If you are like me, a feeling of dread sweeps over you when you contemplate the idea of doing household chores. Not that I am all that intimidated by a toilet with a hard water ring around the water line, but I hate the “drudgery” associated with the same old chores, over and over again.
So, I have been trying to collect some hacks for some of my most hated household chores. As I shared a few of them with some dads I know, they suggested that I put them in an article to help other dads find some easy fixes. I hope that some of these ideas will be helpful to you as you move through your own list of hated household chores.
Decluttering. When your house is loaded with kids, the clutter seems to grow without limits. Our secret to decluttering, when we have done it well, was to have a few nesting laundry baskets, each one labeled with the name of a family member. We would get the laundry baskets out when we started to clean up and then just throw whatever we found belonging to a family member into the appropriate basket. Then we took the full basket to each person’s room and dumped the contents on his or her bed. It was a pretty easy way to save a lot of steps and still get things where they belonged.
Hard water stains on windows. Whenever your outside irrigation system gets water on windows, it can be havoc trying to get them clean. I usually start by getting the dirt and grime off with a good window cleaning solution and then using a towel soaked with vinegar to attack the hard water stains. In most cases, the vinegar wash and applying a straight razor blade will do the trick. If that fails, use a toilet bowl cleaner sprayed onto a clean rag to apply it to the window glass. Let it sit 5-10 minutes and then wash it off with water. Make sure and use gloves – both the vinegar and the toilet cleaner can be murder on your hands.
Cleaning sink drains. Slow running drains in tubs or sinks can make you crazy and often they seem to defy all of our efforts to make the work better. I usually start with a little tool called a Zip-It drain clearer. It is a little plastic gizmo about 2 feet long that you run down the drain and then pull back out, bringing hair and gunk with it. If that doesn’t quite get it there, you can use the baking soda and vinegar thing. Start by pouring a couple of quarts of boiling water into the drain, then put a ½ cup of baking soda in there. Mix one cup of vinegar with a cup of very hot water and then pour the mixture into the drain on top of the baking soda. Then cover the drain opening with a towel or a plug and let it work. After ten minutes, flush the drain with another 2 quarts of boiling water.
Getting soap scum out of showers and tubs. One of my favorite cleaning chemicals is called Kaboom, and it works wonders as a regular weekly cleaning strategy. Just spray in on the shower or tub surface, let it sit five minutes and then use a scrub brush and water to peel off the soap scum. But Kaboom alone won’t do it if you have neglected the cleaning for several weeks. If you have let the soap scum build up, my favorite cleaning solution is 1 cup of Borax cleaner mixed with 2 tablespoons of dishwashing soap and 2 cups of water. It will make a batter about the consistency of waffle batter. Dip your soft bristle brush in it, spread it all over the surface of the tub or shower, let it sit for 15 minutes and then scrub until the soap scum is gone.
Cleaning the microwave. I don’t know about your kitchen, but sometimes the toughest cleaning job (besides a non-self-cleaning oven) is getting all of those splatters off the surfaces of the microwave. Other than getting the kids to cover that bowl of leftover spaghetti sauce, the easiest thing I have found is to microwave a bowl of hot water for about 3 minutes. The steam generated from the heating water will tend to loosen the splatters and food that have gunked up the walls and top of the microwave, making cleaning up a whole lot easier.
Getting it all done. It can be a challenge just to keep up with the cleaning and management of a home. Years ago, we bought a little binder that fits pre-punched 3 x 5 index cards and then color-coded the cards for daily, weekly and monthly cleaning chores. Then we bought 7 dividers – one for each day of the week. Then we used the index cards to allocate the daily, weekly and monthly chores to the weekdays. So, on Monday we did all the daily chores, 1/7 of the weekly chores and 1/28 of the monthly chores. Dividing it up can make a big difference in getting it all done.