No, you should not be having flashbacks to middle school family life class.
Rather, in the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I would share a couple posts over the following week to demonstrate how we get things done around here without losing our minds. To start, here’s a list of 10 chores I do on the first of every month.
Why do I do them on the first of the month? Because it’s an easy day for me to remember and it insures that we welcome each month with…well, cleanliness. This being the first day of a not only a new month but a new year, I thought it prudent to share with you these simple homemaking tips.
Now, if you’re thinking too hard about this, you will notice that yes, these are tasks that I only do ONCE A MONTH to supplement our other daily chores (more on that in another post). That will seem like a rather sparse schedule for some of these tasks. I mean, it’s only 12 times a year! But before you get your knickers in a twist over the fact that I only replace our toothbrush cup once a month, I ask if you can tell me when was the last time you did any of these things?
In case you are one of those who puts off your deep-cleaning until guests are coming in T-minus 3 hours (or any cleaning, for that matter) and then you really do get your knickers all in a twist, cursing every piece of clutter you find, these are speedy tasks that leave me feeling like I accomplished a lot by lunchtime. Once a month is starting to look pretty good now, huh? I hope this will inspire you to devise your own once-a-month-man-I-gotta-do-that list.
First, to the bathroom!
1. Replace bathroom toothbrush cup. We use a simple wide-mouth mason jar. It holds our toothbrushes and a little fingernail scrubby brush for getting the dirt outta my fingernails when I’ve been working outside. On the first of the month, I swap it out for a clean jar (which, when they’re not holding canned goods are excellent water glasses) and put the old one in the dishwasher. 30 seconds.
2. Clean the bathroom soap dish. After a while, the soap dish gets soggy and old soap sticks to the bottom. I take 30 seconds to set the soaps aside (one is our hand soap, the other is my face soap), run the dish under hot water, and scrub out the soap remnants. Good as new!
3. Mop the bathroom floor. This is actually a two-fer task because lord knows I don’t wanna mop a hairy floor. So, first I either sweep or vacuum up all the hair on the floor (the dogs’ and mine). Then I move everything off the floor, spray with some nice lavender and lime bathroom cleaner, and put a little elbow grease into the microfiber mop to wipe it down. Our bathroom is pretty small, as you can see, so this takes maybe 2 minutes tops. Once it dries, I put everything back in and throw the mop cloth in the washer.
Are we having fun yet? Onward! To the kitchen!
4. Sharpen knives. I use a honing steel on my two chef’s knives to bring the crisp edge back. For the amount of cooking I do (I’m not a chef, and I don’t work in a restaurant), and because they are good-quality knives, I rarely need to sharpen them more than once a month. (And if I do, I just do it when I need to). Doing it at least once a month insures that I have sharp (read: safer) knives to use for our meal prep. 90 seconds.
5. Oil the cutting board. Now, if you don’t have a wooden cutting board, you won’t need to do this. This end-grain cutting block was a wedding gift from dear friends, and I think it is the one thing that I know I use every single day. It gets a daily cleaning with a 50/50 vinegar/water spray and a clean cloth, but once a month it gets a deep clean. Step 1: Scrub some baking soda on top to help peel off any food that got stuck on there, absorb odors, etc. Step 2: Wipe down with 50/50 spray again. Step 3: Rub in some mineral oil with a clean cloth. I work in sections, squirting a little oil in a squiggly line and then rubbing in a with-the-grain direction with the cloth. If you just got a wood cutting board, here’s what you do to keep it in ship-shape: oil that baby once a day for a week, once a week for a month, and once a month for forever and all eternity. 5 minutes.
6. Clean the stovetop. This is one of those things that I wish I did more frequently, but find that I’m either too tired to do, convince myself that “it’s just a little stain,” or – most frequently – the stovetop is being used as a parking lot for drying pots and pans. Once a month holds me accountable. Sprinkle baking soda all over – especially in greasy spots. Drizzle some castille soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s peppermint) throughout the baking soda. Use a scrubby cloth to mix the baking soda and soap together and scrub the stovetop surface. Rinse with water and 50/50 spray until you can wipe it clean. 6-7 minutes.
7. Refill the rinse agent slot on the dishwasher. I don’t know what this gizmo is called. That little circle thing in front of the soap holder. I don’t even know how often one is supposed to refill it. Ours is missing its hat, too. But dutifully, on the first of the month, I refill this thing with an eco-friendly rinse agent. (Don’t have this? Just use white vinegar, as I will do once this bottle runs out). Keeps the dishwasher running smoothly and our glasses rinse clean. 45 seconds.
8. Clean the vacuum cleaner filter. I know the process for doing this may vary by vacuum model. I myself didn’t realize it needed to be done, until just a few months ago when I had to consult the vacuum cleaner owner’s manual to disassemble a piece to clean out some dog vomit with which I had managed to coat all the inner workings of the machine…ANYway…*Nerd Alert* I discovered that the owner’s manual recommends frequent cleanings of the vacuum filter. Not the container that catches all the stuff – that we empty after every vacuum session. But this little secondary filter thing…it’s like a sponge. All I do is remove it, rinse and squeeze it under cool running water, marvel at all the dirt that comes out, and let it air dry until completely dry. Do you do this? You must give it a try. I promise you’ll be amazed – excited, even, perhaps more so than the excitement you felt while reading your vacuum owner’s manual – the next time you vacuum with a clean filter, especially if you have a carpet of dog hair on top of your carpeting. 2 minutes.
9. Wash the bedsheets. I don’t know how often people wash their sheets, so don’t judge me if I am washing less frequently than the average citizen. I think I once heard that every 2 weeks is good for keeping dust mites down. That’s a good goal. I have found that once a month is more realistic though. I wash everything – sheets, pillowcases – and then flip the duvet around (because, you know, it settles over time and suddenly you’re yanking up the duvet cover in your sleep in a futile attempt to stay warm while the actual duvet scrunches up on the floor at the foot of your bed?). It’s winter, so we’ve got flannel sheets on and our big wool-filled duvet on top. Cozy! 65 minutes, mostly inactive time.
10. Sweep the front entryway. Leaves and dirt build up out there! I take a broom and sweep those babies away. It makes the entrance to our home seem tidy, and welcomes guests before they’ve even entered the (now-clean) home. Plus, depending on the size of your front entryway, it could be viewed as a good ol’fashioned workout so you can burn calories and tidy up! 3-4 minutes.
Say! It’s still the first of the month! If you’ve got 23 minutes and a washer/dryer, you too can join the first-of-the-month-deep-cleaning-club*.
*(I just made that up**).
**(But if you are suddenly excited about doing mundane things like cleaning***, then my work here is done).
***(Danny Tanner would approve, don’t you think?)
What will you commit to doing at least 12 times more regularly in 2013? Eating dark greens? Vacuuming? Dusting your ceiling fan blades? Do tell.