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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

Organizing Your Cleaning Supplies

Sometimes your cleaning supplies end up making the biggest mess. Ironic isn't it? We tend to hoard supplies and forget what we have. We end up with half a bottle of Windex but we just bought 2 bottles on sale. Today, I want to focus on organzing and cleaning up your cleaning supplies.

First determine where is the best place to store your cleaning supplies? Believe it or not, there are several ways to approach this. I was raised in a home where Mother kept her cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink. So that's the way I did it for some years. But there are other places. Some of you may have "broom closets" or, what I call, utility closets. Some of you may have a carport or basement that you could use.

So determine where you want to keep your cleaning supplies. If you have a space issue then you are really going to have to make some choices. For instance, find cleaners that will do more than one job like a window cleaner that also cleans countertops, etc.







Another thought is having supplies in multiple places. For instance, I have found that I clean the bathrooms more often if I have a cleaning caddy under the bathroom sink (or in a linen closet) with the bathroom cleaning supplies. In that caddy I keep a pair of rubber gloves, toilet bowl cleaner, surface cleaner for the sinks/bathtubs, antibacterial wipes for the commode, long handled brush for the bathtub. (I keep toilet bowl brushes in caddies by each commode, along with matching plungers.) This has worked well for me. With that in mind, you would think that if I kept a caddy in every room of the house the rooms would get cleaned more often or more easily. But it seems, with me, that the bathroom caddies are the only ones I use.



Fortunately, I have a utility closet outside my laundry room. I had my Dad put up some shelves one day for me. I bought the supplies and had them on hand and made him a good lunch and he spent the morning putting up my shelves. I lined them with white shelf liner. The closet is freshly painted a bright white and my husband put up a new flourescent light fixture so I could see easily. I bought an old tea cart that I can pull around the house with me. I keep all my mops and bucket, vacuum cleaner, broom, brushes, cleaning supplies, rags, etc in this closet. I also keep a lockable key cabinet in this closet. This is my utility closet:





What kind of rags do you use? When I got married, my Aunt Ruth gave me a laundry basket with cleaning stuff in it and a bag full of cleaning rags. Who would ever think of giving a newlywed a bag of rags? But, boy did I need them and was so happy to get them! Since then, I've rarely purchased rags for cleaning. I do use sponges for some jobs and I purchase them. But if a towel gets thin, I cut it up for rags. Same with T-shirts. I have bought some microfiber cloths recently but really can't tell a difference. You will notice in my photo that I have some old towels folded up on the shelf. I use these for floor jobs. Then I have a rag bin on the floor under the shelves. **Tip** When you wash your cleaning rags, don't put them in the same load as your clothes. You don't want your cleaning rags to get softener on them as it makes them smeary and less effective. Wash them in a load by themselves. Wash them with detergent, hot water, and add some vinegar to the rinse. Vinegar should rinse any leftover cleaner out of your rags.

Another decision is if you want to keep your normal cleaning stuff in a caddy to carry around with you...

...or would it help you to have a cleaning cart or a trashcan on wheels? Maids in hotels use a cleaning cart for a reason. Make your own version!

If you have a large house, having stuff at your fingertips is a plus and saves steps. It's much more efficient than running back and forth to the cleaning closet. You can toss the trash from each room's trash cans into a larger plastic bag. You can toss dirty clothes and linens in a big bin. Having these on wheels may help you, especially if you have hard floors. I have a dirty clothes basket on wheels that I use, as well as, my tea cart that holds my cleaning supplies.



Here is a cart that is used for holding the steam cleaner/steam mop.



I thought this was an ingenious little device if you need to use that space by your refrigerator.





Another thing to ponder is what kind of vacuum cleaner you need, want, can afford. Remember, this is an appliance that will be heavily used so buying cheap may not be the best use of your money. It's a tool that is used heavily, gets dragged and bumped around and is invaluable in keeping your house clean. If you or your family have allergies, it's even more important. So buy the best you can afford. I know it's one of those no-fun items you put money in like a washing machine, dishwasher, etc. But it is a very good investment because of how many times you will use it. For instance, let's say your husband buys a boat for $15,000 and uses it about once a month. Versus you buying a good vacuum cleaner for $1,500 that is used basically every day. Which do you think is a better use of the money? I'll let you figure it out. Husbands notoriously hate the thought of putting that much money into something as "boring" as a vacuum cleaner but it really pans out. I bought a Rainbow vacuum cleaner about 25 yrs ago and it was $700 then. My husband about had a stroke! But I used it all the time and it lasted 12 years with no repairs needed. I was able to use it for wet/dry stuff like when our niece threw up in the car. My next vacuum cleaner was a Miele. I've had it now for 13 yrs and only taken it to be cleaned a few times and replaced the brushes a couple of times. It was $500. (I don't have carpet so I don't need the more expensive one with the carpet attachments.) I've also had a central vacuum and loved it. But the biggest tip I can give you for a central vacuum system is to make sure you have the machine in an easily accessible spot. For some reason, the previous owners had put the machine in the crawl space under the porch so my husband would have to crawl in there to change the bags. (And this was despite the fact that the house had a full basement and a carport which would have been much easier places to have put it.) They had put outlets for the vacuum hose in every room including the unfinished full basement. It was really unnecessary as the hose was long enough so that I really only needed 3 on each level. AND they neglected to put one in the car port for vacuuming out the car.

So, do yourself a favor and buy a good vacuum cleaner. They are worth their weight in gold.

Here is a list of cleaning supplies and cleaning tools that I keep on hand:

  • Greased Lightening (or it's equivalent at the Dollar Tree) for the bathrooms, kitchen and outdoor use
  • Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Windex Glass Cleaner
  • Pledge Furniture Dusting/Furniture Polish
  • Floor cleaner (we have brick, laminate, ceramic tile, wood, vinyl floors but I basically use the same cleaner for mopping)
  • A nice sponge mop (And keep the sponges changed out, it makes a difference!)
  • An old fashioned string mop handle. We attach a towel in this instead of the string mop head and use it to go behind the sponge mop and dry the floors.
  • A Swiffer type sweeper but I use it for the walls when I do spring cleaning. I use a clean towel that is wrung out in hot water and wipe the walls down (we use latex semi-gloss and gloss paint to allow for this).
  • Brooms at ever door (one in the front entrance hall closet, one behind the curtains at the patio doors, one in the utility closet close to the back door)
  • Different brushes and a squeegee that we use when cleaning windows, window sills, doors, overhangs, etc OUTDOORS.
  • Rags and sponges (of different sizes)
  • Paper towels
  • Febreze for freshening curtains, sofa pillos and upholstered furniture in between cleanings.
  • Silver polish (I have some silver pieces and silver jewelry.)
  • Brass polish
  • Liquid Soap to refill the soap containers at all the sinks.
  • A Swiffer duster to do a quick swipe if company is coming and in between cleanings.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Glass Chandelier Cleaner
  • Dishwashing liquid/Dishwasher detergent/Cascade
  • Washing powder/OxyClean/Softener/Bleach
  • Trash bags of different sizes. I have large ones for outside jobs, kitchen size and bedroom size bags.
  • Lysol Spray
  • Vacuum Cleaner and bags
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Magic Erasers
  • Vinegar




If you have multiple people in your household, then you probably could use a checklist. Maybe have a clipboard in your broom closet with a checklist of all the supplies you keep on hand. When an item gets low, make a note on the checklist or on a shopping list or a blackboard.

Another idea is to have a checklist for the bathroom, bedroom, laundry, kitchen, living areas. You should be teaching your children how to clean and, if they are old enough, they could use the checklist as a reminder of all the things that need to be done. I've seen this done on the back of the restroom doors in a business. The employee has to date and initial it when they clean the restrooms. Anyway, you might laminate a list of things for each area that needs to be done for the room to be considered "cleaned".

Here is an example of a kitchen checklist:

  • Empty the dishwasher and put away clean dishes
  • All dirty dishes rinsed and put in the dishwasher, dishwasher turned on
  • Wipe the countertops
  • Degrease the stove top
  • Wipe out the microwave
  • Put away all food items in refrigerator, cabinets, pantry, etc.
  • Sweep the floor
  • Wash the sink
  • Take out the trash
  • Put out fresh sponge and hand towel


  • So, after you make your decisions, make your plan. Decide how your cleaning system works for you and then follow through with a plan to get it up and running efficiently. Then clean out that broom closet or cabinet. Paint it! Line the shelves. Go through your supplies and combine those duplicates you had. Throw out old stuff that you don't use. Buy what you need to re-stock or to organize. When you are through, show it to your family...even the husbands. So everyone knows where things should be found and where they should be returned when they are through using it. Go over your cleaning plans with them so they know what to expect. You will have to stay behind them but keep at it. Everyone needs to learn how to clean and organize, how to put things back where they belong. It's an essential life lesson.

    One last note...there are many people who feel strongly about making their own cleaners. Using natural and cheaper ingredients you can make your own supplies. If this is you, get online and do some Google searches and look for ideas on making your own clothes washing powder, your own bathroom cleaners, your own wipes, window cleaners, etc. It does the job, is easier on the environment and is cheaper. But it takes more time and thought.
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