Are you (or your kids) gamers with dirty houses? Turn cleaning into a game with Chore Wars. Chose an avatar and some character strengths (vacuuming, organising parties, taking the bins out…British site.) Join a “party” or become the “dungeon master” of your own group. Import pre-generated “adventures”: common chores such as mowing the lawn, dusting or attending to the dishwasher, here rendered as “Either loading or unloading the enchanted cabinet of crockery washing.” Or, develop a custom chore list. Your character gets experience points for every chore completed. Repeat weekly! Clever London-based web designer Kevan Davis developed this game.
The Hairpin columnist Jolie Kerr offers cleaning advice to young people who have never had to do it before. Recent questions that she has answered include how to clean a juicer, how to get jeans stains out of a carpet after an intense make-out session, and then, seriously, how to make a bed. I suppose that, if the bed had been made, the carpet would have been spared.
Ask a Clean Person
This New York Times site hosts advice from professional cleaner and mother-of-five Sarah Aguirre. Aguirre is a big believer in getting organized before you get organized. That is, she makes lists of chores and offers advice on getting the kids to do them! Follow her directions for both a 15 minute cleanup for every room or deeper intense cleaning. She shares a list of cleaning supplies that belong in every home and also information about their shelf life. Did you know that bleach loses its effectiveness after six months? (I’ve had mine for years.)
Housekeeping and Organization
You may have been doing your own laundry for years. Still, Martha Stewart offers tips on how to do it better. “Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out,” she suggests, “to prevent pilling.” She also gives instructions for properly loading a dishwasher, vacuuming any surface, and a cleaning checklist for each season.
Martha Stewart Home & Garden
The quality of my cleaning life shot up when Procter & Gamble introduced the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in 2003. The Eraser is a sponge made of spun melamine foam that is manufactured in Germany by BASF (http://www.basf.com/group/corporate/de/) under the name “Basotect.” For 20 years, the foam had been used as insulation. Then it was discovered that, when wetted, the spongy material works as fine abrasive to remove dirt and grit. “On curing, melamine resin becomes almost as hard as glass”, explains BASF’s Dr. Christof Möck. “The hardness of this material is one of the secrets of its cleaning talent: like extremely fine sandpaper, the foam eraser rubs the particles of dirt from the surface.” Magic Eraser scrapes out the ground-in dirt from my scratched white linoleum kitchen floor. However, I never use it on glass. Oddly, it doesn’t work that well on scummy bathtubs.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
The American Cleaning Institute describes the history of soaps and detergents starting with the ancient Babylonians, who left clay jars containing a mixture of ashes and animal fat, the ingredients of soap. The Romans bathed but the medieval Europeans did not; their filth facilitated the spread of disease. In the Renaissance, soap was taxed as a luxury item, but by 1850, it was mass-produced and considered an essential housekeeping tool. Germany developed detergents, which are chemically synthesized surfactants, in 1916 in response to a lack of raw materials caused by World War I. Today, detergents have largely replaced soap for most cleaning needs.
Visit the American Cleaning Institute to learn about how soap and detergents are made as well as to find cleaning agent safety information.
Soaps & Detergents: History