When I was moving from Texas to Germany, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was seeking. Maybe sanity is the best word for it. And you know what makes me feel sane? My ability to clean my own home myself, scrubbed to high Heaven, in less than two hours. Of course, it helps to have the prettiest American expat rental in Germany. One of my favorite things I learned here are the German tidy tips for a flat that’s ordentlich, or orderly, and how to clean everything in it with three basic kitchen ingredients.
German Tidy Tips
House Shoes in the House!
Trust me that when you live in the forest, a lot of things get tracked into the house. I love the tradition of house shoes here, where it’s not uncommon to have slippers for guests by the front door. My daughter’s class even changes shoes to enter their homey classroom at school. I always have my fuzzy house shoes on at home!
Spot Cleaning Saves Lives
The German kitchens I’ve been lucky to stand around in here remain spotless as stains do not get the chance to stick around. As a friend put it, “I love my white kitchen, but since it shows everything I am always touching it up.” Now I am in a little habit of wiping everything down before I exit the scene, I notice my sensitivity to nary a spot on the counter, as it should be in the orderly home. This baking soda and citric acid-based spray is the one you always see in other white German kitchens as well as my own.
TLDR: Clean as you go, people!
Bristle Brush or Bust
I am so lucky that I got hooked early on these natural fiber wooden scrubber brushes, as life has never been the same. Sold as the gold standard here at the stores, the plant-based fibers on the brush stand so perfectly and wipe away the toughest stains with the slightest scrub of the ergonomic wooden handle. The best part is, not only are the brush heads replaceable, but made with plant fibers and wood so completely compostable when ready to be changed out.
I am so excited I found these easily in the States! I could never go back.
Can’t click to buy it, but behind the pic of my brush is my grandmother’s go-to of cutting down old t-shirts past their prime to wipe surfaces. I love these cloth paper towels for the same effect!
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How to Clean with Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemon Juice
As much as I love the counter spray for convenience and all of my tools of the trade, nothing makes me feel more sane than a sprinkle of three kitchen ingredients freshening my flat, just like God herself intended.
Just like science class, baking soda, lemon and vinegar seem to get all my jobs done.
Cleaning with Baking Soda
I love this little box of abrasive deodorizer!
I love to
- sprinkle it on mattresses
- leave it in refrigerator and pantries to deodorize
- add some to my hand washing
- sprinkle and let it set on rugs before vacuuming
- use it as an abrasive to scrub sinks, toilets and the bath!
Cleaning with Vinegar
I can’t believe what I have spent on grime busters when vinegar (especially activated with a little baking soda or dish soap), cuts soap scum and breaks up stains like nothing else.
I use it to:
- spray down surfaces mix 1:3 parts vinegar to water (if it smells string, your favorite essential oil hides it)
- add a bit of fight to my hot mop water (I’dd add 1/2 cup to hot water)
- spot scrub surfaces
- spray 1:1 parts vinegar and water on stains before rubbing it with baking soda and washing
- clear drains, pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain after a 1/2 cup of baking soda before flushing it all with piping hot water.
Just Add Lemon!
We have just become addicted to lemons here, from the zest in the afternoon cakes here we started baking, salad toppings and sliced over chicken before roasting. So lots of lemons around with plenty of life left in them – especially when it comes to getting things clean!
I love to:
- add lemon to DIY counter spray for a fresh scent and extra grime fighter
- use the lemon skin to squeeze some extra citric acid in those hard-to-reach rims of my sink
- cut grease with a squeeze to my mop water
- squeeze into my toilet bowl for deodorizing and anti-bacteria.
I would say I love to put the peel down the disposal to clean it too, but that’s another country – ha!
Need a little refresher on the science of it all? Here’s something to stick on the refrigerator to notice the next time you’re tempted to spend perfectly good Girl’s Night Out money on cleaning products.
My favorite German women here are proud of the satisfaction of a shiny sink. I feel more sanity and more apart of the greater, gooder world having lived a life where I can know that feeling too.
What’s your favorite cleaning tip? I continue to need all the help I can get!
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