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Clean And Tidy Begins Underneath

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

It shouldn't be difficult or time consuming to be clean and organized around the home, and yet, so many people seem to think it is. It's simply a matter of setting things up right in the beginning, and the 'clean and tidy' part will follow pretty effortlessly with a minimum of follow-through.

When I've 'snooped' a bit (okay, like you've NEVER done that!) around a messy bathroom or kitchen, there's usually a mess underneath the sink. Cleaning products and tools piled under there, without rhyme or reason. Along with who knows what else. Extra 'stuff' that should live somewhere else. The 'clean and tidy' places are very different, with well organized spaces behind the scenes and beneath the sink.

If you're fine living in chaos, read no further. But, if you crave some order that will give you more mental energy to devote to the larger things, then stay with me. I'm a big ... BIG believer in the 'make your bed' philosophy of life. It's similar to the 'clean desk' philosophy but without the 'sick mind' part. I should probably quit with the philosophy metaphors, but I Kant. Sigh. A person who doesn't make their bed every single morning is generally a person who isn't going to have the attention to detail, and discipline, to get the other parts of their life in order. They may be 'successful', but if you look closer, that success might be due to other forces. Or, they might be willing to sacrifice family harmony, relationships and other important aspects of life in service of a very narrow definition of 'success'.

Organize under the sink in your bathroom, and kitchen, with one objective: to serve keeping the sink, countertop and adjacent areas clean and well functioning. Include only those products and tools that serve that purpose directly. It's probably not the best place to store dog food or old magazines. You don't need a half dozen products to wipe off smudges, smears and general grime of daily living. A Windex type product, and a mild abrasive like Bar Keepers Friend, works for all of it. See? I've just saved you a bunch of money. Quit buying all that other stuff. Stop falling for the marketing pitches. The only other 'product' is a squirt bottle of grout bleach for the shower.

Yeah, there's no toilet 'cleaner' product. Quit wasting money on products that claim to 'sanitize' a toilet. The moment you use the toilet after 'cleaning' it with one of those 'blue water' products, the toilet is no longer sanitized. You've just spent a lot of money for a few minutes of a 'sanitized' toilet bowl. It's cleaning 'theatre'. I'd rather spend that money on more lasting things. I keep a good, durable, long-handle toilet scrub brush on a hook from the toilet tank. After wiping down all the entire toilet surfaces other than the bowl, I use that brush to scrub the bowl - including under the rim. Done. On to something else.

Rags are necessary. When my kitchen towels become a little too foul to be in public, I snip off a couple of corners which indicates "this is a rag not a dish towel". Then, it can go beneath a sink or in a box of rags out in the garage. I'm also a big fan of the green microfiber cloths, like that one you see tucked into the bathroom sink cabinet door rack. That's what I use to wipe the sink, countertop and mirror .... morning and evening, after using the sink. They leave no streaks.

And, you might notice an old folded bath towel under there. Because things happen. Toilets overflow. Stuff like that. Every sink in my house has a towel for just that eventuality. Time not spent running to look for one, is time spent stopping the unfolding disaster.

Paper towels are necessary. But under a sink, you'll find that the blue 'shop towels' are really better for wiping up spills or cat barf, and are tough enough to clean a sink and toilet without needing to grab for more. Again, you save money. And, notice that there is a paper towel holder under the sink. Being "handy" is half the battle. Make your cleaning products and tools handy and easy to get. Each time you clean, take stock of the 'stock'. Replace what's in low supply.

Oh, and that rack that hangs on the bathroom cabinet door? Those sort of organizer racks expand your 'usable' space like crazy. Plus, if you're a renter, they don't require permanent installation, and you can take it with you when you move. They'll fit over any cabinet door.

The space under the kitchen sink is organized similarly with a few exceptions. There's more going on in a kitchen, so I've added things like stainless steel scrubbers, SOS pads for really stubborn baked on grime, a box of recycled or plant-based 'plastic' garbage can bags.

Then, there's the usually odd tools to clean things like Grolsch bottles, oil for the cutting board, extra kitchen sink sponges, dishwasher and dish soap, and similar. Oh, and I keep old grungy kitchen sponges down there to wipe up stuff from the floor and clean the composting buckets. Everything gets used until it's used up. There's also some of those glass surface cleaning cloths, extra hand sanitizer, and yes, orchid fertilizer. I put my potted orchid in the kitchen sink once a week to water and fertilize it.

Finally, you might notice that there is a vinyl covering on the bottom of the cabinet. I even painted water resistant stuff on the floor of the cabinet before putting that vinyl down. I don't need to heap extra layers of disaster on top of a leaking pipe or garbage disposer.

If all of this appeals to your obsessive sense of order, go forth.

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