Archive for the 'Routine cleaning' Category

We love LaundryPure!

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this handy gadget that you can hook up to your washing machine. It’s gotten some good press in the last couple of years. Watch the video below for a basic overview of what it can do:

I first learned about the LaundryPure about 18 months ago, but the $700 price tag was extremely off-putting. There was just no way I could justify spending that kind of money, even if the unit would eliminate the need for detergent, bleach, fabric softener, and hot water. I figured I could just stick to homemade detergent recipes and pinch pennies elsewhere.

money-down-drainHowever, in a family with as many children as ours has, laundry is a daily ordeal activity. We simply have to do it every day or it will pile up to levels unheard of outside of a hotel. 😉 And hot water for whites was absolutely necessary with the kinds of messes my children can generate (they’ve never met a mudhole they didn’t like!). But hot water heater expenses are what nagged at my brain the most, because keeping water hot in a tank all day eats up one third of the electricity bill. OUCH. Any way you can eliminate the need for hot water is going to help the bottom line. I just shudder at the thought of money going down the drain….

So we tried the experiment of turning off the water heater for most of the day, turning it on late at night to cover morning showers, dishes, and the first load of laundry. Then we’d turn it off until just before supper time so we’d have hot water for the evening dishes and baths. This helped quite a lot. Our average electricity bill dropped by 25% over the next month, which was great. But we still couldn’t get around the fact that we needed hot water for laundry (whites just don’t get as clean without it). So I started investigating this LaundryPure thing again….

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Several independent dealers had “discount” prices around $450, but I still wasn’t tempted. So I started haunting eBay. Lo and behold, a barely used LaundryPure unit in its original box showed up with a starting bid of $19.95. Sounded too good to be true. I wanted to make sure the unit wasn’t broken. I contacted the seller, who turned out to be a military guy whose family was being stationed overseas. He couldn’t take the unit with him, so he was parting with it. He assured me that it worked fine and came with all its documentation. He’d even throw in a new water line to hook it up. Well, that was enough for me. I bit and put up a maximum bid of $159, figuring there was no way I’d win, but it was worth trying. Yet five days later, I won! Even with shipping added, the unit came in well under $200, and I was thrilled with my “steal.”

The box arrived just before we moved from the trailer, so we left it boxed until we could set it up here at our “new” vintage house. That’s when the real adventure began. My intrepid husband mounted the LaundryPure on the brick wall next to our washing machine and hooked up the new water line, tightening everything with a wrench. Then he turned it on and stepped back. The blue light from the ultraviolet purifier glowed, but the spraying/splashing noise alerted us to an oncoming flood. DH quickly turned off the washer and checked the unit. Sure enough, water was pouring out the connection between the LaundryPure and the water line. I had a faint foreboding that perhaps I’d been “had” and that the unit would turn out to be leaky no matter what. But my husband wasn’t ready to give up. He ran five minutes up the street to Lowe’s and got another $3 water line.

laundryhose20 minutes later, he triumphantly turned on the washing machine again, only to have water come spraying out yet again. He decided to completely remove the LaundryPure and check the insides to see if the leak came from something broken in the unit itself. Nope. It was all in good working order, so he decided it must be the cheap hose. Back he went to Lowe’s and bought a $15 water line. 20 minutes later, we held our breath while he turned it on. BINGO! Total success. Lesson learned: buy the pricey hose to hookup the pricey gadget! Three-dollar hoses just don’t cut it.

laundrypureAt right you see our unit doing its thing–ultraviolet lamp killing bacteria while the silver ions and oxygenation thingamabob make plain old cold water work like detergent. And how does it stand up to our kind of constant usage? I’m delighted to report that this is probably the single best investment in a household tool we’ve ever made. You really do not need any laundry detergent at all. No bleach. No fabric softener. I do keep a squirt bottle of Shout on hand for really stubborn or dark, set-in stains, but here’s what I’ve learned after using LaundryPure for three months:

  • Stains get lighter with each washing, even if you don’t pre-treat them. The unit really does what it says, and the oxygenated water lifts stains and grime out of the fabric (regular detergents just scrub at the stains).
  • Colors actually brighten over time as you wash them with the LaundryPure. Regular detergent leaves residues in your clothing, which can cause allergic reactions–not just make colors look dull. The LaundryPure really is pulling gunk out of your clothing with each washing.
  • Our sheets and towels have never felt softer, and we use NO fabric softener whatsoever. I don’t like fabric softeners anyway, since they just leave chemicals behind in your clothing, but I couldn’t get around all the static cling. Well, for some strange reason, clothes washed with the LaundryPure do not get staticky in the dryer! It’s amazing.
  • No more hot water to wash whites!!!! This has to be perhaps the best benefit of all.

Now, let’s be realistic and take a look at the money angle of all of this. In a large family with six or more children, you’ll do an average of two to three loads of laundry every day (with perhaps an occasional break when you’ve managed to catch up!). Make it five loads of laundry on weekends when you change all the sheets. That adds up to 1,040 loads of laundry each year (not counting Sundays — we all take a break then!). Even if you purchase bulk detergent from a warehouse store (120 loads for $10), you’re looking at roughly $90 a year just for detergent. Add in fabric softener sheets, and that adds another $70 (60 dryer sheets per box at $4 a pop). Now take the electric bill and grab 33% of it right off the top for hot water. You’re not going to completely eliminate the need for hot water, but you’re going to significantly cut it down if you don’t use it to do laundry. When we turn off our water heater, our bill drops 25%, so let’s just estimate 25% savings. In our household, that means about $62.50 per month we can eliminate from our bill. That’s a total of $750 per year. Add in the detergent and fabric softener (I’m not even counting bleach here), and your total savings in one year would come to $910. Starting to see the light? I sure can! That means that, even at the original price of $700, the LaundryPure would easily pay for itself in a year. But if you find it at a bargain basement price, you’re sitting pretty after a couple of months.

silverprobeBut surely there has to be a catch, right? Well, there is a small one. The silver ion part does need to be replaced every 12-18 months, depending on how much laundry you do and how hard your water is to begin with. But the cost is minimal when you consider all your savings: About $35 including FedEx shipping. When our unit arrived, the silver ion assembly was almost used up, as we learned when the LaundryPure started leaking again this month! My husband quickly tracked down the cause of the leakage, and we ordered the replacement part. Now we know to keep an eye on it and watch for the indicator light that tells us when it’s time to replace it.

All in all, we are extremely pleased with this purchase. I am delighted never to have to worry about running out of detergent and about eliminating the need for hot-water washes. My oldest children just enjoy the space-agey thrill of watching the unit run with its friendly blue glow. And my husband is happy to see the additional “fat” we can trim from the budget. It’s a great investment that we’ll enjoy using for years to come.

To learn more about LaundryPure, visit the EcoQuest site–and then start Googling for your own bargain!

Getting into the Gardening Mood!

oldplanterYep, it’s that time again! It all started when I walked outside to get the mail the other day and stood looking around the front deck in disgust. The build-up of fallen leaves, tracked mud, mis-matched shoes, and other bits and pieces just finally pushed me over the edge. Time to Spring Clean the deck! My two large planters looked so sad with their dead annuals and crusty dirt. So I decided to get pansies and liven up all the pots on the deck, then clean up the mess when all the planting was finished. I nabbed two flats of pansies while doing the bi-monthly grocery shopping, then promptly came down with a raging sore throat, fever, and chills, and the poor plants sat on the front deck for a week with no one to think of them (or water them!). By the time I was up and around again, the pansies looked like a lost cause. But I decided to plan them and just see what happened.

plants

The most promising of the pansies...

I grabbed my potting soil and tackled the dirt in the two large iron planters. The soil was so compacted and tough that it took a while to get the crusty layer out and mix up a nice layer for the plants. But the pansies looked a little happier to be in nice, loose soil and have some water.

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I tackled the next iron planter, then the two large “terra cotta” (plastic) planters:

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toplantYou can see the mess of dirt and leaves waiting to be swept. But I wanted to finish planting first, and I’d fallen for some roses while shopping, too! I picked up two Chicago Peace bush roses and two coral-colored climbing roses for $4 each. Naturally, the package said, “place in ground immediately,” but mine sat out with the rest of the flowers while I was sick. They didn’t look the worse for wear when I finally got to them. Roses are tough. I used to be afraid of roses. I thought only master gardeners could care for these wonderful plants. I quickly found out this is a myth! Roses are easier to care for than almost anything you can plant. You only have to be vigilant through Japanese beetle season and watch for black spots on the leaves that can indicate mold — watering  early in the day prevents this, as the sun has a chance to evaporate the water and dry the leaves. What’s most wonderful is that roses positively thrive in a hot, sunny environment like the one in which I happen to live. Serendipity! So I happily picked up new roses to put in front of the deck.

Last year I planted annuals in this spot just to have some color. Now, with more time to plan, I was ready for more substantial, long-lasting plants. My children helped me prep the flower bed by raking out the leaves so we could work the soil and loosen it up a bit. We didn’t get rid of the leaves, since those are wonderful for compost and can also serve as mulch. Here’s a picture of the bed, ready for roses:

preppedbed

Next, I dug the first hole for the climbing rose I wanted to put at the far left edge of the deck:

dighole holedug

Now it was time to put some good soil into the hole and settle the roots of the rose:

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Then my oldest son and I crumbled the native dirt and filled the hole the rest of the way, leaving the “bud” of the rose about an inch above the soil line (this is where the rose branches out):

crumbledirt

Finally, my daughters grabbed handfuls of leaves to mound around the rose, since we weren’t quite past the danger of a nighttime freeze:

rosemulchclose

emptypotThe girls got into the spirit of gardening and quickly brought me an old pot they’d found behind their playhouse in the back yard. They wanted to have flowers in front of their doorway, too! So we scooped the leftover potting soil into it, and the girls planted the remaining pansies in their little pot:

plantingpot3 plantingpot

sweptcleanWith all our planting done, it was time to clean up the deck. The boys matched up all the outdoor shoes and lined them in a row. The girls gathered the toys and miscellaneous items into a pile to go inside. I swept all the fallen leaves out of the crack between the deck and the house and added them to the growing compost pile. We kept working our way from one end of the deck to the other, the boys stopping to exclaim over a long-lost Lego and my oldest daughter declaring, “This looks like a house now!” Because, of course, a messy deck just can’t look like much of anything, right? 😉

The finished results gave us all a smile. How nice to have flowers nodding from their planters and a clean, swept floor to greet the eye!

finished-deck

With more days of sunshine and water, the panies perked right up and looked fresh, too.  The welcome mat is out, so come on in!

“Who knows what evil lurks under the bed? The Mama knows!”

Okay, so my title is a corny spoof of a classic radio show, but it seemed really apt, given what we did today! Now, reader, beware — if you get queasy at the site of unadulterated clutter, you might want to reach for the airsick bag or click away to another, safer blog. This one’s not for the faint of heart! 😉

boysroom1While we do a thorough house-cleaning every Friday, we also have a once-monthly “deep clean” to kill the Clutter Monster in the children’s rooms. I can always tell when our once-a-month date has rolled around by the level of frustration in my children’s voices. I hear laments like the following:

  • Where are my pajama pants? I haven’t seen them in two days!
  • But I can’t find my church shoes! I’ve looked everywhere!
  • OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! I just stepped on that Lego in my bare feet!
  • How come I have no clean shirts?
  • I’d rather sleep in another room; my bed is too lumpy (followed by the revelation of what lies beneath the covers — and it’s always more than just the child in question!).

Last week I helped the girls tackle their room, but I didn’t think to photograph the process.  This week the lightbulb went off, and I reached for the camera. Hold your hats, folks — we’re about to have full disclosure of just how cluttered a room with four little boys in it can be! I used to scratch my head and wonder how on earth it could get so mind-bogglingly messy, yet the boys would confidently assert that they had “cleaned” their room each week. Once I found out that clutter-blindness is inherent in males (who just don’t notice the stuff piling up and over and under), I got over it and learned to show the boys the “leftovers” they’d missed!

The first photo above shows the view under the bed of my third son. Shadowy and mysterious, eh? Not for long! The first order of business for my boys is to pull every last bit of stuff out from under the two bunk beds. They started with this one. I lifted the mattress back to give them better access, and here’s the pile that resulted after five minutes of “fishing” beneath Bed Number One:

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And we were only just beginning! Now I jumped in to help, removing the bed slats so the boys could really see what was under the bed, and Son #3 pulled out still more:

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Now it was time to vacuum under the bed. I sent my second oldest son for the Kirby, and he asked, “How on earth can you vacuum under the bed, Mom?” I gave him a raised eyebrow and said, “Watch me!”

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way! With all the dirt and crumbs sucked up and out of the way, we had a nice, clean canvas for our next work of art:

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Cleanliness — it’s a wonderful thing! What actually belongs beneath this bed is a pup tent in a carrying bag and two sleeping bags. So we put them there and carefully replaced the bed slats:

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Now this bed could be made up with fresh sheets. Ah! Wonderful feeling!

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A little side note here: It is very encouraging to children (and even mamas!) to meet little goals in the process of running toward the big one. Having the bed freshly made is a small goal in the plan of the whole-room overhaul. It really feels great to be able to turn toward the next section, knowing that what’s behind you is clean and neat. The boys and I high-fived at finishing this first part of the room, then turned toward the next bunk:

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This bunk has a small mattress under it for guests, so you’d think it wouldn’t hold as many “surprises” as the first one. But that would be incorrect thinking! Not only was there a pile of gunk under this bed, but there were interesting “treasures” stowed down between the bed and the wall:

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We found missing laundry, dirty socks, a ziplock bag full of long-lost Legos, and all kinds of books. We tossed all of this into the growing pile in the center of the room, bulldozing it all into a heap to make room to walk. Then we made this bed:

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Now we moved over to the bookcase and pulled everything out from under it (yes, all this stuff fit into that tiny wedge of space!):

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Finally, we pulled the junk out from under the dresser:

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It was time to confront The Pile, so the boys and I began sorting it into different categories–dirty laundry, books, Legos, pencils/crayons, misc:

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My older son had since moved on to his other big task of the day–cleaning out our 14-passenger van–so my 8-year-old son and I dove into the job of sorting and putting things away in their places. Starting in the far corner of the room, we got all the loose Legos back into the big military footlocker in the closet and vacuumed the closet:

boysroom19

Next we made a “garage” for the amphibious tanks under the desk at the window, vacuuming before the tanks were “parked”:

boysroom18

I tackled the bookcase myself, as it really is full to bursting (there is no such thing as too many books in this household!):

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We high-fived each other for these met goals and kept backing our way toward the door, putting things away and vacuuming as we went. By the time we got to the door, the laundry and missing shoe pile had really grown:

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My older son had come back in to report that he’d finished the van, so I asked him to take this pile to the laundry room, putting the dirty clothes in the hamper and the shoes away in the utility closet. I gave one last swipe with the vacuum where the laundry had been, and we stood back to survey the morning’s work (all two hours of it — this once-a-month thing is intense!):

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Is that a collective sigh I hear? Yes, there really is something wonderful about a freshly cleaned room! Everyone notices. The stress level drops perceptibly. My daughters came in smiling, and the eldest said, “This looks like a home now!” I chuckled and asked, “Why do you say that? Wasn’t it a home before?” She grinned and shrugged, then pointed at the neatly made beds and clean carpet and said, “But now it feels like a home!” I smiled back and nodded my head. “Isn’t it nice to know where things are and have everything in its place?” My third-born son ran over to the cleared and dusted desk and declared, “This is the nicest spot for making Lego sets!” So out came the Legos, and a happy 8-year-old busied himself building. In a month’s time, we’ll no doubt be ready for another deep clean. That’s just the way it is in a house full of children…and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Post Script: Remember the boy I sent to put away the shoes in the closet? Well, when I went to start a load of laundry, this is what I discovered:

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Ahem. I called my son back to have another go at it, explaining that just making sure the shoes arrived at the closet wasn’t the point. 😉 Five minutes later, he had rectified the problem nicely:

boysroom22That’s more like it!

Oh, and we managed to get rid of one full bag of trash and fill one bag for Goodwill in the course of the morning. Well worth all the effort!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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