Monday, March 21, 2016

IHeart an Organized Cleaning Caddy

Happy Spring!  I welcome this season more than any!  Although, I have to do a few cartwheels over our mild Wisconsin weather this winter.  The snow is already melted and temps have been gentle and I can feel spring working hard to blossom.  Toss in a side of extra daily light and I feel like I have been winning the spring lottery!

With the warmer temps, we jump at the opportunity to open a few windows and let fresh air take over our home.  And with that, I find motivation to tackle some spring cleaning.  And to get outside and play!

I have made some minor adjustments to our cleaning caddy and products over the years, and I haven’t chatted about it in quite some time, so I thought today was the perfect day to pop in with an update.

I have tried a few caddies over the years, and by far my favorite up until recently, was a simple caddy I found at Target years ago.  They seem to bring the picnic/utensil caddy back each year (YAY), and I can always find another use for them because of their amazing versatility.  The only issue I had with it when it came to my cleaning supplies, is that I simply outgrew it as my cleaning habits and routines changed.  You can bet that it has already found a new purpose in another area of our home though…

When it comes to caddies, however, I will say that as much as I love the tin utensil caddy, not all tin/metal caddies are created equal.  I added one to our main bathroom for some cleaning items, and also another larger handled bin under our kitchen sink, and both have since broken.  So although darling, be sure to consider that tin caddies are prone to rusting, are heavy, and may not be welded in a way that the handle can “handle” the weight of the contents.

The overall goal of a cleaning caddy is to provide a one stop shop for all supplies needed to maintain each room in the home.  Aside from a few specific cleaning products that I store in each bathroom for daily clean-ups, this caddy is filled with all of my favorite supplies that I reach for during my weekly cleaning sessions.

I have been making homemade cleaners and laundry soap for awhile now, and with that comes larger packages of soaps, water, vinegar, oils, etc… Those are all stored in our laundry room cleaning cabinet, where I can head back on occasion to whip up a new batch of cleaners.  I also use the cabinet to store the mop and lower level broom and vacuum.  

Since I have begun making my own cleaners, I have definitely simplified the process over the years.  After reading mixed reviews, I stopped using vinegar as my main all-purpose cleaner.  There have been mentions of it not being friendly with certain stone counters, tiles and floors, so I decided to stop risking it.  I now purchase our all-purpose cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner, but the remainder of our solutions are still all made at home.

I know that not everyone finds time or benefit in making your own cleaners, and I totally get it.  The upside is that it can save money and you know exactly what you are cleaning your home with.  The downside is the time it takes to make the solutions and the space needed for storing the bulk supplies. 


After the last caddy broke, my new caddy requirements were:
  • Permanently attached handle
  • Lightweight
  • Size and the ability to hold various favorite supplies
  • Compartments 
  • Easy to clean

After a little hunting, I landed on this one from Amazon.

I know it sounds very Danny Tanner like, but every once in awhile I need to rinse out the caddy due to spills, leaks, accumulated dust and dirt… and this caddy even boasted small slots on the bottom that allow it to be easily cleaned and dried.  It fit every requirement on the checklist, the only flaw is that it could be a smidge deeper.  

My favorite part is actually the compartments.  It keeps things from shifting around and allowed me to easily add a few smaller elements that I use frequently.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what I use to clean our home top-to-bottom.


The only thing I can’t fit inside of my caddy, is my mop (which has the cleaner built in - read more about that here).  Everything else I really ever need is always right at my finger tips.  

Zooming in….


Recipe:  Our glass cleaner is made up of distilled water, a dash of vinegar and a dash of essential oil. 

How I use:  While cleaning glass surfaces, it really is all about the rags.  I start by spraying the surface with the spray mixture and follow up with the soft microfiber rag.  This does a good job at cleaning the surface and picking up smudges and dirt.  I finish by wiping down the surface with the glass polishing rag, which leaves everything sparkling and streak free.  The rags really do all of the work; I could get away with using only water but added a small amount of vinegar and essential oil because I also use this mixture for other tasks (mentioned below).

What I clean:  All of our glass surfaces, windows, mirrors, tables, etc… This solution also works wonderfully at polishing hardware and fixtures.


Recipe:  Our wood cleaner is made up of 2/3 distilled water, 1/3 olive oil, a dash of castile soap and a dash of essential oil. 

How I use:  Shake well and then spray on wood surfaces.  Follow with a micro-suede polishing cloth.  The oils keep the wood from drying out, while the castile soap actually cleans the surface.  The soft cloth prevents any scratches while cleaning.

What I clean:  All of our wood surfaces; accent furniture, dining table (on occasion), handrail and stairs.


Recipe:  Head to Amazon or to the store to pick up an awesome, friendly, good smelling cleaner.  I have tried a variety of options, everything from Mrs. Meyers to Method and Honest Co., and right now my favorite is the Murchison-Hume Counter Safe in Australian White Grapefruit.  It smells so fresh and leaves the fewest streaks on our counters.  It also comes in a larger refill friendly bottle.

How I use:  Spray and clean with either a microfiber rag, a sponge or a magic eraser.

What I clean:  I use this on every other surface beyond glass and wood.  I use it on our trim and doors, face plates, doorknobs, cabinets, counters and even to touch up small spills on the floor.  


Recipe:  Fill jar with baking soda, puncture the lid to add a some holes, add a few drops of essential oil and shake.  

How I use:  Sprinkle on surface and follow up vacuum or spray of choice depending on the task.

What I clean:  Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, and it also makes a really great scouring powder.  I generally sprinkle it in the sink and then spray the water/vinegar combo and scrub with a sponge.  This leaves the sink shiny and smelling great.  I also sprinkle it on our mattresses, rugs and furniture on occasion prior to vacuuming.  While cleaning tougher areas, I sprinkle a small amount on the surface and pair it with an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge. 


  • Duster: For quick dusting tasks around the house - bookcases, electronics, blinds, ceiling fixtures and fans.
  • Cotton Swabs: When paired with an all-purpose spray, I use these swabs for cleaning window and trim crevices as well as other smaller, hard-to-reach places (computer keyboards, car vents, etc…).
  • Castile Soap:  This soap is ultra concentrated, and a little bit goes a very long way.  I like to add it to the sink or to a spray bottle with water for really tough jobs.  I keep the large bottle in our laundry room, but a travel toiletry bottle is the perfect size to keep some upstairs also.
  • Essential Oils:  Some of them actually have beneficial cleaning powers, but I also love the scent they add to our home while cleaning.  I add them to most of our cleaners, our humidifiers and also use them to create room freshening sprays.  Lemon, Lavender and Tea Tree Oil are my top picks.

  • Scrub Brush:  A scrub brush is my best friend while cleaning grout, toothpaste out of sinks and stains out of rugs and carpet.


One of my previous struggles was that I like to use different rags for different types of tasks, yet I didn’t have a great way of keeping them separate and the family never knew which rag went with what product.  Ultimately, the goal was to prevent washing our patio window with an oily wood cleaner rag.  When I created the labels for my cleaning bottles (with my Silhouette as shown here), I used a color that correlated with the rags for that specific task.  #extremeorganizer

And as I mentioned above, the rags hold a lot of the power.  I know a many people swear by Norwex, which only utilizes water and rags, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it or splurge on the initial expense.  But I can see how it would ring true as I see the difference just in these rags from Target.  
  • Microfiber: Soft on surfaces, grabs dust, dirt, hair and most importantly, bacteria.  It is lint free and hypoallergenic and can be used to clean just about anything with less effort than normal rags.
  • Glass Polishing Rag: Shines glass and hardware surfaces, works especially well when used in conjunction with a microfiber rag. 
  • Wood Polishing Rag: Similar to the microfiber rags, but with a suede-like finish which is extra gentle on delicate wood surfaces.
  • Sponge: When paired with spray or water, the abrasive surface works hard on tough tasks.
  • Magic Eraser: Every mom’s hero!  Removes scuffs from floors and walls, removes Sharpie marker from surfaces and just about everything in-between. 


To be sure I don’t get lost in all of the fun of cleaning (HA), I try to set a timer.  Depending on my goals, I will set a timer and race the clock; sometimes to run through the entire house and other times just for a single task.  I tend to lose track of time quite easily, so this is actually one of the most important parts of my cleaning routine.

When I am done toting everything around the house, the caddy returns home right under the kitchen sink until my next cleaning session.  I keep it turned so the cleaners I use in the kitchen each day are right within reach when I open the door.

I have always found joy in a good cleaning session, so putting this together made me oddly happy.  I appreciate how quick and simple my tasks are on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, mainly because of how this caddy remains stocked and ready to go.  Also, I wanted to point out that I have been slowly moving to all glass spray bottles; I have found a few great ones on Amazon here and here.  They work really well and I know they should last me for many more years of cleaning (and labeling).

With a good routine throughout the year, spring cleaning for us means that it is now time to deal with those bigger, dirtier jobs.  Things like cleaning out the garage, washing our windows, raking the yard and doing general home maintenance are all tasks on our upcoming weekend agenda.  But if it means spring is here, then I am all in!

Let’s chat cleaning caddies!  Have you tried one, and if so, what are some of your cleaning caddy favorites?   And can we talk about essential oil scents?  I think I am officially addicted to adding oils to just about everything… Do you have a favorite smell for your home?

from IHeart Organizing

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