Environmentally friendly cleaning products are trending. There is a wide range of neo-traditional products that are far better than the conventional, chemically laden ones that you’ll find at the supermarket. Leaning towards the extreme minimalist pole, however, I’d say most of them are unnecessary. They’re designed and advertised to attract an urban, conscious and well-paid consumer group who’ll find them genuine and rustique. And who don’t mind paying up. I do, so I keep a critical stance towards the notion of needing a range of different cleaning products and gadgets. Let me tell you how we clean in the most simple and minimalist way possible.
We’re two adults living in an 82 square meter apartment. We spend an hour a week cleaning; usually together, which we find quite nice. Cleaning together, at the same time, is probably the best way to achieve equality in that area, lest someone deliberately drags it out, fribbles or hides to check social media. We’re both considering the weekly house cleaning something of a work out, so we really go at it intensively for the designated hour. We do set an alarm for exactly one hour, which is the amount of time we’re intending to spend cleaning each week.
The most important key to minimalist cleaning is to keep a minimalist home. That essentially means to declutter it so that there are no, or very few, ornamental items or scattered objects to move around before dusting or hoovering. If you don’t need to clear away random things laying around or pick up stuff from the floor before getting to the actual cleaning, the process will be much quicker. Whenever I help someone in a non-minimalist home hoovering, I go ballistic because there are so many things in the way. There are dustbins here and there, as if you needed more than the one in an average sized house. There is an assortment of tiny tables with no other purpose than to hold doilies and ornaments. There are more pieces of furniture than what’s needed and aesthetically pleasing. There is too much stuff. So, first, declutter and minimise. Then, go on to revise you’re cleaning routine.
Before getting to the details, I might admit to being a pedant. Luckily, Kristoffer is too, albeit slightly mellower. I’m deeply disturbed if my home isn’t absolutely spotless. This has nothing to do with a misdirected obsession with hygiene and everything to do with aesthetics. I need my home to be visually serene. I’m not concerned with germs, disease or cleanliness in the sense of things having to be antiseptic; this, we now know, only leads to allergies and chemical overload. And this brings me to question the emphasis on cleaning products.
We use one, single product to clean our apartment. Yes, one. It’s washing up liquid. Pine soap would be equally sufficient, but since we need washing up liquid for the dishes anyway, we go with that. Just the regular kind from the supermarket. We use it on a sponge and we also put a some in a spray bottle which we fill it up with water, instead of buying conventional cleaning spray. It’s convenient to buy and store one single thing. It’s also very cheap, as opposed to both conventional chemicals and alternative hippy-goo.
Let me give you some examples. We use a sponge to scrub the kitchen and bathroom tiles with washing up liquid and then rinse it off with hot water or wipe it off with a cloth. We scrub the tub and basin with it and rinse or wipe them in the same way. We spray it into the toilet and use the brush. This leaves both tiles and porcelain sparkling, without marks. We spray washing up liquid onto mirrors and polish them with our beloved linen cloth, which is excellent. No need to use glass polish. Washing up liquid is great to clean windows and floors, wiping off countertops or any other surface. I can’t think of a surface in our home that requires any other substance than washing up liquid. If you have wooden floors, pine soap is perhaps better, depending on their finish. Ours are lacquered parquet, which makes washing up liquid, or just water, fine.
This is a list of cleaning products you don’t need:
- Glass and mirror polish
- Floor cleaner
- Cleaning spray for the kitchen and the bathroom, respectively
- Toilet cleaner
- Air freshener
- Disposable wipes
When it comes to appliances, we’ve a dust cleaner, a mop, the aforementioned linen cloth, a window squeegee and a feather-duster. That’s it. Some people like microfiber cloths, but after trying the linen one, I will never buy them again. This is our cleaning cupboard, which never gets messier than this:
The feather-duster is a recent addition. I used to think that they do nothing but stir up the dust which then settles in new places, but I was very wrong. The feathers capture and lock in the dust, and then you just shake them fervently outside the window to clean them. Before, we used to dust all surfaces of the apartment every week with a damp cloth, which took maybe forty five minutes. And by every surface, I mean window sills, heaters, furniture, lamps, light bulbs, doors, door knobs, baseboards, cabinet tops, picture frames – everything, in the actual sense of the word; not just the visible surfaces that most sane people settle for. With the feather duster, it’s much quicker and more convenient to feed the cleaning demon. We’ve a few, ornate vintage lamps which get cleaner than they’ve ever been thanks to the feather-duster. It’s also fine for upholstered furniture and delicate items. We now dust every surface once a week in about twenty minutes, which could perhaps be considered less batshit crazy than our previous routine.
If you strive towards a minimalist cleaning routine, then, you may keep a dust cleaner, a mop, a cloth, a squeegee and a feather-duster in your cleaning cupboard. That’s sufficient. No need to buy, store and refill a number of liquids or disposable items.