar.

Keep A Clean House Without Chemicals

What if I told you that every time you wipe down your counters, scrub your tub, or wash your windows you might actually be making your home less healthy? Seems counterintuitive, but the unfortunate truth is that most typical home cleaning products are chock full of harsh, hazardous chemicals. What, then, to do? We talked to Annie Bond, author of Clean and Green, editor of the Green Chi Cafe blog and expert on chemical-free home care about how to keep your home comfortably clean, without subjecting yourself to a dangerous toxic stew.

1) Stock up. In the cupboard under Bond’s sink, there are but six items: baking soda, vinegar, washing soda, a good soap, detergent and tea tree oil. If it suits your taste, you can add the occasional spritz of lemon juice or other essential oils like oregano, cinnamon, and clove to these six basics. Of the detergent, Bond says that they “aren’t found in nature, and aren’t totally non-toxic,” but for homes with hard water, soap alone will leave behind scum. “Check the signal word on the bottle,” Bond recommends. Any sterner warning than “caution,” and she says to stay away. She recommends Seventh Generation,Natural Choices Refillables or Ecover for the safest detergents.
 
2) Follow a recipe. You’ll need to blend the basic ingredients above for the particular task at hand- washing windows, disinfecting countertops, cleaning the oven, scrubbing floors and so on. Vinegar is a great acidic cleanser that dissolves icky buildups and serves as a great disinfectant- the standard 5% solution you find at the supermarket has been shown to kill 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs. Baking soda and washing soda are alkaline minerals that cut through grease and neutralize acidic odors. Essential oils can also disinfect, while providing a nice fresh scent (see below).
 
But, really, you should just follow Bond’s tried and true recipes (here). “My recipes haven’t changed in 20 years,” she says.”It’s actually a challenge for my career!”
 
3) Use common scents. “Fragrance,” when listed on a product label, should be a big red flag, as manufacturers commonly use this term on an ingredient list to disguise their use of phthalates, which are some scary hormone disruptors that GOOD editor Siobhan O’Connor describes as “a category of chemical plasticizers that has been linked to gender-bendy birth defects in baby boys.” Rather than buy some manufactured “scent,” consider citrus and herbs or an essential oil like lavender. Also pay attention to the nature of the stink, and get to eliminating the source. “For alkaline odors, use an acid like vinegar,” Bond advises. “For acidic odors, use baking soda.”
 
4) Harness the sun. On a bright spring or summer day, hang as much of your sheets, upholstery and other fabrics outside on a clothesline. The sun naturally kills dustmites and can be the most natural antibacterial agent.
 
5) Elbow grease. Put some muscle into it. 75 years ago your great-grandparents kept their home perfectly clean without any of these crazy chemicals that clutter the cupboards of Americans today. How? By using the basic, simple ingredient above, and scrubbing like heck.
 
Photo (cc) by Flickr user Uncleweed
 
This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea  today.

Can You Downgrade Your Living Space Clutter To Only 100 Personal Possessions?

Thanks to the internet, one brave individual or gutsy family can go through a very challenging lifestyle makeover, publicize their journey on the web, and then inspire others to do the same. Six Items Or Less is a web challenge for men and women to get by with only six items of clothing for at least a whole month. The Great American Apparel Diet challenges people to not buy a single new article of clothing for an entire year. The Uniform Project, which began from one woman’s personal challenge to wear one black dress and spruce it up with different vintage, handmade, reused or donated accessories for an entire year, has now evolved into an internet meme where brave fashionistas all over the net are seeing how much they can do with just one outfit and a whole lot of creative accessorizing for an entire year (no new purchases allowed).

Here is another cool web challenge that falls into the same vein of downsizing and consuming less: The 100 Thing Challenge, started by blogger Dave Bruno. Can you simplify all of your personal possessions to just one hundred items?

Before you balk at the impossibility of this task, some general guidelines to follow: shared items (like your family’s cookware) don’t count. Neither do non-personal items that are there for a strictly utilitarian reason (cleaning supplies, basic tools, an emergency kit, eating utensils). Collections can count as one item, so your library of books, rare baseball cards or extensive snowglobe collection? Safe–for now.

Now how about all the other stuff that you have in your house or living space? All of your T-shirts, jackets, hats, shoes, cell phone, computer, T.V., family heirlooms, tacky Christmas ornaments, old vacation souvenirs, artwork, calendars, notebooks, pens, bike, et. al–is it possible to downgrade to only a mere 100 items? 

A great blog post on zen habits chronicles one man’s challenge to pare down his personal possessions to not just 100 items–but 42! His reasons for decluttering and his process for doing so are both worth the read for anybody interested in doing the same.

So do you think you are ready to undergo a massive downgrade of stuff? Even if you can’t get to 100–or 100 is too easy for you–the point is that all of us really can be just as happy with a whole lot less. 

Reading about other people’s decluttering challenges definitely inspires me to start getting rid of junk that is currently taking up space in my small studio apartment. I am definitely motivated to grab a moving box, fill it with unwanted junk, and get it to the closest Salvation Army so I can enjoy more open space all the time! 

Some general decluttering tips: 
 
– Have a regular decluttering schedule at least a few times a year. At the bare minimum, seasonal decluttering is a good goal to aim for. Cycling unwanted stuff out of your living space at the end of every month is a lot more manageable than every sporadic few years.
 
– If you’re going to have a garage sale or yard sale, see if you can team up with another neighbor or friend. It’ll at least make the day-long chore of strangers shifting through your outdated clothes, thinking about buying them, and then walking away a less depressing process.
 
– See how giving away your unwanted junk can benefit others. I love it when my unwanted junk becomes useful for another person. Host a clothing and accessories swap with friends. See if your old printer will be of use to a non-profit organization. And then there’s always the Salvation Army, where your donated stuff can be purchased for cheap by a family in need.
 
– Think of how much lighter you will feel when you clear up more space. When we own a lot of stuff, the stuff starts to own us: our happiness, our attention, and our sense of identity. Imagine how wonderful you will feel when you’ve reduced your personal possessions by 50 percent and you can enjoy a simple bouquet of freshly cut flowers on the kitchen table instead of five magazines, old vacation souvenirs and useless electronics. The spiritual cliche proves itself to be true again and again: the more we let go of our earthly possessions, the greater opportunity we have to expand in spirit.
 
– You can cherish and honor the memory without cherishing the stuff, which is just stuff. Sentimentality and nostalgia–the two kill-joys of efficient decluttering. Worried that donating family Christmas ornaments to a thrift store is akin to throwing away your family memories in the garbage? In the words of decluttering and organizing expert Julie Morgenstern, remember to SHED: "separate the treasures, heave the trash, embrace your identity from within and drive yourself forward."
 
– Once you’ve gotten rid of your unwanted stuff, be extremely conscious about future purchases that will take up space. Decluttering defeats its purpose if a few months later you are going to buy more stuff that will take up the newly opened space, which will get trashed in next year’s massive possession purge. Keep up the simplified life, and always challenge yourself to simplify more.
 
 

 

My 9 Favorite All-Natural DIY Cleaning Tips Of All Time

In addition to puppy cams and easy-peasy vegetarian recipes, I am a little obsessed with finding DIY (Do It Yourself) cleaning tips online. Finding a new household cleaning trick that requires very basic household items and no nasty chemicals is unbelievably exciting. It is good for my wallet, and it is also good for my health. I can work at home with the peace of mind that I am not hot-boxing in a closed room full of cancer-causing cleaning fumes.

Here is my personal list of favorite DIY cleaning tips and tricks I’ve gathered over the years. To the green warriors who have been doing this for years, this is old and unexciting news. But for the newbies who’ve yet to discover the magic of distilled white vinegar, I invite you to check some of these out.

1. For tough stains and build-up in your toilet bowl, use white vinegar. I was already using white vinegar as a basic cleaning agent for my bathroom tiles, kitchen counters and stove tops. So imagine my glee when I learned online that white vinegar can also be used to clean up the super-tough stains at the bottom of your toilet that won’t go away even with hardcore scrubbing and cleaning powder. Empty out your toilet bowl as much as you can and fill the hole with white vinegar. Leave for a few hours or overnight and then scrub at the build-up. Your toilet bowl will look as good as new when you’re done! 

2. To get rid of fruit flies, make an apple cider vinegar trap. This worked wonders in my apartment. Fill a jar with 1-2 inches of apple cider vinegar. Poke holes in the lid, or cover the hole with plastic wrap and poke holes in the plastic wrap. Leave it out in the kitchen. Fruit flies will be attracted to the apple cider vinegar scent and get trapped in the jar instead of infesting your produce.

3. To get rid of sticky gunk left from tape or adhesives, use apple cider vinegar.

4. Make a flea trap with a pie tin, water and olive oil. Back in the day when I was a subletter in an apartment with two cats, I learned online how to make an all-natural flea trap. Fill a pie tin half-way with water and add a tablespoon of olive oil. At night, leave the pie tin on the ground and shine a night lamp onto the surface of the water. The fleas will be attracted to the light and jump into the water and be trapped there.

5. Keep your sink brushes, dish scrubbers and bath brushes clean with hydrogen peroxide. Bottles of hydrogen peroxide can be bought at any supermarket or drug store. To keep your sink brushes and other household cleaning brushes clean, keep a container of hydrogen peroxide and leave your brushes there so they always stay clean and won’t get nasty build-up over time.

6. Clean stains and streaks from stainless steel using club soda.

7. Disinfect your cutting boards with lemon juice. Squeeze some lemon juice onto your cutting board and let it sit before wiping off.

8. Use your old baking soda in the refrigerator to clean your drain. When you need to replace your old baking soda in the fridge, use it to deodorize and clean your drain. Pour baking soda down the kitchen drain and disposal while running warm water.

9. Use olive oil to fix a squeaky or sticky hinge on your door. Just rub the problem hinge with a cotton swab or rab doused with olive oil and it will act as a natural lubricant to make it close smoothly or stop squeaking.

What are your favorite DIY cleaning tips? Share your favorite ideas with the community by commenting below! 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / cafemama

 

5 Ways to Instantly Organize Your Closet

 Are you so tired of all of your clothes and shoes being just everywhere? Chances are you don’t even know what you have with a messy closet. Glamour magazine’s closet-obsessed guru Suze Yalof Schwartz says you don’t need to hire a professional organizer to get things tidy. Here’s her top five ways to get your closet looking ten times better instantly.

 

1. Get Rid of Stuff!
Suze’s first rule to get things organized? Get rid of stuff! "Toss anything that’s stained, has an unfixable hole or hasn’t been worn in years." Then, arrange everything so you can see it. Hang as much as you can, and neatly stack the rest on open shelving.
 
2. Add Boutique-Y Touches
Display your accessories including belts, jewelry and bags. Hanging necklaces on a tie rack is a cute idea. Knot your scarves around your closet rod or hanger. Get things in your sight, so you know what you have.

3. Lose the Shoes
Neatly line up the ones you love, and get rid of the ones that are dusty and you haven’t worn in forever. Seriously, get rid of the shoes!
 
4. Organize Bags
Arrange them on a shelf separated by dividers — so they can hold their shape.
 
5. Extras
 
Keep a box in your closet to store all the packets of buttons, sequins, thread, and all miscellaneous stuff you get with new garments, etc. You’ll never have to hunt again when you’re looking for something. You can even organize your sunglasses in boxes too.


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