How I Got Good at Cleaning My House

Part 2 of my Sal Suds story

sal suds

I have this theory that there are “tidy people” and “clean people.”  Tidy people want their spaces to be picked-up and organized, but don’t really care about a little dust on the bookshelves or dishes in the sink.  Conversely, clean people can ignore piles and clutter, as long as the space is vacuumed and clean.  Alan is a clean person.  I am a tidy person.

Cleaning–washing windows and doors, dusting, sweeping and mopping–has always seemed both kinda-unimportant and so, so overwhelming to me.  Isn’t it hard to clean?  I don’t want to tear up my nails using green scratch pads to scrub out stains and messes.  I don’t want to spend all that time on my knees scrubbing the floor.  It’s just so. much. work.

Then Sal Suds and this article came into my life.  Now I can clean my whole house–hard surfaces–in about a half hour.  I no longer dread cleaning, and I’m much more likely to actually do it.  Here’s how!


a 2 gallon bucket full of hot water

2 microfiber cloths, these from Home Depot, specifically

an old toothbrush

a spray bottle of diluted Sal Suds, using the recipe in my other post


Spray all hard surfaces liberally with the diluted Sal Suds.  Go through the whole house spraying the kitchen and bathroom sink and counters, light switches, painted railings, painted coffee and end tables, door knobs, etc.

Drop the microfiber cloths and toothbrush in the bucket of hot water.  Starting at the first area you sprayed, take one of the cloths, wring it out, and wipe up the spray.  It should wipe right up.  You might have to scrub a little, but not much.  Use the old toothbrush to get into any tiny crevices.  I use two cloths so that one can soak in the hot water while I’m using the other one.  Change out the water if it gets too dirty.

That’s it!

Important note: do not use this on wooden surfaces; it will take the finish off of them.

By working through the whole house you give the spray time to loosen dirt and crud.  And I think the Sal Suds are really key to this working so well.  After reading the BHG article linked above, I mixed up some water, vinegar, and cleaner (it was either Method or Simple Green–I can’t remember!), and it worked pretty well, but I still had to do a lot of scrubbing, which is the part of cleaning I hate.

Here are some quick before-and-afters I snapped while cleaning my apartment today:

coffee table

coffee table

top of heater

top of heater

half-wall where cats sit

half-wall where cats sit



kitchen sink

kitchen sink



bathroom sink

bathroom sink

I washed these things, as well as all doorknobs and light switches, the toilet, and any walls that seemed smudged.  And it all took me less than 25 minutes, which includes the time I took taking the pictures.

Saving the best for last: cleaning my house regularly using this technique is nice and all, but where it really shines is on old or sticky messes: dirt that hasn’t been touched for years, sticky dust, oily residue above the stove, etc.  In order to demonstrate this, I sprayed down part of the railing in my apartment building. [Side note: this was hilarious, because I was terrified someone would walk up the stairs and ask me what I was doing.  So I sprayed a bit, and then sat down on the stairs next to the wet railing and edited photos on my camera to look busy.  Fortunately no one came by!]

railing--old dirt

railing–old dirt

There is a cleaning woman for the building, and I see her diligently vacuuming and cleaning the halls and stairways, so I know that it’s not neglect that caused the build-up of brown on the railings.  It’s really hard to get old dirt clean!  Sure, you could scrub it with a green scratch pad, but that would take forever, and maybe wouldn’t do a very good job.  I literally spritzed the railing generously, sat for 2 or 3 minutes, and then wiped it with a microfiber cloth.  I maybe rubbed it back and forth two or three times, but I certainly didn’t scrub.  And the years of dirt just came right off.

I was inspired to clean the rest of the railing, so I sprayed it down, waited, and wiped away.  Here’s an in-between shot:



I’m telling you: this is good stuff!


All right, so that’s my method for cleaning.  Tomorrow  Later this week I’ll wrap-up this mini-series with a brief description of my minimalist cleaning kit.


Let’s chat!

What is your cleaning secret?



Sal Suds

I want to share my new favorite cleaning product: Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

sal suds

It claims it can be used for many, many applications (see also: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap “18-in-1 uses”).  I mainly use it to hand-wash dishes and clothes, and diluted as an all-purpose cleaner.

hand-washing dishes: I use a small squirt of soap in a basin of water, and find that it cleans quite well.  It probably cleans as well as Dawn blue liquid (what I consider the “gold standard” of dishwashing liquid), but it doesn’t dry out my hands the same way.  I’ve read concerns that you should add the soap after filling the basin with water, or else it will produce too many suds, but I’ve never had that problem.  Then again, I don’t put much in.

I like that it works so well and doesn’t dry out my hands, but it does feel like I’m using it up more quickly than I’d like.  It’s a very concentrated formula, and should last seemingly forever.  But I’m down to just more than 1/4 of a bottle left, and I’ve only been using it for three or four months.  I’ll probably buy another dedicated dish soap after this, but I may return to Sal Suds.

hand-washing clothes: This works just fine for hand-washing clothes.  I appreciate that it’s practically fragrance free–there is a very slight pine scent, but it’s not noticeable after the clothes are rinsed and dried.

I’ll probably continue to use Sal Suds for hand-washing, because it means I don’t have to buy separate laundry detergent.  I use the All small-&-mighty fragrance free soap packs in the washing machine, so I don’t have a bottle of detergent around.

all-purpose cleaner: THIS is why I love Sal Suds.  I will buy it forever and ever, just so I can make all-purpose cleaner.  The formula is pretty simple: water, white vinegar, Sal Suds in a spray bottle.  But I’ve never had a soap that works so well in my life!

Here’s how I make it:

In a 25 oz bottle, add 15 oz. of water (I use filtered water), 10 oz. distilled white vinegar, and one medium squirt of Sal Suds, probably about 2 Tbsp.


Shake gently (again, it might suds up too much, but I’ve never had that problem).

It is hands down the best all-purpose cleaner I’ve ever, ever used.


Tomorrow I’ll share more about how I use the all-purpose cleaner, and how I became significantly more productive in cleaning my house.


Let’s chat!

Do you make your own cleaning products?  Do you have any recommendations for dish soap?

Week Wrap-Up | Link Round-Up | October 26 – November 1, 2013

This week started with a lovely, lovely birthday dinner with some close friends from Rochester.  Alan and I drove back for the weekend, and it was such a nice way to celebrate my 30th birthday!

On house-buying/selling: we are SO CLOSE to closing on our Rochester house.  I can’t wait to say that it’s done.  We’re working on stuff for the Hartford house, since our contract has us closing by the end of November.  I actually really like where we’re living now, which seems like such a blessing to me.  It seems like a short-term rental should be miserable, but the apartment is great.  It helps that it’s not strictly short-term housing, we just happened to get a short lease, with flexible sub-leasing options.

Today Alan is working.  He only works every other Friday, and this is a long week.  We don’t have any plans for the weekend, although we’ve been trying to go on a hike every weekend.  I’ll post some pictures if we go.

I’m also starting a 31-day yoga challenge with myself.  I have a delightful 20-minute workout on this DVD (the “shanti” workout) that is such a good stretch and very relaxing.  I’ve been quite sore from going to the gym three times a week, and I think some yoga is just the thing I need.


Here are some links from the last *mumbles* months since I last did a link round-up:

11 Simple Ways To Be Happy  |  Your Super-Awesome Life

Angelina Jolie’s Breasts and the Bravery of Letting Go  |  Storyline Blog

Congo’s Superhero Moms  |  The Daily Beast  |  via Lindsey Cooper

Euphemisms about babies  |  Indexed

How to Cite Social Media in Scholarly Writing  |  Sage Connection  | via I Love Charts

The Incredible Case Of The Bank Robber Who’s Now A Law Clerk  |  NPR

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent   |  The Atlantic

Why You Need to Brag More (And How to Do It)  |  Huffington Post  |  via Anne-Marie Slaughter


Let’s chat!

What are your weekend plans?  How do you feel about daylight savings time?