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  • Denise Frakes

Save your Brain Simplify your Cleaning

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

When I helped my grandma Ella move to Washington, I packed up her home. In her kitchen she had a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup and a 1 cup aluminum measuring cup... one for dry ingredients one for wet. "Grandma where are all your cooking supplies?" Grandma Ella baked all the time. Blueberry pies, pecan sticky buns, cookies...always something. I had guessed she would have had lots of options, gadgets, measurers. But nope, just those two plus a ring of standard tsp measurers.

What??? It was the most shocking discovery of my life. Grandma had a small kitchen. More was not better. She learned to use a few things to make magic and happy grandkids. (Wow...most shocking of my life? Maybe that's a stretch, but it definitely surprised me on the grand scale of surprising things!)

If you want to make your life easier...have less. Simplify. Life is easier. We only have so much decision making brain muscles for any given day. You've probably experienced decision fatigue. At the end of the day, someone asks you to make a decision...what's for dinner? Even where do you want to go for dinner? Nothing appears...your brain is mush. It's done, done-done...for the day.

Tips: Use mornings to make your important decisions and to tackle things you don't want to do. Do your wildly important things in the morning. Start creating a home that doesn't consume all your beautiful energy and brain power by processing too much stuff. More doesn't make you more creative...more depletes your creativity.

Simplifying applies to cleaning too. If you listen to the advertisers you will have a different cleaning product for everything you clean. Stainless steel, hardwood floors, vinyl floors, windows, all purpose, toilets, showers, tough cleaners, light cleaners, cleaners that smell like pine trees, cleaners that smell like hospitals...... All those decisions makes my head spin. No wonder cleaning gets such a bad wrap. It drains your brain. learn to simplify.

This past week I watched a webinar called germ busters from the ISSA- The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association. A panel of 4 experts shared their collective wisdom. One of the panel members was Kimberly Thomson from the University of Georgia. She spoke on her university's green cleaning program. Post webinar, I got curious so did a little deeper digging.

From the U of Georgia's website "In 2005, after a comprehensive review of its cleaning product inventory, the Building Services department determined that its employees were using chemicals with dangerous health, flammable and/or reactive characteristics. Since then, more than 500 hazardous cleaning chemicals have been eliminated from the inventory and have been replaced with just three environmentally-friendly products through the introduction of the FMD Green Cleaning Program."

Did you catch that? They went from 500 hazardous cleaning chemicals to 3 environmentally-friendly products. From 500 to 3!! 500 - 3!!!!!!! Do you think their cleaning, training, purchasing, program is easier now? Costs less? Safer? And requires fewer decisions? YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!

I'm a lot like my grandma. I love to bake. And I like to keep things simple. My cleaning supplies/products are minimal. I guess you could say I'm a minimalist in cleaning. Not in quality- I don't skimp on quality of my work. I'm very picky with my go to products.

This is my go to, 99% of all my cleaning done list...

  1. Dish soap (fragrance free of course)

  2. Microfibers (quality)

  3. Vacuum (trustworthy)

On cleaning day this is what I get out. This is what I use. This is what I store. This is what I spend my money on...which is minimal in comparison to what I see in almost every home I get to visit.

I still get decision fatigue trying to decide what's for dinner, that's a topic for another day. But when it comes to cleaning, my brain is happy, bright and free to clean. The benefits of simplifying your cleaning are long and deep. The most important being health.

Remember the U of Georgia? They removed 500 hazardous cleaning chemicals. There is a reason we need to take our unused cleaning chemicals to hazardous waste...they are hazardous to our health, and the health of our environment. Respiratory damage, toxic exposure, indoor air pollution. They can damage our brains. Many cleaning chemicals have volatile organic compounds which can damage our central nervous system. Why in the world would we use toxins to clean our make it healthy? Especially when we can use a environmentally friendly highly diluted, product we all already own... dish soap.

When purchasing your one cleaner be mindful. When you buy, read your labels.

Look for keywords: Fragrance free, dye Free, parabens and phosphate free. Look for 3rd party verification like, EWG's Safer Choice, and Green Seal. The good news, you only have one product to learn about. Simple is easier!

I'll do another blog on why dish soap, microfibers and vacuums are your three best, most productive and effective cleaners.

Until then, start weeding out your extras. When you clean out your cleaners. Please do not throw away your cleaners or put down the drain. They go to your local hazardous waste site. As you clean out, take care of yourself. Remember, these are hazardous products! Open a window, turn on your exhaust fans (to improve ventilation.) Wear gloves. Put the cleaners you are getting rid of in a box- making sure the cleaners can't fall over in transport.

Less is more...sooo much more. It is easier. More with less opens up your creative juices. Less costs less. You have less to store, to buy, to mess with. Your brain doesn't waste its brain cells on which cleaner to use. What a waste of a beautiful brain cell.

Spring is the perfect time to start simplifying your cleaning while you are cleaning. Do one cupboard, one chemical storage space at a time. Under sinks, in laundry rooms, in linen closets, in your garage.

Enjoy the freedom of less and a truly clean and healthy home.


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