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It's January, which means everyone (or nearly everyone) is working on their New Year's resolutions—getting fit, eating better, being more eco-conscious, getting organized, all that good stuff. These are great goals to have and I want to see you actually achieve them, so I've put together some cleaning tips to help you get and stay on track. Let's meet back here in December and talk about how well you did over some eggnog, okay?
If Your Resolution Is to Get Fit
Keep your gear smelling fresh
Have you ever noticed that your workout clothes come out of the wash still smelling a little, um, 'pit-y? That's exceedingly common, and it doesn't mean you're especially stinky! To combat the lingering smell, add 1/2-1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the wash, and avoid using fabric softeners of any kind when laundering your gym duds. The softener leaves behind a coating that locks in smells (yuck!), but the vinegar will break that coating down, eliminate smells, and serve as a natural fabric softener too.
Avoid stinking sneakers
Picking up a workout regimen means that your sneakers will be putting in overtime, and they may develop a funk as a result. If that happens, get a pair of sneaker balls and pop them into your tennies after each wear to keep them from stinking to high heaven.
Clean out that germ-y gym bag
Your gym bag is probably a festering germ pit—you fill it up with sweaty post-workout gear and dirty running shoes and toss it in public lockers, after all. So it's not a bad idea to wipe down the interior and exterior with a light disinfecting cleaner from time to time. Lysol or Clorox wipes are great for this task, as is a rag or paper towel dampened with white vinegar.
If Your Resolution Is to Detox
Scrub your juicer
If your juicer hasn't been used in a while, it probably needs a good cleaning. Generally, some parts of your juicer will be dishwasher safe, but check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure before running them through the wash. For parts that aren't safe for the dishwasher (or if you don't have one), cut down a bit on the time you'll spend cleaning the beast by filling your kitchen sink up with hot water and a small amount of dish soap. While the sink is filling up, take apart the removable/cleanable parts and toss them in the bubble bath; then, give everything a washing. A toothbrush can get into corners that a sponge can't and will help to slough off any debris—especially the stuff that clings stubbornly to the screen part of the filter. Once the parts are clean, drain the sink and rinse each piece in hot water. Finally, if there are splatters on the exterior of the machine, wipe them off with a damp cloth.
Clean that blender
Maybe you're doing your juicing in a blender, or have chosen a soup-focused diet for your January detox. Great! Soup is delicious. But if you're pureeing via blender, things can get messy—which is why this trick is so darn handy: Fill the pitcher halfway with warm water, add a splurt of dish soap, and put the pitcher back on the base with its lid. Then, holding the lid in place with your hand and a dish towel, turn the blender on and let it run for 10-20 seconds. That's all! Well, no that's not exactly true...the last step is to rinse the pitcher and lid with hot water. But you probably figured that out!
If Your Resolution Is to Be More Green
Change up your products
You've decided to make more earth-friendly choices this year, and that's fantastic! One place to start is with your choice of cleaning products. If you're ready to get going right away, donate unwanted products to friends or to places that can use them; if you can wait, use up what you've got in the house and then recycle the bottles for holding homemade natural cleaners (more on that below). Great store-bought options are Simple Green, Green Works, and Ecover.
Switch to cleaning rags and dryer balls
Cut way, way back on the amount of paper you're adding to landfills by replacing paper towels and other disposable cleaning products with launderable cleaning rags. Old T-shirts or dish cloths are great candidates for the job; keep a large stack with your cleaning supply and wash them when you accumulate a big load. And speaking of laundry: Make this year the year you ditch dryer sheets in favor of dryer balls.
Try some DIY
There are lots of easy "recipes" for making green cleaning products at home. Bonus: They're often far more cost effective than their commercial counterparts! Among homemade cleaners, DIY laundry detergent is becoming increasingly popular. There are a number of recipes for homemade laundry detergent using ingredients like Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and a grated bar of laundry soap such as Fels-Naptha; check out the ones House Logic tested out.
If Your Resolution Is to Be More Organized
Make a list of what's out of control
Compiling a list of the places in your home that need a vigorous tidying up is a crucial first step in actually making that tidying up happen. Why? Because a list will help keep you focused on the task, or tasks, at hand by providing a roadmap for you to follow.
Identify ways to rid yourself of clutter
Getting stashes of unneeded items under control is a big part of being a more organized person—as is figuring out what to do with all that excess stuff. Before you begin purging books, clothes, electronics, and so on, know where it will all go. You'll be that much more likely to bag your things up and get it out of the house when you have a plan! Remember that list you made? Use that to jot down where discarded items are going, whether it be the recycling bin or the Salvation Army.
Create a cleaning schedule
Some people prefer to do a little bit every day, some prefer to clean the house in one fell swoop. Either choice is fine, but to keep yourself on track, take inventory of your regular chores and then schedule them out. Use an electronic calendar with a reminder setting to help you stick to the agenda. (That's the hardest part!)
If you want to hear even more about cleaning resolutions, check me out on the Sharp & Hot podcast with chef Emily Peterson where we talked about ways to go green when it comes to cleaning products before moving on to the importance of washing the bed linens. Despite that rather dry-sounding description, it was quite a time—and with that, good luck out there and happy new year!