How I keep a clean home on a budget

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Keeping a clean home with so many animals is definitely a challenge, but with the right tools, it can be done.  In addition to my house being clean though, I also want it to be as safely clean as possible.  What does that mean?  It means I want my cleaning methods and products to be safe. I also don’t have time for them not to work, so here’s my top products and methods for keeping my home clean on a budget.

Preventing dirt and debris

If you read my post on ‘How to get rid of fleas’, http://savingcatsdogsandcash.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas/, you know I have towels and sheets on my furniture and over my light colored carpets in two rooms where I have a couple of my dogs’ beds.  While not overly attractive, I can tell you that you would be amazed at how hair filled and dirty those towels and sheets get. Even the cats’ ones get surprisingly dirty.

You automatically think cats are these super clean little beings, but because I have so much light colored flooring and towels where I can easily see the dirt and hair they leave behind, I can tell you, they are not. Well, maybe the perfectly groomed indoors only ones are, but my indoor/outdoor ones sure aren’t.  I wash their sheets and towels at least once a week and it is not uncommon for me to have to wash them sometimes sooner if it has rained or snowed or otherwise been a situation where dirt and debris can be tracked in. Of course, when you have a labrador, notorious for big feet, and a cat with big hairy feet like Moose, who doesn’t mind rain, snow or mud, tracking in is just a fact of life.

clean home
Moose with an AA battery as paw size reference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with sheets and towels over a large portion of the carpet, they don’t catch everything. Until the Publisher’s Clearing House van rolls up with a big check, I’m probably going to have to keep all of my pet unfriendly light colored carpet, along with my vacuuming and cleaning of it until we’re all walking around on carpet nubs.  Here’s a picture of my vacuuming and of Cooper sleeping through it.  Yes, I also have 90’s green carpet.  We can thank the lady who built the house in the mid-90’s for the extreme super light to super dark plush, pet unfriendly carpet.

clean home
Cooper sleeping through a vacuuming session.

The right equipment for the job

The vacuum I use is a Kenmore that was recommended by Consumer Reports.  It has a dirt sensor on it that increases the vacuum power when it senses dirt and lets you know when an area is still dirty by showing an orange or red light, depending on dirt intensity.  It’s also not very loud, which Cooper and the other cats and dogs, as well as myself, appreciate.

Aside from a leaf blower/vacuum that Consumer Reports recommended that was a dud, I’ve had very good luck over many years of buying their recommended or highly rated products.  You can get your copy of Consumer Reports here, http://amzn.to/2tW8QU5 to take the guesswork out of picking the best make/model of almost anything.

Once I’ve got the carpets clean of surface dirt, debris, and hair, if there are areas showing stains or discoloration, like in the walking paths, around the front of the furniture, or from a recent sick cat episode, I pull out my Hoover FH50150 Carpet Basics Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner and go to work.  Like the vacuum, the carpet cleaner is pretty quiet also, allowing me to use it (with another human sleeping in the house) when I have a cat get unexpectedly sick at 3 am on a weekday on my nearly white carpet.  Instead of waiting and risking the stain getting set in, I can just grab my carpet cleaner, get the mess cleaned up, and get back to work.

If you have carpet, rugs, or upholstery that you want to be the conqueror of stains of, here’s the Hoover carpet cleaning machine I bought and highly recommend, http://amzn.to/2urzzKC.  It will not only save your carpet and rugs from being ruined by stains, it will also save you the hassle of having to hire someone, especially if you just have a small area that needs cleaned, which is what I most often use mine for.  One professional carpet cleaning will cost about as much as purchasing this machine with the perk of having it at your 24/7/365 disposal.  You can also use it in your car, with the included attachments, which is a nice feature too.  For more details, you can read my recent full review here, http://savingcatsdogsandcash.com/hoover-fh50150-carpet-cleaner-review/.

The power of castile soap

For cleaning my non-carpeted floors, I use a spray bottle of citrus castile soap and water.  Castile soap, if you aren’t familiar, is made with safe ingredients like coconut and/or olive oil usually, vitamin E, shea butter, and citric acid, that won’t harm you or the environment like traditional soaps and cleaners.  It also works very well.  Castile soap comes in a variety of brands and offerings, from peppermint or citrus, to baby mild, depending on what you are planning to use it for…cleaning, personal care, pet shampoo, etc.

If you want to check out how your current cleaner/soap/detergent/shampoo/etc. ranks from the Environmental Working Group, who ranks products by their toxicity levels on a scale of A to F, you can visit their website here, http://ewg.org.

For my purpose, which is cleaning floors, including the garage floor that gets miscellaneous ick from the animals (dogs, cats, trespassing chickens), cars, and just other dirt and stuff, I like to use Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Castile Soap.  It’s a tough cleaner, getting the food bowl gunk and any kitchen spills off the floor without much, or any scrubbing, since castile soap is good at dissolving that stuff you want gone quickly.  It has a light orange smell that is pleasant but not overpowering.  I keep a spray bottle of this castile soap and water mixture to spot clean the vinyl flooring, carpet or the wood floor where an animal has tracked in or gotten sick.  It is just a great, safe, all-purpose cleaner.

As a side note, castile soap also works great on removing laundry stains.  Depending on the stain, I will spray my diluted castile soap and water mixture on it, or use a few drops of the castile soap full strength, if it’s a serious stain.  You can get a bottle of the Dr. Bronner’s version that I buy here, http://amzn.to/2t41igZ.  I get the 32 oz. bottle and it lasts for months, even with almost daily use.  Although it is kind of pricey, it is concentrated, so you’ll be diluting it if you are cleaning with it, and it is much safer for you and your pets.  This is especially good if you have a floor licker or two like I do, whose life motto is “It might be something good” and therefore gets a check lick.

Because I have ten cats and dogs that I pet randomly throughout the day, raw feed most of them, work from home, and am kind of a germaphobe, I wash my hands A LOT.  After some experimentation and trial and error, I found that the mild baby versions of castile soap don’t dry my hands out like the other versions.  I’ve tried a few different brands and varieties and personally like Dr. Woods Baby Mild version here, http://amzn.to/2unJHEF the best.  Since the mix rate is 1/4 castile soap and the remainder water, making the mixture quite viscous, the best way to use it is via a foaming hand soap dispenser.  I have foaming hand soap dispensers at all of my sinks, including the kitchen sink, where I find I use it more often there than dish soap to quickly cut grease on dishes, pots, and pans.

Making quick work of floor cleaning with steam

When my vinyl and wood flooring needs a full clean, I use my steam mop.  Once it heats up, it makes quick work of everything.  Mine is several years old and doesn’t appear to even be made anymore, but if/when it goes to the steam mop place in the sky, I will seriously consider this one, the Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System (S5003D), http://amzn.to/2ttH8fG.  To date, it has really good reviews and I’m a huge fan of the Shark brand, thanks to a couple of other things of theirs I own and love.  Their products are often featured in Consumer Reports as recommended buys as well, just FYI.

Other cleaning tips and tricks

While the regular vacuuming with a quality vacuum does a great job of keeping dust to a minimum, I prefer to keep my dusting as simple as possible.  Since cats tend to get on everything and anything they want, I don’t like the idea of spraying any chemicals on any surface where they might walk and then clean their feet.  I also don’t like breathing in cleaning sprays or subjecting my animals to them.  Instead, I find that just using a damp soft cloth traps and holds the dirt quite well.

And one last cleaning trick that I stumbled upon a couple of years ago that I had no idea even existed, is cleaning vinegar.  It takes regular white vinegar and kicks it up a few notches.  White vinegar has 5% acidity and cleaning vinegar has 6% acidity, which makes it 20% stronger.  It works very well, especially if you have hard water.  I clean everything from my coffee pot and toilets with it, my white (ugh!) utility sink, my shower, and other places or things that you would use regular vinegar to clean.

If you struggle to remove mineral build-up from your animals’ water bowls, buckets or other watering devices, that is one area where the cleaning vinegar really excels.  By quickly dissolving the mineral deposits, it saves a lot of time scrubbing.  I can just spray my cleaning vinegar and water mixture on the bowl/bucket, let it sit for a few minutes and then usually clean everything to as good as new with a very light scrubbing.

WhiIe cleaning vinegar can be purchased online, it is outrageously priced with shipping, so I recommend finding it locally.  I bought my Heinz Cleaning Vinegar from a big box store for around $3-$4.  If it isn’t carried in your local store, you can usually buy it online from the store and have it shipped to your local store for pick up.  Like the castile soap, it lasts a long time, so the hassle should be worth the benefit.

 

 


If you want to see more pictures of Moose and Cooper and the crew, please like my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/savingscatsanddogswhilesavingcash/

 

 

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