I know mess well. Piles of clothes on the chairs; lack of ability to use my desk because of stuff; hours spent obsessive cleaning; the mess following half an hour after. That was totally me! Honestly, the only thing I kept on top of was the kitchen and even then I often left dishes in the sink.
But now I am a different person and the evidence is that cleaning the apartment has no visible change. Somehow we are now magically clean and tidy. I call this magic minimalism and KonMari*. Now we own less and what we do own has its own place and that completely changed our day-to-day. And when we employ the one-minute rule it becomes a recipe for success (I don’t postpone anything that will take me just a minute to do).
Housekeeping in our small flat is now a very smooth routine. I am personally proud of the processes we have established as we really aren’t naturally clean and tidy. At the same time I do need a tidy space to function successfully. In this way we start every day (and every week) fresh.
Additionally, I try to use natural products. After all we do breathe in everything around us, wear it on us or make our food in it. I read somewhere (obviously I don’t remember where) that the levels of toxins inside a home are higher than those outside due to the concentration of cleaning products and natural products also don't often come in plastic and reduce unwanted waste.
In the morning I make the bed and unload the dish washer so it is ready to be filled throughout the day. After dinner and a film we tidy the flat together. After my cooking the counters are messy, and after relaxing on the sofa the pillows are usually on the floor.
We fill the dishwasher, hand wash whatever doesn't fit (we have a small machine) and that's the dishes done. Right now we are using Ecover’s dishwasher tablets. They do a good job although they come individually packaged; for a while now we’ve been cutting the tablets in half because If one is for a big dishwasher then half is enough for ours. Or at least that’s the logic.
For hand washing we use Ecover’s washing up liquid, which we bought 10 monts ago and is still ¼ full (and I use it to clean in the bathroom as well). We use normal sponges, as we had a big quantity which needed to be used up, but with the correct maintenance I don’t change them too often. I am considering getting one of those natural brushes for dishes to make the process more zero waste, but let’s get through these first. For more serious business we use a metal sponge and baking soda (which is also great for oven cleaning). It does a great job for all occasions except for burned popcorn (help! I have no idea how to deal with burned popcorn).
After the kitchen is done we get the living room tidy and put the clothes from the bed in their places, that way we go to bed and wake up in a tidy space and almost never look for things like crazy and it makes us feel great and keeps us sane.
Every Sunday afternoon we spend about an hour cleaning. Whether we’ve been on a walk, at a family lunch or just stayed inside on a rainy Sunday, we will always clean our home together. Everyone has their own tasks and we do them at the same time so it’s fair.
Nic cleans Thor’s cage, take out the bins, vacuums and changes the bed sheets (every two weeks). I dust the flat, clean the kitchen and the bathroom and load the washing machine. Usually we hang the washing together. I have never used a tumble dryer and I am not interested either. I’d rather use a air rack which is the most natural way. The only thing that I miss and have been missing since moving to England is the ability to hang washing outside where I can use the sun and wind – but some day it won’t be a problem.
For dusting I use a rag from old clothes and white vinegar diluted with water and a few drops of essential oil. The vinegar has a natural antibacterial function and the smell disappears once the surfaces are dry and only the essential oil smell is left. It really doesn’t sound like an amazing option, but truth is it doesn’t do less of a job than any other “normal” products. In our small flat there are not surfaces that require special attention. For natural alternative for special surfaces (like exposed wood) you can consult Bea Johnson at Zero Waste Home.
For the washing we use Ecover’s detergent. I am not satisfied with it as it leave white marks on the clothes and I have to rinse the load twice, not very eco. I was very happy with the soap nuts I used last year; a 100% natural method, also applicable to cosmetics. I will probably go back to them once this detergent is used up. For hand washing (or at a camp site) I use the DUR soap, but when I finish the ones I have (in 15 years) I would like to try something more interesting.
The bathroom I clean with Ecover’s washing up liquid and a wooden brush or an old tooth brush because if it foams up and cleans, it doesn’t matter that it's not labeled for bathrooms. Somehow I think that using different products for different surfaces might be a consumerist trap.
The hoover is with a container that it emptied directly in the bins, neither of which are lined with bags. When we don’t through away anything dirty there is no point for it (plus, you can’t bin recycling in a bag in England).
Who Gives a Crap
Oh, and something else – our toilet paper Who Gives a Crap. We recently ordered it and it comes in great zero waste packaging. The company is Australian and they have recently been introduced in England therefore we could only buy 48 rolls of toilet paper. For us that is a year’s worth of toilet paper, but it makes our bathroom so colourful and it’s cheaper than at the supermarket. The paper is 100% recycled, no bleach, inks, dyes or aromas. As they say: “Our 3-ply is as soft as unicorn kisses and as strong as 1000 ponies”. 50% of their profit goes to building toilets for people in need. Win, win!
And that is how we take care of our home. As I mentioned before I am no specialist so I would advise anyone to do their own research.
This time I need help finding alternatives for:
Sponges for dishes
How to clean burned pans from popcorn.
*Soon I will publish a blog about Marie Kondo and her philosophy for a clean home.