Thursday, September 6, 2012

the elements of clean

[This post submitted to SortaCrunchy's Your Green Resouce.]

The arrival of Real Simple magazine used to be the highlight of my month.  I would prowl the mailbox and snatch it from the mailman's hands, eagerly devouring each page and advertisement within a day or two.  Before I realized it was neither real nor simple, I believed I could live in the clean, sparse, non-cluttered reality that was presented in the publication.  As my adult life took shape, I saw that this was not to be.  My life was not, and will not be, really simple.  It is full of complicated situations and feelings. 

There are a few holdovers from the days of Real Simple, though.  Every fall and winter, I make a rendition of their butternut squash soup with sage that is just killer (although on second thought I think that one actually came from Meals Made Easy).

The main thing I've held onto is a print-out from a 2005 article called The Elements of Clean.  Appealing to the dorky chart- and table-loving side of me, it presents as a periodic table, but instead of the elements from chemistry (which I had to memorize in 10th grade!), it has cleaning tasks divided into categories of frequency:  weekly, monthly, every three months, every six months, annually. 

[Click here for an enlarged .pdf version of the image above.]

For starters, I love the fact that I can mark off about twenty percent of the chart right away because it does not pertain to our home setup.  We have no stove burner grates to clean since we have a glass-top range.  We don't have a microwave.  We certainly don't have curtain or drapes - only blinds.  Leather furniture . . . ha.  Stove hood:  a "someday" dream involving cutting a hole in our kitchen ceiling.  No slipcovers, fabric shades, stove hood filter, pantry, or carpeting. 

I try to stick to the schedule for the more infrequent cleaning tasks, but I must say that I use the "weekly" list most of all.  I basically just divided the tasks by room and try to do each room once a week.  I dust all the furniture and hard surfaces weekly.  I do the bathroom (the shower, bathtub, mirror, and toilet) weekly.  I do the sheets each week as part of our regular laundry.  I try to sweep, mop, or dustmop all the floors weekly (if not everywhere, definitely in the kitchen and bathroom, which are tiled).  And although I wipe the counters, kitchen sink and appliances pretty much every day, once a week I give them a more intense washing.  Except for our stainless stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher, for which I have special polishing wipes, I do this all with baking soda, vinegar, water, and elbow grease.  Cheap and safe. 

So now you know my housekeeping secret.  My special periodic table, which I've carried with me now for almost eight years.  Hope it's as useful for you as it has been for me!


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