Household Hacks

Alrighty bloggy readers, I need your ideas and help.  This weekend I got to the point where I was just totally OVER all the cooking and cleaning and picking-up dropped food off the floor only for it to be dropped again five minutes later…tired of stepping on small toys that are strewn everywhere, tired of the dadgum fruit flies that have made their home in our kitchen for the past TWO months… (we’ve set traps and killed probably a couple hundred of them, they’re just multiplying faster than we can kill them, and I’m literally swatting them away constantly when I’m cooking.)  You know, just that housewife frustration at the neverending cycle of things that I’m cleaning….and knowing that I’m going to be doing things like laundry and dishes for the rest of my life.  Yuck.

And yes, I know that is just life.  Everyone has to do dishes.  But it also occurred to me that things might be more frustrating because I just don’t have a great system for how to get things done.  So here’s where you come in:  What are some hacks, some smart little shortcuts or methods, that work for you in getting things done around the house?  Simple things like, “Make sure your pans are always soaking if you don’t wash them right away so that they’ll be easier to clean when you do.” and other things that I might not have thought of.  What kind of system do you have in place for laundry?  Any ideas for how to shorten or make other chores easier?

Like, here’s one:  I discovered awhile ago that while the kids are in the bath, that’s a really good opportunity for me to clean their bathroom instead of just sitting there.  Now granted, I don’t always do this… mostly because Harris is too little for me to not have my eyes on him the whole time, but when it was just Evelyne, I used to do that more.

And:  I started using washcloths in the kitchen a few months ago to cut down on the paper towel usage.  I try to have a little rotation for how I use them.  First, the clean ones are used to wipe off Harris’ face and hands after he eats.  After a couple times, that one is used to wipe down the counters, and then the floor.  Then it goes to the dirty clothes pile.

Also, someone told me a few years ago that dishwashing liquid (like Dawn) does an awesome job at cleaning the bathtub.  In our old apartment we had one of those tubs with a textured bottom that just stayed dirty looking, no matter what I did.  I even soaked it in bleach, and it did nothing, we had a big gray ring around the side and a dirty looking tub.  But then I squirted a bunch of Dawn in there and scrubbed with a cleaning brush, and it came up so quickly and easily!  I had been trying for like a year to clean that bathtub, and the Dawn worked in about 3 minutes!  Fantastic!

And for those of you who get fruit flies, set a small bowl (I just use a ramekin) of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in it.  They’re attracted to the vinegar but the soap makes them drown in it.  It works very well, but I guess you have to catch them before they multiply and breed a whole fruit fly colony in your kitchen.  Because then you might start finding them floating in your coffee, in your wine glass, and dive-bombing your salad.  And then you might go crazy.

That’s all I got.  Help a girl out, give me your best ideas and tips for making the drudgery go faster!


9 responses to “Household Hacks

  1. so glad to know that a/b the Dawn! i was a/b to write a whole blog entry a/b the awful ring around our tub.
    Hmm…I feel like anything I suggest is just silly a/b household work. so perhaps i’ll read what others say and see if i still have a trick up my sleeve.
    i do know this: if i don’t at least make my bed and have the dishes put up in the dishwasher, my whole house goes awry. so, i at least try to do that every morning without fail.


  2. We do 3 FULL loads of laundry 1x a week. Usually Thursday nights. Kids clothes, Whites, and Darks.
    Luckily folding is the job my husband prefers so we tackle it together on a Friday night or Saturday morning.

    I only do an extra load of laundry it something has really bad stain that I need to get out. It drives me crazy when my mom comes in town and does a small load everyday!

    The kids are also getting to the point where they know where to put their dirty clothes (laundry basket) and where to put their shoes when they take them off (basket by garage door). There are a lot of reminders but they are learning!

    Toys are another story…..


  3. Oh man, I am so in this situation too! I get so tired of picking up toys constantly!

    Laundry I do once a week, maybe twice if there’s a lot, and in big loads too. Although my washer is older and can’t really handle it so I am trying to do smaller ones lately and just get it all done in one day.

    Dishes I just do as I go. I don’t pre-wash, if it’s dirty I just throw it in the dishwasher and bypass the sink. It makes dinner clean up a lot easier. Plus I have so much dishwasher detergent that I got for free or really cheap that I don’t feel bad if I have to do one load a day…

    Good luck, I can’t wait to read what everyone else says!


  4. Hey there old high school buddy. I found your blog while trolling around FB. You are and excellent writer, and really fun to read. I’m about to become a mom so I need as many household hacks as I can get. So I will be watching the comments on this post for ANY helpful hint thrown your way. Glad to see you are doing well. Harris and Evelyne are precious.


  5. So, this is not a huge thing and really only applies if your kids go to preschool a day or two a week, but maybe it will spark some other thoughts. One thing I just get sick of is making lunches at night after the kids have gone to bed. And I’ve learned that making lunches in the morning, the day of school, is too maddening so I’ve given up on that. Here’s what I’m doing these days…making lunches the day before school when I’m putting lunch together for that day. So, because my boys go to PDO on Wed/Fri, I pack their lunches on Tuesday/Thursday while I’m making lunch for them. Usually lunch is deli meat, cheese, crackers, veggies, and fruit, so I just put some on their plates and some in their lunch containers. It saves me from having to get everything out twice and from being frustrated at the end of the day about something I could have easily done during the day. Like I said, not much, but every little bit helps!


  6. i can’t say i have any tips for getting things done faster, but i have a few sanity-saving things i do. i am not a naturally neat person, but with kids i find that i have to keep things manageable or i will lose my mind.

    1. i try to never have dirty dishes left in the sink – ever. if we dirty up lots of things during the day, i will occasionally leave them next to the sink until nap, and then i wash everything and put it in the dishwasher or put it away. i do the same thing again at dinner time – usually cleaning as i cook and then washing everything that can be washed while leland puts charlotte to bed – that way the kitchen is basically cleaned before dinner.

    clean as you cook!! you will be so happy you did.

    after dinner, leland washes everything else, puts it all away and turns on the dishwasher.

    2. i also try to clean the bathroom during bathtime – a huge help. i also find if i do a quick wipe down of the tub/shower every day or every other day after bath or shower, it makes things much easier when the real clean comes. i’m not particularly faithful with that though.

    3. we generate a HUGE amount of laundry around here, so i’m usually washing every day. i wash and dry in the morning and fold everything in the afternoon in charlotte’s room while the girls play. if i don’t put it away immediately, it will usually sit there for days though…

    4. i also tidy up everything at least twice a day – the playroom gets picked up before we leave the room (that just means throwing everything into bins and putting away pillows/blankets/whatever else has been pulled down. i usually pick up charlotte’s room before nap (with her help) and then i tidy the den/kitchen. again, that’s just picking up toys and throwing them in bins and putting dishes away. i do it all again at bedtime. takes about 5 minutes and makes the evening much more enjoyable. leaving clutter out makes me depressed!

    5. i always, always make the beds, because it gives a wonderful illusion of cleanliness even if there are clothes/toys on the floor and crumbs everywhere!

    good luck! it truly is groundhog day when you’re at home with kids!


  7. Ok, so I don’t have kids, but I have on obsession with keeping my house organized and am internally freaking out as to what will happen come June when Baby J arrives. So, as cheesy as the website can be, I will refer you to you: (disclaimer: she goobs me out a lot of times) She sends out email blasts a couple of times a day, or there is a yahoo group to check all at once, reminding you of daily routines, specialy missions, or just notes of encouragment. A lot of it, I don’t do, and I don’t even read it anymore, but the biggest thing I took from it was “15 minutes at a time”. That’s how you keep your house clean. The kitchen is disgusting?–set the timer for 15 minutes…stop when it goes off. Oh, and she says to ALWAYS have an empty/clean sink…even if it means the dishes are on the counter (same with a made-up bed). Gives you one thing to start with! Her whole premise is getting rid of “clutter” that weighs you and your family down, so that your routines become part of your life and that the material things that you do have can be a blessing to you and others, not a burden, and you get a clean house and TIME to do fun stuff! She has all these kid missions, too. I’m sure you know about her already, but this is a topic I enjoy, so i thought i would share. I hope I can let go of my anal tendencies quite a bit when the babe arrives! Lord have mercy!


  8. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m trying to get in the habit of emptying the dishwasher as I’m putting dinner together, or before, so I have no excuse not to load it up afterwards. I also try to clean as as I cook, which makes it much easier afterwards.

    Jeff also bought us a roomba and scooba at our old house (both refurbished). The roomba is not a deep cleaning vacuum, but it does keep things picked up, so you only have to haul the heavy vaccuum out once a week or so. And the scooba was a LIFESAVER. I don’t know if you have a lot of tile in your apartment, but it would clean ours in no time, and did a great job on our tile floors when nothing else would. Unfortunately they are both currently out of service, but they were great the years we had them working!!


  9. Hey Emily,
    Love your blog btw. You’re such an inspiration and a great mom. I’m a clean freak but man it’s a different beast with a baby around. I just discovered doing kitchen clean up time w/ baby in bumbo. If she fusses I play peek-a-boo as I dart from kitchen to utility room and in and out of the kitchen again. This is like a 2 minute time saver, but I turn on the washer before i collect the clothes. By the time I get to the washer with everything it’s full enough and nothing gets weird detergent spots. I also have a chart of stuff that needs to be done weekly, daily, or bi-weekly. (weekly- bathrooms, sheets changed, vacuuming, etc. ) It makes me feel really good to check off something on a monday that i dont have to do again for a week. When I have excess time I can get a lot done that day, it also helps my hubby see what I might need help with without me asking.

    Hope that helps someone out there reading this.
    Love everyone’s suggestions 🙂


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