This big old farmhouse is about 4,000 square feet. It is BIG and luckily for me, it isn't all remodeled yet (looking on the bright side here) and so there is less to clean. I am in no way an expert on keeping a tidy home. Like laundry, it is something I am always working on.
So... here's what works.
For cleaning products, I love a few things. I love my Ecover floor soap. It costs under $4 and lasts about six months to a year depending on how often I mop (which I'm sure makes the point that I don't mop often enough). Anyway, dilute a cupful in a sink full of warm water and you're good to go.
For our dishwasher, I use a splash of plain vinegar with each load, regular old "green" dish powder, which my repair man tells me is the same as the non-green stuff on the market now that phosphates have been banned. Because of our hard water, I use Lemi Shine every few loads. I'd love to find a source to buy it in bulk so I could use it always but until then, using it once in a while helps keep our dishwasher clean and that cloudy film off the dishes from our hard water.
I'm also fond of this all-purpose cleaner from Ecover which I dilute a lidful of into a spray bottle from the dollar store and fill the rest of the way with water. I use this to clean every surface in our home. It has a pleasant mild scent and works great.
The bathroom, more specifically the toilet, is the only place in our home where I use bad cleaner. Really bad cleaner. We have very hard well water. I believe most water is considered "hard" at 20 parts per million. Ours is 130 parts per million of hardness.
In my humble opinion, ring of iron in the toilet is pretty unwelcoming and unsightly. I have tried every non-toxic cleaner and now use toilet cleaner from the dollar store. It has horrid ingredients that are probably killing my septic tank. I keep it on a shelf above my washing machine where no child can reach it and it has a child lock cap on it. It works.
Our home has two bathrooms currently, both upstairs, and the one that the kids use is the one I have them keep clean (minus the mentioned toilet cleaning). I've found a wonderful way to have them clean it, from the two yr. old to the ten yr. old. I hand them a pack of wet wipes and tell them how many they can use. For some reason, getting a clean white wipe completely dirty is delightful to my children. Much more than scrubbing with a washcloth would be and it is a (small) extra expense I don't mind.I keep the dish soap, baby shampoo, scrubbers and such in a basket by the kitchen sink. Addie usually gets a bath by the wood stove in her little tub.
Like many of you, I find the most housecleaning effort is focused on clutter control and crunchy floor alleviation. Daily sweepings are key to my sanity. I really dislike stuff on our floors, whether it be coats and boots or toys or cheerios or cracker crumbs. A few times during the day I'll have everyone work together to pick up their things in a room and I'll follow this with a sweep. I have a pretty broom too. I figure if I am going to be sweeping so often and looking at a broom several times a day, I'll buy the prettiest one I can. right now it is hot pink cheetah pink but I have my eye on a rainbow colored broom corn broom at our local health food store.
I vacuum a few times a week. We only have one rug downstairs in our living room but we have old plank floors where crumbs can slip in between. There is something so satisfying about clearing these spaces between the boards. Our six yr old loves to vacuum and so he usually will ask (!) and I'll have him do in between the floor boards. I have only ever owned two vacuums, our first was an Oreck, which lasted about nine years. I loved how lightweight it was but it never fared well with dog hair. I was a pro at taking it apart and unclogging it. With one dog, it clogged just about every time I used it.
When it was time to purchase a new one, we went with the Consumer Reports best buy which was a Sears Kenmore one. This is a heavy vacuum and I am not fond of carrying it up and down the stairs. It handles dog hair well but somehow kid toys always seem to get wedged in it and so, once again, I am learning the quickest routes to unclogging it. Overall I am very pleased with it.
I should also mention that every time I have been presented with a house with carpeting, I tear it out as soon as possible and I never regret it. It doesn't matter how clean it looks, it always harbors stuff underneath and the off-gasses from the chemicals and petroleums are healthy for no one. If I did need to buy wall to wall carpeting, I would save and buy wool carpeting. For now, I am happy with wool rugs that I can roll up, scrub underneath and put away for the summer.
Perhaps it is to my shame, but I do not have a cleaning schedule anymore. A few years ago I had a schedule in which I cleaned a room a day but now I prefer a few minutes of tidying each room every day. It felt so discouraging to spend a day cleaning one room, have it messied by kids by the end of the day and start all over this way the following day. Now I evaluate which space needs the most attention, take care of it and then work at clearing clutter from the other rooms and keeping them swept during the day.
My favorite book on cleaning is Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck, which you can most likely order from your library. It is chock full of cleaning goodness.
Have any cleaning tips for me?