Post updated March 2017
Whenever I tell people I make my own cleaning products, the first thing I get is the Huuuuh? face. As in, why on earth would you do that when you could run to the store and pick one up that’s already made for you?
Let me start by telling you right off the bat that if it wasn’t easy, I wouldn’t do it. I’ve got way too much going on to be bothered with complicated green cleaning recipes. The recipes I use are incredibly simple and nontoxic—in my book, this is key when you have a toddler who not only puts just about anything in her mouth but scales furniture when I turn my back.
The next thought that flickers across a person’s face is usually, How do you know it actually works? Most people don’t ask that out loud but you can totally see that they’re thinking it (my sister, however, absolutely asks it out loud). Once I explain the ingredients I use and their magical powers (which I’ll get to in a bit) the face is usually all Tell me your secrets!
Since I can never remember these magical recipes off the top of my head (I keep them on a card in my recipe box), I thought I’d lay them all out for you right here…
When I was younger, I never really gave a second thought to the ingredients in my cleaning products. As long as they did their jobs, who cares, right? But then I had a baby. And babies? They bring out the neurotic in people. Suddenly I was really thinking about my cleaning products. It started with the bathtub. The thought of cleaning it out with harsh chemicals and then plopping a fresh new human inside made me a little crazy.
When she got bigger, I started to think twice about the products I used to wipe down toys and tables and her high chair tray. When everything finds its way directly into her mouth, did I really want it coated in chemicals?
For me, the answer was a big, fat, bold, NO. And that no got bigger and bolder once my second (much messier) daughter was born.
Since then, I’ve tried a bunch of different products and found some that I loved and some that I hated.
I am an expert at exactly zero things. That especially includes this whole parenting thing. Anyone who claims to be a parenting expert is just a misguided fool asking to be blindsided by their kids’ wild and crazy misdeeds.
I’m not perfect and neither are my kids. But that doesn’t mean we all haven’t learned something valuable along the way. And while my house is a mess more often than not, there are a few little tricks I’ve learned to get my kids to help clean up with minimal resistance.
The other day I was looking around my disgusting mess of a bedroom, trying to figure out where the heck to start the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically spring cleaning with community support). That’s when it hit me. For someone who has so many organization and cleaning posts on her blog, I’m a pretty big slob.
I mean, I try. I do. Even if my husband disagrees. I just tend to get overwhelmed with life and prioritizing. Cleaning is generally the first thing that gets removed from ye olde list of must dos. But I am trying. Mostly because I just can’t handle the clutter anymore. It’s making me even more crazy and flustered and disorganized.
So I took a deep breath and I did it. I got something done. Like a boss.
If you read this blog with any frequency, you know that my little one has developed a love of markers recently. Only it’s not as much a love of markers as it is a love of covering everything she sees with markers.
I’ve posted pictures of her body art and alluded to how much she likes to see her work on the walls (come to think of it, her love of picking locks and tagging walls should probably make me a little nervous). But until last week, all of this had been done with washable makers. And, while they’re not exactly as washable as they’d love to have you think, they’re a million times easier to remove than permanent marker.
How do I know this? Well, because after I took away the washable markers (because she was writing on things other than paper with them), Miss Ellie snuck into her sister’s room, grabbed some markers and made a lovely mural on the wall in the hallway while I was otherwise occupied by the Dance Nazi. Samantha was performing a new routine and I was scolded harshly any time either of my eyeballs dared to wander. Ellie took full advantage.
After a few minutes went by and I realized Ellie was suspiciously quiet, I had myself some perfect material for a blog post. I guess I should thank her for that at least.