Spring Cleaning Party: Choosing Your Cleaning Supplies

source: svanes
source: svanes

Will you be joining the Spring Cleaning Party at Simple Mom next week? I’m excited to deep clean my house and continue my mission to declutter before our next baby arrives later this summer!

If you plan to participate, it’s important to spend some time this weekend gathering the supplies that you’ll need for the week so that you have no excuse you don’t find yourself unable to complete the week’s tasks because you don’t have everything you need.

In traditional Organizing Your Way style, let’s take a look at some of the alternatives for cleaning supplies so that you can decide which ones will work best for your family’s needs and preferences. Be sure to pick up a copy of Tsh’s ebook, Spring Cleaning for Normal People for a complete list of supplies you’ll need, as we’ll just be scratching the surface here.

Cleaning Cloths

If you’ve ever gone shopping for  cleaning cloths, chances are that you’ve been overwhelmed by the many choices that line the store aisles. As with most things these days, there are literally dozens of products, each touting its features and the reason it is the best.

Let’s see if we can’t simplify it by looking at three basic options:

Microfiber Cloths
Microfiber cloths are made from a special technology that allows them to trap and pickup dust and grease, rather than spreading it around, making them a great choice for wet and dry cleaning tasks. They are durable and can be reused over and over, with or without cleaning solutions and in a variety of ways.

On the other hand, these cloths are on the more expensive side, and since you should always have different cloths for your bathrooms, kitchen and other areas, having enough microfiber cloths to do all your cleaning could be costly.

Rags
The frugal solution for cleaning cloths is to simply use old rags for your cleaning. They’re free, effective and chances are you have plenty on hand. These do not pick up dust as well as microfiber cloths (although dampening them helps), but they are great for grungy tasks and for cleaning jobs where you need a lot of rags. Be sure to watch out for fraying edges if you tear larger towels into cloths, as these can  create dust in your attempt to clean it!

Other Cleaning Cloths
Of course, if you don’t have any rags on hand but you’re not quite ready to invest in half a dozen microfiber cloths, you can always buy a pack of plain terry cloths at any big box, grocery or home improvement store. These are still relatively inexpensive and you don’t have to worry about the fraying edges of traditional rags.

My favorite option is to purchase the variety packs of washcloths sold on the endcaps at Wal-Mart or Target. We use these for cleaning up the girls after meals, and when they become worn and stained, we retire them as rags and pick up another pack (in a different color so that we can easily tell which is which) to replace them.

Cleaning Solutions

This is an area where people begin to get more passionate about their choices. Let me start by saying that I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice here and there are benefits and drawbacks to each one.

Let’s look at three basic categories:

Traditional Cleaning Products
409, Windex, Clorox, Lysol – these are names that most of us grew up with. They are proven and trusted. In most cases, they are also relatively inexpensive. Combined with the convenience and familiar “clean smell,” it’s easy to see why these are the most widely used cleaners today.

There is, however, concern about the use of harsh chemicals in our homes and their effects on our families and our environment. Many of these contain known carcinogens and come with warnings to use in well ventilated areas and avoid the fumes.

Specialty Green Products
To address these concerns, there are an increasing number of “green” products on the market that are made without these chemicals and promise to be gentler to the environment. For many years, these specialty products have been much more expensive than their traditional counterparts, although there are more mainstream products these days (such as Clorox’s GreenWorks) that offer a less expensive alternative.

For families whose only concern is the effect of the chemicals on their bodies, these may be the right choice. On the other hand, they still come in disposable bottles and cartons that impact our environment in the long-term. And as silly as it may sound, for those of us who enjoy the “clean smell” of traditional cleaning products, using products without a scent can be a hard adjustment.

Homemade Cleaners
Another alternative is the use of homemade cleaners. Most cleaners can be made from the same set of basic ingredients (Borax, washing soap, salt, baking soda, vinegar, etc.) in varying combinations. Vinegar is a known antibacterial agent, and families who make their own cleaning supplies swear by them.

Let’s face it, making homemade cleaners also has a “feel good” aspect to it, as you make the extra effort to do what you believe is best for your family and the environment. And with the addition of a couple of drops of essential oils, you can achieve your own custom “clean smell”.

Making your own cleaners can be intimidating, but Tsh outlines basic recipes for a wide variety of cleaners in the back of Spring Cleaning for Normal People. Hip Organic Mama also published an extensive list of green cleaning tips and recipes a couple months ago to help you get started.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Remember, this does not have to be an all-or-nothing choice. It’s okay to use one microfiber cloth for dusting and old rags for the rest of your cleaning tasks. It’s also okay to start with just one or two homemade cleaners and test the waters before making a decision about the rest.

No matter which choices you make, be sure to prepare this weekend so that you’re ready to join the Spring Cleaning Party on Monday. Choose a place to gather all of your supplies (your laundry room, maybe?) and make sure everything is ready to go for the week.

I plan to keep all of my supplies in a laundry basket so that I can just move the basket with me from room to room. You could also keep them all on a shelf and only grab the ones you need each day, but I can see that becoming the part of the process that holds me up, so I’m going to keep them all portable instead.

Tsh shares more spring cleaning tips & techniques today to help you prepare for the coming weeks, so be sure to check out her post and grab the Spring Cleaning Party button as well!

Will you be joining the Spring Cleaning Party? What area are you most looking forward to deep cleaning? What area are you dreading?

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