Well I did something very mature. I decided to do some actual Spring Cleaning. And not just the typical pick up, vacuum, dust routine, which I try to stay on top of every couple weeks. No no, I thought it was about time that I do some real deep-cleaning, after living in our home for about 2.5 years. I do think we do a decent job of keeping a fairly tidy house, but I typically only set out to “clean house” over the weekend. Because we both work full time+ jobs, we really love our weekends, time spent outside, trips, social time with friends, and also our lazy movie/tv time on the couch. So there are a lot of weekends that I am not able to dedicate a full morning or day to cleaning. There are also some days that I do have time, but guess what I’m going to pick when it comes down to choosing between fun/relaxation and chores. Hint: it doesn’t rhyme with bores. Thinking about trying to tackle spring cleaning the whole house on a beautiful day off made me want to cry a little bit. So I decided to take a new approach. Maybe I can stay motivated by having a written plan, and breaking tasks down into bite-size daily chores.
Naturally, I turned to Pinterest to find ideas for a cleaning plan. I’ve recently been intrigued by articles to the effect of “secrets of people who seem to always have a clean home”, and “how to keep a clean house in 15 minutes a day”. I’m hoping with my little spring cleaning project, I will form some new habits that can keep me going through the year, and possibly even until forever. To start though, I wanted to go beyond the weekly/monthly typical tasks and get to items that need a deep cleaning once or twice a year. I found this 30 Day Cleaning Challenge – and off I went!
Here’s my recap of week 1, and some Things I didn’t know:
Day 1 – Monday: Clean Dishwasher and Appliances
Total time: 1 hour
Day 1, just out of the chute, I am already changing up the order of things. The first task on the cleaning challenge list was cleaning the oven and microwave. I knew I would need to save this for a weekend, because I have cleaned the oven before, and there is no way on God’s green earth it will get done in 20 minutes to an hour after work. Instead, I took on the dishwasher and small kitchen appliances.
I will admit, this is the first time I have ever cleaned a dishwasher. Things I didn’t know #1: we had a lot of excess water sitting in the basin of our dishwasher after it runs and apparently all the time between washes. I had no idea. It’s kind of disturbing that I haven’t noticed this, since it must have been occuring for awhile, probably due to buildup in the drain and filter components. The first couple of Pinterest links that I found for dishwasher cleaning are simple and supposed to only take about 10 minutes, but they assume you don’t have standing water in the bottom of your machine. I did a little googling and found this article, which goes to show I’m not alone. It took me about 20 minutes and a few different bowls to scoop about 20 cups of water out of the bottom of the dishwasher. Gross.
After that was done, it only took a little bit of jiggling parts around until I figured out how to remove the spinner (sprayer? no idea what it’s actually called) and the drain filter. I rinsed these well in the sink, and there was quite a bit of gunk to get out. I then used some vinegar and a rag to wipe the parts down, as well as the bottom of the washer and the gaskets/in the door crevice.
I put everything back together, and ran the high heat sanitize cycle after pouring some vinegar in the basin, placing a half cup of vinegar on the bottom rack, and about a half cup of baking soda on the top rack. I’ve also read instructions to pour both directly into the basin of the washer, but decided to try this method. Not all of the baking soda came out of the container, and it left a stubborn film on both glass containers that took a few washes to remove, but overall I think it worked. Our dishwasher is now very clean, and no more water in the bottom! I think the vinegar may have even cleared up our kitchen sink drains too – they seem to be draining better than normal. Bonus!
I then wiped down our coffee grinder, toaster and rice cooker. We use the coffee grinder daily, and the other two at least once a week. We could not live without our Oster rice cooker – we’ve had this thing for 3 years and it is simple and amazing. Things I didn’t know #2: Toasters have a crumb tray! Brilliant. Cleaning these small appliances only took me about 8 minutes total.
Day 2 – Tuesday: Wipe down and organize pantry
Total time: 1 hour
Step 1: Take everything out of your pantry.
Step 2: Wipe down shelves, as well as the inside and outside of pantry door.
Step 3: Throw old stuff out. Like the basket full of Christmas stocking goodies from my grandma that was in our pantry and we haven’t touched in 4 months. Including, but not limited to: rice krispie treats, peppermints, sixlets, and Things I didn’t know #3: Squirrel Nut Zippers. I don’t even know wtf is a Squirrel Nut Zipper?? But we had ’em.
Step 4: Put stuff back, hopefully in an organized fashion. We have a narrow pantry, so I use containers to keep like items together and easy to access and move around if needed. My favorites are these baskets to keep together things like pasta packets, snacks/popcorn, and oatmeal packets/breakfast items. One of the best items we got from our wedding registry was these OXO Pop Containers for keeping rice, pasta, quinoa, cereal, sugar, flour, you name it.
Day 3 – Wednesday: Throw out expired food from the fridge and freezer
Total time: 35 minutes
This task was apparently out of order according to the 30 day cleaning challenge, which lists scrubbing down the fridge one day, and then organizing and tossing expired foods the next. Which makes zero sense. If you’re going to scrub down your fridge, you have to take everything out to do it. So I went through everything, and threw expired stuff out. This was pretty painless because we don’t keep a whole lot in our fridge.
Day 4 – Thursday: Empty and wipe down fridge and freezer, reorganize
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Pretty self-explanatory. Couldn’t tell you why it took so long. Things I didn’t know #4: Everything takes much longer than you think it should. The claim in the 30 day cleaning challenge that each task should only take 20 minutes to an hour is a stretch. I have yet to complete anything in 20 minutes. My average for week 1 was over 1 hour, but the oven day skewed it a bit.
Day 5 – Friday: Nada. Happy hour was calling my name.
Did I mention this is going to be more like the 40 day cleaning challenge by the time I get 30 tasks done? What do you think I am, a machine?
Day 6 – Saturday: Clean oven and microwave
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Things I had suspected, but hadn’t confirmed until Saturday: All of the articles/blog posts that you’ve read that say something like “look at this filthy oven! oh no! but wait… just mix up this vinegar/baking soda/dish soap mix, spread it all over the oven and let it sit, wipe it down with just a little scrub, and voila! Sparkling clean oven!!” are COMPLETE. Bull. Shit. Yep, I said it. Here’s what we did:
First, started with a dish soap and water wipe down, which did basically nothing.
Next, followed the rest of this method, which came straight out of the cleaning challenge post, and I will say worked better than the plain baking soda/vinegar solution that we tried last time.
I even let it sit for a total of 5 hours before wiping down.
Fairly effective, but no match for all of the nasty black junk that is super stuck to the bottom of the oven. Ok wait, I have to edit myself here… there is one part we didn’t do, which is run the self-cleaning feature on the oven. Jesse has read that using the self-cleaning cycle on ovens can cause more harm than it does good. So we skipped it. Maybe that is the magic trick that we are missing?? Anyone have experience with this?
So, after quite a bit of scrubbing and wiping down of the natural cleaning paste, we brought out the big guns (I was so sick of the oven at this point that I talked Jesse into helping). We heated the oven to 200, shut it off, and sprayed this Zep Oven/Grill Cleaner on the bottom and sides of the oven (per directions on the cleaner). This stuff is no joke, it does put off some serious fumes and you shouldn’t inhale it. After letting it sit about 15 minutes, we were able to scrub and scrape off a surprising amount of black gunk, considering how much we had already removed with the natural cleaner.
We used a plastic scraper that came with our Pampered Chef pizza stone, and it helped a bunch. We then had to wipe the whole thing down with a dry paper towel, and then again with a wet paper towel to remove as much of the heavy duty cleaner as possible. Here are the final results. Pretty good, but still not sparkling clean. Good ’nuff for me.
We also cooked a frozen pizza the next day, which tasted a bit chemical-ly and may or may not have been poison. So you might want to heat up your oven and let it run for a bit empty to try and cook off any remaining cleaner.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the microwave! It was cake compared to the oven. And I’ll tell you why. We bought these microwaveable splatter covers over a year ago – I kept telling myself we didn’t need them, that they were an unnecessary expense that was kind of dumb. So not dumb!! They keep our microwave so clean. It took me about a minute to wipe down the inside. The hardest part was the outside top of the microwave, which has accumulated a layer of dust, glued down with grease. Took a little scrubbing with Lysol, but nothing compared to the oven!
Day 7 – Sunday: Rest and recover from the oven incident.
Next up for week 2… finish the Kitchen and take on the Bathroom.
Do you have a Spring Cleaning routine? What is your favorite cleaning secret or tip?