Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homemaking 101: Coming Clean

All of my former houses had one thing in common: clutter and dirt.  I began to get a grasp on the thing called housekeeping after living in that 1950's ranch for two years.  Two things happened at that time:  I met Chance and I became determined to take control of an out of control life, which manifested itself in my house.  Somehow I realized there was a connection between how I kept house and how my life kept seeming to spin away from me.  I was right!

I began the transformation just months before I met Chance, but he really helped a great deal.  Not because he was fussy, but because he was willing to lend a hand, lend his thinking to the mix.  That was important, with five kids, two jobs, and one adult in school as well!

I've said before there are, as far as I'm concerned, five basics that should happen every day: dishes, floors swept or vacuumed,  beds made, a load of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, and meals cooked.  Those things were never skipped and seldom are to this day. 

This is my morning routine:  First thing after Chance has left for work, I head into our bathroom.  I hang towels, pick up dirty clothes (usually he does that), wipe the counters and swish the toilet.  I put away any item that is out.

Next I make our bed, rehang any clothes that were laundered the evening before (Chance does laundry about every third night during his work week), put away any item that doesn't belong on the desk, dresser or bedside tables.

In the living room, I straighten books and clear tabletops of all but decorative items.  I check trash and plump pillows.

Wipe off the dining room table, straighten the centerpiece and place mats, put out fresh napkins.

And finally in the kitchen, I load dishes into the dishwasher, (or wash by hand), wipe counters and stove top. 

I usually follow all these tasks with vacuuming and sweeping.  If the house is in order, these duties never take more than 1 hour/ 1 hour 15 minutes to do basics, aside from meal preparation and clean-up.  I'd say that three meals a day and clearing up after takes perhaps another 1-1 1/2 hours depending upon how difficult

On Mondays I work a little harder.  This is the day I'll fully clean the bathroom, strip beds and remake, mop floors, dust my area for the week and begin to tackle any zone work I want to tend to. On Mondays I might put in four hours of work, excluding meals.  Think of this day as the old fashioned laundry day.  Housewives in Granny's younger homemaking years, planned easier meals for those days.  I do the same.

I divide my home into four zones and each week of every month is devoted to tasks in the 'zone' of the week.  Zone 1:  Deck, Back entry, laundry, breakfast areas  
           Zone 2:  Living Room, Dining Room, front entry, front porch
           Zone 3:  Bedrooms and Baths
           Zone 4:  Kitchen

Zone work is a combination of routine tasks and special tasks.  I can do all the jobs in one day if I'm feeling energetic or crunched for time or spread it out over the week.  These are the tasks I normally do in each Zone:
Zone 1:  Remove dead plants, clean deck, straighten furniture, remove items that don't belong.
               In the laundry, entry, breakfast area: dust, clean windows, clean ceiling fan, run vinegar       through washer.  Brush down walls, clean doors

Zone 2:  Dusting, cleaning windows and blinds, chair rails, vacuum under furnishings, clean ceiling fans, straightening bookcases, vacuum along edges of room where carpet misses, sort magazines.

Zone 3:  Dusting, clean ceiling fans in bedrooms.  Vacuum edges of carpet, clean windows and blinds.  Dust walls, make sure closet and drawers are in order.  Wash mattress pad when bed is stripped.  In the baths: clean drains, scrub shower, dust walls, wash rugs and shower curtain liners.

Zone 4:  Wipe down all appliances and cabinet doors.  Clean microwave, run vinegar through dishwasher and coffee pot.  Clean under stove hood and wash filter. Clean fridge.  Wipe down walls, especially around work stations.  Do a pantry and freezer inventory.

Each month I add special jobs to each Zone area of work.  I might clean out cabinets, sort through papers that are filed, move off season clothes, flip mattresses (every three months), take down draperies and wash, air quilts, etc.  These are jobs that go with Spring or Fall cleaning, but I spread them out over the months.  

For all that it sounds as though my home is super clean, it isn't...but it is comfortably clean and almost always company ready. I am not a slave to my home, but I do clean six days a week.  With the exception of Monday, I seldom put more than two or three hours work into each day (including meals).  Mind you, I haven't a child at home, and there are only two of us.  The luxury of my routine and cleaning schedule means that I can have the clean home I like having and plenty of free time to write, work on projects, drop everything and go about with Chance during his off week.  If I'm ever sick, the work is light enough that I can do it and not tax myself.   And if I'm very ill, I can skip a day or two or three and the house won't be out of control.

There are things I don't do (I seldom see the need to iron for instance), and things I do more frequently than most households just because I like the jobs (cleaning bathrooms).   I take one day a week and do nothing as far as housework goes, not even make the bed unless company is coming.  I usually do my housework first thing each day.  I like having it out of the way when I'm at my high energy peak for the day.

Cleanliness is important, but order is what really brings peace into the home.


Tracy said...

How much vinegar do you run through the washer?

Tracy said...

I am taking lots of notes on this series. I have a few more questions (sorry!). How much vinegar do you run through the coffee pot? Also, how do you wash your shower liners? I really need to do this!! As for cleaning drains, do you use vinegar and baking soda followed by hot water? Thanks!! :)

Penny Ann said...

Tracy, I use 1/2 a coffee pot of vinegar and 1/2 a pot of water. Because my coffeemaker has a reserve tank, I have to run many many pots of plain water through it afterwards.

I wash my plastic shower liner with a couple of towels then hang back up in the shower to dry though it can be hung outdoors.

And yes, I use baking soda and vinegar followed by hot water to clean drains. I also put soda into the toilet because it restores ph of the septic tank.

Penny Ann said...

2 cups of vinegar for the washer.

I pour 1 cup into the bottom of the empty dishwasher once a month and run a short cycle.