When it comes to cleaning, spring typically gets star treatment. In fact, the home may need it more in the fall: open windows and doors have let in dust and pollen for months, while in many parts, a damp summer made more than its fair share of mud and mold. A seasonal clean-up needn’t be a headache, though. Simple tools, grocery store staples, and home-made cleaning solutions can make it easier, quicker and more effective.
A good old-school broom is an essential tool during a seasonal clean – in the kitchen, pay particular attention to using it behind the stove and fridge, under the sink, and in broom closets. I like Libman’s large precision angle broom. Made from 95 per cent recycled fibres from water bottles, it’s got a nice big sweep and the sharp angle fits under cabinets and into corners. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, it comes with its own dustpan, but I like using it Libman’s upright dustpan, which means less bending during sweeping.
Fun fact: Libman’s has a long-standing history with brooms. After leaving Lithuania in the 1890’s, founder William Libman landed in Chicago, where he peddled sundries from a pushcart. His corn broom was a top seller, and Libman opened a corn broom factory in Chicago, the commercial heart of the Midwestern broom corn market.
A mop with a detachable spray bottle and a reusable microfibre pad can be filled with an eco-friendly cleaning solution made from one litre of water, a quarter of cup of vinegar and 20 to 30 drops of essential oil that’s been stirred into a teaspoon of vodka. (The vodka helps keep the oil suspended in the water.) If you are dealing with really dirty surfaces, add a teaspoon of detergent.
Any essential oil will do — I like rosemary, lavender and rose. I recently used pink grapefruit and geranium when I test drove Libman’s Freedom mop. This is my all-time, hands-down, favourite mop design. I liked that there are no batteries to run out or cords to trip over. Just a well-designed mop with a reusable Velcro-attached pad that can be machine washed at least 100 times.
Because the mop is so lightweight and easy to use, I find myself pulling it out more frequently for quick kitchen clean ups, which means dirt and grease tend not to build up. And of course, we all sweep our kitchens at least once a day, right?
Go to the Libman site for more tips, info and instructional videos.
A spray bottle filled with vinegar can be used to kill about 80 per cent of kitchen countertop germs. One filled with hydrogen peroxide will have about the same disinfectant properties as bleach. Unlike bleach, though, it breaks down into water and oxygen and is easy on the environment. You can read more about the effectiveness of both at the David Suzuki foundation.
It’s not rocket science to figure out that any appliance in your home that deals with large amounts of organic material — like food — needs periodic cleaning. Canadians seem to be complacent, though — only 27 per cent cleaned inside their dishwashers in the last twelve months. Why do it? Because not only does the interior get dirty, but hard water and mineral deposits can turn glasses and dishes cloudy. This is the perfect time to tune up the dishwasher, especially if – like me – you’ll be hard on it during the holiday season, when you want everything to sparkle.
Easy to use affresh tablets keep the dishwasher running in tip-top condition, and eliminate those hard water and mineral deposits. They can be used when the dishwasher is empty or full, and you can get them at most groceries and big box stores. Produced by Whirlpool, affresh is the recommended cleaner for KitchenAid, Maytag, Jenn-Air and Amana, but you can use it on any brand. It’s such a simple, no-fuss way to maintain the dishwasher – I try and use one about once a month.
For more tips on cleaning, check out the affresh site
Always let cleaner sit for a few seconds to work – don’t just spray and wipe.
Vinegar and or hydrogen peroxide are also effective on bathtub scum.
Don’t wash microfibre pads with bleach and air dry them rather than putting them in the dryer – both will lessen their effectiveness.
This post was sponsored by Libman Canada and affresh, which is produced by Whirlpool. Neither company reviewed or approved the material. Opinions are my own.