We know you know how to clean your home, but beyond the basics – mopping, laundry, vacuuming, etc. – are cleaning and organizing projects that are understandably dodged or altogether abandoned. Our 30-day guide to a cleaner and more comfortable home focuses on the more obscure cleaning and organizing strategies and ideas that can have a big impact on your home’s comfort level. And at a time when the cold weather starts to creep in, what’s better than having a cozy and comfortable house to come home to?
Day 1: Check your cleaning products. While natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda don’t really lose their cleaning power, products like bleach, laundry detergent, and fabric softener start to become less effective between 6 months to a year. Weak cleaning products mean a less clean home and more work for you, so check your product arsenal and make sure that you’re up-to-date.
Day 2: Start dominating laundry time. If you’re fortunate enough to have a washer and dryer in your home, try to do a load of laundry every day. This will prevent a laundry monster from eating up all of your time and energy, and you’ll always have nice clean bedding, dishtowels, bath towels, and warm winter clothes at the ready. Fluffy, warm, and clean flannel sheets and pajamas whenever you need them = bliss.
Day 3: Continue dominating laundry time. Try to take care of your laundry as soon as possible, whether that means folding and putting it away or hanging it to dry. Don’t leave baskets or piles of folded laundry in laundry “ports” around the house (i.e. the stairs, the couch, the dining room table). This practice will also save you time in the morning because you won’t have to dig through multiple baskets and piles for that specific sweater or pair of jeans you’re looking for.
Day 4: Wash your down comforter. It’s easy to avoid because it’s a pain. However, down comforter enthusiasts will attest that sleeping under a fluffy, clean comforter – especially on a chilly night – is one of life’s simpler pleasures. First things first, if you don’t have a large washer and dryer, you might want to do this at the Laundromat in one of their industrial machines. Use a small amount of mild or all-natural laundry detergent on a gentle or low cycle and let your comforter go through two rinse cycles to ensure that all of the soap has been drained off. When it’s done being washed, stuff it in the dryer and break out the secret weapon – a couple of tennis balls. Throw them in with your comforter and interrupt the drying cycle periodically to fluff the comforter. The tennis balls will help prevent the down from clumping and mushing in big lumps, and fluffing it yourself will also help spread out the down.
Day 5: Clean your chandeliers and candelabras. Spray a paper towel or cloth with cleaning spray and carefully wipe them down. You can also take your chandelier down and clean each piece individually if you’re feeling particularly motivated today! (Just make sure to kill the power before cleaning and removing it if your chandelier or candelabra uses electricity.)
Day 6: Stock up on supplies. Stockpile the items that you would really hate to run out of, like toilet paper, paper towels, and toothpaste. Though there is the potential to feel like a doomsday prepper, maintaining a well-stocked home will cut down on the stress of having to constantly make trips to the store. Make a list of the things that your household goes through quickly and can’t live without, and shop and stock accordingly.
Day 7: Provide the opportunity for coziness. If you have them, make cozy wool, knit, and cashmere blankets readily available in every room of your house where people lounge and relax. Using warm blankets also means that you can turn the heat down a little bit, saving you money on your heating bill.
Day 8: From now on, ask that everyone coming into your home takes off their shoes. One of the easiest and simplest rules that you can implement to keep your home clean, especially in the winter, is the take-your-footwear-off rule. This is a tried-and-true method for sparing your floors from all the dirt, debris, sand, salt, and sludge associated with colder weather. Additionally, if you’ve had a professional carpet cleaning done or taken the time and energy to DIY it, you’re saving time, energy, and money by protecting your investment.
Day 9: No more dirty dishes. A sink full of dirty dishes is the epicenter of messy-house-induced stress. Wash your dishes or put them in the dishwasher right after – or soon after – you use them, and you won’t have the nagging task of dish duty hanging over you.
Day 10: No more stacks of mail everywhere. Letting mail pile up is one of the main culprits of clutter. Make a habit of throwing out or recycling junk mail as soon as you get home, as well as opening and dealing with the contents of your non-junk mail and then organizing and storing it. (You can also receive electronic versions of most paper bills.)
Day 11: A place for everything and everything in its place. As far as proverbs go, this is an incredibly useful one when approaching the upkeep of your home. It’s the notion that everything in your home, large or small, has a designated place and when it’s not in use, it should be stored there. And while striving for a perfectly spotless home is a tad unrealistic, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better you’ll feel in a clutter-free and organized environment.
Day 12: Remove grease stains from your stove and backsplash. Stubborn, clingy grease drops are not easily removed with your standard cleaning spray and paper towel, so try this technique instead – wipe some undiluted vinegar onto your surface, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe the surface down with a dishcloth. You can also sprinkle baking soda on the surface and use a non-abrasive scrubber to remove the grease.
Day 13: Eliminate the odor coming out of your garbage disposal. A good way to get rid of a smelly disposal quickly and naturally is to squeeze lemon juice directly into it or add pieces of lemon rind. You can also dispense with some vinegar and baking soda. (You can do the same for a blender that has been saturated with the smell of whatever you’re been mixing up – add one or all of these ingredients, blend, and wash.)
Day 14: Cover some fire safety basics. Aside from the obvious benefits of practicing fire safety in your home, you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you’re protecting yourself and your family. Test your smoke alarms and make sure the batteries still have juice in them, and buy fire extinguishers. (Keep at least one in the kitchen.)