Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
November 2014 – Vol. 13 No. 8

I will clean house when Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner. ~ Roseanne Barr

What I didn’t know I didn’t know about cleaning

photo credit: boltron- via photopin cc

photo credit: boltron- via photopin cc

Earlier this month, I flew to Orlando to attend a two-day course to become a certified House Cleaning Technician. I’d never heard of this program and, as it turns out, it’s fairly new. There are currently only about 200 HCTs nationwide, most of them professional home cleaners.

After taking this course, I realized that there were some things I didn’t know about cleaning. And I’m a cleaning expert! Did you know…?

Cleaning products don’t last forever. Bleach, for example, starts to deteriorate six months after purchasing it. Liquid laundry detergent has a shelf life of six months if opened and nine months to a year even if unopened. Outdated cleaning products can still be used; they just become less effective. So if you want to clean your home with confidence, start by cleaning out your cleaning closet. Check product lot codes for expiration dates.

Vacuuming more often results in cleaner air. Much like your furnace filter, your carpet filters or traps dust and other allergens. But it can only do its job when it’s clean. Carpet manufacturers recommend vacuuming once a week for each person living in your home. That means vacuuming four times a week if you’ve got a family of four! At the very least, vacuum high-traffic areas daily and have your carpets deep cleaned every 12 to 18 months to remove trapped soils.

“Silvering” of mirrors can be prevented.  Always spray glass cleaner on your cloth, not the mirror to prevent moisture from running into the frame of the mirror or between panels of glass. That’s what causes damage to the silvering. (I always wondered about that!) It’s a good practice to always spray your cloth rather than the item you are cleaning to avoid overspray damage to wallpaper, furniture, or other items.

It’s important to read labels on cleaning products. In particular, know how long to allow a product to sit or dwell. It’s not just a suggestion. It’s what make the product effective at what it does.

Mop buckets spread dirt and germs. The second you put a dirty mop back into the mop bucket, you contaminate the water – and you can’t clean with dirty water. Instead, use a mop with a microfiber head. Wet and then squeeze dry the mop head before attaching to the mop. Lightly spray the floor in front of you with your choice of cleaning solution prior to each swipe. Change your mop head when the front edge starts to look dirty. You may need 3-4 mop heads to clean an average size kitchen floor.

Microfiber cloths should not be washed with other items. I knew not to wash microfiber cloths with fabric softener or dry on high heat. But now I know that you should always wash microfiber cloths separately because lint will readily attach to the frizzy ends of the microfiber material rendering it ineffective as a cleaning cloth. (I’ve seen this happen and wondered why I still had streaks on my mirrors and why fuzz was left behind.) Wash in hot water with a gentle detergent, no bleach, and no fabric softener. If you have too few for a decent size wash load, wash by hand. Hang to dry or tumble dry on the low or delicate setting.

5 quick organizing tips to get holiday-ready

* Before getting out your holiday decorations, put away some of your everyday decorations to place more emphasis on holiday decor without cluttering up your rooms.

* Do a quick purge of closets, drawers, and cabinets now, before the end of the year, and donate items you no longer love or use to a charitable organization. Include holiday decorations you haven’t used in years. Someone, somewhere will be happy to have them. Call to schedule a pick-up by a local charitable organization.

wrapit* Create a wrapping station to make it faster, easier to wrap presents. Your station should include paper, bows, tape, scissors, gift tags, and anything you need. I love the WrapiT Gift Wrap Organizer. You can hang it in a closet or slide it under your bed and pull it out as needed. (And if you use the discount code, DONNAUNCLUTTER25 at checkout, you can get it for 25% off.)

* Get ahead of yourself – clean and prepare your guest room now well in advance for overnight visitors. Make and freeze cookie dough for baking later. Set your holiday table the day before.

* Consider hiring a maid service to come in and clean up before or after the holidays as a gift to yourself!

Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 14 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

cover-images.nominationLast month, I encouraged you to take a look at the only magazine dedicated entirely to getting organized, aptly named Getting Organized. Getting Organized is published quarterly and it’s available in print or digital form. Should you decide to order now (or ask for it as a holiday gift!), be sure to use the special coupon code GETORG2014 to get a 15% discount off your first year’s subscription (for new subscribers only). Plus, get a free ebook with your subscription: 5 Painful Time Management Mistakes That People Typically Make.

freedom_filer-150x147This month, I want to talk about organizing your paper files. If you’re ready to take the leap and go paperless, more power to you! I did it and have not looked back. But prior to that, the best filing system I ever had and still recommend is Freedom Filer.

What I love about this filing system is that it’s set up to be self-purging with email reminders from the company about what to do at the end of each year. And it’s a ready-made system that you can implement immediately using the pre-printed file folder tab labels. It also comes with blank labels to customize your system to fit your needs.

Take a look and see for yourself what you think. Read what others say about it. Check out some of the videos to see it in action. And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to purchase Freedom Filer to organize your files in a way that makes it easy to file and retrieve your important papers from today forward. (Look for the Ready-Made Systems.)

Shameless promotion: They call me a “master of maintenance”

If you happened to see the November issue of Real Simple, did you read the article on page 87 about 8 Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making? If not, click on the title to read the article and check out the “masters of maintenance” they interviewed. Yup. I’m one of them!

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission which goes toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter. Please note that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.