Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Spring cleaning/Autumn cleaning

All of a sudden in the past week, I have started to feel the need to really clean and clear the house of clutter and wasted space. It's that springtime feeling, although right now it's the start of Autumn in the UK. I reckon this must be because my brain is ready for spring around this time of year since that's the season in South Africa (my birth country) right now. But then houses do unfortunately need more than one deep clean de-clutter a year (or at least ours does), so this feeling I have is probably a good thing. I figured for my next few posts I will be featuring things to do around the house to super clean and re-organise the house room by room, ready for the next big season which happens to be winter here. Of course if you are reading this in the southern hemisphere, this will be going right along with the spring cleaning theme, so join in.

I'll start off with the room I think is the most important room in a home - it's the room that keeps us healthy and happy, and probably unhealthy and overweight too, but we spend so much time going backwards and forwards in - the kitchen. An untidy kitchen is easy to achieve, with pots, pans, clean crockery, dirty mugs all living in the kitchen, this is the room that often gets messy first when you move into a new house. So it's important to keep a kitchen organised and functional. Here's our kitchen to-do list and how-to's:

Chuck it!
The number one rule of spring (or autumn) cleaning the kitchen is to throw out of date items in the rubbish bin. If you are using a master shopping list, this is the time to make a note of things you can take off your master shopping list, and what needs to be added. Be ruthless, even go through you utensils drawer and throw away any gadgets that are taking up space yet no one can be bothered to use them.

Re-organise

This gorgeous photo is by Hownowdesigns

Really think about how you use your kitchen - stand back and look at your kitchen objectively. Re-organise your kitchen cupboards to make tasks more convenient. For instance, having your dishwasher on the opposite side of the kitchen to the cupboard where you store your plates , mugs and glasses will make unpacking the dishwasher more of an inconvenience and time consuming. So streamline your kitchen. There are no set rules about how to organise your kitchen, just do it to suit you and your family. If you can get the kids to help with unpacking the dishwasher or setting the table, move plates and cups to lower cabinets so that they can easily reach these items without your help. Put herbs, spices and oils in a cupboard near the cooker (but not above or the heat will make them go off). Of course, before you start re-packing kitchen cupboards do wipe down the inside of the cupboards. Leaving crumbs and spills inside cupboards is a sure way to attract mice and cockroaches.

If you have space on top of your kitchen cabinets, do not be tempted to pile random unused items there - get rid of anything you've not used within the past year. The space on top of kitchen cupboards is notorious for gathering dust and getting rather mucky. Instead buy some pretty storage boxes or baskets (preferably with a lid) in which you can store things you don't use often. An example of this could be pudding basins which mainly get used in winter, or special shaped cake tins that you only need once a year.
So try and arrange your kitchen seasonally. We move our slow cooker to the front of the cupboard in winter, and push the smoothie maker to the back and of course vice verse for the summer.
Fridge magnets
Fridge magnets are fun, but they really can make the fridge become an unattractive cluttered part of the kitchen, with notes stuck all over and magnets arranged randomly. I never thought I'd be de-cluttering the door of my fridge, but that is what I did on Friday night, and now I can't stop thinking how much better and tidier it looks (I really must remember to take before and after photos when I do these things). And yet, other that the fridge poetry magnets that we never use, I kept all our magnets as well as some of the notes. All I did was to arrange all the magnets neatly in a row, and made sure that any papers we put on the fridge was not just held by one magnet in a corner, but with four magnets, one for each corner so that papers lie flat against the refrigerator. Small changes can make big differences.

Now I know that children's artwork don't strictly fall into the kitchen category, but once again the fridge seems to be the place where most of the children's artwork ends up in family homes. A good tip from the Organized Life book by Stephanie Denton (I love this book!), is to let kids help you choose the favourite artwork of the month, the rest gets discarded. Then take a photo of your child holding their artwork of the month and eventually you will end up with a photo album of your children growing up with their art. I also think that if you have the space, you could save each artwork of the month until the end of the school year. At the end, once again select your and your child's favourite and discard the rest. Once again, eventually you can make a portfolio of your child's artwork - one from each year. This would make a great keepsake.

Oh, and while we're on the fridge, clean the rubber seals around the refrigerator door while you're there!

Label, label, label!


Photo from teh brilliant I shot the chef blog

Once your cupboards are re-organised and you are feeling chuffed with yourself (it does feel good having an organised kitchen) don't be afraid to label where things go. Labelling the insides of cupboards, or top parts of drawers (you want the labels to be concealed when the drawers are closed) may seem a bit anal, but it does seem to work and will stop you in your tracks next time you are hastily about to put the scissors in the cutlery drawer.


Scrub clean the oven

Image from Flickr

A big part of spring cleaning a kitchen of course is probably the bit of housework everyone hates the most... cleaning the oven. As always, it's tempting to buy a chemical oven cleaner from the supermarket, but DON'T! Commercial oven cleaner contain some of the most toxic chemicals of all household cleaners. The majority of these oven cleaners contain lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide). Lye is extremely toxic, corrosive and gives off choking fumes. It burns the skin, the eyes and can attack internal organs if inhaled. The newer, 'better' and 'more efficient' oven cleaners are in aerosol sprays which are even worse because small droplets containing lye can drift and land on the skin, in the eyes and are easily inhaled which could damage the sensitive tissues of the lungs. Have I convinced you yet to give up on commercial oven cleaners?

The alternative is simply using bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) or lemons - much healthier. If you have a lot of hard caked spills in the oven, try using an oven proof bowl containing lemon wedges covered with water, and place in the oven at 100 C for 20 to 30 minutes. This should help soften some of the grease. Alternatively lightly spray the entire oven with water, the sprinkle bicarbonate of soda liberally over the base of the oven and spray lightly with water again. Leave to sit overnight, and don't turn the oven on. By morning the grease and burnt spills should be soft enough to wipe away. Tougher bits can be removed with a palette knife or steel wool. Repeat the process if necessary. Rinse well with a vinegar solution (one part vinegar to 4 parts water) to get rid of the residue. For future use, you can line your oven with foil (making sure not to let the foil touch the element) avoiding having to clean it by replacing the foil every so often.

Sort out those hidden corners
While we're scrubbing away the oven, now is the time to forward any non built-in appliances and reveal what's behind it. You'll be amazed how many crumbs, cereal, peas and other unimaginables fall down behind kitchen appliances. Check every corner in your kitchen and make sure nothing is left behind for those pesky mice, cockroaches and ants to live on. This is your kitchen, claim it back! Okay, there you, I've calmed down now.

Sorting out the kitchen in time for the new season really is satisfying, and will hopefully inspire you to get cooking and baking again. Remember to regularly wipe down your sink, shake out the toaster, sweep the floor and clean the stove top as you cook and your kitchen should stay sparkly and healthy until springtime (or autumn of course for the southerners).

Have you got any tips to add to the spring-clean kitchen post?

Next up I'll be writing about super cleaning the bathroom... not my favourite job, but it's got to be done.

7 comments:

Lesley said...

Have commented on this post in the post below sorry not very organised :-)
Lesley x

MelMel said...

Hello!
I love your blog....i'm a at home childcarer and housewife and proud of it!

My motto has always been "tidy house tidy mind"

One of my all time fave ladies is Anthea Turner........classy lady...who keeps a neat house!

I agree there is def an art to it...i learned a lot from my mum amd granny and also my first ever boss, she was a great believer in time management!

Today, i got up, dressed and cleaned the bathroom changed the bed and dusted all b4 8.30am......then my minded children came.....we have had a well organised day...as i type they are putting the jigsaws away and then we will sit and read till their mothers come!

If i didn't have this solid routine the house would be a crazy place to live!
It sooooo makes my life easier!!!!

I think your cool!!!!!

xxxxxx

Judy said...

Thanks for the tips. I have some work to do now. I've been in the mood to reorganize a few places and getting rid of "I don't need or use" items. We must be on the same wave length. We had a cool 60 today so fall is here. And I agree it is hard to believe it is already September. Thanks for visiting and you lovely comments.

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

Its MEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Sorry that it took me so long to reply to your kind comment.
I have been naughty, spending to much time on the blogland and left all the school uniform and chores for the last day!
That`s what I call... Not being very organized!
I`m sure that if you were here next to me... you would slap my hand and tell me:
-Debbie you have been,
Naughty, Naughty, Naughty!
And I would probably say...
Ouch! It hurts! LOL!
Love this post so much!
I too feel like sorting out cupboards and wardrobes at the moment... It`s like sorting out my nest for winter and then Christmas...
Which in some ways I can`t wait...
... Having the real fire burning, hot pot meals and casseroles, home made soup...
I think you get the idea!
Thanks so much for the informative and very useful ideas and suggestions!

Kisses
Debbie Moss

My little ones are coming home from school in half an hour!
I will try to have my cup of coffee in peace while I can!
LOL

Speak to you soon!

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

Thanks so much for your kind and so lovely comment!
By the way... I think that the sweets may be lost in the post.
Everyday I have been waiting for them... but, so far nothing!
OHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
I know that they have been behind with their work, because of the Bank Holiday last week, but, I would think that they should be here by now.
maybe if you could give me the parcel number, I can go and check it out.
Sorry about that!

Kisses

"THE MOSSES FAMILY"

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

YUPPIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
MY LOVELY PARCEL AS ARRIVED YESTERDAY!
YUPPIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AGAIN!!!
I`M SO HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!
I SO WANTED "THAT BOOK"!
AND YOU ARE RIGHT ITS SO LIKE MY TASTE!
IT IS FULL WITH W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L.
IDEAS!
I LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!
THE LITTLE HANGING BIRD, IS SOOOO SWEEEEET AND CUTEEEE!
I SAW A LITTLE BIRD CASE AT WOOLWORTHS 2 DAYS AGO, IT WOULD BE PERFECT FOR MY BIRDIE... I WILL TRY TO GO THERE TODAY AND GET IT, IF STILL IS THERE...!
HE SURE NEEDS A COSY HOME, TO LIVE IN!
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE COOKIE CUTTERS, WE WILL HAVE LOTS OF FUN WITH THOSE... AND THE SWEETS DIDN`T LASTED VERY LONG!
THEY WERE VERY YUMMY!
I WILL DO A POST ABOUT YOUR GENEROUS GIFT, LATER TONIGHT!
ONCE AGAIN... I CAN`T EXPRESS HOW HAPPY I FELT WHEN I OPPENED MY PARCEL... AND EVERY TIME I LOOK AT MY GORGEOUS GIFTS I FEEL SO OVERWHELMED AND FILL UP WITH EMOTIONS...
YOU TOO ARE SO VERY KIND!

NO AMOUNT OF WORDS CAN EXPRESS HOW HAPPY I AM WITH YOUR KIND GENEROSITY!

SPEAK TO YOU SOON!
KISSES & HUGS

THE "MOSSES" FAMILY!

The Vintage Kitten said...

Hiya, I would be thrilled to bits for you to use my pictures. I cant believe it, Im chuffed that you would want to mention my bathroom on your wonderful posts. Im surprised at the amount of lovely comments my bathroom received so a mention from YOU would be the icing on a very pink cake! XXX

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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