Tips Our Moms Taught Us About HousekeepingWhat’s the best thing you can give mom for Mother’s Day? Second to handmade gifts, like a drawing or misshapen ceramic bowl, the next best thing is to clean the house and show that you’ve been listening to all her housekeeping advice over the years.

Let’s face it, moms are particularly good at housekeeping, knowing which products are safe and effective, which areas should be sanitized, and how to do everything correctly from washing clothes and ironing to cleaning stains and unclogging drains. As they say, mother knows best.

If you’ve ever wondered how busy mothers seem to do it all — working, cleaning, cooking, and raising a family — it probably has something to do with their cleaning and housekeeping secrets.

Let’s show mom we were paying attention to her cleaning lessons this Mother’s Day by learning (or re-learning) mom’s best cleaning hacks. And if you’re a mom or parent yourself, make sure you are passing down these must-know tips to your children.

Mom’s Masterclass in Housekeeping

  1. Put things away the first time

You probably remember your mom telling you to put things where they belong. That’s because she’s right, as always. Not only is it easier to maintain a neat home when you are cleaning as you go, you’ll save countless hours trying to locate whatever it is you “lost.”

When you come home, instead of tossing your jacket over a chair and emptying your pockets on the dining room table, your goal should be to put everything in its proper place. Hang up your coat, put your wallet and keys in the same place every time, and in general, remember the motherly adage, “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

  1. Have the right cleaning supplies on hand

If you want to be as organized and efficient as mom, it’s important to have all of your supplies easily accessible. Keep one set of cleaning supplies in the kitchen, another in the bathroom, and any chemical supplies (paint, etc.) outside in a well-ventilated shed or garage.

Here are some of the basic cleaning supplies you should have in your house:

  • Cleaning/mop bucket (which you can use to store supplies when not in use)
  • Disinfectant cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Scrub pads
  • Microfiber scrub pads (for sensitive bathroom/kitchen sinks and surfaces)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Grout brush
  • Plastic scraper (for hardened food and gunk)
  • Microfiber cloths (color-coded for bathroom and kitchen)
  • Microfiber mop, duster, and dust mitt
  • Kneepads
  • Shoe covers
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Laundry bags
  1. Use safe and nontoxic cleaners

Unless mom really has to, she’ll stay away from products that contain chemicals, volatile organic compounds, and other potentially harmful ingredients. New mothers and pregnant women start paying a lot more attention to their shopping list.

Be careful when choosing your cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products. Use of the words “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “green” are poorly regulated by the government. The two main certification agencies for safe cleaning products are Green Seal and U.S. EPA.

Here’s a list of the best natural and nontoxic cleaning products:

All-purpose cleaners:

  • Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
  • Meliora Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub
  • Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
  • Meyers Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
  • Citra Solv Multi-Purpose Spray
  • Branch Basics Concentrate

Dish soaps:

  • Ecover Zero Dish Soap
  • Intelligent Nutrients Sanitizer
  • Attitude Baby Bottle and Dishwashing Liquid

Floor cleaners:

  • White House Cleaning Vinegar (Regular white vinegar is the best cheap, natural cleaner you can find. This product is simply white vinegar and water that has been scented with lemon or lavender.)
  • Truce Wood Cleaner
  • Jaws Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Fabric cleaner:

  • Biokleen Bac-Out Stain Remover

Toilet cleaner:

  • Ecover Toilet Cleaner

Stain and odor remover:

  • Earthworm Pet Stain and Odor Eliminator

Homemade cleaners:

  • White vinegar
  • Liquid castile soap
  • Natural salt
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lemons
  • Essential oils (optional)

You can make your own natural cleaners for a fraction of the price with these simple ingredients. One of the best homemade cleaners is a 1:1 vinegar-water mix. Baking soda is also a great abrasive and natural deodorizer.

Although all of these cleaners are considered nontoxic, they should still be treated with care and kept out of reach of pets and children. Always follow manufacturer directions and they should pose no health risks or safety concerns. 

  1. Clean from top to bottom

When you are deep cleaning your home, you should clean and wash everything from the top down. The water, dirt, and dust that runs down to the still-dirty levels below will get cleaned up. Start with the ceilings, ceiling fixtures, corners, and doorjambs first. Then, work down to the lower levels, leaving the floors for last.

  1. Use a pillowcase to clean ceiling fans

clean ceiling fan - Tips Our Moms Taught Us About HousekeepingMost moms already know that you can clean dusty ceiling fan blades quickly without a mess using a pillowcase. Simply open up the pillowcase and place it over the fan blade. Then, press down hard and wipe off all of the dust into the pillowcase. This is a great way to keep the dust inside the pillowcase instead of all over your home.

  1. Care for your clothes

Caring for your laundry takes a bit more effort than just throwing it in the machine and turning it on. For example, moms consider which detergents to use, which colors to separate, and what fabrics to save for hand washing. Use a clothing detergent that is free of dyes and fragrances. Many people are sensitive to these ingredients, causing itchiness and even rashes when wearing clothing washed in harsher cleansers. Delicate fabrics and intimates should be hand washed with a sensitive cleanser like Woolite.

Also consider which fabrics can be washed in the washing machine, but not put into the dryer. Knits, sweaters, and wools should not be put into the dryer, but instead laid out on a towel to air dry. Do not attempt to wring out these fabrics, as that will cause their shape to warp.

Take a little extra time to fold your laundry, in order to smooth out any wrinkles, and keep them neat and accessible in the drawers. Marie Kondo’s style of folding has gone viral recently, but many moms have their own way of folding and storing clothing that you probably mimic. Folding clothes as soon as the come out of the drier will save time later. You won’t have to worry about wrinkled clothes that take forever to iron. And when clothing is organized by color and type, you can see what you have, and won’t get stuck searching for a particular garment before leaving the house.

  1. Add essential oils to your HVAC filter

Air fresheners and candles are expensive and full of chemicals that can pollute your indoor air. A better way to maintain a fresh-smelling home is by adding a couple drops of essential oils to a clean air filter. You can choose from a wide variety of natural scents, or experiment with a mix of scents, like peppermint lavender or lemon strawberry.

When your air filter is dirty (every 30-90 days), replace it with one with a high MERV rating (10-13). Once you have a clean air filter, it’s time to add about 12-20 drops of essential oils, spaced out evenly. Throw the dirty filter away and install the new, scented filter.

Don’t forget to change the air filter frequently. We highly recommend setting monthly reminders to inspect the air filter. The fading scent of the essential oils can also be a reminder to replace the air filter.

  1. Fix broken window screens

hole in window screen - Tips Our Moms Taught Us About HousekeepingScreens with large rips should be replaced, but you can easily patch up smaller holes to keep bugs and insects from getting in. For extremely small holes, apply a few drops of clear nail polish for a strong bond. Put the polish on both sides to increase its durability.

For larger holes, you can purchase a patch kit from your local home improvement store. If you have any old window screens lying around, you can cut out a small rectangle and use clear, waterproof silicone glue to hold the patch in place. The piece you cut should be larger than the hole by at least 1 inch. Use a pair of pliers to bend each of the unraveled ends of screen material to a 90-degree angle. Feed the bent pieces through the screen and then bend the wires flat on the other side. Apply clear, waterproof silicone glue to the perimeter of the patch, using a microfiber clothe to wipe away any glue drips.

You can also use strands of screen material to sew up a small hole. If you don’t have leftover screen material, use a strong thread, like heavy-duty polyester or nylon.

  1. Unclog drains the natural way

unclogging drain with plunger - Tips Our Moms Taught Us About HousekeepingEven if you use drain strainers and are careful about what goes down your drains, they’ll get clogged eventually.

One of the best ways to clear your drains naturally is with a plunger:

  • First, remove the sink stopper and any debris from inside the sink.
  • Plug the sink overflow or other drain with a wet rag to prevent air from escaping.
  • Place the plunger over the drain hole and run the water.
  • Wait until the sink has about 3–5 inches of water before plunging.
  • Rapidly move the plunger up and down without breaking the seal to clear the clog.

To prevent drain clogs in the first place, use this natural drain cleaning solution every month or two:

  • Pour a mixture of ½ cup baking soda and ¼ cup table salt down the drain.
  • Heat up 1 cup of vinegar and pour it on top of the mixture.
  • Let the solution foam and bubble for about 15 minutes.
  • Run the hot water for about 30 seconds.

Learn how to prevent garbage disposal clogs. For clogs you can’t clear yourself, contact a professional plumber.

Professional Preventative Maintenance 

outdoor heat pump condenser - Tips Our Moms Taught Us About HousekeepingPart of mom’s wisdom is knowing when to call a professional. To keep your plumbing and HVAC system running safely and efficiently, schedule maintenance every year from a certified pro. Chimneys should be professionally cleaned every 50–70 fires. Learn what’s involved in a precision HVAC cleaning and tune-up.

Mom also knows how to find a good deal, which is why you should check out our special offers!

Contact Bell Brothers today for your free HVAC, window, or plumbing consultation in Sacramento, Stockton, and the surrounding Central Valley.