When people visit my home, I always ask them – does it look clean? Does it smell okay? And the kicker – can you tell that we have 7 dogs and 4 cats??? Guests always say no, and it always surprises me! The only way you’d ever know we have dogs is to look down and see the yipping furbabies clamoring around your feet begging for a pet!
See, I’ve never been a neat freak. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning. I’ve never voluntarily dusted baseboards, snaked drains, or vacuumed dog hair out from under the refrigerator. UNTIL I owned a house! Something flipped in my brain. Some magical switch that makes me cringe at dishes piled in the sink, shudder at dog-hair packed carpet, and down right twitch when the litter boxes go longer than a day without being cleaned! (My mom is ecstatic at this change, of course) Every smell & surface glistens as a reflection on my abilities as a housekeeper, homemaker, MAID. Has anyone else experienced this? Total ambivalence to household cleanliness until the mortgage payment started coming out of your own paycheck?
And so I’ve amassed an arsenal! I have a bevy of favorite cleaning assistants that sparkle & shine my home, removing all evidence of canines, felines, and, well, the Hubs. For a few hours, at least. They would be absolutely perfect, if they’d only animate a la Fantasia and dance around cleaning on their own so I could put my feet up and drink a glass of sangria while catching up on Game of Thrones! A girl can dream.
But anyways, back to the arsenal.
1: Dyson DC40 Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Refurbished for $279.99 from Overstock.com
As someone who has owned crappy $60 vacuum cleaners for her entire adult life, this vacuum is incredible. It changed my life! I know that sounds dramatic, but still, it’s a great vacuum. The suction is so powerful, it not only gets the packed-in cat & dog hair out of my bedroom & living room carpets, it makes them softer in the process. It pulls so much crap off my floors that if I skip vacuuming for a few days, I have to empty the canister between rooms! It is super light – only 16 lbs, where my last one was over 20 – and rotates on a large silver ball instead of the standard vacuum wheels, meaning I can swivel it around bed legs and furniture much more easily. The roller brush automatically adjusts to whatever floor surface I push it onto, cleaning hardwood and tile just as well as carpet.
I researched refurbished vs. brand new and realized that the only difference is the manufacturer’s warranty. Brand new Dysons get 5 year warranties, refurbished get 6 months. I mitigated that issue slightly by purchasing an additional 3 year warranty through Overstock for $29.99. Well worth the peace of mind! I’ll choose refurbished and a savings of over $200 any day. Also Dyson customer service is awesome. When suction failed on day 2 of vacuuming action, a panicked call left me being led carefully through a hose-checking sequence, revealing a large twig lodged in a particularly inconvenient passageway. So the vacuum is idiot-proof!
2. Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover
$26.99 for 1 gallon from Petsmart.com
I am so addicted to Nature’s Miracle that I buy it in the gallon size and decant it into my own spray bottles! It is a natural, enzyme based cleaner specially formulated for tough pet stains & smells. Enzymes in the spray break down the pheromones left behind by potty accidents, completely removing the urine smell & reducing the likelihood of some crazy pup resoiling the area. Following directions on the container, I stomp a towel onto potty spots on my carpet, blotting up as much as possible. I saturate the spot in Nature’s Miracle and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then, I repeat the towel-stomp procedure to remove as much moisture as possible, letting the carpet air dry. The only way to NOT have potty accidents on my carpet is to get rid of the furbabies, and that’s not happening! So I use Nature’s Miracle. I also use it on my hardwood to clean up after vomit & poop.
3. Norwex Household Package Plus
$72.99 plus tax and shipping, Norwex site
I was introduced to Norwex a couple of weeks ago when a friend of my coworker held a party. Norwex is an MLM company – multi-level marketing. Their cleaning & personal care products can only be bought at house parties or online through a Norwex Independent Consultant. Norwex’s vision is to improve your quality of life through reducing the amount of chemicals you use in your home. Every single one of the items in the Household Package Plus (that I bought through this party) cleans with just microfiber and water! There’s an envirocloth – a multipurpose cleaning cloth with silver embedded in the material holding natural antibacterial properties. The package also includes a window cloth – a finer woven microfiber cloth specially made for polishing windows, mirrors and other reflective surfaces to a streak-free shine, a dusting mitt for hands-on cleaning both wet & dry, and a cleaning wand for hard to reach places like fan blades, ceiling corners & vents, and door frames.
I have to say that after using the products included in this package, I called my rep and told her to sign me up! No, seriously, I am a brand-new Norwex consultant. Not only do I get products at an awesome discount, I also have the opportunity to earn freebies through hosting parties & recruiting other reps. I’ll be honest, though, I’m doing it for the freebies right now:) Norwex is incredibly generous with their consultants.
All that aside, THESE PRODUCTS DELIVER. I was able to clean my entire houseful of winter grunge-laden windows, inside and out, using just the envirocloth, window cloth, and water. No windex, spray bottles, or paper towel fuzzes left behind! Hells yeah. Also, I got a wild hair and dampened the dusting mitt & used it to clean my window screens. The mitt turned black from all the dirt the microfiber pulled out of the screen! And washed clean in the laundry, of course. I wouldn’t have agreed to represent a company & product that I didn’t feel was 100% worth it.
4. Honeywell QuietClean Oscillating Air Purifier
$104.99 from Target.com
It is the mark of a well-made electronic for it to still be running 16 months after its purchase! I first bought this air purifier back in January 2013 to help clean the air in my house without using any chemicals that could potentially harm our new birds’ delicate lungs. I reviewed my purchase in a blog post back then and now, over a year later, I am still convinced that I made the right choice! This is a workhorse of an air purifier. It only asks to have its filters removed, shaken, rinsed out with tap water, and dried thoroughly about once every 3 months. I thought it had died last winter after Chloe chewed the cord in a fit of puppy energy, but the Hubs rewired it to a new plug and it still works perfectly! I can leave the dogs in their crates and the windows closed up all day with this purifier running, and I know that when I get home from work, the house will still smell fresh. I literally leave it running 24/7. It can’t be killed!
5. Norwex Superior Mop Starter System
$113.99 plus tax and shipping, Norwex site
Back to the Norwex again! When I was still mulling over the idea of signing up with Norwex, before I had even received my order from the first party, I was talking about it at work one day and a client in the lobby overheard. She chimed in with her two cents, saying that she had purchased the Norwex floor care system from a party she went to a long time ago, and it was the best investment in cleaning supplies that she had ever made. Her opinion, especially coming from a completely neutral third party, meant a lot to me, and I decided to give the floor system a chance. Norwex offers a couple variations on this system, but the best one is the Superior, with matching microfiber dry mop pad & wet mop pad. The dry mop pad is made out of Norwex’s signature microfiber, which sucks up the slightest bit of dirt, dust, crumbs, pet hair, and dander off your floor, not releasing it until you get the pad wet & wring it out. The wet mop pad has the added antibacterial silver, sanitizing your floor without any added chemicals, fragrances, or leftover residues.
I have been a die-hard swiffer fan my entire adult life, and the Norwex microfiber pads beat swiffer 10 to one. I used to get so annoyed at how using the swiffer dry cloths inevitably led to pushing around piles of dirt and hair to sweep or vacuum up later. And the swiffer wet pads would leave behind streaky residue that looked dirty again the instant a dog ran over it!
Norwex is called “the Real Clean” for a reason. 100% clean, sanitized floors with just microfiber and water! I love it.
6. White Vinegar
Plain, distilled white vinegar is by far the best multi-purpose cleaner you’ll find. It’s non-toxic and won’t leave residue on your floors, counters, or clothes. I use it diluted with water as a general cleaner for the bathroom, deep cleaner for my hardwood floors, odor remover for pet stains in carpet, and fabric softener in my washer. Don’t worry, once the vinegar dries your house will stop smelling like a pickle! Fabric softener is one of the top 5 most toxic household cleaners you use in your home and contains many dangerous petrochemicals, so I pour white vinegar in the softener bin of my washing machine and with brightens whites & naturally softens all our clothes & dog towels.
So that’s my list! These are all things that I use on a daily or weekly basis to maintain a home filled with puppies, kitties, and a lawn-moving, truck-loading, diesel fuel scented Hubs. They are all non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets. I am confident knowing that I am reducing my family’s exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer, asthma, neurological problems, and environmental degradation. Let me know if you have any questions on how you can reduce your own dependance on commercial cleaning products! I’d love to share even more tips.