Minty Fresh Randal

Eco-Friendly Cleaning and Organizing Services in Southern California

Top Tips for Cleaning, Organizing, and Lifestyle Improvements

litter me notClean as you go.

No need to wait for the big cleaning day. You don't have to put on the kevlar suit and the goggles to touch-up around the house. Just hit things mildly as you use them. Keep a scrubby sponge in the bathroom and wipe the sink whenever it looks a bit grungy. Use hand soap, or whatever's around, to remove soap scum and toothbrush fallout. Splash a little water on the mirror and polish away the spots with the nearby hand towel. There's a decorative brush next to the toilet. Don't be afraid to use it whenever. The more you use it, the less chance of hard water buildups.

Dry the floor when you wash it.

Sure your mom used to get out the sponge mop and leave the cleaner wet so that it leaves a glossy varnish. But when you scrub the floor, you're not using a varnish. So just dry it quickly with a big towel so the risk of footprints is done. Never install a white floor. That's what cheap landlords buy because they don't have to live with it. Sponge mops are built for back-aches. It's actually easier to use a rag while on hands and knees where you can see the dirt. Put down little rugs near the stove and sink, where the stuff drops, so it doesn't track around.

Organize for your particular brain type.

If you are the kind of person who likes to hide everything and leave a stark area, get closet organizers. If you are the one who needs to have everything visible, then take off the closet doors and get retail style displays for all your stuff. Don't fight yourself by choosing the wrong side of the brain.

lintVacuum everything first, especially the bathroom.

Get an upright vacuum that works. Not an expensive vacuum, but one with useful attachments and an agitator that is proven to pick up hair from every kind of rug. Make sure it's not so heavy that you will avoid using it. Look for groovy features like retractable cords. Get a bagless vacuum and dump after each use. The dust stinks when you leave it in the bag overnight. Look for HEPA filters so the allergens don't go back into the air. Make sure you can switch to attachment mode quickly and easily. Vacuum the bathroom before scrubbing and wiping, or the lint and hair will never wipe away. Hoover makes a better vacuum each season for around $100 at Target. You don't need too many attachments: just one wide tip for furniture and stairs, one brush for hard surfaces, and one narrow point for corners. Watch out for pennies, screws, and long window shade cords.

dishesDo all the dishes every night before bed.

It's a gift to yourself in the morning when you least want to face cold pools of water and the stench of food scraps. Do the dishes while boiling water for tea.

Gather up random objects in a shopping bag.

You have to clean the surfaces, but what about all that clutter? Bag it! No need to sort it right away. Just condense it for now so you can dust. Even if you put the stuff back where it was, it will automatically organize as you pull it back out of the bag.

Don't use taper candles.

The dripping wax will eventually ruin something you like.

You bought it new, so make it new again.

Don't be afraid to rub all the muck off kitchen appliances. Polish plastics with mild soaps. Vacuum the dust out of the back of the stereo. Clean fingerprints from the keyboard and mouse. Take things apart to get into seams or to wash separate materials. Vacuum behind the stove and fridge. When nobody's looking, use a toothbrush and cotton swabs. Clean grout, refill when necessary. Get the hand prints and skid marks off the walls, especially in door frames and light switches. Buy quality stuff made from durable materials instead of flimsy disposable plastics.

cat in tubClean the shower every two weeks or more often.

Hard water deposits and mildew both stick to soap scum. Mold grows where there is a lack of ventilation, like behind shampoo bottles, in corners, and in curtain wrinkles. Use Dr. Bronners and ammonia on soap scum. Use a hard plastic brush on tile grout. Clean the scum off the shower door with Barkeeper's Friend. Use a small amount of bleach after scrubbing if you let the grout go black with mold (rinse all the ammonia away first, or it makes mustard gas). Don't bleach colored grout. Replace sealants when they rot.

Brush the pets often.

Lower the level of secondhand fur. Train the dogs to not destroy the furniture. Anything is possible with dog cookies.

Mix your own cleaning formulas.

Get household cleaners that are actually all-purpose, and not surface-specific. You can clean every surface in the kitchen with different proportions of Dr. Bronners and ammonia (really cuts through grime!), plus Barkeeper's Friend for whitening the sink and coffee cups (no bleach). Fight grease with elbow grease. Try half the dishwasher detergent and you will see no difference. If the water is soft, you only need real soap. The harder the water, the more you need shampoo and detergents. Don't get disposable rags or mops.

Use less.

To make dishes and laundry easier, use less stuff. Hang that shirt and wear it again. Cook with less measuring cups and mixing bowls and wash as you go. Make single-pot meals. Have less stuff to store. Get less-specific tools, like the screwdriver with several tips. Use a wooden rice paddle as a spatula and as a wooden spoon. You can do everything with about 3 kinds of kitchen knives. Use one soap, one shampoo, and one conditioner, with just one extra shampoo for 'burnout' periods. Keep canvass bags in the car so you don't collect paper and plastic. Keep a stack of clean tea towels on the counter instead of paper towels.

Ucarrotse more of what you get.

Make less compost by eating apples, carrots, potatoes etc. without peeling. Make a soup from the leftover turkey. Make salad dressing from pureed leftover soups. Throw salad back in the soup. Renew leftovers by adding curry or layering into lasagna. Buy whole foods for a variety of flavors. Don't get prepared foods with no flavor and a box and a plastic tray to throw away. Think of attractive crafts you can do with shredded documents like dog pillows. Find out which plants like used coffee grounds.

Liquidate, transfer, toss.

Dig into your stuff and give something away once a week. You get a feeling of charity, and you get more space. Start with duplicates and outsized clothing. Never own more street clothing than you can wash in one week of work. Move those overly-specialized kitchen gadgets like bread bakers and egg slicers. Start with the kitchen and bedroom. Then you will have more sensibility when it's time for the garage. Have garage sales before Halloween when people are more imaginative. Don't archive magazines unless you're in them.

colorsOrganize your digital world first.

Start by sorting your computer files. This is a good place to make sense of your life because you can easily change the name of a folder, or redistribute items. Develop an information architecture that works best for you. For instance, decide if you want several color folders inside number folders, or if you want the household stuff in one major folder and the business in another. Backup your files on an external hard drive. Delete what you aren't using. Don't get caught becoming an archive. When you get something that works well both for your brain, and the kinds of things you have, transfer that system to the real stuff. Maybe you want all your business-related items in the office, or maybe you want all fabric things in the garage. Maybe each person has a bed and a computer in each room, or maybe all the computers are in one room. I also consult on home computer optimization and tutor in Photoshop and Web site technologies.

Dry clean at home.

Some stains can be removed with a damp cloth. Acetone can remove some make-up stains safely. Dust wools with baking soda (especially inside) and tumble dry to remove mild odors. Vacuum felt and flannel. Get a velvet brush instead of a tape roll to remove lint and pet hair. Hand-wash single-layer silks. Don't wait for a dry cleaning trip. It keeps clothes out of service longer and adds to clutter and musty smells. Dry cleaning chemicals are toxic to you, to the workers, and to the environment.

cupHave a party.

It's the best excuse to clean--before and after. Drink spills will be less tragic when they hit a clean floor instead of making dust-mud. Don't use disposables. Make the guests wash the dishes before everyone's gone. Have people bring personal commuter cups and sports bottles to avoid spills--and they'll never lose track of their drinks.

Stop watching TV.

If you've lost the remote, then it's time to get off your butt and clean the house. Don't give me that look. Put down the cookies and go play outside.