This is the first spring in my life that I can call myself a homeowner, and it’s definitely been an adventure so far. The main reason Jeremy and I moved up to Portland was to be closer to our families, but coming in at a close second was the idea of having actual space in our living quarters that didn’t involve a couple small cabinets in the kitchen for me to stuff my insane amount of cooking supplies and serving dishes in, as well as a single cabinet out in the hall for all our other stuff. So when we went house hunting, space was a huge draw for us, and we ended up getting house that was at the opposite end of the spectrum from our apartment. Our house is three stories tall, including a huge basement that runs the entire perimeter of the first floor. There’s a lot of remodeling to do, for sure, but the house has good bones and the storage area down in the basement is pretty ridiculously huge. So we definitely got the space we were looking for, but what I didn’t quite realize at the time was what a challenge it would be to keep that entire space clean. Crazy cobwebs in stairwells were never something I had to deal with in our apartment, but now they’ve become the bane of my height-challenged existence. So, after a long and lazy winter, I decided to spend a solid day giving the whole place a deep clean. And after my 12-hour cleaning binge, I learned a lot more about cleaning an old house than I’d expected and generally found that old-fashioned cleaning methods tended to be the most effective ones. So I’m sharing that journey here, along with a fun little spring cleaning giveaway with Murchinson-Hume‘s all-natural counter safe all-purpose spray, boys’ bathroom cleaner, and furniture and upholstery cleaner, and Sawyer Ceramics white ceramic sponge holder and white ceramic spoon rest. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway ends April 14th at 11:59 pm, good luck everyone, and read on for more spring cleaning tips!
I started in the kitchen since that’s where I spend most of my time, and put my brushes to good use scrubbing away at it from top to bottom. I really recommend investing in a few good cleaning brushes for a couple reasons. First, if it’s a well made brush, it will last you nearly a decade if you take good care of it and sanitize it every so often. Quality brushes are also usually made from all-natural ingredients, so there’s no extra plastics or other inorganic compounds being created only to be thrown away after a single use, like most kitchen wipes. Also, they’re really, really good at cleaning. Those gentle-yet-abrasive bristles mixed with some hot water and soap will scrape off nearly any kind of dirt or debris (or in my case, hardened simple syrup) that may have gotten stuck unaware to the inside of your abode.
I decided to tackle the reclaimed wood countertops first. To get all the fine crumbs and salt granules out of the nooks and crannies of the wood countertop, I sprayed it down with Murchinson-Hume’s counter spray and used Iris Hatverk‘s round dish brush with the knob handle. I love that I’m able to get a really firm grip on it and really scour away using only one hand. The bristles wedge themselves into every crack and crevasse and their prickly ends work off any dried up sauce splashes without the risk of scratching the countertop surface. I also used her scrubbing brush to get the tough dried sauce specks off of the hardwood floor. Vacuuming is great for getting the crumbs off, and mopping can get off the looser particles, but for hard spots like dried up sauce bits, you really need to get down on your hands and knees with some hot soapy water and a good scrub brush. I loved this one because the wavy shape created a really natural grip for my hands and angled the bristles in a way that made them more abrasive.
|My heirloom daffodil bulbs finally bloomed, wheeeeee!|
I’d also had some friends and family over the night before and had gotten some spots on my favorite Ice Milk Aprons heirmloomed linen napkins. Most people who use paper napkins over fabric ones do so because they’re afraid of the stains that will accumulate on the fabric, but I swear that a little white vinegar mixed with club soda goes a really, really long way when it comes to getting out tough stains. Plus the personal touch of a beautiful linen napkin adds so much more to a meal than a paper napkin ever could. And they last a really, really long time, negating the environmental impact of constantly throwing your napkins away. There were also some glasses leftover from the party that were a bit too fragile to put in the dishwasher, so I used her Iris’ glass brush to get those narrow ones cleaned out without the risk of breaking them by attempting to shove my hand and a sponge in there. I especially like her brushes because they look nice, too. Unlike most cleaning supplies that need to be tucked away out of sight, I can leave her brushes out and they just kind of sit there looking awesome while also reminding me to clean things, which is a reminder I am inconstant need of. The same goes for Sawyer Ceramics’ sponge holder. All the other sponge holders I’ve encountered have been ugly silver wire ones that supposedly suction to the inside of your sink or your backsplash, but usually just end up falling off and looking sad after five minutes. The ceramic one also helps keep the sponge dry rather than it sitting at the bottom of your sink, which helps keep harmful bacteria from making a permanent home in the sponge.
From there I moved on to the dining room, and brought out my adorable spring cleaning assortment of brooms from Broom Chick to tackle the onslaught of food particles and pet hairs that was to come. A solid whisk broom got all the hidden crumbs crumbs stuck between the wood planks of our dining table to fly out with one flick of the wrist. The cobweb broom got all the sad old cobwebs off the light fixture in about 30 seconds, while Gabel the cat waited nearby for a chance to gnaw on the straw end. Sorry kitty, no broom for you. (If you have cats or dogs, try to store your brooms in a closed closet. I’ve learned from years of destroyed brooms that nothing delights them more than tearing the straw out of them. RIP old brooms.)
From there I moved onto the rest of the house, using the cobweb broom to lightly dust off the edges of the picture frames that I couldn’t normally reach (seriously, as a short person the cobweb broom was my cleaning savior), and wiping down all the grossly dusty windowpanes with a soft cotton handkerchief. I attempted to clean the smoke stains off of the fireplace stones, but halfway through I remembered that we’re tearing those off in a few weeks to redo the fireplace (another home DIY endeavor I am excitedly terrified about), so I promptly gave up and moved on (cleaning smoke stains off brick and/or stones is the absolute worst. If anybody has any tips on that for future cleaning endeavors, I’d be much obliged!) I vacuumed the whole place but there were lots of fun bits left over on the ground that the vacuum couldn’t get, like old jade plant leaves and paperclips and pieces of tree bark (the usual floor melange), so I used the kitchen broom to sweep it all up into a dandy pile and toss it out. I basically repeated that entire process throughout the rest of the house, and even though it took nearly an entire day to complete, it felt so good to sit in an extremely clean house and recline with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. I don’t know that I could do that much cleaning more than once a year, but it definitely helped shed the dark dungy feel of winter and brought more light shining through the polished windows, making me feel with certainty that spring was finally here to stay.