Even as adults, we often turn to our parents when we’re in need of advice, or just some reassurance that we’re doing it right. This is especially true when it comes to creating a home. From decorating ideas to unexpected repairs, parents seem to always know best.
While plenty of new cleaning products and techniques have emerged over the years, there will always be tips & tricks passed down from previous generations that get the job done. We asked our families about the housekeeping methods + tips they inherited that are still as effective today and here are some of our favorites:
1. "Always keep a basket of old rags for cleaning."
Many of our parents never threw out old towels or t-shirts — instead, they cut them up and stashed them in a rag bin. While paper towels are ideal for cleaning up germy messes, rags are great for cleaning windows, dusting, polishing shoes, and more. We especially love cloth diapers for mopping up spills!
2. “Clean top to bottom.”
Watching our busy moms and dads taught us that an efficient cleaning routine is key to keeping a tidy home. Since dirt and dust settle as you go, cleaning top to bottom saves time (and prevents you from finding your newly washed floors covered in dust!).
Start by dusting and wiping down surfaces, then finish by vacuuming or mopping. You'll knock dust and allergens downward and then sweep them away when you're finished.
3. “Use what's already in your kitchen."
Nothing beats the convenience of store-bought plant-based cleaners, but we also employ some of the passed-down, homemade recipes from time to time. In addition to our favorite all-purpose cleaner and tub & tile spray, ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemons are staples for safe and effective cleaning.
Lemons are great for removing stains from wood cutting boards and descaling your faucets, while an open box of baking soda absorbs unpleasant fridge odors. Run a cup of vinegar through your dishwasher or washing machine to zap mineral deposits, or combine it with a cup of baking soda to unclog your drains.
4. “Make your home smell fresh with flowers.”
Before chemical air fresheners became popular, mom used fresh flowers to make her home smell inviting. Try a bouquet of lavender from your garden or grocer to freshen your bedroom, or hang a bunch of eucalyptus in your shower for a soothing scent.
Once the flowers fade, you can capture the petals for potpourri. Dry them on a cookie sheet in a 200˚F oven for two hours for a modern potpourri that’s sure to get mom’s approval.
5. “Treat stains as soon as they happen.”
You're out at lunch and a glob of ketchup lands right on your favorite shirt. Take Mom's advice and dip a napkin in ice water and blot the stain. The water helps prevent the stain from setting until you can get home and treat it with stain remover. (Just remember: blot, don't rub!)
6. “Hang clothes outside to dry.”
Despite modern conveniences, our parents and grandparents always insisted there's nothing like the smell and feel of line-dried clothes.
Naturally, they were right: Not only does hanging clothes in the sun and wind leave them smelling great, it can help you save on energy, make clothes last longer, brighten your whites, and fade stains. (Just remember to turn dark clothes and jeans inside out to prevent fading.)
If you're crunched for outdoor space, you can still reap the environmental benefits of line-drying. We’ve found that a drying rack on a tiny balcony or in an open window works just as well.
7. “Make your bed.”
After a long day, there’s nothing like climbing into a freshly made bed. Make a habit of straightening the sheets the minute you get out of bed and you'll feel instantly more relaxed each night when your head hits the pillow.
Thanks, mom - for everything.