Easy Summer Cleaning:
2 Big Ideas
Our Top 10 Forgotten Places to Clean
Summer! Longer days, warmer weather, time by the pool, it’s lovely! But you can’t neglect your home, and forget to keep it clean. The last thing on most people’s agenda for summer is cleaning. Come learn how to simplify your cleaning routine, check those infrequently seen spaces, and get the whole family involved!
Keeping it Clean – Family Style
Cleaning your house is not usually seen as a fun family activity. Change that perception by changing the way you approach cleaning: Gamify it! Family time can equal good clean fun! There are as many different ways to make cleaning a game as there are families. Think of what your family loves to do together. Then, think of something that needs doing, and find a way to include everyone. Here are our 2 favorite ways to make chores fun.
Idea 1: Speed Cleaning
Set a timer for 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes, and make a plan to clean just one room. You could focus on any room in the house. Give each person a specific job to do.
Example 1: Bathroom, 15 min. One person cleans the toilet, one person the sink, another the tub, and one more picks up all the dirty towels or clothes, and takes them to the washing machine and starts it. In 15 minutes it’s clean! Take 10 more minutes and mop the floor. DONE.
Example 2: Living Room, 15-20 min. One or two people pick up all the toys, magazines, dirty socks, etc. and move them to the proper location. Person 2 vacuums the floor. Person 3 dusts furniture, picture frames, walls, etc. Clean!
With a team effort, rooms can be clean in no time! Just be sure to have a reward waiting for your willing helpers. Rewards can be anything from family movie night to ice cream to playing a board game. Your family, your choice! Remember to give your helpers some choice of job and reward. When people (especially kids) are allowed to choose their own activity and reward, they are much more likely to jump in and work hard.
For an extra challenge: Challenge family members to finish their task before the timer goes off. Fastest to the finish wins, and gets to choose their reward. Of course, it has to be done to your standards. Don’t forget to supervise cleaning! Especially when children are involved.
Idea 2: House Points
This idea was inspired by the House Points system of the fictional school of Hogwarts. Each person earns points for his or her ‘house’ by doing chores. Each person in the family chooses a name for their house, and each chore they do earns points. There is some competitive aspect to this system, and if your family loves a competition this is a great one! Competition + cleaning = clean house! Win, Win!
Points can be for whatever you want done. You get to make the point values. Higher values for things that people don’t want to do, lower point values for things that are easy. Be sure to write down how many points for each chore and post it somewhere everyone can see it. You don’t want an argument about how many points equal xyz.
For example: Hate folding socks? Make socks one point for each matched sock, and 1 point to put them away, for a total of 3 points per pair. Need the bathroom cleaned? 10 points each for cleaning the toilet, the sink, the shower. 10 more points for sweeping and mopping the floor, for a total of 40 points for the bathroom.
Make it easy on yourself, and give one point for each dish or piece of silverware washed and put away. One point for each laundry item folded, one more point for putting each thing away.
Point Values and Rewards
No matter how you choose your point values, the ‘point’ is to encourage family members to keep the house clean, and have a little friendly competition. Each day points are totaled, and added to the family calendar or a special House Points board you make yourself. At the end of the week, points are totaled.
The house (or person) with the most points gets to have bragging rights and a small trophy or printed award. The award could be something like a little plastic trophy, or an award you print out on your computer. Something inexpensive and easy to display. It needs to be displayed somewhere everyone can see it. So that everyone feels rewarded for their hard work, some type of family fun reward could also be the choice of the winner for the week. For example a choice of: family game night, movie night, going out for ice cream, a trip to a local attraction, etc.
Alternatively or in addition to a family reward, points can equal money. One penny = one point. Especially for kids, earning pocket money can be a big motivator.
Remember you choose the point values, you choose the rewards.
Keeping cleaning supplies stocked and within easy reach always makes cleaning faster and simpler. A utility tote or storage caddy, like this one from Amazon, keeps supplies ready to go. Add clean rags, paper towels, kid friendly cleansers, gloves, and a large cup to hold old toothbrushes and scrubbing sponges. (Old toothbrushes are the best for cleaning tiny spaces.)
Whenever you are ready to clean, simply pick up your caddy, and you’re ready to get to work! Always empty the caddy of dirty rags and refill with clean rags and cleansers when you finish, and you will be ready to go each time. You could make multiple caddies for different cleaning jobs or different family members: one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom, etc. For more information about when to clean what, check out our comprehensive guide: Branch’s Non-Toxic Guide to Spring Cleaning.
Cleaning With Children
Especially with children involved, be sure to teach what you mean by clean and how to clean safely. Children are naturally curious and may not use cleaners safely. They may spray things on their skin or in their eyes without supervision. This can be very dangerous!
Household and commercial cleaning products are not regulated by any branch of our government. Manufacturers of commercial cleaning products for homes and businesses are not required to list all of their ingredients for consumers by any agency of the United States.1 They can claim that ingredients are a trade secret, and not disclose them on the product labels.1 The truth is that they can legally use just about anything in a cleaning product leaving you the consumer in the dark about its true safety and effectiveness.1 To learn more about safe cleaning products see our article: Cleaning Products – Homemade vs. Store Bought and the For More Information section at the bottom of this article.
Instructions and Age Appropriate Chores
Be sure to instruct children and teens how to use cleansers safely, how to wear personal protective equipment (gloves, goggles, etc.), and how to get things truly clean. Learning to clean your own home is a skill all children should learn. To learn more about what chores are appropriate at what ages check out A List of Age Appropriate Chores for Kids 2-18 from The Spruce.
Teens should be able to do chores like cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, washing clothes, and dishes without supervision. When they leave home, they should be able to keep themselves and their own homes clean. Remember, no matter your children’s ages, it’s never too late to learn a new skill. No time to teach like the present!
Top 10 Forgotten Places to Clean
There are ordinary places to clean like bathrooms and kitchens, and then there are those other places. When was the last time you looked at your crawlspace to check for mold and water leaks? When was the last time you changed the air filters in your home? Can’t remember? No time like the present!
Add these top 10 forgotten places to your calendar now, and never forget to check again. Often just remembering to check for water damage or mold in these locations can stop problems before they start! For more information about how you can prevent water damage and mold from invading your home see our post titled: Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage.
Don’t forget to clean or check these long forgotten areas of your home this summer!
Forgotten Places: Avoiding Water Damage and Mold
1.Washing Machine – Clean monthly inside and out and check hoses for wear. Hoses are one of the parts on washing machines that wear out quickly and can cause leaks. Leaks lead to water damage which leads to mold. Check your water supply lines on all appliances that use water regularly (at least twice a year). If water supply hoses or lines show signs of rust, bulging, cracking, or signs of moisture: replace them. Reseal any loose fittings. 9,10
2.Dishwasher – Clean monthly inside and out. Dishwashers are a wonderful technology that help save us time and energy. However, they are also places with high moisture and food particles. The perfect environment for mold to grow. As with washing machines, check hoses for wear and tear. Check under cabinets for water leaks and mold growth at least monthly. You’ve heard the saying, ‘Prevention is worth 9/10 of the cure?’ For water damage and mold, this is definitely true!
To learn how to clean washing machines and dishwashers, check out our post Monstrous Mold.
3. Under Sinks and in Cabinets – Check at least 4 times per year. Check pipes under sinks, around toilets, and showers at least every 3-4 months. Areas under sinks, around toilets, and baths or showers should stay dry to prevent mold growth. Use strainers on all sink drains to help prevent clogs from hair or food buildup. 13 If a clogged pipe develops, fix it quickly! Don’t wait weeks or months to solve the problem of a slow draining sink.13 Check out our post Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage.
4.Crawlspaces – Check at least 4 times per year. Crawl Spaces are generally places with stagnant air that stay damp. A perfect environment for growing mold. You can prevent mold damage by checking crawl spaces for mold at least 4 times per year. Remember to check under areas of high water use such as air conditioning systems, washing machines, sinks, tubs, and showers, etc. for water damage which leads to mold. By checking your home often and fixing leaks quickly you can avoid mold damage.
5.Basements – Check at least 4 times per year. Just like crawlspaces, basements can be damp places. Using a dehumidifier in your basement can help keep the air at the ideal humidity level of 30-50 percent which can help prevent mold growth. Just like for crawl spaces, check areas that have pipes for damage and leaks, and be sure to look for mold.
Special Statement on Mold
Mold is definitely NOT something you want to find in your home! Mold can both cause allergy and asthma issues and can be toxic! However, if you do find mold, and want to learn more about how to clean it yourself check out our post: A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold. If you feel like you need more help or advice, don’t hesitate to call us! Especially if after cleaning the mold, it comes back. You may have a bigger problem than you think. We are experts on mold remediation and will treat your home like our own.
Other Forgotten Places
6.Oven – Clean at least twice per year. Most commercial oven cleaners contain toxic chemicals that can potentially cause cancer, reproductive harm, skin allergies and irritation, along with allergy and asthma symptoms. The self-cleaning feature many ovens have today is not much safer. The oven temperature is raised to 6000F, and any food or grease are supposed to turn into ash. However, this can cause the oven to smoke and release a terrible smell. Children should never be allowed to use commercial oven cleaners!
To safely clean your oven, you only need two simple ingredients – baking soda, water, and vinegar. Make a paste of baking soda and water and add it to the oven walls, door, and floor. Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to 12 hours. Wipe down the oven with a damp cloth, removing as much baking soda as you can. When finished, spray down the interior of the oven with white vinegar. Wipe clean.11,12
7.Furniture and Major Appliances – At least once or twice a year, move large items and clean behind and underneath. When was the last time you vacuumed under your refrigerator? Couch? Dishwasher? Dust builds up behind and under large items over time. Dust buildup can shorten the life of your major appliances and lead to mold growth if there is enough moisture.
8.Air Filters – Clean or replace at least 4 times per year. This one seems like a no brainer, but it’s so easy to forget. Every 3 months be sure to change the air filter in your HVAC system. If the filter has mold growing on it, it may be time to have the system cleaned. Mold can adversely affect your health even if you are not allergic. Using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on your system helps remove more allergens and keep the air clean. For more information on how mold can affect your health, even if you don’t have allergies check out our post: When Mold Is More Than Allergies.
9.Vacuum Cleaner – Empty bag each time it fills. Clean canisters (not just emptying them) at least monthly. For more information about how to clean your vacuum cleaner go to: How to Clean Vacuum Cleaner by Merry Maids. A vacuum with a HEPA filter keeps more allergens (dust, mold, etc.) out of the air. For our choice of HEPA vacuum cleaner click here.
10.Personal Care Products – Check expiration dates at least twice a year. Items used on eyes or lips should be discarded every 3-6 months. Bacteria can grow in these products over time and cause infection. To learn more about when to toss beauty products click here.
Summer = Good, Clean Fun
As you can see, summer cleaning can be both useful and fun! Working together as a family toward a common goal is definitely rewarding. Writing down when to clean or check those forgotten spaces on your calendar, or adding a reminder in your phone, makes it so much easier to remember. Checking those spaces that use water often also helps avoid water damage and mold growth. Having family members remind you is even better! You can keep clean, save money, and have fun!
We’re Here When You Need Us
If you do find water damage or mold when checking those forgotten places, call us first! As a company, we believe that nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick. We are experts in water damage mitigation, environmental safety, and air quality, with over 25 years of experience. We treat your home or business like our own. Call us today!
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Environmental Working Group – Weak Regulation of Cleaning Products
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- Guide to Healthy Cleaning | About EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- Essential Oils for a Healthy Home – Branch Environmental
- A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Branch’s Non-Toxic Guide to Spring Cleaning – Branch Environmental
- How to Disinfect Properly – Branch Environmental
- When It’s Time to Toss Your Beauty Products – Women’s Health
- Top 5 Causes of Water Damage – Grainger
- Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage – Branch Environmental
- Finding the Best Oven Cleaner: 8 Homemade Natural Oven Cleaners Tested & Rated – BrenDid
- Cleaning Never Tasted So Good – EWG
- How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home – The Spruce
- How to Clean: Vacuum Cleaner – Merry Maids
Blog information is NOT intended to provide or replace medical advice. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
*We are an Amazon affiliate company and we do occasionally receive compensation for products that you purchase through links on our website.
Suggestions for products to use are just that, suggestions. You know yourself and your home best. Please do your own research on any product you use in your home or on your skin, and learn all the facts for yourself. Thank you.