You know the old saying, "I don't do windows", well, I do windows and other necessary cleaning
chores but not quite as conventionally as most. On my farm we grow not only vegetables and
livestock but also kids as well and with kids comes dirt. Lots of dirt! Dirt, hay chafe, mud, and
various unrecognizable deposits of grime scattered to the wind inside our home as kids and critters
go rushing in and out. I sincerely think I should have had a revolving door built in
rather than the sturdy wooden one, which allows entry into my kitchen.
Winter wood stove dust and film adds to the plethora of dingy particles settling everywhere. I must
admit I use some conventional methods of cleaning. White vinegar and water, applied by an
inexpensive spray bottle to glass and mirrors, wiped off with previously read last week's
newspapers works well. Just don't try to read the paper after washing windows, it tends to smear
the type written words. Though, I must say, a lot of the news lately would be better off "cleaned
up". Too bad we can't clean our society as easily as our windows.
Scrubbing sinks, bathtubs and toilet bowls with baking soda and water does a fine job while
leaving a pure clean smell in its wake. There are several good books on the market offering
economical alternatives to "store bought" cleaning products. Most of these alternatives are also
earth-wise and safer for our dwindling clean environment. Visit your local library to browse
through a few to see what might be your best buy as a home reference. I know I can seldom
remember which product is best utilized for which job when I am deluged with projects.
Now, the section you have all been anxiously waiting for. The unconventional cleaning methods!
Arm yourselves and prepare for a fun battle with everyday household messes. You may have some
of these tools already in your home, the rest are relatively inexpensive and in my humble opinion,
well worth every penny I paid for them.
1) children's small plastic garden rake (you can even color coordinate it to your room)
2) empty cardboard banana boxes (usually free for the taking from grocery
3) old newspapers and/or shower curtains
4) a few inexpensive spray bottles (commonly found at "dollar stores")
5) disposable plastic putty knives (to keep, not to throw away)
I am sure you each can think of additional items to add to this list, depending on the individual
jobs you need to accomplish. Now on to their unique uses, or at least my thoughts on this sordid
For starters, those of you with inside birds, who are continually cleaning up the seed and poop
messes, newspaper under the cage (on the floor) makes pick up much quicker. Put down several
layers and just take up one layer as needed. Simple huh? I don't know about your house birds but
mine are infamous for backing up to the edge of their cage and evacuating their bowels. Their aim
is always on target with my freshly cleaned floor. If the newspapers are too
esthetically unpleasing to you, try a "pleasing to the eye" shower curtain. You can wipe it off easily and sanitize it in your
bathtub regularly. Or keep a spray bottle filled with vinegar-water, paper towels (or newspapers)
and one of your disposable plastic putty knives near the bird's cage. As you walk by and happen to
notice the bird's latest "artwork" on the floor, take a second to spray, scrape (the plastic knife is
much gentler on your floor than a metal one) and wipe. Tada, clean again for a few minutes.
Got kids who refuse to clean up their toys after playing with them? Solution, banana boxes. Decide
how many times you will ask your kids to clean up their toys and tell them your decision. Stick to
it! When they ignore your request, say nothing, grab a banana box and proceed to place the their
neglected items in the box. When you are finished, place the cover on the box and set it out of
your kids' grasp. Then, decide whether or not you will give them a second chance to make amends
for their refusal to listen to your request. Do NOT give in or you will have succeeded in teaching
them nothing. Should they not fulfill their obligation to earn back their things; the items are all
packed to be donated to a "toy project" for children in need. If your community does not have
such a project, start one. This is a great service to provide especially during the
holidays. You should find your kids eager to pick up their belongings after once or twice loosing their cherished
items forever. I know it worked great at my home! Unconventional, yes, successful YES!
Your vacuum cleaner can easily be accommodating as a kitchen table cleaner. Due to the large
number of individuals eating at our home, I found it indispensable to barter some babysitting in
exchange for a "picnic table" for our dining arrangements. Tablecloths wore out in no time so I
resorted to leaving the table naked. The wood is pleasantly simple and bears the marks of past
memories. The down side of this unique kitchen décor is the space between
each plank. Food and drink inevitably finds it way through to the floor below or simply rests on the under frame growing
stale and hard. The broom works well for fallen crumbs, but the vacuum is superb when it comes
to removal of debris hiding in the recesses of the grooves. A quick going over with the floor
attachment, then a wipe down with a clean wet rag does wonders for its appearance.
Last but far from least, rakin' the rug. I should explain we are a proud family of both human and
non-humans. The non-humans far outweigh the humans. Some of these members of the family are
caged in various rooms of our home. Imagine a few groups of two-year-olds with lots of newspaper
to rip up, various types of finger food and small to medium toys all able to fit through the bars of
their "environment". I think you have the picture clearly. Well, even though my mind is still fresh,
my back is getting older by the year and I have found that a kid's plastic garden rake fits the bill
when the floor around the cage is loaded with miscellaneous items. I just "rake the rug" to gather
everything into a neat pile, then scoop it up. Toys are returned to their cage, paper to a
garbage bag and food into the appropriate receptacle, depending on whether it is still edible (back in the
cage) or not (into the garbage). I can then go over the rug to gather the remaining tiny crumbs
with an electric broom. What could be easier?