Thursday, 26 March 2009

Laundry work

Today I want to write about the laundry.

It is a place that I love to be, cleaning and handwashing my favourite things -my clothes. Sometimes the laundry space may get a bit messy and need a re-shuffle. I'm going to write this post in the hope of inspiring myself, and you, to head into the laundry room and make it a better place to be.

If you live in shared housing, like an apartment block, you might be sharing a laundry with your neighbours. If so, the only tip I really have is to keep the machine clean by giving it an empty wash every few weeks or so. When you do this make sure you empty any filters and chuck a scoop of washing powder or detergent into the machine before you run it without clothes. This helps keep the machine fresher and your clothes cleaner.

If you have your own laundry it will be easier for you to keep it tidy and you won't need to run an empty wash as often. I do one once every couple of months, and try to empty the filter more often. I also notice a lot of lint that builds up around the edge of my machine and I try to wipe it off using a cleaning spray as often as possible. The best way to do it is to give it a spray and then a quick wipe with a piece of your dark dirty laundry and then put the wash on.

If you have a dryer, make sure you clean the lint off the cover every time you use it. I can't stress this enough. If you have too much lint your machine may overheat and spark into a fire. Also make sure the room your dryer is in is well-ventilated and never leave the dryer on when you're not home. It's a hot appliance and should be treated like a stove, iron or toaster. Always stay so you can stop a fire should one ever start. I know too many people who go out and leave their dryers on. If you burn your house down you'll never get it back, and if you live in an apartment block that's just irresponsible. Safety first.

I have a lot of clutter around my machine sometimes too. I have too many bottles of stain sprays and half empty bottles of washing detergent. Here's what to do
-find a box you can sit beside your washer or under the sink and put the items you love in it. For example, in a red container next to my machine I have my Earth Choice washing liquid, a bottle of stain removal spray, and a bottle of conditioner. I try to use up the leftovers of spare bottles every now and then. They seem to build up because just before I've finished using something I buy another one and then I start using the new one before I've finished the old.

If you have any additional things you don't have places for, like fabric soap, see if you can attach a small shelf to the wall above your machine or sink. I have a metal shelf attached to the wall in my laundry and although it is small I can fit the plug for the basin and the wierdly shaped box of laundry powder I bought on special a week or so ago. It is very handy for odds and ends, even things I find in my husband's pockets.

Make an effort to keep the area tidy and sweep and mop your floor in there every week or so. That's something I should definitely do more often, but because my laundry is outside it's easy to forget when I'm doing the house.

To make your clothes clean you want to start with a fresh and clean space.

Happy washing!!
(I love doing the laundry!!)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Occasional ants

This post is not so much about cleaning as it is about something I have observed in my house.

I have occasional ants. That's not to say that I occasionally see ants, but rather that I see the occasional ant, here or there.

There are no crumbs around, there is no water (it's hot like summer here despite our current season of supposed autumn). There is nothing for them to do. I simply see them walking around, as if they are but strolling in a pretty meadow. Perhaps an ant who came here once when there was food around thought it was a nice place to be. Perhaps he put up fliers in his hometown and sells maps to our place to ants who like to go on holiday. It might read "Are you looking for somewhere to go, away from the ant-race? One bedroom secluded getaway packages available for the adventurous ant. Call Tony, on 555-HOUSE-2-WANDER."

I can imagine them now, ants who just like to stay home and read, packing up their little rucksacks and climbing hills and crossing roads alone to get to our house, their little maps held out in front of them.

Don't get me wrong, I love having a guesthouse for ants. I love that they love coming here. What I don't get, is that I'm not getting anything of the profits. Little Tony's got it all set up and I don't know where to find him.

But gee they're cute, my occasional ants. I point them out to my baby daughter and hide them from my husband. If he saw them, he'd put ant sand all around the place. He'd ruin their getaway completely.

They're just our secret. You and me and my baby girl and the occasional ants.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Cut clutter with piles

One of the best tips I can give for removing the sense of clutter from any room, is to make piles.
-After you have de-cluttered the area initially, of course.

I have a friend who is a clutter maniac. She hoards everything, but she does it very well. And while I don't condone what she does (the hoarding) at least she does it neatly.

In her loungeroom you can find a plethora of rugs. Even too many rugs for a 5 seater lounge, you might say. But they are pretty rugs, and they are folded and stacked neatly at one end of her L-shaped lounge. They look neat and attractive and it makes me want to come home and pull rugs out of my cupboard to stack neatly.

In her bedroom, you will find an enormous array of clothes. I think she has kept every dress she bought since 1985, when she was 7. Yes, she's a pretty dress kind of girl. But she colour-co-ordinates her wardrobe and folds the jumpers she can't fit in her drawers neatly on a mat in the corner of her room. It looks more like a display than clutter. It is pretty, and it makes me want to buy a pretty display mat for my room.

In her bathroom, she has an excessive amount of bath toys that belong to her nephews. She piles them into mesh bags that suction onto the walls above her bath. They have become organised mess rather than a pile of clutter.

And in her kitchen, she stores an enormous array of food. It is almost too much food for someone who lives alone, you might say. But she does this neatly too. She piles her food up in the refrigerator and in her cupboards in labelled Decor containers. It looks inviting, it looks colourful and interesting, and it makes me want to invest in 1000 decor contsiners. But I think she bought all the ones they made in the last year.

So she is an example that you can have a lot of stuff, if you just keep it neat and tidy. Stack it in piles, organise it well in groups of like things, and your house can look very homely. When I go to her place I always feel like I'm in a very rich space. I don't feel claustrophobic, as I can see the floor and the windows, but while she's got a lot of stuff she stores and displays it well.

Store like items together
Try storing like colours together for better presentation, here and there (don't do your whole place because that could just look weird.... a green corner and a red corner... not like that! Don't go overboard.), or just stack all sorts of colours together to create a tidy rainbow.

At the moment I am employing this strategy to get stop the clutter my baby's many books are threatening to create. I simply stack the books at the end of my dining table (this time in size, one pile for extra large, and another for middle sized)
and when I look at them they seem inviting, not a burden or annoyance. Piles make you want to see what's in them, not hide the things. If you can fold and stack neat enough, away you go!!

Clear clutter by creating piles

Keeping the kitchen tidy

I have a very small kitchen. It's new, but it is very tiny. I found it difficult to keep it tidy for a very long time, until I recently de-cluttered it and created a cleaning up system.

When I was single I lived in the same place, and it was easy then. I ate toast for dinner and had cooked breakasts in the morning before work. What I essentially did was tidy up once a day and it was easy. It was just me, and I wasn't very messy. I didn't have much stuff.

What makes it harder for me to keep the area tidy now, especially since I have a husband who is oblivious to his constant creation of mess and a baby who is forever going through my drawers, is that the kitchen is just inside the front door. It's the first room of the house. We live in the back of an actual house and our front (and only) door is at the side of the main house. This means that when my husband comes home from work he dumps his dusty work bag beside the refrigerator or in the doorway to the loungeroom. Ok, it is a small house, but it;s not so small that we can't put things away. We actually have an enormous bedroom straight off the kitchen which has more than enough space for his bits and pieces of an afternoon.

So anyway, back to the kitchen, the task at hand.

I cleaned up my kitchen a few weeks ago by doing the following:
-I got down on my hands and knees and emptied cupboard after cupboard until they were de-cluttered. I threw all the junk out. I organised where the saucepans should go, where the cleaning products fit under the tiny sink, and I threw away boxes of teabags I haven't touched for 2 years.
-Then I took all the clutter off the benches. After a while some things had just stayed on the countertops when they could have been put away. For example, I use my toaster now about once every 3-4 months, I'm just not eating much toast at the moment, so I put it in the corner cupboard next to the sink where it's no longer in the way. I kept my kettle where it was and now I have much more room to chop vegetables without the annoying toaster and the sugar container that I've since moved in with the teas and coffee I'm currently fond of.

On the other side of my oven I had a nice lot of bench, but it was constantly cluttered with muck. I had a tray I used for fruit but it just kept piling up with receipts and there was never much fruit around there anyway.
-What I do now is that I makes sure any important receipts, for returnables or clothes, go straight into my receipt drawer in my desk. And I have taken all the bits and pieces of clutter away, either put them in the bin or put them in pretty display bowls in my loungeroom if they were cute enough.

And a big problem I used to have was with washing up clutter. With my husband and baby girl here I just never got into a good routine before.
Now, I wash up after breakfast, and each other meal throughout the day, and as Flylady advises I make sure that my sink is sparkling before I go to bed. This way I wake up to a clean kitchen and I try harder then not to let it degenerate over the course of the day. I wash up regularly, I put the dry things away when they're dry, and the whole place just feels cleaner. I've found a home for everything and, most importantly of all for me, my benches are clear so that I can use the space better when I need to prepare dinner.

So, in summary;
-Keep your benches clear from clutter. Don't allow it to build up.
-Find homes for all your stuff. If you don't have room in your cupboards, go through and chuck out what you haven't used in a while. You'll definitely be able to clear up some space.
-Find a system that works for you, depending on your schedule. I'm home all day but if you can't wash up after breakfast due to shortness of time, at least stack the rinsed dishes neatly until you do get to them.

And try to sweep out your kitchen once a day if you can. The floor won't look half as bad when the crumbs and rice have been cleared.

Friday, 6 March 2009


Today I will write about my favourite thing: De-cluttering.

I've read a lot of books on de-cluttering and I feel that many of them are way too indepth. They talk of getting a specific number of baskets or boxes and then systematically working through the clutter.

But my advice to you is as follows.

I think it is best to start with a fresh bare space, and build it back up from there. So if you want to de-clutter your desk, take everything off it and out of it, put it all on the floor, and choose what you want to keep. Put the things you don't want into a big trash bag to be sorted out later. Don't look at them again.

Once you have chosen what you really need/want or love from the pile, find homes for things. Stack the drawers neatly with your notebooks and files, and use an oganising tray to keep all those fiddly pens, erasers and pencils and stickers tidy while they are out of sight.

Make sure you tackle each area individually. Set yourself a goal to tackle the mess one place at a time; the desk, the kitchen bench, the bathroom cupboards, or your wardrobe. And do each job properly before you start the next. If you stop and start all over the place you'll never feel a real sense of achievement and then you'll give up halfway through. Finish de-cluttering each post before you start the next.

And then with your spare junk, sort it out. Work out what is good enough to give away, what can be recycled, and then what needs to be chucked. I've read some advice that tells you to sort these things while you're cleaning up the space but I feel it is much better to do this step afterwards. Once your space is clear and clean and de-cluttered you will have much less of a feeling of attachment to these rejected things and it will be easier for you to sort them out. If you try to sort them while you're still cleaning, chances are you'll try to incorporate them into the space again. That's a no no!

I find it really easy to de-clutter, as I enjoy clearing junk out, but I have sentimental attachments to lots of little bits and pieces. I find special drawers and nooks and crannies for these special things, but sometimes I find myself holding onto items just for the sake of it. I have a green ornamental pot, for example that I still cannot part with because it says it was made in Italy and I found it at a charity shop. It is cute, but doesn't go with any of my stuff. I feel sick just thinking that it is still here, and I know that the day that I relinquish my attachment to it I will feel as though wings have been given to me. I should plan for the day to come soon!
-if you have anything like this that you are attached to, particularly if it is of a large size, try to plan for the day when you will rid yourself of the burden. Remember, a good way to tell if you should keep something or not is the way it makes you feel; if you look at an object decorating your television and it makes you feel a pain in your heart, it is a burden on you. Set it free!!

Happy de-cluttering!

Make your home a space that you'll enjoy being in