Unconventional cleaning hacks

The lilacs finished blooming, the hummingbirds are getting bossy about empty feeders and the weeds are growing like, well, you know.

And that means spring cleaning. I actually don't mind cleaning in general, but this year's chore list will be more arduous due to a tiny mouse invasion that occurred a couple of months ago. While the mice were safely relocated across the river, I imagine some "evidence" still remains in the basement. Nasty buggers.

Over the years I've come up with a few tricks that make cleaning a more enjoyable, less time consuming task. I'll focus on less common ones as I trust you've read "do a load of laundry daily" or "keep a basket on a stairs" once or a hundred times by now.

Buy cleaning products that you actually like

I used to use this chemical cleaner on the counter tops that made my eyes burn and skin crack. It was awful and I was always concerned that it might splash into the dog's water bowl or food. No more. I found an all-natural cleaner called Method that comes in a plethora of my favorite scents. I'm using pink grapefruit now, and have my eye on the cucumber scent when the bottle empties. It's all purpose, so I can use it guilt-free in every room.

I keep a bottle on every floor and store a microfiber cloth draped on top of the bottle at all times. This saves me a trip upstairs to the linen closet when I see a mess. Once a week I throw them in the washer (don't use fabric softener on microfiber).

Antibacterial, orange-scented cleaners kill ants on contact

The title says it all - any cleaner that smells and looks orange usually does the trick at immediately killing an ant. This tip goes a little against my last tip but ants are a akin to mice in my house - intolerable. I use Mr. Clean brand.

Outsource the chores you detest

Identify the tasks you dislike most and find a way to get them done that doesn't involve you.

Most people hear this and think of hiring someone to clean the gutters. But that is only part of the solution.  If your SO hates laundry and you detest dusting, that may be an easy swap.

Or look towards technological solutions. I personally detest vacuuming so I stalked a lightning deal on Amazon for a robot vacuum for almost a year and finally pounced last Christmas. I love that little thing - it feels so Jetson's. I've even gotten used to the haphazard lines it leaves on the carpet.

If dishes are your foe, the next time you need a dishwasher make sure you look for features that will reduce your load (pun intended) such as delayed timers and half-loads. Also, if you have an open floor plan, play attention to the decibel rating too so you can run it any time of day and still hear a conversation. You'll spend more for those features but in the long run you'll save aggravation.

The more you vacuum, the less you dust

I may have been totally naïve not to realize this before now. But the easiest way to cut down the frequency you have to dust is to increase how often you vacuum and sweep. It won't happen overnight especially in the rooms you use the most, but it will happen (hence one reason I love that robot vacuum so much).

Think about your life before you buy a product

Don't buy high maintenance items that come with associated chores you detest. If you loathe hand washing dishes, then make it a point before you buy kitchen items to check for the "dishwasher safe" label. If you hate to iron, spend a little more for that wrinkle resistant shirt. If you don't like dusting, either put items behind glass or purge. Also, dark colored furniture shows dust neglection more quickly than light colored furniture.

Clear clutter by buying quality

Get rid of twenty cheap plastic combs and purchase one beautiful, static-free wooden comb. When you have fewer, yet higher quality items, you will find yourself with clearer drawers.

Plus, when you buy nicer things, you tend to take better care of them. When you make an inexpensive craft to hang on the walls, it is easy to justify getting rid of it quickly to replace with a new craft. I mean, if you love home décor crafting, go for it. But don’t be afraid to let a wall be bare while you live your life and eventually stumble upon the perfect item. Then buy it, place it and leave it be.

You will have a lifetime to fill your home with things you love; you don't have to fill it the second you move in unless you are prepping for a magazine photo shoot. The most interesting accessories are the ones that come with a story or a memory from a trip.

Enforce a "no duplicates" rule

I sheepishly admit to a kitchen gadget addiction. I just found this wooden spoon called a spurtle.  When I determined that I did indeed love my new spurtle, my old wooden spoons went into the basement Goodwill bin immediately.

Give to charity

When we first moved into our neighborhood, I noticed a pickup truck that drove by slowly on trash dayevaluating the contents on the curbs. I thought that was a little weird until I started to notice what people in my neighborhood were putting on the curb. Kids bikes! Patio furniture! Televisions! I was amazed to see perfectly good items (especially bikes!) out for the trash when there is a charity drop off within miles. When you decide to downsize and reduce the clutter, think of others who are less fortunate.

Also, don't keep things you dislike for sentimental reasons. And don't keep items that you don't like just because they were gifts. Regifting or giving something to charity is perfectly ok in almost every situation. At the very least, pack it in the basement so you don't see it every day.

Appreciate what you have

If you think of cleaning as a chore, it will feel like it.

But really, cleaning is merely an act of gratitude for the things you are lucky enough to own. Don't forget that many others aren't so lucky. If you liked it enough to spend your hard-earned money on it, you should like it enough to take care of it.

Treat cleaning as an act of gratitude for the things you are lucky enough to own.

I hope your spring cleaning doesn't include mouse nasties :)