Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cool Tools

I am a Frugal Fairy (I highly prefer this term over "Pennypincher"). A girlfriend recently cracked up when I told her that I don't pay full price for anything, then handed her a bottle of her infant son's formula that I got for free when I combined a coupon with a sale. I don't like spending a lot of money on things that we go through on a regular basis. I don't buy paper towels or disposable mop or dusting pads. What a great big waste of money and resources!

What in the world do I do instead? Thanks for asking. Here's what I use:

Microfiber cloths. They are absorbent, remove marks from walls, polish shiny surfaces with only water, and lock away dust. Invest in a good set like the ones I found at Bed Bath and Beyond. Cheaper ones tend to be made of plastics that could potentially scratch surfaces. You will need to launder them separately and carefully as any particles that get caught in the fibers can also scratch surfaces.

Terry cloth. Cotton terry is absorbent, gently scrubs, is safe for almost all surfaces, and dries pretty quickly. Remember that we don't use the same cloth to wipe counters that we use to wash dishes. I use a color-coded system to keep track of where each type of cloth is to be used. Red terry cloth towels are for wiping kitchen countertops/stoves/cabinets, blue cloths are for the bathroom, and white are for all the other stuff.

Crochet dishrags. I love to crochet. It's head-medicine for the end of days that I wish had never happened, or busy-work for long car trips. A simple square takes no time to whip up and the woven pattern is such a wonderful scrubber for removing stuck-on food without scratching special surfaces. Find my pattern here.

Old T-shirts. They are cheap, soft, polish windows and glass, and are gentle on skin. The best part is that you probably ALWAYS have a stack of tees that have been outgrown or have developed holes, lost seams, or are just outdated. Just cut squares or rectangles of the cotton fabric and use in place of paper towels in the kitchen, as quick wipes in the bathroom, or as reusable baby or face wipes. You can get the recipes for wipes here.

Finally, invest in a really good vacuum, floor vac and mop.

I am not going to recommend a vacuum here because I am currently in the market for a new one and I have MUCH research to do before I buy one. I'll tell you about this when I finally make the purchase.

My favorite cleaning tool is hands-down my hard floor vacuum. I haven't swept floors in ages because I find sweeping to be an excercise in futility. If you can actually manage to get most of the floor dirt swept into one spot, the challenge then becomes getting it brushed into a dustpan. Forget that! I'll use my stick vac. Just make sure to empty the canister regularly. Once a month I rinse out the canister and filter to make sure air flows freely so as to maintain proper suction.

Now, allow me to gush. I LOVE MY SHARK! This mop has cut my cleaning time nearly in half. I love how well it cleans floors of all types. A word of caution, though: don't use it on poorly or unfinished hardwood because the steam will leach the stain off the floor. If you find that you have streaks after cleaning with a steam mop, use a clean pad and try again--and again and again, if necessary--because your old cleaners may have left such buildup floor that the steam mop needs more time to remove it.

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