Tag Archives: cleaning

Teaching the Kids to Clean the Bathroom with Vinegar

Cleaning the bathroom with vinegar

Like most kids their age, my kids can make a rather horrendous mess in the bathroom. The biggest part of it lately has been due to their rediscovery of the process by which dirt becomes mud.

Lots and lots of mud. To dig in or even smear on their skin.

I’ve had to haul the hose out a few times to get them clean enough to even be allowed in the house. Yep, it’s pretty cute and the times I’ve taken the camera out for it has made for some great pictures.

But it sure leaves a mess in the bathroom when they’re washing up from being just slightly dirty.

This lead to a quick decision by my husband and I. They get to clean their own bathroom from now on.

It’s a nice help. They both make quite a mess in there, and my son creates the additional messes that little boys are prone to creating. They’re old enough to do it. And vinegar is so safe I don’t have to worry about their health as they clean.

It’s a pretty easy skill to teach if you don’t expect perfection. I presented my kids with paper towels and a spray bottle of vinegar. I plan on moving to microfiber towels one of these days, but haven’t quite made it yet.

Then I showed them what I wanted done, helping them figure out how to do it and how to notice where dirt was still clinging to surfaces. That was actually one of the bigger challenges. My kids aren’t much worried about dirt these days.

Results were pretty good. Sure, it took longer to supervise and help them than to do it myself, but it’s a way to help them learn to be responsible. And it’s nice to have them cleaning with something that they won’t be hurting themselves with.

Are Paper Towels Really Necessary?

I’ll admit it. I can be a bit of a paper towel junkie.

Not too bad. I don’t dry my hands with them (I use a cloth towel for that), but I still use paper towel probably more than I should, given the waste.

It’s 99.9% the convenience of it all. Kids are messy and paper towels are fast. When you’re cleaning up several spills a day most days, you get very fond of convenience.

At the same time I do think about the overall impact. Overusing paper towels generates quite a bit of waste. Using cloth over and over can be better.

There are some things which I do like paper towels better for. I use cast iron frying pans, and oiling them for storage I find paper towels are simpler. Otherwise I’d get a single use out of a clean towel and have to get oil out of it. I’d pretty much need a dedicated set that I didn’t mind the oil on.

If you can, I recommend switching to primarily cloth towels. If you have a nice supply in the hand towel or washcloth size range you can cope well with most jobs you would have used a paper towel for.

One of the tricks is to know that they often can be reused. If it’s a stinky or germy job you may only get one use before you need to wash, but just drying off your hands won’t require that you immediately send the towel to the wash. Keep that balance.

Different kinds of cloths can do some jobs better. There are some things I prefer the old style cloth diapers for. Not the new kind that work so nicely as diapers, but the old ones you can still see at the baby stores that you’d probably have to fold up a couple together to really soak up what babies can generate. The ones I have are pretty thin, but they do the job quite nicely in the place of paper towels a lot of the time, even if they aren’t pretty.

Other jobs do well with the standard terrycloth kind of towels. You’ll develop your own preferences as you go. The nice thing is that a cloth towel can do the job of several paper ones, as a rule, so you may be saving more than you think if you just count by the job.

Will I be giving up paper towels entirely anytime soon? Probably not. But I am working to steadily decrease my usage of them. It’s a challenging thing to give up with young children in the house.

How to Clean Outside Areas

I got thinking on the topic of summer today when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher commented that there are only 4 Mondays left in our school year. It was one of those “wow, summer’s almost here” moments for me.

That, of course, brought me to thinking about cleaning up the outside of the house. Living in southern California, it’s pretty practical to keep the outside areas of the house nice all year. We don’t get much rain here, after all, never mind significantly colder weather.

One of those things that has always been a bit annoying is how some people like to clean their walkways and driveways with the hose. Considering the water situation in our area, I hope to see very, very little of that this year, but I know people will do it just because it’s faster.

A good broom will allow you to take care of most of the problem without water. You’ll want one that does well outdoors, which may be a little heavier duty than many like for the kitchen or other parts of the house. I always liked the big push brooms for larger areas myself.

Most of the time, that’s all you need. If there’s a dried up mess outside then yeah, you might want to get the hose as the fastest way to clean it up. But most of the time you don’t really need it.

The same goes later in the year for leaf blowers and such. Get a good rake and a broom for the walkways, and get your yard cleaned up without wasting fuel, electricity or water.

Of course, many people do one thing that is pretty green is add plants to their garden. That can be more or less green, depending on how you garden. The plastic containers that many plants come in can be problematic, although some garden centers may take them back if they’re in good condition. Use compost instead of fertilizer, and you can make your yard more beautiful without hurting the environment much.