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In the minds of most, cleaning and organizing are two activities that go together. We think of a messy place and we imagine it both disorganized and dirty.
For this reason, organizers get asked over and over if we clean, too. When asked this question, I politely smile and say, “Well, I clean my house, of course!”
So, I’ll share with you some cleaning secrets now.
I do have to say that most Organizers, myself included, refuse to place items neatly organized in dirty spaces. Therefore, we do our best to clean some or engage the client in doing the cleaning, so the project ends at its best.
And I have no problem asking the client to please postpone any special cleaning project until the home is organized – for best results on the cleaning.
But here’s an irony that I can’t ignore. Some homes feel very cluttered and they are also dirty, when it is precisely the many (unused) cleaning stuff that occupies so much cabinet space. That leaves no space in the cabinet to store what should be in them. Instead, people complaint about not having storage space and have all over the house and on counters what should be inside their cabinets. (huh?)
Some just love an over-complicated life and spaces. But life should be easier and our homes simpler, so we can rest and enjoy the space.
So Many (Unused) Products!
As an Organizer, I admit I am impressed by the number of cleaning products I find in every household, especially those that need the most cleaning. There is often a plethora of products for every purpose imaginable, as well as multiples of the same products and cleaning tools.
So, let’s start simplifying the cleaning process by letting go of all those extra-specialized products and tools we would never use. Keeping it simple usually translate into less storage space taken up by all those products we don’t even recognize.
The key to simplifying the cleaning process is to use a minimum of multi-purpose products and multi-task tools. These should be simple and occupy minimal space. These should also be easy to maintain and clean to avoid additional work. We can’t expect to clean effectively using dirty tools, can we?
I usually suggest my clients a handful of multipurpose products and tools that accomplish many cleaning jobs and eliminate most of the extra work.
Let me also mention that cleaning products should preferably live in the laundry room. Those products associated with the kitchen, should be stored under the sink. There might be some heavy-duty products you need to keep to clean stuff outside the home like the car, equipment of some sort, boat, etc. Those should have a place in the garage.
What You Need
Don’t overcomplicate your life and save space in your cabinets and laundry area. Let’s eliminate all those unnecessary products and tools we never use and will never need. Then, let’s get some simple, clean, new equipment and products that get the job easily done.
The cleaning products and tools suggested here take into consideration the environment, are cost-effective, and get the job well done with a minimum of effort.
You can also research natural alternatives to chemicals currently used, especially with the recipes created with Young Living essential oils, baking soda, and vinegar.
Superior Mini Mop System – Forget the broom, dustpan, mop, pail, and cleaner altogether. This mopping system from Norwex accomplishes it all. The handle is adjustable and very comfortable to use.
Gloves – Protect your hands ensuring adequate mobility and comfort.
Arm & Hammer Clean Shower Daily Shower Cleaner (1 bottle per shower or tub) – this product is truly a miracle. This is the only cleaning product you should keep in your bathroom, specifically in the shower caddy. To maintain the spa allure we always want in the bathroom, you might want want to transfer this product into a transparent or translucent un-branded spray bottle.
Use with the mop system as alternative to the sponge
Clorox toilet wand kit (one per toilet) – Best invention ever. The kit lives in the bathroom, by the toilet. It looks great. The sponge is single-use, disposable. The sponge contains the cleaning agent. No need to deal with toilet brush or specific toilet cleaners. No need to handle the used sponge either- eject in the trash. Do not flush the sponge.
Window Cloth, BacLock® – Amethyst with Graphite trim – A couple years ago I came in contact with this product from Norwex, and what a game changer it was! This cloth really removes 99% of bacteria from surfaces with only water and what it does for glass, mirrors and even stainless steel is formidable. No need to use any cleaner, sprays, foams, creams or anything else – just water. The way it cleans surfaces, even removing fingerprints without leaving water marks will amaze you. I would buy about three or four of these cloths. Just know it should not be washed with fabric softener.
7-10 Gallon Clear Garbage Can Liners– Trash bags in sizes according to trashcans in the home (very important to always line your trashcans. To avoid ruining the look a nice-looking trashcan, use transparent bags. Pro tip: knot the rim of the bag to make it fit the border of the trashcan. Hide the excess bag between the trashcan rim and the bag rim.
OXO Good Grips Toilet Plunger with Holder – Most homes have the unsightly toilet plunger permanently living next to the toilet. And the usual plunger found in most homes is appropriate for the sink but not for the toilet. Toilet plungers should be of a different shape to exerts the right amount of suction for the toilet plumbing. Here’s a plunger that’s up to the challenge and can live next to the toilet because it has a cover that automatically closes when the plunger is placed on its base. There is no need to look at the plunger anymore.
If you have dogs/cats, you will want these two things:
Lint Remover – This little thing looks inoffensive but it will destroy your clothes if you attempt to remove hair and lint from them with this item. However, I have never found something more effective to remove hair and fuzz from fabric furniture, carpet corners and carpet- covered stairs. Use it to remove hair, lint and fuzz from those places and vacuum it all with the fantastic tool described next.
Assign a day to wash towels and bedsheets. A good idea to simplify your life is to have only one complete set of towels per person per bathroom and one set of sheets per bed that complement the décor. On laundry day, wash, dry, and place them back in use. No need for storage space. No need to fold.
Wash bathroom rugs at least once a month.
Assign a day for each household person to do their laundry (from start to finish on that day). That way, family members take turns, and no clothing awaits washing.
Accumulate all dirty dishes and utensils inside the dishwasher. At night, run the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher and put everything away first thing in the morning (or before bed). There is no need to keep that dish mat or the piles of dirty dishes on the counter day after day.
If you have dogs or cats, it’s a good idea to vacuum at least once every other day. With the cordless vacuum, this is therapy (at least for me).
Keeping disinfecting wipes in the kitchen and bathroom makes it easy to wipe off surfaces as often as needed.
At least once a week, clean the inside of toilets with the toilet wand and the outside with the Clorox wipes. Clean all surfaces with wipes and clean the mirrors with Windex.
Keeping a bottle of Clean Shower in your shower or tub helps you use this product daily. When you do this, this product virtually eliminates the need to clean the shower! You’ll probably want to scrub the tiles and all other areas once a month with Ajax or a Mr. Clean Eraser sponge.
Dust all that you can see with the duster. Working with this product is so easy that you’ll get in the dusting mood quite fast. When finished, trash the duster. It’s that simple.
Clean from top to bottom and from left to right to track the progress. It’s essential to have an efficient methodology. As dirt falls on the floor, you should to leave the floor for last.
Finally, use your vacuum all over! Go over the floor with the dry Swiffer if desired, and finally, use the wet Swiffer to clean the floors. Alternatively, use a microfiber rag instead of the Swiffer wet cloths.
Remember to dress the beds, re-place bathroom towels, and change all trashcan liners at the end.
Get a glass of wine and take a bubble bath in your clean tub!
All this is exponentially easier if your house is uncluttered and organized to start with. And if it’s not, let’s start with that.
Then you’ll see how easy it is to maintain your home clean.
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Here are 15 tips to increase your pantry’s space, order, and beauty so you can love it again.
1. Edibles Go In The Pantry
Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in the pantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include in the pantry pet food and snacks. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats, snack time will always surprise your furry friends. Mixing their treats in a single container avoids having many bags and treat containers open at once.
2. Remove Cleaning Products
Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.
3. Use Floor Space Wisely
Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is a good storage space, but we must make it appropriate for holding our stuff.
4. Zone Your Pantry
Create zones in your pantry so the various product groups are on their dedicated space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.
5. Hook It Up
Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.
6. Contain Plastic Bags
Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags while keeping them accessible.
7. Got Bulk?
Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry. Align these containers along the floor or the highest shelf.
Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen! Lighting under cabinets adds an incredible vibe to the space but also the functionality counter space needs.
9. To Line Or Not To Line?
Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t even think of it. If shelf-lining is essential, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner easily cuts to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves and drawers look sharp and are appropriately protected.
10. What To Do About Cans?
Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.
11. Pantry Corners (Do We Have To?)
Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces. For added convenience, consider those lazy susans with raised edges and divisions so that what you place in them does not fall off.
12. Snacks, Anyone?
Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.
13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item
Dry goods will define your pantry’s biggest question: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?
The Pinterest look is a high-maintenance alternative, as it requires consistently transferring all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.
The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered in bins or baskets.
Dry goods are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. These items should not be exposed to moisture and should last for some time after opening the package.
Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count how many different kinds of dry products are in your dry goods category. Whether you use the functional or high-maintenance approach, you must first know what to buy and how much.
Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers, as they waste a lot of space. Go with rectangular or square but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.
14. Labeling Is Important
Labeling is a necessary step. It allows everyone to find what’s needed quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.
When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great, but that can be modified easily.
If you use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, label your bins or baskets with the product category.
But regardless of your preferred method, labeling the shelves also is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.
15. Where Do Spices Go?
Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. And as with any other pantry group, spices should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all the spices because it lets you see them all at once.
When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on the inside of your pantry door – a true lifesaver.
These tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved.
Don’t hesitate to reach outif you need some pantry help. We love pantries!
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Let’s Simplify Pill Management
Whether you are a caregiver to an older adult or a mom managing a family who values wellness, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. But here are 7 steps to ease your pill pain.
I want to share a system that can simplify pill management and increase consistency in taking meds and supplements for everyone. The secret is the pillbox!
What You Need
Here are some tools you might need for this process.
Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments that you can find here.
Label maker (optional)
Medium to large plastic bin or container (these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders, as well as my favorite plastic box ever created).
Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The amount and size of pill bottles on hand determine the size of your container or box. This step only happens once because this bin will become the forever home of ingestible medicines and supplements at home. You may benefit from a second plastic container for all OTC medicines NOT taken regularly (like cough syrup, painkillers, allergy medicine, etc.)
Write each person’s name (or initial) on each bottle lid. Include the intake frequency of that product. For example, “M 1-am/2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles to make it easy to identify from the top inside the bin.
Label each side of each pillbox with the person’s name taking the meds/supplements from that box. Assign a pillbox to each person taking any product regularly.
Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids.
Select all bottles of one person and place in their pillbox all medication and supplements that person takes, according to the timing and dosage needed. Alternatively, you might prefer to work with one product at a time. In this case, distribute that medication into the pillboxes of everyone that takes that product.
Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).
Close all pillbox lids when each box is complete with all medications and supplements for that individual.
**Devote 30 minutes to this task every week. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!
Where and Why
Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not the bathroom. The bathroom humidity affects the product’s power. Keeping medication and supplements in the kitchen makes sense because we ingest these, usually with water or another beverage. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are optimal places for these pillboxes and the container with bottles.
On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. This group includes things like rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, and the like.
It is simpler to take medications and supplements when we do not need to sort the product, open several bottles, and make the same decisions over and over, several times per day. Therefore, it makes sense to streamline this process.
When medicines and supplements are in one place, it is easier to find what we need at any moment. This central location of meds and supplements also facilitates knowing what needs reordering and when. It also eliminates having multiple open bottles of the same product.
The best thing about this process is its inherent accountability – we can easily see who did not take their supplements or medicines and when just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency in taking medications.
Make It Happen
Hopefully, these five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to consistently take their meds and supplements. But to make it happen:
Devote 30 minutes to this task every week.
Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent weekly activity.
Make it a commitment.
Pro-Tip:Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product, which takes up a lot of space and leads to expired medication around the home.
When envisioning well-organized spaces in your home, the kids’ playroom may not be the first that comes to mind. However, creating that ideal place for your children can foster their creativity, exploration, and joy. It also makes it easier for parents to maintain order and encourage imaginative play.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for organizing a kids’ playroom. Striking the perfect balance between fun and functionality creates a space that nurtures learning and enjoyment.
First, Declutter and Organize
The initial step in organizing a kids’ playroom is decluttering the space. Begin by sorting toys, games, and other items into specific categories, such as puzzles, building blocks, stuffed animals, art supplies, and board games. Discard broken or unused items. Consider donating toys your children have outgrown to make room for new experiences.
Investing in proper storage solutions is crucial for maintaining a tidy playroom. Combine open shelving, closed cabinets, bins, and baskets to store toys and belongings effectively. Open shelving allows easy access to frequently used toys, while closed cabinets can safely store items that might be hazardous to younger children. Clear bins and labeled baskets help children identify where to return toys after playtime. This encourages them to participate in the cleanup process.
Activity Zones Ideas
Organize the playroom into different activity zones to stimulate specific types of play and learning. Here are some ideas:
Reading Nook: Designate a cozy corner with a bookshelf or bookcase, soft cushions, and good lighting to create a welcoming reading space.
Art and Craft Area: Set up a table with art supplies, drawing paper, coloring books, and washable markers to ensure ample space for creative exploration.
Building and Construction Zone: Utilize open shelves or storage units for items like LEGO, building blocks, and magnetic tiles. This inspires engineering and imaginative play.
Pretend Play Corner: Arrange a play kitchen, dolls, action figures, dress-up costumes, and accessories for imaginative play.
Transform the playroom into an excellent environment for learning. Introduce educational elements like a whiteboard for drawing and practicing writing skills. Consider adding a map, alphabet chart, or numbers display to make learning fun and accessible.
Consider implementing a toy rotation system to keep things fresh and avoid toy fatigue. Store some toys away and rotate them periodically. This method reduces clutter and reignites children’s interest in toys they last saw a while ago.
Safety is paramount in a kids’ playroom. Anchor large furniture to the wall to prevent tipping, cover electrical outlets, and use cord holders to manage wires. Keep small items or toys with small parts away from younger children to avoid choking hazards.
Flexibility is vital as children’s interests evolve, and their playroom should grow their interests.
Designing an organized kids’ playroom is a fulfilling investment in your child’s development and happiness. You can build a space that encourages creativity, imagination, and joyful play by decluttering, employing smart storage solutions, creating purposeful activity zones, emphasizing safety, and incorporating learning elements.
With some planning and effort, you can create a magical haven where your child can explore, learn, and make unforgettable memories.
About the Author: Kevin Connors owns Inspired Organizers in Phoenix, AZ, and serves as the Director of Membership of the NAPO Arizona Chapter.
Intentional storage means considering what we keep to determine how to keep it. However, in talking about storage, we must discuss the difference between putting things down and putting things away.
Putting Things Away
A simple life with fewer things means that we can adequately contain the contents of the house and develop sound systems around the use and care of those possessions.
A home that operates in this way is a home that facilitates putting things away instead of just putting something down.
Putting things down is the beginning of the end if you’d like a tidy home.
Putting things away after using them every single time is fundamental to having a home that breathes peace and order.
And it’s much easier to learn to put things away consistently when everything has a logical, designated place in the home and everything fits its designated storage space.
Containers Keep Us Accountable
I heard Joanna from The Home Edit say something that stuck with me because it is so accurate, and I never thought of putting it into words as she did. She said: “Containers keep us accountable.”
I can see now why their organizing method always includes all that micro-organization and over-division of stuff. The more (appropriate) containerization, the easier it is to determine when our stuff is becoming too much – they’ll start spilling over.
When things start spilling over, we must decide (if we don’t want clutter to take over) what we should let go of or if that group of items has grown for a legitimate change that might require a permanent change in space planning. And this is what being intentional with the storage means.
The Why Dictates The How
Suppose you love crafting, embroidery in particular. And you have a section in your home office with all those supplies needed for your hobby. At some point, your hobby turned into a business possibility. So, you decide to pursue embroidery as an income-generating activity. Now you’ll need much more material and supplies and probably more significant, better equipment to handle production.
In this case, it makes sense to “set shop” on a different part of the house dedicated to these activities, transform your home office into the facility you need, or even rent some industrial space. Either of these alternatives calls for a total change in how you gather, store, and use your embroidery supplies, materials, and tools.
Having a ton of new material available because your mother-in-law gave you a bunch of stuff over the holidays is not a reason to overflow or change the storage system that has worked for you so far. If you received embroidery material that you were not expecting or needing, you should decide:
whether to keep the new stuff and get rid of the previous material
sell or donate the new stuff
keep parts of each collection and give away the rest
The two instances are different but require an intentional decision and an action.
All that additional material will hang around the carefully appointed system and previously set containers without an intentional decision. As a result, it won’t look as contained anymore nor be as functional as it was.
When Storage Space Is Minimal
And one more thing! If the home of your dreams has minimal storage space, some “stored” items might not be concealed (as in open storage). So, when stuff needs to be in view like that, the trick is to blend that with the design and make it “disappear” from view.
You’ll need some out-of-the-box thinking to achieve this. And finding the right storage solution means transforming potential eyesores into space enhancers, conversation pieces, and even eye candy. How about that? Are you up to the challenge?