Cleaning as therapy

There is something deeply satisfying about cleaning and tidying. Bringing order to chaos, getting rid of dirt and clutter and regaining control gives me a new sense of calm. Maybe cleaning as therapy should be prescribed!

cleaning as therapy

Clean and tidy lodger room

Cleaning as therapy

Of course, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It is hard work and takes time. However, I can only cope with a certain amount of disorder before I start to twitch. I’m not an OCD cleaner by any stretch of the imagination or a minimalist. I am not madly house proud, but I need to do a good weekly clean throughout to make me feel that all is right with my little world!

I spent the whole day yesterday doing a deep clean of the whole house, ready for my new lodger. First impressions are important, especially as she is arriving with her dad. I hit the cobwebs in all of the corners and cleaned all the woodwork and skirting boards with hot water and my home made cleaning spray. The windows all got a good shine and I washed all of the hard floors. The oven was scrubbed, as were the sink and fridge. I also wiped all of the cupboard fronts in the kitchen. Then the usual hoover and polish throughout, and we were ready.

Get rid of the clutter

I don’t like a lot of clutter either. I tend to keep on top of it as I go. However, there are some drawers and cupboards that need a bit of a clear out. What is the point of keeping loads of stuff you never use that just sits in your house gathering dust? If you leave it too long, you forget you have it! Now that autumn has arrived I will take advantage of having less to do in the garden and start to go through some of those dark corners. Definitely something for another day I think.

The garden does need a tidy up too to get ready for winter. The veg patch needs clearing and lots of things need cutting back. The greenhouse also needs sorting. We might get out and tackle the jungle later today, although it is looking rather grey and threatening weather wise at the moment.

I have achieved a lot this weekend anyway. Cleaning as therapy works for me. How about you?

The amazing power of bicarbonate of soda

Yesterday it was a warm and muggy day. As I walked into the house after work I was hit with a most unpleasant pong. The bins! Both the main kitchen bin and the food waste container seemed to be fermenting in the heat. Yeeeuch!

Magic white powder

I immediately reached for the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). If I had remembered to sprinkle some of this magical powder into the bins before I put in new liners, they wouldn’t have been so smelly. I have done that now!

We always keep a big of tub of bicarbonate of soda handy as it has so many uses as a cleaner and deodoriser, as well as for making the odd muffin, of course! it is incredibly cheap for something that is so versatile.

I use wood pellets in the cat litter tray as it is better at absorbing smells, but I also sprinkle baking soda  in the bottom of the tray. It makes a huge difference.

It is good for getting rid of nasty odours in the fridge too; just leave a small bowlful at the bottom and it will help neutralise the smell.

Use bicarbonate of soda for personal care

Because of its deodorising properties, bicarbonate of soda can be used under your arms. I sometimes buy a solid deodorant from Lush that is mostly made of bicarb – and it really works! You can dab it straight onto your skin with a flannel.

It is also great for smelly feet when used in this way. Alternatively, a couple of teaspoons left overnight in stinky shoes or trainers will neutralise those nasty niffs!

I’m not a fan of this, but you can also use bicarbonate of soda to clean your teeth. Just dip your toothbrush in and brush! There are recipes online to make a more palatable minty toothpaste with it.  It can also freshen your breath if you mix a teaspoonful in a small glass of water and gargle.

Half a cup of soda in your bath will clean and soften your skin. Add a few drops of essential oil and you can abandon the bubble bath.

Gentle and effective cleaning

Bicarbonate of soda is well known as an effective and gentle household cleaner.

Use it as a scouring powder on dirt and stains pretty much anywhere in the house. Sprinkle it on a damp sponge and give surfaces a good scrub – it isn’t harsh so won’t scratch them. Tip it down the plug hole with half a cup of white vinegar to alleviate smelly drains then use it to scrub the sink!

Soak dishes with dried on food in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda before hand washing or placing in your dishwasher. This also works on tea stained mugs.

Sprinkle baking soda onto smelly sofas, rugs or carpets, leave for half an hour or so then vacuum. It is especially good at getting rid of pet smells.

If you have heavily soiled laundry, try add half a cup of soda alongside your washing powder or liquid. It will also brighten light coloured items.

I love bicarbonate of soda because I don’t like a houseful of chemicals. I like to keep things simple! I also try to avoid a lot of unnecessary products and packaging.  But mostly, I love bicarbonate of soda because it is cheap!

I have just ordered a 1kg bag from Amazon for £4.74 including delivery. It works out even cheaper if you purchase a 5kg tub. Please note that if you click through via either of the images above and purchase something I will earn a small commission.

Steamy windows! Or more like streaming windows…

I am surprised to find a whole week has slipped by since my last blog post. Does anyone else find that they get much less productive when the clocks change and the evenings get dark so early? It takes me ages to adjust. My energy levels seem to plummet and I start to sink into hibernation mode. It’s hard to be motivated to get on with things.

The condensation this morning before i put the dehumidifier on…

This winter induced malaise, combined with us being so busy last weekend, meant Shoestring Cottage was a mess! I can only cope with so much dirt and disorganisation before I start to twitch so yesterday I got up and straight on to a thorough clean and declutter. 

I cleaned and polished and hoovered. I scrubbed the rug and the dining room chairs – the cats sit on them and make them really grubby. I cleaned the windows, washed the bathroom tiles and even tackled the debris under our bed. That was dusty! I store lots of bits and pieces like presents. Cards and wrapping paper, party stuff (bunting, paper plates and the like) and my paper files under there but other things get shoved there too and I had forgotten some of it existed. I had a clear out and have a bag for the charity shop.

Laundry out and dehumidifier in action

I am fighting the usual battle with condensation here. We have super insulated and maybe just don’t have enough ventilation anymore. I have had the windows open as much as possible, but it has been so grey and damp outside that hasn’t really helped. We have a dehumidifier, which is really effective, but I am conscious of the cost to have it on constantly. But the damp, mild weather means we haven’t had the heating to dry out the air. On top of that there is no chance of drying the laundry outside at the moment, so that is hanging in the sitting room – and the dehumidifier is currently on full blast! If you look at the pic you will see the problem. 

Still, it could be worse and I just need to keep wiping the windows, allowing some ventilation when I can and using the dehumidifier in spurts.

We are taking my mum out this morning. She had a hip replacement a month ago and can’t drive yet, and my dad is waiting on a  cataract op so he can’t drive either. As they live in the sticks a bit they are getting a little stir crazy! We will visit the little antiques unit they run and help them choose a few bits for my mum to sell on eBay. Despite being 80 she is quite a dab hand at this new technology!

Whatever you are doing have a great Sunday!

Budget Cleaning

There are so many cleaning products out there, and lots of them are so expensive. I use as few as possible – I don’t want my house full of chemicals, and I don’t want want to pay the huge advertising costs of big business.  If you cut the expensive stuff, and make some of your own, you save so much money and you and your family don’t have to inhale a nasty cocktail of chemicals that could be damaging everybody’s health, as well as the general environment.

cleaning stuffAir fresheners – these don’t ‘freshen’ your air. How could they? All they do is mask smells with synthetic perfumes. They make me cough and give me a headache! If there is a bad smell, open the window for a bit.

Furniture polish – if you are lucky enough to own top quality wooden furniture, use a bit of beeswax on a cloth. If  not, a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water in an old spray bottle will clean surfaces just as well.

Glass and mirror cleaning – again, vinegar works a treat with a cotton cloth or a bit of newspaper.

Bleach – OK, I admit to using this! Just a bit down the loo every now and again. If you want to be truly chemical free then white vinegar is OK, but I have found it isn’t as effective as the hard stuff. I buy the cheapest bleach from Aldi for 55p.

Bathroom and kitchen cleaning – If you want the natural approach then bicarbonate of soda is your best bet. Just sprinkle some onto a scourer, scrub away, then rinse off. If you have some really grubby areas, mix it into a paste with a little sea salt and a bit of washing up liquid. I managed to find a large tub in a chemist in town for about a fiver a few months ago but this has run out now and I haven’t seen it since, so if anybody knows somewhere good for bulk buying it, please share! I also use good old fashioned cream cleaner. The Tesco version is only 78p.

Floors – half a cup of baking soda dissolved in hot water is a good floor cleaner. I use a capful of disinfectant in a bucket of water from time to time to clean the floors too. The Tesco Value stuff costs 30p a litre.

Oven – I can’t abide the strong oven cleaners you can buy. I don’t even think they work that well and they make the house smell awful. If you have to use them in a well ventilated room, they probably aren’t that good for you! I found out by accident that soda crystals are great for cleaning ovens. I made a strong solution and was trying to scrub the old grease from the glass oven door when a friend rang. After half an hour of chat I went back to my cleaning to find that the grease came off really easily. So this is how I clean my oven now – sponge it on, leave it for a bit, then give it a good scrub with wire wool. Soda crystals are  also really good for unblocking drains. It isn’t always easy to find, so I buy 2 or 3 packs at a time when I see them. They cost about £1 a pack.

You really don’t need lots of different products or to spend lots of money!