Before you start scrubbing and sweeping, check your toolbelt
We no longer live in the DIY era. We’ve discussed it on this very blog. In the age of the sharing economy and tech driven platforms, affordable, reliable help has never been easier to locate. But we’re not richer than we were a generation or two ago, and gone are the days of maids or housekeepers. Many families do still rely on the weekly or biweekly visit of a housekeeper, but the family spends ample time getting things organized so that the cleaning person can do their job anyway.
If you are like the vast majority of Americans, you do all your own cleaning and organizing. Perhaps that’s why the difficult messes continue to pile up? We have to cook and do the dishes. We have to work full time jobs and shuttle kids around to piano practice or the skatepark. If we’re lucky, we might add a bit of a social life to our schedules. Where does the time come from to clean and organize?
Because we are so very stretched on time, we need to be as efficient and quick as possible when cleaning the house. Otherwise, we simply won’t get to it, and things will only get worse. That’s why we need the cleaning toolbelt. It could be a literal toolkit, or a bucket, whatever you have to spare. The idea is to have all the things we need, even when we didn’t think we would need them, right at our side. When we cut down on trips to and from the basement or garage, we save a great deal of time. And when we can take quick stock of what we have and what we need to replenish, it becomes easier to make sure we don’t run out of important products.
The Tools of the Trade
Bucket and Belt
We alread gave away the first one. Get a bucket, or a toolkit. You will then want to pair it with a toolbelt for maximum efficiency. It seems funny to click into a belt before getting to work on washing the windows and drapes, but for decades our handymen and women have held the key to success around their waists.
Fill the bucket with the cleaning solutions and sprays you use whenever you clean the house. That’s the all-purpose spray and window spray, but also the toilet bowl cleaner and the tiny little cooktop spritzer bottle. If you find that you have too much, get a second bucket. You have two hands. You can carry both with you. Or you can leave one upstairs and one downstairs. Just make sure both of them have everything you need for that floor.
Fill the belt with tools you use, even if you only use them once or twice a year. Scissors, pliers, both types of screwdriver heads. Why would you need a hammer? You will be shocked at the little things you tackle, like rehanging a poorly placed picture, when you have the tools handy.
In the Bucket
It’s hardly a complete list, and each home is going to vary, but here’s a quick list of the things you might include in your cleaning bucket(s):
Sponge, All-Purpose Cleaner, Window Cleaner, Bath and Tile Spray, Oven and Stove Spray, Vinegar Solution, Damp Rag, Dry Rag, Countertop Treatments, Spot Remover, Febreeze, Wood Polish
On the Belt
Everyone tackles a different set of projects. Old homes require a lot more tweaking and elbow grease, but this list can get you started:
Hammer, Staple Gun, Scissors, 2 x Screwdriver, Safety Glasses, Gloves, Pliers, Duster, Knee Pads, Level, Dust Mask, Hairnet
In both the bucket and the belt, keep a small list of the items you carry. When you think of something you should add, jot it down. After each cleaning, look through your stuff and use that list to mark down items that need to be purchased or replenished. No more staring and wondering while you’re standing in the cleaning aisle at the grocery. You know what you need and how much you need.
On last tip. Slow down. You will get more done by putting yourself into a focused flow-state than you ever will muscling through things at a frenetic pace. Haste makes waste. It also causes errors and it wears you out. Create a sustainable, rhythmic, calculated pace that allows you to get the job done well the first time without error.
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