Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Are You Putting Cheese in the Toilet?

Cleaning the homestead takes up part of my day, but not as much as some people think. I've spent some time going around the house, thinking of chores for every room and delegating them to a capable child. I've got 4 chore ready children. If everyone does at least one chore a day; it really adds up. And, oh yes, I've made up a chore chart. (I love charts!) I've cleverly titled it the "How Can I Help?" chart so that my kids won't think they are actually working.

There were a few obstacles to overcome when I first started having kids do chores.

The first obstacle was internal. I had to get over the fact that, well, it just wasn't going to get done exactly as I would have liked it done. In my mind, I had some pretty high standards (my grandmother alphabetizes her spices and deep freeze and you should see my Mom's house). Amazingly, this hurdle wasn't that hard to jump. Apparently, the farther down the family tree you fall, the easier it is to lower your standards. Poor Ellie and Abby! Actually, I needed the help and knew it couldn't do it all by myself. Besides, if I squint my eyes in just the right way, I can't see the dirt...too much.

The second obstacle was the initial time investment. Not one my kids were born with the innate ability to empty the trash or make a bed or clean a bathroom. They've all had to be taught and taught again and reminded one more time. "No, you don't wipe the counter with the same rag you just used to clean around the bottom of the toilet." It has taken time, but it has been paid back to me a hundred fold. Just ask me the last time I cleaned the kitchen floor!

The final obstacle were the actual products they were going to be using to clean. After I saw Nathan, our oldest, spray Windex at the front of the refrigerator and all that spray bounce back in his face, I knew that wasn't going to work. I didn't want my kids cleaning with things that could injure them. So, I started looking around for safer cleaners. After ogling at lots of pricey and lovely sounding organic, bio-degradable, herbal based bottles online, I had a revelation.

Baking soda, water and vinegar!

Just look it up online - these things are amazing! The book that got me started with these is Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean. Great book!

Plus, they can't hurt a kid. I mean, really, we eat them all the time. We've even done a school project with them when we reenacted the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, complete with little paper house and trees in our sandbox.

To top it all off - they work great and they are CHEAP! I buy gallon jugs of white vinegar at the grocery store and 5lb bags of baking soda at Sam's Club. Get yourself a good spray bottle and an empty Parmesan cheese shaker and you are good to go.

We use vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean counters, the outside of the toilet, mirrors, walls, appliances, and sometimes floors. The baking soda is used just like scouring powder (aka. Comet) in toilets, bathtubs and sinks. It even does a bang up job taking grease off of stove tops and cleaning stainless steel sinks.

So, grab yourself a few kids, some supplies from your pantry and get the party started.

(Disclaimer: From time to time, I do clean the toilet with some bleach. It just has to be done. Also, my oldest son does the kitchen floor and he uses a product called "Jungle Jake." Some chemicals, yes, but he can drive a car so I figure he'll be careful.)


  1. Thanks for the post. I struggle with asking B to do chores- easier and faster to do it myself. You have inspired me. Would you share your chart? I also love vinegar and water. Have you ever read Queen of Clean? She uses those pantry items, plus lemon juice and a couple of other natural things too. :)Stacey G

  2. The Queen of Clean is where I learned about using baking soda, Stacey. Thanks for reminding me. I included a link above.

    Remind me how old B is?


  3. He is 8 1/2. I know that is lame that he doesn't have set chores to do- I have really dropped the ball on that one. :) Wyatt will be 3 on Sunday.


  4. I wish I would have known you 30 years ago or so. Am I saying I wish I would have known your mother? What I'm saying is, somehow, miraculously, my kids grew up, but it was not much due to me I don't think. I do also love the uses of vinegar. It works BETTER than Windex.