It Ain’t Easy Cleaning Green

“How do you find the time?”

“Doesn’t it cost more?”

“Why would you be bothered?”

These are some of the questions I get asked about my (mostly) eco-friendly cleaning routine. Some people seem surprised that this is important to me which puzzles me, because I can’t understand why taking care of our environment isn’t important to all of us.

Don’t worry- I’m not here as an ecological warrior, but as a blogger obsessed with trying to make her life more efficient and productive. I can tell you with confidence that making my cleaning routine greener has not been a waste of time or effort-if anything, it’s streamlined things even more.

Of course, sticking to a regular cleaning routine helps me avoid crazy deep cleaning sessions that in the long run saves me time and cuts down on the amount of cleaning products I use. That translates into more me-time, and more moolah in my pocket. Researching the best ways to clean has also spared me the extra time and effort I would have normally put into tackling the same spot over and over again.

Cutting down on the number of products that I use around my home has also saved me time, effort and money. You honestly don’t need twelve different cleansers for each individual room. Believe me, your cupboards will thank you too.

Making the switch to more eco-friendly cleaning materials has been pretty painless as well. In fact, I even make some myself. Some people may think making your own cleaning products is a drag, but you’d be surprised as how a few simple ingredients can go a long way. The few extra minutes it takes to mix up some new supplies is a trade-off for the money it saves you, plus it rids your home of nasty-smelling, potentially hazardous chemicals.

I still use paper towels to help out with the really heavy duty messes (keep in mind, I have a dog!) but I love using my reusable cloths and rags for all of my other cleaning needs. My mop heads are reusable as well, so everything gets dumped in the machine for a heavy-duty wash, separate from all of my clothes and nicer household items. They come out fresh and clean without me having to lift a finger (other than pushing some buttons).

But honestly? One of the greenest practices I’ve embraced is learning to live with the dirt a little bit. I always have people and dogs coming in and out of my place so over time I’ve come to accept the fact that it’s fruitless to expect the house to be perfect all of the time. I would end up spending all of my free time cleaning my home instead of enjoying it, and my time with guests would be ruined by my constant cleaning.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t clean your house, but lowering your expectations from hospital-clean to mostly clean saves you time, money, electricity and effort. Dare I say it? It also might make you a little bit happier.

KBwB-BFlower-50What are some of the ways you’ve adopted an eco-friendly approach to your cleaning routine? Let’s care for our houses and environments by sharing our tips with each other in the comment box below. Or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I may include your thoughts in a future post!

The approach of spring has got me in the mood to chat about all things housecleaning all week long. If you’re feeling the same way, may I suggest this post, this post, this post, and this post for more ideas on how to refresh your home in time for the new season. If you’re feeling ambitious, click here or here on ways to get your household more organized.

 

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How to Get Your Outdoors Ready for Winter

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It always feels like the official end of summer when the time comes to dismantle the outdoor living space I’ve created on my porch for the season. It’s a bittersweet time; on the one hand, I’m sad to watch the days grow shorter and colder but on the other hand it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how much I’ve enjoyed my time out there this past summer.

Autumn is usually the time when I update my garden notes, paying attention to what worked for me during the growing season and what didn’t. I start brainstorming improvements too so that I can continue to develop these plans over the winter when I’m stuck indoors.

It’s also a good opportunity to do a little research on how to best care for your garden and/or outdoor space over the winter. Don’t limit yourself to just plants. Patio furniture, planters, pots, urns and other outdoor décor and accessories all need to be properly cleaned and stored for the winter as well. You may wish to clean and take inventory of all of your gardening tools at this time of year as well, and make any repairs or replacements accordingly.

Additionally, there are certain house maintenance issues that may require attention. Gutters and eaves should be cleaned and inspected, as should the screens and windows of your house. (Some people have storm windows that should be installed at this time of year as well.)

Getting my outdoors ready for winter is a unique experience for me because I live in an apartment building. Many potted plants will not last the winter; those I can save I bring inside or winterize in their pots. This I do by spreading mulch over the soil, wrapping them with burlap and twine, and stashing them in a sheltered area that will protect them from windy and damp conditions. Plants that find their homes inside often get cut back and repotted in order to stay strong and healthy during the period of hibernation.

In a way, I’m preparing to hibernate as well. Winter is a gloomy time for me (I’m a fresh air and sunshine kind of gal) and I like to get ready for the season indoors as well by giving my house a good clean to clear out all of the dirt and grit that the summer brought in. I usually take a look through my pantry to reorganize and purge unwanted or expired food. All that extra room gives me the opportunity to stock up on ingredients for homemade soups and stews.

You better my quest for cozy doesn’t stop there either. This is the perfect time of year to wash all of your quilts, blankets and pillows in preparation for some serious snuggle time, or at least a lot of hours catching up on Netflix. I do a ton of reading over the winter as well, so fall is the perfect time for me to dust and re-organize my ever-evolving bookshelf (more about that here) and amass my reading material for the season. (I know you wouldn’t expect any less of me.)

Yes, the end of summer is a sad time for summer babies and garden lovers like myself, but for those of you who feel the same way, take heart: there are still other outdoor holiday decorating opportunities coming our way.

KBwB-BFlower-50It feels like yesterday I was just telling you guys about how I get ready for spring. How has all of that time flown by? I want to know how your gardens did over the summer. What do you include as part of your autumn cleaning ritual? Comment below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com. Pictures of fall colors are definitely encouraged.

Looking for other autumn-type stuff to celebrate the season? Click here to read why fall is still an opportunity to make a fresh start, get advice on how to store your summer shoes, or bake something seasonal here.

 

10 Things to Do on a Rainy Afternoon

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  1. Winter is coming. Well, at the very least it comes once a year. Get your wardrobe ready by giving your sock drawer a mini-makeover. Make sure each sock has a mate and toss those that are on their last legs. Do the same for sockettes, footless tights, stockings, pantyhose, etc. Take inventory of the pieces you’ll need to get your through the colder months and save for your next shopping trip, or add to a future budget. (Feeling more ambitious and wanting to clean out your whole closet? I’ve got some tips on how to do that here.)
  2. Christmas is coming, too. Why not be super organized and spend a fun afternoon browsing the Internet and magazines to brainstorm some fun gifts for all of the people on your list? If you find birthday, anniversary or shower gifts to add to your list than you get a gold star.
  3. Craft your perfect playlist. An afternoon stuck inside is the perfect opportunity to start browsing through your digital library. Organize music based on mood, region, genre, beat, era or be even more prepared by crafting playlists for upcoming events or occasions. For example, I’ve got a playlist called “Broken Heart Mending”. Bet you can’t guess what that one’s for!
  4. Clean your oven. Because, come on- how often do you clean your oven? Probably more than I do. A friend of mine has a funny story he likes to tell about me at parties about the afternoon he walked into my apartment and found me on my hands and knees shouting obscenities at my baking rack. True story- it’s honestly my most hated task. But you have to do it sometime, right?
  5. Go through your pantry. Discard expired and damaged products, consolidate multiples and take inventories for your next shopping trip. See how much money you can save by stretching your staples and shopping your pantry to flush out meals before you need to go to the grocery store. Remember to donate anything your family won’t use or love to your local food bank!
  6. Organize your digital photos. Now is the perfect time, especially when a lot of your summer memories are current, to edit and refine your collections and store them in a way that makes them easy to revisit and share with others. Order prints of your favorites online to include with letters or holiday cards, or share by cultivating a collection on your favorite social media platform.
  7. Purge your files. Pick a filing cabinet, a box, a folder, or a magazine file and make a vow to yourself that nothing goes back inside that you don’t absolutely need to keep. Make sure to shred sensitive documents or set them aside and accumulate in order to hire a shredding service.
  8. Testing, testing, one, two, three. Once a year I like to do a quick inventory of all of my office supplies and test my pencils, pens, highlighters and markers on a scrap piece of paper so I may discard ones that have dried up, or have become difficult or uncomfortable to use. Hello, my name is B and I am anal-retentive. (In my defense, there’s nothing worse than grabbing a dead pen when you’re trying to jot something down quickly, right?)
  9. Back up your computer. If you don’t then all of that playlist organizing and digital photo sorting will be for naught. Don’t have a way of backing up your computer? Now’s the perfect time to research a method that will work for you.
  10. Pick a shelf, any shelf. That’s it. Clear it, clean it, organize it and make a vow to yourself that you will never, ever let it get disorganized again (or at the very least for another year, until you have another rainy afternoon on which to organize it again).

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I’ve shared with you some of the ways that I spend my rainy afternoons- now I’m interested in hearing how you spend yours! Drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or contribute by commenting below. Are you looking for other productive boredom busters? I’ve got plenty of thoughts on organizing here. Looking for something a little more creative? When I’m not busying myself with some project or another I’m reading or whipping up something in the kitchen. Read all about it here and here.