8 Tips for the best DIY Orange-Oil Dusting Rags

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There’s a couple of different versions of this recipe floating around the Pinterest boards. Over the year of making and using these I’ve found a few tricks that I’ll share here.

Oranges or Lemons – the procedure is the same regardless of what citrus you pick. Lemons gives a stronger smell than oranges which are milder. I find it easiest to sit down with a bag of oranges (bought on sale) and just peel and keep the segments back for snacking and the rinds for the cleaning project. If you try to collect as you eat oranges through the week the project drags on forever.

Clean Rags – T-shirt material is ideal as it is thin and you want something that will soak up the cleaning mix. Another option would be microfiber washcloths and I love the price at the Rag Company. If your using microfiber cloths plan on keeping the oil in a dispenser (like a recycled condiment bottle) and squeeze onto the washcloth instead of soaking it (soaking it would take a lot of oil to gain saturation).

Olive Oil – it is not necessary to use the expensive kind. Cheap is fine.

Vinegar – I prefer White Vinegar as it doesn’t have as strong a smell as Apple Cider. If using ACV it will overwhelm the citrus scent, FYI.

Essential Oil – optional for those who like a stronger citrus smell. I’ve added about 1 teaspoon per one batch (as described here). Luckily, citrus essential oils are some of the cheapest EO’s. Orange and Lemon are very affordable.

Containers – I started out using recycled glass spaghetti jars with lids but I’ve switched to quart or gallon sized, Freezer bags as I really like to tuck a baggie of dust rags in my cleaning bucket – one upstairs, one down, for quick access.

Solution:

1 c. water

1/2 c. vinegar

1/4 cup Olive Oil

10 Citrus fruits – trim off for the rinds – they should be dry – not wet! All pulp should be removed.

TIP #1: Cut your rinds into thin strips. This shape is easier to wrap cloth around and to tuck into the bag over the quarter/wedge size.

TIP #2: If orange peels are damp or wet, pat dry, and stick in a low temp (150 degree oven) to dry out for about 10 minutes. Let them cool before using.

TIP #3: Oil and water will continue to separate so whisk your liquids between each rag you are soaking.

TIP #4: If you mix in one large batch and dump in a rag, it will soak up ALL the oil, leaving you only with vinegar and water for the subsequent rags! Get a shallow pan, pour in a quarter cup or less of your mixed/whisked solution and put in a rag to wipe it up. Wring out the rag, wrap up your orange rinds inside and tuck into your plastic bag. Repeat. This way oil is spread evenly throughout your batch of cleaning rags.

TIP #5: Do not put used rags back in with the clean as this brings in contamination and starts mold. From my experience, these should last (unopened/unused) for at least 6 weeks maybe longer.

TIP #6: Once used these rags start to dirty up fast! Rinse in the sink and you can re-use immediately about two more times before there is no more oil in the rag to collect dust.

TIP #7: For best results, wait to use for at last two weeks after setting up. My only problem with these is I go through these very quickly and it takes so much time for them to set up. If you need dusting rags right away skip adding the fruit rinds and just go with the oil and vinegar to use immediately.

TIP #8: When wiping furniture, if you find it leaves too much oily residue to your liking, than go back over with a clean and dry microfiber cloth and next time you make the recipe cut the oil in half.

EXTRA TIP: A week after setting up a batch, doublecheck that nothing is molding. Sometimes despite your best efforts, mold enters and starts to spoil your batch. If caught early you might be able to save the rest by removing the offender.

I prefer these soaked cleaning rags over dusting spray. They work best over flat wooden surfaces like bookshelves, dressers, nightstands, sideboards, dining room tables, bed frames, etc… For my own cleaning routine they really work out for what I clean and how I do it!

My Favorite DIY Glass and Mirror Cleaner

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Most of these DIY cleaners simply don’t work (for example the popular Goo-Gone recipe of cheap oil and baking soda simply is not Goo-Gone and will never be). However, this is one recipe I came across that I’ve tested over the last year that is excellent for cleaning mirrors and glass. I’ve used it to bring a shine to my stove top too.

I mix it up at a gallon at a time in a clean kitty litter jug (with handle and lid properly labeled).

1 gallon of Distilled water (I use distilled because the water at my house is heavy in mineral content)
2 cups of Rubbing Alcohol
2 cups of White Vinegar (you could use Apple Cider but it increases the vinegar smell)

When I’m ready to finalize the mix into spray bottles I put 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to 2 cups of solution. Be sure to shake well before using as the Cornstarch likes to settle.

I also add 10 drops of Essential Oil. Some of my favorite cleaning EO’s include: Pine, Lemon, Lemon Eucalyptus, Orange, Lavender, and Rosemary. Be aware that some Essential Oils are packaged in oil (such as Vanilla and Rose) do not use these – as it will make your final solution oily.

Often most of these ingredients can be found on sale; here is an average cost of raw ingredients:

Distilled water (1 gal.) = .88
Rubbing Alcohol (16 oz) = $3.50
White Vinegar (1 gal.) = $2.50
Cornstarch (16 oz.) = $1.70

Essential Oils range from cheap (Orange at $8 a bottle) to expensive (Lavender at $35 a bottle) so that price is not included. Of course if you don’t use distilled water the price comes down a little more.

Homemade DIY cleanser is $.52 cents (2 cups) versus the same amount in Windex is $1.30. As I’ve gotten older I have found the smell of Windex more pungent. Not sure why that is but if you don’t like the smell of chemicals, going DIY on your cleaning solutions is smart.

I have three bathrooms so I leave a small spray bottle in each bathroom so mirrors can be cleaned whenever I grab a moment instead of searching around for cleaning solution downstairs when I’m upstairs.

Not all DIY cleansers are made equal. I’ve found many of these recipes don’t measure up but this one is easy, quick and effective! Great stuff!

Love this Quickie Steam Mop for hardwood and ceramic floors

On my quest to get the house into some sort of order – from the shambles it usually looks, the next cleaning tool I bought was a Bissell Powerfresh Clean Mop. There is a Sharp version in this price range, but Bissell got overall better ratings. I especially liked that Bissell fluid container could be re-filled and that it stands upright when not in use (the Sharp does not).

PRICE

It was initially listed cheaper at Target than Bed Bath and Beyond, and it was on a 10% off sale so purchase price was $90 with free shipping. Bissell routinely goes on sale so keep an eye out for deals. Again no freebies on this AD FREE BLOG! 😀

This was my first time ordering from the Target website and sorry not impressed. After buying, the only email I received was one telling me I would be told later when it would be shipped so two days later I have only a delivery range of dates and no tracking number. Not cool, Target.

USING IT

This is not a broom or vacuum – floors need to be swept clear of debris for this machine to be effective in cleaning your floors. Also, it does not suck up water like my old Hoover Floormate did although it would be effective on small liquid spills but so would a dishcloth.

It is easy to assemble – takes one screw and you are ready to go.

One thing I liked about this steam mop was I could fill it directly from the sink (or in my case, a distilled water jug). From reading the Sharp reviews you had to Jerry-rig the canister to be able to refill it. This wasn’t something I wanted to bother with doing. Remember, I hate housework and need quick and easy.

Heats up fast! You’ll be ready to go in less than 2 minutes. It has three options on how hot the mop can get – experiment and see what works best on your floor. I use a light or middle setting for my wood floors and use the hottest on the ceramic.

Unlike the Sharp steam mop, this mop can sit upright when not in use, so stores better. Always be sure to turn it off when done to prevent heat damage to the floor where it is sitting.

WATER TANK

I personally love that it uses water – not chemicals – to clean my floor. Distilled water prolongs the life of the machine and the cost is minimal if you compare it to floor cleaner. My area has heavy mineral content in the water, so I definitely want to use distilled water.

There is an option for a scent disc to be put into the mop head but I found it gave minimum scent (if you love heavily scented products like Febreeze or Lysol, this product is not like that) so I doubt I’ll buy that product insert again.

I’ve started using a suggestion on an Amazon review: to one gallon of distilled water I add 1/4 teaspoon of Essential Oil (Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Rosemary, Pine, Tea Tree oils are good ones to try as long as they are not blended in oil – check the label), with 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Shake the jug well before pouring into the tank. It should release a nice scent into the air as you clean!

CAUTION: Do no overuse or you could get streaking. Do not use essential oils containing oils like Jojoba (such as found in Vanilla and Rose Essential Oils) or you can clog your machine and streak your floor.

MOP PADS

The mop comes with two cleaning pads which can be washed and reused. One pad is for hardwood floors (100% white) and the other pad is for ceramics or where you want to scrub (it has a blue chevron pattern on the bottom).

I bought two extra pads as this will give me the greatest flexibility in having one clean as I don’t do a white-wash every day and I have over 1,000 square feet of floor I use this on. Be sure to buy the Bissell brand for the correct steam mop type (the Freshmop doesn’t fit the other brands of Bissell’s steam mops). People have complained about Bissell look-alike pads so buy the Bissell brand for the best fit.

When finished do NOT leave the covers on the machine! These become very damp after use and need to dry out or be washed or it develops a mildew smell.

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Remove the cloth, mop head cover and immediately rinse and squeeze until water comes clear. Spray with a Resolve carpet cleaner, and set aside to be tossed in the washer with Oxy Clean. Don’t use bleach. After use, they will never be white again. If this bothers you go back to the Swiffer with disposable mop heads (which I think is like taking a huge step back in technology, like forgoing an oven and using a camp fire to cook).

mop_pad_covers_bissell_steam_mop_new_cleanedThey can pick up a lot of lint so if washing with other items, you might want to tie them up in a pillowcase or use a mesh laundry bag like you find for washing lingerie.

PROS

Very lightweight and easy to use. Would be perfect for someone with disabilities, back issues or someone who is restricted in their ability to move about. Because it is lightweight, I found it easy to take it up and down the stairs.

The cord is crazy long – I was able to do the huge L-shaped area of laundry room, bathroom, kitchen and breakfast room from just one plug in. The cord is not retractable but winds on the exterior of the unit.

The mop head swivels 180 degrees. It makes it fantastic for moving in and around baseboard, cabinets, furniture etc… It even moved around the toilet for me to clean most of that floor! LOVE THIS FEATURE!

The water in the tank goes a long way! I was really pleased at how much floor I got done and even went two sessions before having to refill it.

Floors dry really fast – ceramic floors faster than hardwoods.. It will leave some dampness on the floor and maybe because the water was hot, but the floors dried faster than just traditionally-mopped floors. If you live in a high humidity place it may take longer (but so would mopped floors) to dry.

TIP: On hardwood floors I found it streaking when I had it on the highest steam setting and when the mop head was saturated with water. If you find it streaking, try a fresh mop head cover that is dry and/or go back to the lighest steam setting.

TIP: if you need the floor to dry fast use the lightest steam setting. The higher you go on the steam, the more water that is applied to the floor, the longer it takes to dry, and the more chance of streaking on hardwoods. I had no streaking on ceramics and even at the highest setting, the ceramic dried fast.

CONS

HATE that there is no power-down switch and you have to unplug from the wall to stop the power. HATE, HATE, HATE! Before unplugging, move it back to the original light setting as it does seem to power it down somewhat on the top setting.

Trying to pull out the water tank can be difficult. It fits in snuggly and it can be hard to get enough grip to pull it up and out.

Some people have reported floor streaks after using. Use the lighest steam setting on hardwood floors to reduce or eliminate streaking (see Tip above). Another problem is your mop head cover may just be too wet, especially if you are doing a lot of floor on the heaviest steam/wet setting. Try a fresh pad and return to the lighter steam setting and see if this eliminates the problem.

Overlap the paths of your travel and go with the grain (if doing hardwood floors). Also, if your floor has a product on it (wax, chemical cleaners) it may remove this and cause streaking during the first few cleans.

While this has a carpet feature, I wouldn’t think this would be very effective in cleaning a deep pile rug. Without a scrub brush and a chemical tank, I don’t view this as a rug cleaner despite the water and steam. Might be okay on low pile carpet and rugs.

Overall, on clean-ability, this is a great steam mop to use on a regular (3x or more a week) basis on mildly dirty floors. While it doesn’t “scrub” your floors (so heavily stained floors may need more) I found it a great mop for keeping the kitchen tidy on a daily basis.

Between the Sharp Navigator cordless vacuum and this little baby, the floors have already started looking so much better!

Dealing with Pet Fluff and Hardwood Floors

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After installing the wooden floors downstairs, it became quickly apparent that the fluff from two dogs and three cats was way out of control. If using a broom or dustmop to gather pet fluff you will spend as much time trying to get the dustpan to the trash with all the dust bunnies as you will in sweeping!

From a blog recommendation, I bought a Sharp Navigator Freestyle vacuum from Bed Bath and Beyond with my 20% off coupon for about $86. Yes, I bought it – no freebies for this AD-FREE blog!

USING IT

So far I give this an A+ for daily housework – I’m using it almost every day and definitely every other day.  If you have pets and need something quick to clean hardwoods or ceramics on a daily basis, this is a great choice!

EASY AND QUICK FOR DAILY CLEANS! LOVE IT!

This is pretty easy to assemble with just one screw. It’s CORDLESS and it is LIGHT!

Initially, I gave it about 4 hours to get a complete charge; you will need an area where you can leave it plugged in. It looks like it shuts off the charging unit once the vac is completely charged which is good because if you overcharge these types of batteries you can damage it.

It has two settings: bare floor and carpet. I have used this only on concrete flooring, hardwoods and ceramic. I personally doubt the suction would be strong enough for a deep pile carpet but would probably be okay for low pile carpet and rugs, though I do not consider this to be a hard use vacuum (see below for more details).

What I don’t know yet is how long the filters will last. Also, how hard it’s going to be to find those replacement filters.

PROS:

This is awesome for daily and spot cleans! Just grab, go and vacuum and put away. No bending to plug in, searching for outlets, moving furniture to get to an outlet, or struggling with moving the card as you vacuum. I LOVE IT!

HUGE pluses were cordless and lightweight. Managing a cord is a huge pain in the neck as the cord never allows me to do the room without transferring plugs. Easy to take up the stairs unlike huge clunky vacuums.

Other pros include the handle height which is comfortable for me at 5’5″ and husband 6’2″. Other vacs have too low a handle and hurt hubby’s back after use. I hate short handled brooms!

Bagless so you just open the canister and shake debris out. Emptying the cartridge is a bit tricky until you figure it out. When you push the bottom button in, push down on the tabs that are at the bottom of the canister (they go opposite directions).

Suction and maneuverability is pretty good. I found the hinging of the upright handle/canister area to the floor sweeper to be a little hard until after a few uses when it limbered up. Now it works fine and is easy to maneuver.

CONS:

The biggest issue from reading reviews is that the battery doesn’t retain a charge or isn’t powerful enough to do the job. I’m keeping my receipt for 90 days but so far haven’t had an issue myself. I’m cleaning about 800 square feet of floor space.

Suction is not strong enough to pick up screws, pennies, paperclips – it’s ideal for fluff and dust. This is a daily, pick up quick vacuum not a heavy duty wet-vac.

It doesn’t have any hand tools so you can’t use it to on furniture or baseboards. Do not look at this as you would a regular full-use vacuum. I plan on buying a different vacuum for my upstairs deep pile carpet.

If you run it up to a hard edge, it doesn’t get the suction right up to the edge.

I found trying to clean out the brush of the floor sweeper area a bit difficult to get into. It would be nicer to get in there and fully remove debris like string that isn’t sucking all the way through (you can do it but it isn’t as easy as belt vacuum cleaners).

This is just one of several cleaning tools I plan on buying in the next 60 days. In the future, I’ll be buying a vacuum for the hardwood stairs, a steam mop (for hardwood and ceramic floors), and a new heavy duty, carpet vacuum for the upstairs, carpeted bedrooms.

EDITED TO ADD: My heavy duty carpet vacuum cleaner has died so I ended up trying out this cordless on carpet after all. If your carpet is lightly dirty it can work pretty well!! However, it still doesn’t like big chunks of fluff, dirt, paper bits etc… Yet, I am impressed and being a much lighter vacuum in weight, I will use it for quick clean ups in the bedrooms after all!

Organizing the Media

Despite all the moves back and forth, there is still stuff we can clean up, sort, trash etc.. here at the house. Last week I sorted through three tray boxes of paperwork, sorting and trashing paperwork. There was a lot less to go through than I expected and I think that was because of the clean up prior to the move to Missouri.

I’ve already gone through the entire book collection in preparation to moving it to digital. I’ve got my Wishlist set up to look for sales (I may join Amazon Prime for a year in order to get better prices). The plan is to budget $30 or so a paycheck on buying digital formats of book favorites so they will take up less room in the new house and be easily transported to wherever we are.

After the book clean up, I have 6 cardboard cartons of books for the library for donations – I’d trade them if we were still in Springfield as they had a great used bookstore – not so here in Tulsa. It’s just too much bother to put them in a garage sale or on Craigslist though for the thrifty minded person you could do that.

The last four days, I’ve been going through the music collection, and while much was ripped to digital some slipped by and I had bought some new music when in Missouri. Today, I’ve wrapped up the last CD on that chore. I’ll be donating or trading these all in. Again, the point is to lighten the load of what is physically taking up space.

Tomorrow, we’ll see if the VHS to DVD converter machine works. Definitely we do not need VHS tapes here! If we are not successful, I will set them back to be done by a professional. This is one of those chores that should have been done years ago.

I also have camcorder tapes that needs to be transposed but since they were with an old camcorder that is now broke they will most likely have to go to a professional to be done.

Next weekend, we tackle the biggest chore – sorting 20 years of family photos! Most have not been dated. I’ll be relying on how old the kids look in the photos and any other seasonal tip offs (such as Halloween costumes! LOL). This is a HUGE pain but needs to be done. If we work together I think one or two weekends will see the majority done in terms of dating sequence.

These will be transferred onto digital with only the best being kept for wall or shelf display. This will be the biggest chunk of the tedious chore because scanning takes far longer than physically sorting. I bought a photo scanner last Christmas season (heavily discounted) but have not had the motivation to get it done.

All of this just furthers a process of letting go – physically and mentally. During the last move I still felt some twinges in the goodbye process; now I have given myself complete permission that it is okay to get rid of this stuff. I think husband feels the same as he has been less resistant on releasing items, especially some of his books which has greatly surprised me.

In Missouri we lived in a much smaller house and I can see that we can let a lot go to make smaller-home life  comfortable and enjoyable. This realization has given me more ease of mind with the process of discarding items and papers.

In about three years from now we will downsize from 2700 sq. feet to 1200 sq. ft. with our son living on his own post college graduation and our daughter away at college, we need to be working today towards our future home. Besides being organized now with a less cluttered home just makes me feel better!

Transfering your Book Collection to Digital

bookmoundsReading is one of my biggest hobbies and we have a collection of over 1,000 books! After lugging book boxes from Oklahoma to Missouri and Missouri to Oklahoma, I knew we needed to rethink this before the Big Move.

In about 3-4 years, the plan is to sell our current house of about 2700 sq. foot home (4 bed, 2.5 bath) to a much smaller home of less then 800 sq. ft. I will not have room for rows and rows of bookshelves (which we own 8 now) in the new house. And if we decide to travel, the collection can come with us anywhere.

If you are big reader, you owe it to yourself to start doing this too – it’s far too expensive to move over a physical collection into digital in one swoop. If you take your time, you can use sales, gift cards, and discounts to help you build back your collection.

Yes, it is irritating that you are buying full price for a book you already own. Yes, it is irritating that you have to re-invest this money. However, the reality is that as Egon said in Ghostbusters, “Print is dead.” Technology is moving forward to digital formats.

FIRST STEP: The first thing to do is assess your collections – books fall into some general groupings:

  • books I am reading now – they are in a hold area;
  • books I love and often re-read – I will keep these until they are replaced;
  • books I love/like that I re-read but not as often – depending on how often, I may just mark them on my list and go ahead and donate them away;
  • books that I read once and won’t read again – immediate donation pile;
  • books that are damaged or need to be replaced anyway – trash after putting them on my list;
  • books that are not available as an e-book – depending on how “favorite” they are I keep or donate;
  • and reference/coffee books that I will be keeping in hardback form as they serve their purpose best in that format

Go through your collection and determine what to keep and what to toss/sell/donate. I donated my books to the public library which is a tax break you can use during taxtime. Another option would be to turn them into a paperback trader but what are you going to do with all that credit? Buy more paperbacks? That is not moving to digital 🙂

Another option is to sell on Craigslist, at a Garage Sale, or if the books are valuable due to age or a niche market, on ebay. It just depends on how valuable your collection is and how much trouble you want to put into recouping some of your investment.

SECOND STEP: Hence at this stage, the best thing you can do is go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and start a wish list. My Wish List was titled “Old Fiction” which was to group it separate from New Fiction I was interested in buying but hadn’t read. Whatever you name your list know that it as your “replacement” list.

Not all books are available in a digital format. I have many that were published over 10 years ago that no one (publisher or author) has transferred to a digital format. With these books you will have to decide if you will keep and treasure or release.

THIRD STEP: We own a lot of books, and when we moved back to Oklahoma from Missouri, we started to transfer all the Agatha Christie mysteries onto an e-reader. You would think that these books wouldn’t cost much – after all Christie has been dead for decades – but they still sell for about $7+ on Kindle!

However, if you pay attention they often go on sale, so using my wish list of books to move onto Kindle – upon each paycheck, I allotted $20-$50 to buy whatever is on sale that is on the list. It took me about five months but at this time all the Agatha Christie mysteries that we once had in paperback (we had more than we decided to buy – sticking to our favorites) were bought on sales.

Amazon Prime members sometimes get special discounts or free books. In my experience, these are usually new authors, not older books.

Also, Amazon finally has put together an option to share accounts so if you are a couple, you can both (legally and easily) have access to each others books.

All you have to do is try out a tablet or e-reader to get hooked on the convenience of being able to read anything, at any time, with a built in light system for those late, under the cover, readings! They are awesome for those who travel or have to wait a lot (in doctor offices, appointments, bank etc…). Husband was devout he would not get rid of physical books… that was before I bought him a tablet. Now that he has seen the convenience for himself, he is gung ho on moving over to digital.

So it’s time to say goodbye to space wasters and hello, convenience! The amount of space saved and the convenience will be massive! I think once you buy into digital you won’t look back.

PIN: Dealing with tarnished silver

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This cleaning solution is to de-tarnish silver: line your sink with aluminum foil, add 1/2 c table salt, 1/2 c. baking soda, fill with hot water, then dump in all the silver. Let sit for about 30 min.

I put in some silverware that I found at a junk/antique and it did a nice job of removing a good layer of the tarnish. For a truly nice shine, I did need to finish off with some silver polish. Overall, though I was pretty impressed by how much tarnish it really took off. The biggest tip is to be sure to let it soak for at least 30 minutes.