How to Clean in THIS Century

So most of you know I have fibromyalgia which means no energy, sensitivity to chemicals, scents, smells of any kind, loud noises, and temperatures. How exactly am I supposed to get anything clean around my home? Very creatively. Since my ways would work great for just about anyone I’m going to share them with you:

  1. Stop scrubbing things by hand. This was an absolute necessity for me. If I tried to scrub my bathtub or really yucky kitchen counters (think after making waffles) I was in bed after less than 10 minutes. So after a great deal of trial and error I found this scrubber that helps me clean things.
    CUH Cordless Power Scrubber
    811B+TmiNiL._SX522_ (1)
    Here’s why:  The scrubbing pad is AMAZING on tub, tile, shower, counters, etc. The brushes work great in corners and on tougher surfaces. The handle is very comfortable.  No, it doesn’t have a super-extender but I don’t find that it’s a bad thing.  I like the control of the grip where it is.  This has been a lifesaver.
    If you do like a telescoping handle the most popular kind seems to be the Hurricane Spin Scrubber.
    I did try this one. I loved the power it had and the way it got into crevices and corners where other devices never seem to reach, like the corners of your kitchen floor under your cabinets. The downside for me was that it didn’t have a scrubbing pad and I really wanted one.  You might prefer the telescoping handle over that. I personally think these two are the best ones out there.
  2. If it can go in the dishwasher, use the dishwasher.  I used to think dishwashers were only for well — dishes. Then I saw I spring cleaning show where this guy was  putting EVERYTHING in there he could. If it was dishwasher safe and it fit it went in. He put in the brushes from the facial cleansers in the bathroom, the soap and toothbrush holders (assuming it wasn’t liquid soap), any vases, platters, fruit bowls, the organizers for the flatware, the drawers in the refrigerator, ANYTHING that was washable went in. While it was washing he mentioned that these loads don’t have to be dedicated. You can — and should — put your kitchen sponge or scrubber in the dishwasher every day to sterilize it.  Facial scrubbers and shower puffs should be cleaned every week (unless you LIKE putting bacteria on your kitchen counters or body. Just saying.) Anything that goes in with the dishes will be cleaned as thoroughly as the dishes are. Since they all get cleaned and sterilized let’s use the space and water as efficiently as possible.
  3. Update your cleaning cloths/sponges. I’ve been using green scrubbers and regular microfiber cloths forever. But I found this sponge that is a scrubber on one side and next-gen microfiber on the other and it’s amazing
    I can clean, scrub and polish just about anything with this and when I’m done I just toss it in the dishwasher and when it comes out it’s ready to go another round with me. It’s so great the manufacturer claims it can clean with only water. I haven’t tested that part out yet but it does make me feel better when I’m in a hurry and I don’t spray as evenly as I should.
  4. If it’s not here you don’t have to clean it. For the past couple of years I have been working on – and encouraging my family to – remove those things from the house they don’t need and don’t use. The hardest barrier to overcome by far I think is emotional attachment. I had a wonderful professional wardrobe but after I got sick (well, after like 2 years. This is HARD!) I realized that my previous full-time career was never going to be a part of my life again. So why hang on to clothes that someone else could be using? Boy, it was painful but my closet is now half the size it used to be and there is that much less to worry about storing, cleaning and taking care of. Most of us have WAY too much stuff and no time to enjoy it or take care of it. So take a few minutes each week to go through a drawer or box or corner and see what you don’t need or use anymore.
  5. Clean what you can, when you can. When I was growing up Saturday was cleaning day. We all had our chores but that was the day we made sure the house was clean for the week.  These days I don’t have a day to clean my house.  I don’t have a day to clean anything.  Schedules are so crazy we fit in what we can. I rely on my family to do the heavy stuff – vacuuming, mopping (you’d be amazed how much energy those take!) and I use my tricks to keep the germ goblins away as best I can.

Well, there you have it.  A snapshot of my dysfunctional life and how we try to survive anyway.  I know from talking to my family and friends that many of you are in the same boat.  You may not have my disease but you have your own problems and they bring their own challenges. I hope these tips help you a bit and if nothing else, help you feel that you’re not alone in your struggles to keep your home and life clean and organized.  We just do the best we can — and that’s good enough!

Please let me know if you have any cleaning tips or other comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Maximizing Storage Space

So, it’s back to school time so I’m trying to sort through the summer stuff and the fall stuff and figure out if my kids have enough clothes to make it through the first week without going naked.  (“Do you really need 32 T-shirts? Are ALL of your pants 3 inches too short?  How did you grow 3 inches in 3 months???”)

As the CEO of my home I’m not only in charge of MY closet, I have to worry about the closets of everyone else in the house. My sweetheart is a hoarder who still has T-shirts from high school days. My teenagers like to keep everything they own on the floor. You get the idea. So how do you keep track of everything, keep it clean and in working order, and store it accessibly? I don’t have a super-solution, but I’ve got a few ideas:

  1. Go by the numbers: I’ve found this works for everyone. For my pack rat sweetheart, there is a limit to the number of shirts in the closet. (Hint, it’s less than 125.) For my shopping-addicted teenage daughter (aren’t they all?) it’s “no more than” – X number of T-shirts, shoes, sunglasses, whatever. For my ADHD youngest, it’s establishing a bare minimum of acceptability: X number of clean underwear that fit, X number of pants he can wear to school, etc.

  2. Go with the flow: you know those 124 shirts? Well, there are about 20 he actually wears on a regular basis and he tends to keep them somewhere between the laundry hamper and the dryer. I finally figured out that he likes them out where he can see them, not tucked away in a closet. (As if a closet you walk back and forth in front of is “tucked away”. Go figure.) So he has a standing closet rod in the bedroom for his everyday clothes. The advantage is that if we have company over we can clear it off and let them use it for their clothes. Going with that same logic, my youngest won’t keep anything in a drawer. He can’t see it there so it doesn’t exist. I got tired of seeing everything on his floor all the time, so we put in some shelves for his stuff instead. His folded shirts, shorts and pants go great here. As for socks and underwear? A couple of baskets (suitably male) corral these and still leave them visible enough for his piece of mind. What works for them works for me as long as it keeps things neat and clean and cared for.


  3. Make your space do double-duty: we’ve all seen those lovely closet-organizing systems but most of us live in homes built somewhere between 1940 and 1990. Huge walk-in closets just weren’t in the blueprint. So what do the rest of us do? Well, a lot of the closet space we DO have isn’t being used. Even if you aren’t into a total makeover (and most of us aren’t) you can install a second closet rod underneath – I recommend at least half – of your existing rod. Hang slacks beneath shirts or shirts beneath shirts and skirts – whatever works. If you aren’t very handy, these hanging rods will work for some.


  4. Use the floors: for most closets floors are a missed opportunity. If they are filled with piles of shoes, install a shoe rack so you can add in other items. What other items? For my son it’s sporting goods – a big tub full of his basketballs, paintball weapons, frisbees, and whatever else he’s got in there. My daughter has all her “accessories” stored on her floor. Bags, sunglasses, and some jewelry all find a place here.

    coat-closet-clothes-short-longPhoto by Bob Hiemstra courtesy of Real

  5. Raise the bed: my last challenging item to keep clean and stored were blankets and other linens. We have cold winters and hot summers, so blankets need to be kept somewhere during the summer. So, I put my bed on stilts. Keeping blankets in vacuum storage bags underneath my bed keeps them clean and makes them easy to find when the temp drops in the fall.

    storage underneath the bed:

I hope these help. What tips do you have for maximizing your closet?

Making the Most of Your Bathroom Storage

I don’t know about you, but my bathroom items reproduce when I’m not looking. My shampoo and shower gel bottles give birth to smaller conditioner babies. On my counters, extra toothbrushes just magically appear. Contact lens solutions, eye drops, cotton balls — where do all of these things come from? The only things I can’t keep enough of are towels and toilet paper.  Those disappear every couple of days no matter what I do. Well, did. I have found a few solutions I’m happy to share.
  1. Keep only bathroom stuff in the bathroom. Medications belong somewhere else – the moist, humid environment is not good for their shelf life. Makeup is another item to store somewhere else. If you need to apply in the bathroom, keep it in a portable makeup organizer you can move back and forth and still access your items easily.
  2. Use every inch of space – especially vertical space. My favorite item of storage is an over the toilet étagèreThey come with shelves, drawers, whatever – but it’s a great place to store all those things you need to keep close by but off the countertop.
  3. I’m a huge fan of keeping all my shower things in one place. A shower caddy that hangs over the shower head can hold a ton of items, stays out of the way, and is easy to move when you’re ready to clean. No more digging soap bars out of corners!
  4. Toilet paper is something everyone is always running out of, so I upgraded to a coreless kind that stores use. You have to buy a special dispenser that cost about $2, but the good news is a case of this stuff lasts my family bathroom well over 6 months. I NEVER think about panicking when severe weather is coming!
  5. The last item that we never seem to have enough of are towels. I do an entire load of them, fill the linen closet, and in two days they are all gone — with very few in the hamper. Is there a black hole just for towels I don’t know about?  My solution – for now – has been to color coordinate my towels for each member of the family. My youngest son has a set of blue towels, my daughter gets red, and so on. This way, when they are yelling they don’t have a towel at least I can yell back that it’s their own fault for losing them.  If someone else has a better solution I’d love to hear it.  Thanks!

With one bathroom that has to work for four people these tips have saved my sanity – mostly. I hope some of them will work for you!