Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to clean up your cleaning toolbox.
On this first day of October, we’re merging “Safer in September” with a new theme of “Organizing in October.”
Forget spring cleaning – October is the perfect time to tear apart, clean, and organize your kitchen.
Consider: you’ve (mostly) finished preserving summer harvest, when you don’t want to be in the kitchen another second. The kids are settled into their school routines, whether at home or away. It’s okay to spend time inside now that gardens are being put to sleep and the air may be getting chillier.
And most of all, you’re about to enter the time of year when you might spend the most time in the kitchen, so you may as well have it running as efficiently as possible, right?
I’ll be challenging you all this month, with a little help from Andrea of Simple Organized Living, to look critically at your kitchen cupboards, counters, nooks and crannies. (And I’ll be playing along at home, believe me.)
We’re starting today under the kitchen sink with a twofold challenge:
- Get rid of any remaining toxic cleaners
- Organize your cleaning supplies for quick cleaning efficiency
This challenge may (and should) sneak out of the kitchen and into the bathrooms and laundry room as well. Sorry ’bout that.
Step One: Safe Cleaning
Under my kitchen sink specifically, you’ll find:
- vinegar water
- hydrogen peroxide/water mix
- baking soda (in a Parmesan cheese can for ease of use)
- Shaklee Basic H concentrate (for refilling foaming hand soap bottle)
- scrubbers for dishes/bottle brushes
- vegetable scrubbing brushes
- garbage bags
- old toothbrushes (for getting in little cracks while doing dishes and cleaning the crevices and caulk on the sink)
- old scrap cloth for rubbing oil onto my cast iron pots (a new addition after this cast iron care and cleaning post)
- floor rag (old towel, cut smaller)
- yellow gloves for dishwashing
- backup dishsoap
- six kinds of dishwasher detergent
The two cleaners I’ve struggled to find a perfect answer for over the years continue to be dishsoap and dishwasher detergent – ironic, being a kitchen blog.
Later this week I’ll update you on my latest dishwasher detergent trials and errors, necessary after my old favorite simply stopped working (note “six kinds” above).
I still haven’t decided on my perfect dishsoap, because Seventh Generation’s still has SLS, and anything that doesn’t loses cleaning power quickly…or at least sudsing power, which is hard not to equate with cleaning power, even though I know the suds are just a trick!
I use and enjoy Cleanwell anyway, when I’m not refilling my own. The Dishmate seems to work fine, although I miss the suds. It smells good and seems to get things clean without using a zillion squirts of soap, but I don’t know that it’s the magic bullet. The bottle specifically says “no SLS” which tells me they at least know about the nasty ingredients.
Spoiler alert! The Ecover tablets are one of my top recommendations coming in the dishwasher detergent discussion this week.
And I love that the what-EVER cleaner is even safe on granite countertops. I’ve used it mostly for floor-cleanups myself (see toddler, above). It smells good and seems to be plenty natural, so although I prefer to make my own cleaners, it’s kind of fun to have a “real” spray sometimes.
Cleaning with Kids
I clean non-toxic not only because I think it’s safer for my family and the environment, but also because I believe in child labor kids doing chores. When my spray bottles are all filled with things they could practically (or actually) eat at the kitchen table, I feel very confident letting my kids squirt and wipe surfaces, even with very little supervision.
I also really appreciate that I don’t feel like I need to banish the toddler from the room just to clean up said toddler’s messes under the high chair. I won’t have a heart attack if the little rascal explorer sticks his pudgy fingers right in the squirt of cleaner.
Step Two: Organize Your Cleaning Supplies
Once you are happy with what you’re using to clean, you want to make your life as efficient as possible. Organization can do that.
I use an old bathroom caddy under my kitchen sink to keep my brushes, scrubbers and some bottles contained.
The bottles we just want to grab to squirt the floor quickly for a clean-up stay right at the front, usually with a floor rag draped over the top – I use cloths small enough to dry easily without having to be hung in a special place, and then it’s a one-grab move to squirt and wipe the spaghetti squash splatter or the oatmeal overboard.
You’ll notice in my “under the sink” list that things like garbage bags go right where the garbage is. This is a common theme with me – put what you need as close as possible to where you’ll need it.
As with any cupboard, things get unorganized quickly, so today I’ll take everything out, sweep the bottom of the cupboard, and be cognizant about what gets used, how it gets used, and where it gets used when I load everything back in.
If I don’t need it regularly in the kitchen, it’s not taking up space under my sink.
Andrea from Simple Organized Living is (hopefully) coming over next week to give me 3 tips on organizing my kitchen (and I’ll visit her house with 3 tips on food) – here are her cleaning tips and routines!
A Cleaning Routine?
Do you keep a cleaning routine? I’m half and half on that front, sort of having a plan and then sort of following it, so my house is sort of clean and sort of out of control.
Here’s an answer from a few years back on how I clean with 2 small children running around, and it still all basically applies with three kiddos.
I shoot to get cleaning done once a week and do everything I can to make it easy on myself, including organizing things I’ll need to use together all in one place, having cleaners in every bathroom so I can grab them quickly when I want them instead of going to one central place, and doing small, manageable tasks instead of two hours of straight cleaning.
This has nothing to do with cleaning, but it does have to do with October – as we head into pumpkin carving season, don’t forget how to make pumpkin seeds – crispy and spicy (or sweet)!