Cleaning Your Washing Machine with Vinegar

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This is a sponsored post on behalf of All opinions are my own. 

If you know me at all, you would probably know that I hate to clean. It is just not my strong suit. Cooking, yes. I pretty much just clean to keep things hygienic and so I can have space to cook some more. I like a clean house as much as the next person, but it’s just not high on my priority list to keep everything spic-and-span.

Which is why my washing machine may have not ever really been cleaned since we bought it. I’m not going to disclose how many years ago that was. It’s a front-loader, but we’ve always been able to keep the door open most of the time, keeping it from many of the stinky front-loader problems people have.

Still, crud builds up on the door and especially in the rubber seals. Ick!

Washing machine inside

You can’t tell, but there is a lot of grime in there.

You may also know that I am an enthusiast for natural cleaners. I think vinegar, baking soda, a lemon, and some essential oils can clean pretty much anything. So I decided to put vinegar to the test and use it to give my washing machine a good deep clean.

Vinegar and baking soda for cleaning

Following a little tutorial from Popsugar, I filled my detergent space with 1/4 cup baking soda mixed with 1/4 cup water. Then I added 2 cups of plain distilled vinegar directly to the basin. I washed it on a normal cycle with hot water. When the cycle was done, I wiped down the inside and the door. The vinegar disinfects the basin, lifting icky scents and loosening any grime so it’s easily removed.

Getting inside the rubber parts was a little less simple. I started just wiping them out with a washcloth after this wash cycle, which did work. But for extra oomph, I used some straight vinegar on my cloth and managed to rub the insides of the pieces. I removed some build up, hair, dust, and other yuck that was living in there! I feel a lot better about the cleanliness of my washer now. I didn’t have any bad smells on mine; but if you do, I bet the vinegar will help neutralize them. Yes, the vinegar smell is strong at first – but the scent lifts quickly, taking with it some of the bad smells it has sucked away.

Since the inside of the washer was looking so great, I decided it was time to tackle the outside, too! I was using the top as a holding area for way too much junk, including tons of shells I’d fished out of my kids’ pockets, safety pins, buttons, and for some reason a curly plastic straw!


Getting rid of the trash, relocating the bucket that used to hold homemade detergent, and then wiping down the whole outside with vinegar made it sparkling, clean, disinfected, and much neater.


I am so happy with how well vinegar and baking soda gave my washing machine a great spring clean! It even made me want to tackle the dishwasher next. With as simple as the treatment was, I might even be able to keep it up once a month as recommended. has a plethora of great tips for cooking, cleaning, gardening, even working on the car with vinegar! I learned a ton just from their Laundry tipboard. Here’s my amazing vinegar secret: I get some bad reflux when I am pregnant (usually only then, but occasionally otherwise). Drinking tea with 1/2 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar totally keeps it at bay. Nature’s medicine! How do you use vinegar around your home?

You can find VinegarTips around the web at these place.

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As always, thanks for loving on sponsored posts and helping to support charities like these. 

Kitchen Minimalist

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I’ve thought a lot lately about what it means for us to live a more minimalist life.

Minimalism is everywhere, and I hope that means Americans are starting to see the light: a bunch of expensive, excess “stuff” is never going to make us happy. I am not saying Mr. V and I don’t have a lot of stuff laying around – because we do! – but I am not especially attached to it unless it has real sentimental value to me.

(And hey, Mr. V, any time you’d like to get rid of those three broken computers we have, I’m all ears.)

JessieLeigh wrote the other day about how she is pretty minimalistic in the kitchen. And while I would probably call myself a minimalist in this area, too, I have every single one of the excess kitchen tools she listed: bread machine, garlic press, salad spinner, and even pastry bags. (Plastic ones, but I have the tools to go on them – a Pampered Chef find at the thrift store!)

Cheese Grater
source: Charlie Matters via Flickr

I think for me, as JL puts it, everything must “earn its space.” When your space is smaller, having pastry decorators might not be the best use of space. One of the greatest things about our apartment, though, is that I have a ton of cabinet space. And it houses items I use, often. Because I bake a lot of cupcakes for our dorm boys, the decorators come in handy pretty often. Items that I don’t use as often – that bread machine and salad spinner, the tupperware vegetable tray and cake carrier – are relegated to the laundry room shelves, where they are still easy to access but not taking up the prime real estate.

Today I pulled my cheese grater out from the dishwasher for the zillionth time. And I thought, maybe I should buy another cheese grater. Because I grate almost all of our cheese, and we eat a lot of it. I’m forever washing that thing or running it through the dishwasher.

But do I really need a second grater? No, I need to wash it when I want to use it. For me, that is minimalism enough. We don’t have one plate per person or anything, but our kitchen isn’t overflowing with duplicates just because we have the space.

So maybe that is my version of minimalism. Having what we use – whatever that may be – and being responsible with it. Maybe we don’t need stacks of DVDs we don’t watch when we can watch stuff on Netflix and Hulu Plus. Maybe we don’t need enough clothes to wear without washing for weeks; I need to do laundry more often.

Also like my pal JL, I am going to share with you a tool to help you get more use out of those kitchen tools you have. Our friend Tara from Feels Like Home compiled a great e-book of lists of uses for some of your kitchen paraphernalia, everything from a muffin tin to empty eggshells. Tara kindly hired me to copy edit her work, and I was astonished at how many of the tips I had NEVER heard before. I especially liked the idea to clean my kids’ stuffed animals with baking soda and the vacuum cleaner!

The book, Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters, is full of these great lists, plus tons of simple recipes and helpful tips. I enjoyed reading it as I worked and I think you would, too!

Nine Minutes

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I’m always the first to admit that I’m an awful housekeeper. You’ll pretty much always find crumbs on my floor unless I’ve just-this-second finished vacuuming and all three kids are asleep. (That has happened approximately once.) Our bedroom is generally a danger zone. My kitchen is never going to be in Better Homes and Gardens. (The fact that it doesn’t have any windows probably doesn’t help that aspiration.)

But tonight, I decided to use my last burst of energy to change the sheets on our bed and clean up my dresser a little bit. I happened to see how long it took me, and you know what the total time was?

Nine minutes.

How many days have I been procrastinating changing those sheets? Sure, there is often a child asleep in our bedroom so it’s not always a possibility. But there are plenty of times during the day where I could take nine minutes and accomplish that task.

This afternoon, I scrubbed down the kids’ bathroom due to the fact that it smelled like an animal died in there.

[SOMEONE’s kids might have been “cutting through the frozen heart” during bathtime and deposited most of the water in the bath onto the bathroom floor and their lovely rug. Said rug was the death-smell culprit.]

Our bathrooms are pretty small. Even scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees with a washcloth, the quick washdown – including the toilet and tub – took a total of twenty minutes.

I’m reminded of Christine’s post recently, where she urged us, “If it takes 2 minutes or less, do it!” Putting off something that would take two minutes – or even nine – is just kind of ridiculous in my book. Even the busiest individuals probably have nine minutes they waste playing Candy Crush on their phone or staring idly into space.

My goal is not to have a perfectly tidy apartment. I have three young kids, and I refuse to pick up after them constantly. I want them to have fun, and for them that involves making messes. My goal is not to be embarrassed if someone stops by unexpectedly. I want to always be a willing hostess, happy to have people in my home for whatever reason.

And if I can make that happen in a few ten-minute spurts throughout the day … well, for me, that is doable.

How do you make housekeeping work for you?

The Right Tools for a Clean Home

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I’ve never really paid that much attention to the tools I was using to clean. (Christine is probably embarrassed to be called my friend right now!) I’m apt to stick with a few washcloths or old burp rags, a toilet brush, and some manpower. I don’t wear gloves. And I don’t use a lot of different cleaners. Some olive oil and lemon juice for dusting. A lot of vinegar everywhere else.

But I’ll admit I have a weak spot for Mrs. Meyers’ cleaners. They just smell SO GOOD. I never knew why until I was reading up for this post: Mrs. Meyers’ products use real essential oils instead of artificial scents. Plus there’s no bleach or chemicals to block the nice scents.

Armed with a couple new Mrs. Meyers products, I decided I needed to tackle one of my most hated cleaning areas: the shower. I can’t show you a before picture of the grout on my shower because it’s too embarrassing. But it was icky. And a washcloth with my normal homemade cleaner wasn’t cutting it.


Enter: Mrs. Meyers’ all-purpose cleaner and a tile-and-grout double-sided brush.

I used 1 tablespoon of cleaner in 4 cups of hot water and attacked the shower in our “master” bathroom. (It’s only master in the sense that it’s attached to our bedroom. At least I don’t have as much to clean!)

Baby, that grout is the cleanest it’s been in a year! Not to mention I feel like I am getting aromatherapy at the same time. (And also a workout – all that scrubbing above head level is hard work.) I love the lemon verbena scent, and despite my husband’s disdain for essential oils (he’s a nut) he didn’t say anything about the scent.

I feel like there must be some hidden world of specialized brushes and cleaning tools that I don’t even know about. I had no idea what a pan scraper was until Christine brought me one and now I don’t think I could wash dishes without one! What other wonders am I missing out on?

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day® believes in a better way to get a good clean. Chock full of plant-derived ingredients and essential oils, our household cleaning products are powerful against dirt and grime. Our garden fresh scents uplift your mood while adding a little spring to you step.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mrs. Meyers via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mrs. Meyers.


I Can’t Do Everything by Tiffany of Stuff Parents Need

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Sweet Tiffany and I were both new to Chattanooga when we became blog friends and quickly in-real-life friends. We’re fortunate to call her family our friends here! 

Boy oh boy have I learned this lesson the hard way. It has been drilled into my stubborn brain over and over again. As a work-at-home mom, as a wife, and honestly, even as a human being, I just can’t do everything. It is a humbling discovery.

And also a liberating one.

Since I can’t do everything that I want or need to do, I have to prioritize. I make an impossible to-do list, and then I start to attack it, aiming for the most important and/or most urgent tasks first. Anything else that gets accomplished is a bonus. I apply this philosophy to the limited time I have to work as a blogger, and I also apply this philosophy to housework.

How This Work-at-Home Mom Cleans

This is the system that works the best for me. If you are trying to find a method that works for you, consider giving this a try, whether you work outside the home or inside (and by the way, I absolutely believe that stay-at-home moms and dads are actually WORK at home moms and dads!).

pile of socks to be matched

unmatched sock pile, your day has come…


The basic system I use is to pick one room/area of the house each day to focus on for cleaning. In my home it looks like this:

  • Monday: guest room/office
  • Tuesday: kitchen
  • Wednesday: dining room/living room and stairs
  • Thursday: Darah’s room
  • Friday: Layah’s room
  • Saturday: master bedroom and stairs
  • Sunday: bathrooms

The very first thing I do when it is time to clean a room each day is to imagine that company is coming over in 5 minutes and will be exclusively hanging out with me in that particular room. I set the timer and I go crazy for that 5 minutes, tackling the most embarrassing/critical messes first.

Why do I do this? Because here’s the truth about working from home, whether you have kids with you or not: some days that 5 minutes is all you’ll be able to give the room. It’s just the truth! You may be behind on your projects and need to devote as much time as humanly possible to them. Or if you have kids at home, they may be having one of those days where they are NOT on board with you being productive in any way beyond playing with them. I’ve experienced both scenarios on many different occasions, and I have found that if I can do that 5 minutes of gangbusters cleaning in a room, I’m less annoyed if I don’t get to do anything else to the room that day.

On days when the kids are more cooperative or my work schedule isn’t slammed, I do try to spend additional time cleaning in those rooms. The truth is that unless company is coming over, there is very rarely more than 1 room clean in my entire house at a time. That’s all I can handle. And that’s ok. I can’t do everything, remember?

Dealing with Constant Messes

Ok, so cleaning the kitchen once a week is obviously not at all practical unless you don’t use your kitchen. My family is home for all 3 meals of the day, most every day, so our kitchen is a major work horse in our home. That means that it is constantly dirty. I do have on my calendar to do 10 minutes of cleaning in the kitchen every day, just to keep the mess contained to a level that isn’t absolutely horrifying. Tim also is great about cleaning the kitchen whenever he has a few minutes (and lest I give the wrong impression about him, I should add that he is great about cleaning all-around…not just one area of the home). So with the 10 minutes of daily cleaning in the kitchen, that does help. If you have a similar disaster area in your home, I would suggest implementing the same daily system. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes the 10 minute rule isn’t enough to keep the kitchen from looking filthy. But I can’t do everything, and doing something, even if it feels like spitting on a fire, is better than nothing.

Dealing with Less Frequent Cleaning Tasks

I also have written in my planner various cleaning tasks that happen once a month in our home. You may want to think about what types of things you need to accomplish regularly, though not weekly. My monthly cleaning projects include the following:

  • clean all mirrors in the house
  • clean the microwave
  • wipe down all appliances and cabinets in the kitchen
  • clean the washing machine
  • clean the coffee maker with vinegar
  • sort unmatched socks
  • wash the canvas shopping totes

I’m sure there are other things, but that’s all I can think of for now.

I hope this helps those of you out there who are feeling overwhelmed with all of your responsibilities. I really do not believe it is at all possible to maintain a clean house and have kids living in that same house. And if you have work obligations that extend beyond raising those children but aren’t extending any grace to yourself for not having a Better Homes & Gardens home, then please embrace the truth: you can’t do everything. The sooner you accept it, the freer you will become to do the somethings that you can do, and to do them well! The dishes can wait, I promise.

Tiffany can be found over at Stuff Parents Need, highlighting products and services that make life a little less hectic and a lot more fun for parents of young children. She gives away more presents than Santa Claus, so be sure to hop over and get entered into her fabulous giveaways!

Spring Cleaning and Homemade Cleaners

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This post is revised from the archives in honor of Spring Cleaning. Which I should, of course, be doing more of right now. I’m joining iDreamofClean and 9 other bloggers in the Spring Cleaning Challenge for a chance to win some incredible prizes!

You know how I say that I’m trying to be the housewife I’m not? Originally, that meant literally. I worked full-time, thus I was not a housewife.

Well, now I am. (That thought still scares me a little.) And it turns out I am not really any better at keeping my home clean now than I was when I worked 8 hours a day. I love to blame it on my two little ones; and in part, it IS really hard to pick up the same toys over and over and OVER again.

But in all truth, it’s just me. I find it much easier to come to my computer during down time rather than pick up my mop or a sponge. While I love to cook, I just don’t love to clean up after myself. And that leaves me feeling incredibly inadequate as a housewife.

I’ve had some success with Motivated Moms chore lists. I kind of hate the feeling that someone’s telling me what to do, but since I am basically clueless about cleaning, it’s certainly helpful.

Some perks to the list?

  • I stick it to the fridge with a magnet, so my husband can see it too. That gives him the chance to keep me accountable … or pitch in himself and check an item off!
  • If I don’t get to something one day, I can always come back to it over the next day or two. (Even though that’s obviously not the point, it works for me.)
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment to check something off the list.
  • The creator of this program has thought of things that would never cross my mind. I know I need to clip Libbie’s fingernails, for instance, but I never do it on a regular basis; I do it when she scratches the heck out of me or Adam. This list gives me a nudge to clip those suckers before they cause havoc.

source: el_finco

Something else that keeps me sane is making my own cleaners, because I despise buying cleaners all the time. You’ve probably seen these tips before, but here are some great cleaners that work for me!

Instead of dusting spray, I dip a cloth in a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. It shines furniture right up and gives it a nice citrus scent as well.

For glass cleaner, mix 2 cups water with 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon dish soap.

To unclog a sink or tub, sprinkle baking soda down the drain. Dump in some white vinegar and it will foam the clog out! [Let sit 30 minutes after adding vinegar, and then flush out with hot water.]

This one is not natural, but mixing a ratio of 1:1 of warm white vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap makes a miracle soap scum scrub. Just spray it on your tub or shower, let sit for a few minutes, and then wipe away soap scum. I use it as an all-purpose bathroom cleaner.

If you’re not into homemade cleaners, I like Seventh Generation Multipurpose Cleaner in Lemongrass and Thyme. I didn’t know thyme was a disinfectant before I started using it, did you?

So far, my Spring Cleaning progress has consisted of changing out my kids’ and my clothes and cleaning our room WELL for perhaps the first time since we moved in. Our bedroom always seems to get neglected for the more-trafficked areas.

Have you done any Spring Cleaning? Link up with others at the Spring Cleaning Challenge!

**The Motivated Moms links are affiliate links.