For most of us cleaning house is a fact of life – something we do more often than we’d like and something that isn’t always a lot of fun. Yet we often skimp on our supplies when investing just a little more would make the process much more pleasurable.
I know I’ve been making do with a lot of falling-apart and dysfunctional cleaning products for years, and sometimes feel weird about investing extra money into something like a yummy-smelling counter spray when a cheap, smelly spray would work just as well.
But with a few exceptions, most of the “upgraded” products I list below only cost a few dollars more than their cheaper counterparts, and if it makes cleaning the house less of a chore, I think it’s money well spent. (I’ll gladly skimp elsewhere so I can use Method or Mrs. Meyers cleaning sprays, for example!)
So here you have it – my list of 10 “upgraded” products that I am putting into action to make cleaning my house less of a chore. Are you ready to swap in some of these more pleasant-to-use products in 2013?
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1. Wonderful-Smelling, Nontoxic Cleaning Products
Let’s face it, cleaning up errant pee off the toilet seats is never going to be exactly “fun.” But when I use a really yummy-smelling spray, like this French Lavender-scented multi-purpose cleaner by Method, everyday clean-up is a bit more tolerable. You can also make your own “custom-scented” cleaner by mixing one part white vinegar to one part water and adding about 15-20 drops of lavender, lemon or another essential oil (I use that solution on my floors and in other areas that need a lot of cleaner at once.) I’ve also had luck finding hugely discounted fancy cleaning products (Caldrea, etc) at TJ Maxx.
2. A New Broom
I’ve been using the same broom since about 2004, and it’s a bit of a debacle – sometimes I feel like I’m actually adding MORE dust bunnies to the floor when I use it. I’ve been wanting a nice, traditional-looking corn broom for a while, and I’ve decided 2013 will be the year to do it.
3. A Grown-Up Vacuum
I used to hate vacuuming with a white-hot passion. Then I got a vacuum cleaner that cost more than $50 (I actually won it as a door prize at BlogHer 2009!) and realized that it wasn’t vacuuming that was the problem, but dealing with cheap, non-functional cleaners that were clunky, heavy, and didn’t get the job done. I still wouldn’t say vacuuming is my favorite chore, but I’m learning to loathe it less. Now that I’ve had a midrange vacuum for going on four years, I think I’m ready to upgrade even more to a real grown-up machine like this $299 Miele model. It’ll be an investment, but with five kids and two dogs I vacuum a lot – and I’d like to enjoy the process more.
4. Lambswool Duster
I don’t know what it is with dust, but I feel like I’m suddenly seeing a lot more of it around the house. Have I started to get pickier in my old(er) age? Did the addition of the second dog put us over the edge into maximum dust production? Is it because I finally got some non-hideous light fixtures and spend more time looking at them than I did the old ones? Either way, lately it’s been getting to me: on fan blades and blinds and furniture, the dust needs to go, and a pretty, functional product like this “dust magnet” lambswool duster will make it easier to get the job done.
5. Streamlined Recycling Storage
Right now we have our standard-issue recycling bin in the pantry. Two problems: it’s too big for the space and makes it hard to move around in the pantry, and the shallow design means there’s always stuff falling out. Since we have to swap out bins every few days anyway, why not keep the ugly plastic bins in the garage and use attractive, less bulky bags – like these Kangaroom Recycling Bags - for temporary storage?
6. A Better Mop
Bleh, meh, blargh. That’s how I’ve felt about almost every mop I’ve ever owned. Some just seem to push filth around while others require lugging a heavy bucket of dirty water around. The spray mops have intrigued me but I hate the waste involved with the disposable mop pads, as well as how you’re often roped into using a specific cleaning product (I like to use vinegar and water only on my wood and cork floors.) A few months ago I got this Libman Freedom Spray Mop and I love it. The microfiber head is reusable, it requires no batteries, and you can use any kind of cleaner you want in the spray compartment. Less waste, less expense, and you can start every cleaning session with a clean mop head. Love it.
7. A Good-Lookin’ Laundry Basket
Raise your hand if you’ve been using the same laundry baskets since you first had children. Keep your hand up if you’ve been using the same laundry baskets since college. Now keep your hand up if you have at least one laundry basket in your house that came from your childhood home. Uh-huh…I thought so.
I know laundry baskets can be a hard thing to get rid of (they still technically work, even if the handles are missing and you keep cutting yourself on the edges of broken plastic) but I, for one, am tired of torturing myself all the way to the washing machine (and back from the dryer.) I like this Rubbermaid laundry hamper because it looks nice (which means I won’t feel bad about leaving it lingering in the dining room by the basement door) and is narrower, so there’s less risk of banging my knuckles on door frames and stair rails.
8. Duplicates of Your Favorite Products
How many times a week do you find yourself running up or down stairs to grab a cleaner or rag? Keeping extras of your favorite products on each floor – and perhaps in different areas of each floor, if you have a large house – is a simple fix. Make things easy on yourself and buy your favorite products in two-packs, like these Method cleaning wipes.
9. “Designer” Rubber Gloves
Sorry, Mom: I almost never – like, never ever – wear gloves when I clean. Not when I scrub pans, not when I scrub the tub, and not when I scrub the toilet. I guess I’ve always thought of them as fussy, old-fashioned…a 50′s housewife-y throwback. Well, as my hands age along with the rest of my person, I’m finding more and more that “dishpan hands” are a real thing, and they aren’t pretty. Perhaps it’s vain, but I’m getting over myself and investing in some good gloves to protect these hands. These “glamour gloves” are a cute alternative to traditional yellow gloves and I think will be a lot more fun to use.
10. Color-Coded Cleaning Cloths
I’m always forgetting which microfiber cloth I use on the stainless steel and which one’s covered in furniture oil. Since I love geeking out with color-coded markers, pens, and calendars, it just stands to reason that I’d get a little thrill out of these color-coded cleaning cloths. Writing the cloth’s purpose on its tag with a fine-point permanent marker is another great way to beat the “forgetsies.”
Have you upgraded any of your cleaning products lately…or do you need to? Please share your recommendations – or frustrations with your current supplies – in the comments below!