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How to Make Cleaning (More) Enjoyable

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Real talk: Most days, my apartment is a hot mess. With two humans and one dog living and working in the same small space twenty-four/seven, it has the tendency to be perpetually, profoundly messy. But recently, Grove Collaborative has changed that…

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

These days, when it comes to cleaning, I’ve been using and loving products from Grove, the shop that delivers eco-friendly home and personal care items straight to you. They carry the best non-toxic, sustainable products — everything from laundry detergent to menstrual products to deodorant to this stuff — from their own line as well as many other beloved third-party brands.

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

I’m always concerned with the ingredients in our household products, especially those that come in contact with our skin… or where we eat… or pretty much anything the dog touches. All Grove products are made with plant-based, non-toxic ingredients, and are leaping bunny certified, so you can rest easy using them around your loved ones, including kids and pets.

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Their new plastic free product line features hand soap, dish soap and cleaning products that you dispense into refillable glass bottles. I especially love the multi-purpose cleaners, which come in tiny (glass) bottles of concentrate. You just decant, add water, shake it up, and you’re good to go!

Last but not least, from an aesthetic perspective, the refillable glass bottles are much cuter than your typical packaging. It’s just one more reason I’m happy to have them on my countertop.

The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Right now, Grove is plastic neutral, meaning that for every ounce of plastic they sell, they collect and recycle an ounce of plastic pollution. Even better, they’ve made the commitment to be 100% plastic free by 2025. That’s part of what led them to reimagine a line of household essentials that help you live sustainably, without compromising on quality.

If you’re interested in trying it, Grove is offering Cup of Jo readers a free gift set when you sign up using this link. (Offer valid for new customers only.) Thank you so much!

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Grove Collaborative, a brand we love and use at home. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Kate the Great says...

    But this free gift set isn’t free. I have to buy $14.30 more stuff to meet a ridiculous cart minimum. And I haven’t seen if there’s a shipping cost yet.

    This feels fake. I love the ideals of the products, but when you insist I buy stuff to get free stuff after you tell me it’s free? No, thanks.

  2. Jessica says...

    This is so awesome, I’ve already heard about these different brands that can be refilled and save on plastic and what not. I really need to switch over to this type of cleaning products because I have a cat now and it would make me feel so much better about using cleaning products that I know won’t harm him.

  3. joy says...

    the best low-waste cleaning products are vinegar (buy in glass instead of plastic) and baking soda. Use rags instead of paper towels. Voila.

    • Lori says...

      Cannot stand the smell.

  4. Anna says...

    I find cleaning my apartment restful, a chance to “just be”. I’d recommend the book “A monk’s guide to a clean house and mind” — written by a Zen monk in Japan, but available in English. It’s a short, easy read.

    • Definitely looking this up. ❤️

  5. M says...

    A cleaning brand with a similar concept to Grove is Branch Basics. I’ve been using it for about 1.5 years now. Women-owned and a great multi-use product. And NO fragrance, which is essential for my household. I really like their “Toss the Toxins” campaign, which helped clean up scary ingredients in my house.

  6. Em says...

    For the record everyone, the free gift set is not “when you sign up” as in for a subscription or newsletter. You have to make a purchase of at least $28.00 in order to get the free gift set.
    I think Cup of Jo should have made that a little clearer in their post.

  7. Cynthia says...

    I’ve made cleaning more enjoyable by outsourcing it! I’m a surgery resident and work at least 80 hours a week. Cleaning is not how I want to spend my limited free time.

  8. Sam says...

    I would also love some cleaning tips, especially for apartments that don’t have all the amenities (no dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc). I am lucky that my partner carries the weight of cleaning and cooking mostly because he is currently furloughed, but our apartment still seems to always need a deep clean. We keep our windows open 24/7 when the weather permits and I find everything gets dustier faster. Any advice would be so useful.

  9. Rachel says...

    Man, that wall color. Makes anything you put in front of it like a 15th century painting. Even cleaning products. I want it!

  10. Jess says...

    Did Caroline paint her ENTIRE apartment black??? Where has the dead salmon gone?

  11. A bottle of wine might make cleaning sufferable, but absolutely nothing will ever make it enjoyable.

    • Hayley B says...

      YES!!!

  12. Leslie Morris says...

    Audio books changed my life. I no longer view cleaning as a chore, I see it as a time for me to get some alone time with a good story!

    • riye says...

      Same here! Because I wasn’t able to go to the gym or even go walking/running outdoors for a while house cleaning time is the only time I get to enjoy audio books. I try to make sure I borrow at least one from the library every week! I don’t enjoy cleaning but having a designated time every week and cleaning up as I go during the week really cuts down on the amount of effort I have to put in.

    • Jeanette Augenstein says...

      I’m with you on the audio book I always listen to one when I’m cleaning. It actually does make you feel like cleaning is fun.

  13. Cynthia says...

    Put things away when you are finished using them. Hang up your coat when you come in, return the scissors to the drawer when you’ve finished cutting, sort the mail when it comes, etc. If everything is picked up, your home looks clean even if you need to vacuum. I know it’s hard when you work and have young children. The two rooms I make sure to keep clean are the bathrooms.

  14. Keeley says...

    I have used Grove Collaborative before. They do sell good products, but I feel like their sales practices are a little sneaky. I signed up originally because they offered free products with your first order. What I didn’t realize is that I was also automatically subscribed to a auto-renewing yearly membership with a $20 charge and monthly shipments of products that they select for you. You are free to delete items in the shipment or cancel the auto-renew option, but they aren’t up-front about what you are really signing up for.
    Maybe things have changed now, but I cancelled after several months because I was frustrated that they were not straight-forward in the beginning with how their program worked.

    • Cooper says...

      I felt the same way, and also thought it was a little sneaky that the initial free gifts are super awesome, like full Meyer’s cleaning sets, and then as your subscription progresses, they become things like a small box of tissue with a $100 purchase :) I do genuinely love their products, though, and have kept my subscription for the free shipping – I just have to keep tabs and make sure they don’t auto-ship me anything.

  15. Pamela says...

    Just a heads up that anyone with cats (and maybe dogs?) should be careful about cleaning with and using essential oils. They can be deadly to our animal friends.

    • AJ says...

      This is true for dogs as well. Can anyone recommend a good (and safe !) cleaning product for floors? We have a new puppy.

  16. Sharon says...

    I work for a period product company and we always say period products or period health products!

  17. Emily B says...

    I would also enjoy a post with some cleaning tips! It feels never ending..

  18. Nicole says...

    I’ve been making homemade cleaners for about 2 years now (mostly diluted white vinegar and essential oils or diluted castile soap essential oils). The problem is that the sprayers on refillable glass bottles always stop working. I checked the review on the Grove bottles, and those had the same problem. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • Kim says...

      Could it be calcium deposits clogging the sprayer? Maybe try using distilled water?

    • Charlotte says...

      Hi Nicole, I also make my own cleaning spray from essential oils and distilled vinegar and have noticed the same issues with nozzles breaking over time. In my experience, the nozzles labeled “heavy duty” (like these: https://www.ebay.com/itm/10PCS-Heavy-Duty-Commercial-Trigger-Sprayer-16oz-Bottle-Nozzle-Head-Car-Cleaning/303704981278?hash=item46b63a3f1e:g:9dAAAOSwurNbNnYx) have tended to hold up better over time than the average run of the mill ones. I have yet to come across a completely faultless one but these seem to hold out the longest.

      As a side note for those looking for glass bottles for cleaning products, don’t bother buying them! Most bottles have a standard neck size and will fit almost any sprayer (like the ones in the link above or any you have leftover from other plastic spray bottles). I keep my homemade cleaning products in amber kombucha bottles, and the glass bottles from apple cider vinegar and soy sauce work just as well. Sprayers with long hoses can be trimmed to fit any size bottle. It makes much more environmental sense to reuse something you would otherwise toss out than spend $12 a pop on essentially the same item.

  19. V. says...

    These products look great!

    As a side note, I would really love more cleaning advice – how do people actually manage cleaning along with work and other tasks? I feel like I am ALWAYS cleaning and doing chores before/after work, but my (fairly small) house rarely feels clean. Also, how do partners distribute tasks? Currently, my partner works really long days so I do most of the errands and housework, but as a result sometimes I feel like my job suffers (eg, I should be working late to make progress on a project but instead I sign off to cook dinner, feed the cats, do laundry, etc.). As a result, I feel like whenever I’m “off work,” I’m still working, and it’s hard to do any of it well. I don’t even have kids! Am I doing something totally wrong!? Any tips would be appreciated! Xo

    • Anne S says...

      Honestly, I’d love to hear advice, as well. I have my first ever apartment to take care of and it feels like there’s always one more thing I have to do. Usually I have to just tell myself to stop and come back to it later, when I have more time. On weekends, if things are dire, I’ll make a list of everything that needs to be done (laundry, vacuum, bathroom deep clean, etc.) and split the tasks with my husband. On weeknights sometimes we’ll just take an hour after dinner to do dishes and tidy up, which keeps things from spiraling out of control. Podcasts are a must, no matter what.

      Also found that putting things in our storage closet (winter clothes, never-used appliances, etc.) helps me not to feel overwhelmed. At the end of the day, it’s kind of ridiculous that we spend all our time cleaning up STUFF that we bought to make our lives better.

    • Sadie says...

      Ask your partner for help or change expectations. I do most of the cooking for my boyfriend and I but the moment I don’t want to cook dinner I ask him to do it or pick something up. I think changing expectations works too, I had a roommate that never cleaned a thing so we worked it out for him to clean the floors on Sundays. I think it can also be really helpful to identify everything that you do and the time it takes.

    • Renata says...

      I have a really large house, two kids, husband and a dog that is mostly outside but still does a lot of mess, so do the three above mentioned..:).and I clean all the time. I had a hard time dividing cleaning betweeb me and my husband as he forgot to do the things I tild him most of the time. So I started making daily lists of what to do and it works. Also I teach my children to clean after themselves, shoes, plate when they finish eating, and when they spill something I give them something to clean things up. It works, but it takes a lot of effort at first. Hope you will get there.

    • Paige says...

      Honestly, I’m just never not cleaning. I’m wayyyy more obsessive than most I think (for me, clean space = clean mind) but I think the trick is to never let it get to the point of out of control. It never takes longer than 5 mins to tidy (vs an hour or more if I never did it) and 30 mins per bathroom max since it’s never heinous. I never leave dishes overnight (except maybe a tea mug) and always sweep through the house before bed. Re: partner sharing the load….ugh. I also struggle with this and would take tips! Esp the mental load!!

    • Lisa says...

      Same. We have two small children and both work FT. It pretty much feels that as soon as I finish work, I go onto more work.

      Some things that have helped:
      We have paid a cleaner for years now, and I have always thought it was money well spent (and the reason my husband and I are not divorced – we have very different cleaning styles). The other thing is trying to do small things every day to keep on top of it so make sure the dishes are all done / in the dishwasher after every meal / toys put away / dirty laundry in the basket. What has helped as well, is pre-pandemic we were food shopping almost every day. One of us would go on the way home and pick up ingredients to make dinner and it was a pain in the butt. During the lockdown, we really wanted to avoid shops as much as possible so we started doing online orders. One of the best companies was a fruit and veg company that used to supply caterers and restaurants, and their business disappeared over night so they turned to home delivery. The fruit and vegetables are so much better than what we were getting in the supermarket, MUCH less packaging (which used to drive me nuts) and it’s delivered to our home. I’m in London (UK), b if you’re interested the company is called all greens and they’re great. They’ve now also added milk / bread / eggs / meat. I love them so much. We now get a delivery once a week (and then separate delivery from another company for things like tinned goods, pasta, rice, cleaning products, snacks) about once a month. So much time saved.

    • Hilary says...

      This is so tough! I should start with I thrive in a clean environment. To me, clutter = chaos and is the opposite of relaxing. If that’s not that case for you, adjust your expectations accordingly. A few things that have worked well in my house:

      – We have a cleaning/chore chart (yes, for the adults!). I felt like I was *always* cleaning, so I made a chart of everything that needs to get done in a week and assigned it a day. This prevents me from cleaning more than I need to. Ex: I may want to clean the kitchen, but that’s on the schedule for tomorrow, so I’ll just leave it for tonight.

      – Clean as you go. At the end of the day, we always make sure we have a clear sink, our toddler picked up her toys, etc. It’s much easier to take a few seconds to put things away as you go along.

      – The cleaning schedule means nothing gets *too* dirty. Our chores really don’t take more than 5-15 minutes because they’re done weekly.

      – Lazy Genius your way to a solution. For us, that meant buying a robot vacuum that runs every morning. This was a lifesaver for us because we cook a lot and have a toddler, so crumbs are a constant challenge. For you, that might mean doing grocery pickup, hiring someone to deep clean, and starting with a “clean slate,” etc.

      – For distributing tasks, we discussed what we prefer to do/not do and divvy it up based on the task and the time. I cook, he does dishes. I meal plan, make a grocery list, and order/pick up groceries, so he takes on more cleaning chores because that takes a good bit of time. Having a chart also prevents the “honey, what do you need me to do?” questions that can make you feel like a house manager.

      Okay, this was so lengthy. I do feel really strongly about having a clean house though because it’s important to me. Also, think about what’s important to you. Checking out the Lazy Genius podcast/site/FB group may be helpful. She helps you “name what matters,” so you can personalize a solution!

    • liz says...

      So, I have zero advice on splitting tasks with a significant other, as I’m a singleton. But I do know what you mean. It always seems like there is something to do, and I definitely dream of a self-cleaning house. Here’s what I have found to make it easier.

      I batch cook, or at least prep stuff that is easier to grab and go with. I will cook a big batch of beans and rice and have some nice cut up veggies etc. Basically stuff I can throw into a bowl and microwave, or toss into a bowl for salads. That way at least I have the option not to cook if I don’t want to.

      I try to clean as I go whenever possible so that things don’t get messy. And when I first started doing that, it felt like I was just constantly cleaning, but now it feels like second nature.

      Also, I lowered my standards a little bit. Like, it just doesn’t really matter so much if my house isn’t perfectly clean. It’s clean enough. And anyone I would invite into my home (I mean, in the time where I was inviting people into my home) wouldn’t really care about a slightly less than clean house.

      And the last thing I did was kind of change my mindset about it. I read the book “How to Do Nothing” by Jenny O’Dell last year and there was a ton of stuff in there about maintenance. I started trying to think about cleaning my space and doing these sort of repetitive tasks of life as showing care to myself and to my world. But I get that that is kind of woo-woo and maybe not helpful.

      Good luck.

    • Clara says...

      I so hear you!

      Our NYC 1-bedroom rarely feels truly clean…. maybe it’s because the building is old? I was sort of shook when I went and visited my sister and her partner’s 4 bedroom house and it felt basically spotless! How do they do it??? One sort of comforting thing they said is that a smaller home actually feels dirtier quicker…. for one thing, you’re closer to the nooks and crannies, and for another, there’s just a higher density of perhaps the same amount of dust making stuff getting tracked in). Not a solution, but kind of made me feel better. Apparently it’s something tiny house people notice… you’d think a smaller space would be so easy to keep up, but it’s not that simple!

    • M says...

      I’m very aware of housework by default falling on women’s shoulders, so we have specific division of responsibilities. I cook, he does dishes and cleans the kitchen. He does laundry, I put it away. We both contribute to picking up daily, and on weekends distribute the more heavy lifting cleaning.

      If you’re wanting to move forward in your career, I’d say prioritize work over household. Your partner is doing the same, and if you’re both equally ambitious, it’s not fair for you to pick up the household slack because he’s putting more time into his career than you. If things are left un-done at the end of the day with you focusing more on work, that can lead into a better division of responsibility conversation.

      That said, we have 2 small kiddos and I definitely feel like I’m working/cleaning/scheduling appts/kid stuff/emotional labor etc etc nonstop!! It’s exhausting and never perfect.

    • Lora says...

      Totally agree with all of this. I’ve asked my friends who seem to have clean houses and the answer is, “it’s clean because I clean all the time…” Like, they stay up until 2am cleaning. I will never choose cleaning my tub over sleep so I’m resigned to my somewhat messy lot in life. And my husband is regularly working until 1am so I’m not going to encourage him to miss more sleep to clean either.

      But beyond that, they swear by baskets for corralling stuff, de-cluttering, regular cleaning check-ups throughout the day, and one day a week dedicated to a full cleaning of the house (either by them or paid to someone else). So I’m trying all that with the magical addition of lowered expectations.

    • V. says...

      Thanks to all for the tips!! Also, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the struggle to keep things tidy.

      @Sadie, we’ve had that conversation a few times. Unfortunately, it’s devolved into her telling me that I act like my job is more important than hers (I make a good deal more money, so that’s a delicate subject) or that I need to manage my time better and be more efficient (valid point as I’m naturally a laid back person and she’s very type A, but regardless of “efficiency” it’s still a lot to handle, and I already push myself to be efficient all day at work).

      I am going to try your advice to document what I do and how long it takes, however. I agree it can be helpful to quantify things. At the very least, I’ll be able to approach our next conversation gently but firmly and factually, rather than coming to her with a desperate plea for help.

    • sam says...

      Single person living alone here (tho you’d be surprised at how messy just one person can be)—One thing that has helped me is limiting my chore time to a 20 minute tidy every night before bed, saving more time-consuming tasks for specific days (like laundry on Thursdays) or random days (like sweeping on random weekends or if my parents are coming over…). The 20 minute tidy is not enough for my apartment to feel gloriously clean every night, but it reliably distances the place from disaster, and I feel like resisting entropy is the best we can hope to do.

    • C. says...

      As a person who used to believe (and suffered for) the notion that I was somehow failing at life if my house did not resemble an immaculate photo from a Martha Stewart magazine, I gently suggest you re-think your approach. I always make the bed and keep the kitchen sort of clean and tidied up so I can easily make a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Beyond that make peace with the idea that some things will be done, some of the time, but usually not all of it completely done all the time (because that way lies madness). Maybe the floors are swept but the bookcase needs dusting, maybe the bathroom is clean but the laundry needs to be folded, maybe the trash is taken out but the refrigerator needs cleaning. When company comes you may want to ramp it up a bit, but otherwise just do the best you can, then go live your life. More two cents: we all work, everyone is busy. Your job and your time are not less important than your boyfriend’s. To feel comfortable in your home is important, but it’s a different kind of work, a responsibility that everyone who lives in home should tend to, hopefully with some joy and a sense of respect for those we share the home with. I love the quote from Mother Teresa “Wash the plate not because its dirty, nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.”

    • Anna says...

      Also of the clean home – clean mind bent!

      I have two daughters, and a sitter who keeps up with their laundry, kitchen clean up after meals and toy organization. Otherwise, for now it’s just me (my husband does not clean and while this is a sore spot for me it is also a well-worn argument that I have elected not to have moving forward).

      So, all of that said, some of my tips are…

      1. Regularly declutter. It is simply much easier to keep less things clean.
      2. Tody app. This app lets you create tasks by room and schedule the frequency of cleaning. You can add a partner and divvy up tasks if you are luckier than me on that front, ha. I use the app not for regular, obvious things (i.e. vacuum) but for things that I’d maybe not think about on a regular basis but really make the house look dirty over time – washing the walls, rug doctoring the rugs, cleaning the baseboards.
      3. GoCleanCo on Instagram. They have excellent product suggestions (Tide powder cleans nearly everything and Barkeeper’s friend for kitchen things) as well as video tutorials on hard-to-clean things.
      4. Podcasts. The combination of a good podcast and deep cleaning is strangely meditative and therapeutic for me.
      5. Leave the house and go into nature if I am feeling overwhelmed by THE HOUSE. Sometimes just walking away is a more linear path to a clean headspace. :)

    • Jean says...

      I really like this thread! My spouse and I spent years figuring out a system but we’re finally in a pretty good place as far as cleaning goes. Here are a few things that have worked for us (in a small-ish apartment with a toddler):
      -Figuring out whether we prefer daily or weekly tasks: He would rather do daily tasks so he can fit it into a routine and not have to remember things, so he does all dishes and daily kitchen-cleaning.
      -I would rather clean in longer bursts a few times each week, so I take care of the floors and bathroom. It’s helped me to make sure I vacuum on Mondays and Thursdays NO MATTER WHAT and then mop or clean the bathroom as needed. It’s really easy to feel too tired or busy to clean, so really making a few essential tasks a non-negotiable part of a routine has been helpful for me.
      -We try really hard not to criticize the other person’s areas of responsibilities. My spouse often neglects to wipe the counters or clean out the sink, but it’s honestly easier and more enjoyable to just do it myself or live with the crumbs. And he never complains if I let the bathroom go a little too long between cleanings.
      -I’ve had to let go of my desire to have the whole apartment sparkling clean all at the same time (my ideal lifestyle) and learn to live in a perpetually-slightly-messy environment and it’s okay – it makes those times when the whole apartment sparkles all the more meaningful :)

    • martha says...

      my boyfriend and i officially moved in a couple months ago. We talked through what “clean” and tidy means to us and expectations/assumptions and any pet peeves. I enjoy cooking throughout the week a lot more than he does. So i’m vocal when im tired, but there’s no expectation for me to cook but it brings me joy. He tends to cook over the weekend. Whenever someone cooks we do our best to clean as we go and then whoever didn’t cook cleans up after eating. For cleaning: we agreed that once a week (sat or sun) we will do some deep cleaning and share those tasks – each cleans 1 bathroom, i vacuum , he mops, and then he does laundry. We switch on taking out the trash. I enjoy grocery shopping so i tend to do it, but sometimes he joins too (although ha he ends up adding a lot more stuff!).

    • Natasha says...

      Hugs! Managing a home is hard, whether you have kids or not. I have three kids and I definitely struggle to keep it together. My one thing is being organized; if I am able to keep my home organized, I can keep it clean much easier. My anxiety gets outta control if I’m not organized and a clean home is just such a pleasure, and now that we are home 99% of the time, it makes a big difference in my state of mind. I am very minimal in the amount of things we own; less stuff to take care of! Little rules like litter boxes get cleaned every night before bed; laundry gets folded right out of the machine, and any types of spills get cleaned up immediately. I use Force of Nature cleaner for just about everything, except the spray mop, which is water and vinegar. It is SUPER environmentally safe, no essential oils, no garbage ingredients, and it kills all the scary stuff including corona. The coolest thing about it is that it expires within two weeks, so I feel like I am on a time-frame to use it. So at a minimum, once every two weeks, I deep clean the house on a Thursday or Friday evening, after work and helping the kids with school. All three bathrooms, the whole kitchen, all mirrors, sliding glass doors, all surfaces, floors- they all get deep cleaned with the intention of using all the Force of Nature before I mix up a new batch. My husband takes care of feeding the cats and the dog. He unloads the dishwasher and often loads it. We both cook dinner and we are all about fast, easy meals. Dividing up these chores is a must. But I definitely handle most of the cleaning. I try to scrub my shower a few times a week with a mix of dish soap and baking soda, plus I squeegee it every time I shower and use Method Shower Spray to help avoid nasty buildup in there. This takes an extra 2 min, at most, every time I shower, and it helps keep gross soap scum from building up and helping to avoid any mold growth. I really do feel that with the shower, a little bit of constant maintenance goes a long way. A little effort throughout the week keeps it from becoming gross, and I never have to spend a huge chunk of time on it. Laundry is one of those tasks that if you time it right, you can have it running while you take care of other things. Like- maybe time yourself with the washer. Set up a big load of towels/ sheets, and use that hour to deep clean the house. Make a race of it, if you’re the competitive type and try to accomplish as much as possible in that time period. One of my fave blogs that I’ve gotten great tips over the years for cleaning and organizing is Living Well, Spending Less. Also- I’m obsessed with the right tools. Dry mop, Swiffer, Libman spray mop, microfiber cloths, etc, I have figured out work really well for my home and my preferences.

    • Midge says...

      Years ago, when I went back to work part-time, I told my husband that there are five categories that have to happen: cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, paperwork, and life maintenance stuff (family birthdays, dr appts for kids). He had to pick one (again, I’m part-time and he’s not). He picked cooking, and I haven’t cooked dinner for the four of us in eight years.

      That makes doing the other four SO much easier. And he does help with them, unlike me and cooking.

      So. For my four things: groceries/errands on Monday (we live in a small town, so this is actually feasible to complete in an afternoon). Laundry on Tuesday. Tidy on Wednesday. Big clean on Thursday. Nothing on Friday or Saturday. Paperwork, make lists for the week, meal plan (together) on Sunday.

      The kids are expected to clean up upon request: mow lawn, empty dishwasher, clean their bathroom. And at least once a week I tell them to go find something that’s driving me nuts and “make it look like you were never there.” They’re learning to see the mess, which is really the source of the entire battle.

      Our house is still messy, and sometimes a little dirty. But next Thursday’s right around the corner…

    • Ari says...

      Ugh. I feel you and all of the comments in this thread. A few things:

      1. I’ve lowered my standards after the pandemic started. With my husband and I working, juggling childcare, we are too tired to clean. So mostly we don’t.

      2. Divvy up responsibilities evenly and don’t share tasks. When we first moved in together, we discussed what responsibilities we would always handle and it saved us from a lot of fighting. You end up avoiding micromanage-y situations where you two inevitably will do things differently. Plus, you have clarity and expectations that you’re always going to do X, your partner will do Y. You also don’t need to clean together; cleaning doesn’t need to be an activity, it’s a habit. It may not lead to a 100% clean house for a couple of days, but it may lead to a 70% clean house most days.

      3. I read somewhere about a “one touch rule” – you can only pick up an item once and put it away. I use this rule. I used to find myself carrying something to another room, only to get distracted by something else that needed straightening else up and never putting it away. I’m a multitasker by nature, but after having a son who is an erratic napper, I get one thing done before moving to the next, so I don’t have to drop multiple balls.

      4. No pets, no kids. That’ll help you keep a cleaner house! Two elderly cats plus a toddler in the throes of toilet training…we were always going to be doomed.

      Hang in there!

    • Katey says...

      V! I could have written this (minus feeding the cats). Same here. The work just never ends and I get it that my husband has a more demanding/high stress job than I do, but certainly there are evenings I would like to keep going on a project, but feel guilty to not remove myself from the computer screen and prepare dinner and take care of all the other things that need to be done to run our little household. AND we have a cleaning person who comes every three weeks, which helps keep things probably more manageable than if we didn’t have one, but that really just ensures the bathroom gets deep cleaned and floors mopped (it is still up to me to do the laundry, the meal planning, the grocery shopping, the meal prep, the dish cleanup, take out the garbage and recycling, and on and on). Ugh. Maybe Cup of Jo could do an entire post on this topic (look at all these comments!).

    • Madi says...

      The best tip I’ve ever heard came from Emily Ley- every evening, I walk around the house with a laundry basket and put everything that’s “out of place” in there. Sometimes I just set the laundry basket on the kitchen table, because that’s all I can manage, and at least everything is tidy now. But the goal is to then walk from room to room and put everything up (or dump it out in the floor and assign each family member a certain room). It keeps you from picking up something in the dining room and taking it to the bedroom, where you pick up something that needs to go back to the kitchen, and so on.

    • diana K says...

      Outsource one professional cleaning a month (hard to do now with covid). I use a service like Handy that always has promos and coupons and have them do the bathroom and kitchen. It helps me catch up every month and motivates me to keep it clean. There’s nothing wrong with you, cleaning sucks.

  20. Kath says...

    “Feminine care products” seems like a weirdly old fashioned term for this blog and these times. “Menstrual care” might be more in keeping with your inclusive and feminist tone!
    Femininity ≠ periods
    Periods ≠ femininity

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a great point, Kath! thank you! changing now xo

  21. Anna says...

    Is the offer working for others? I wasn’t able to click through after I entered my email, in multiple browsers.

  22. Taylor says...

    Unrelated to the topic above. About two years ago there was a post, and Jo had this beautiful blush leather (albeit $$$) backpack. I’ve been searching the archives without success. Does anyone remember/know the brand?

  23. Amanda says...

    Thank you for a measured tone on cleaning. Some people love it, some hate it. Some do it out of rage (em, not me!). Certain glossy mags squawk about the act of cleaning house in a very Type-A, frenetic tone that really triggers my anxiety.

    • Jenny says...

      Caroline, your apartment is amazing, moody, and accented with some mysterious femme touches (the bust! Is she Medusa?)! Would LOVE to hear strategies and routines for keeping a small space organized through this chaotic time

  24. Abbey says...

    Wow more pics of Caroline’s apartment pleaseee!

  25. Kim W says...

    I’ve been using Grove for awhile now. Awesome site & so convenient. They have some of the best smelling hand sanitizers and one of the few places that had any back in April. Shipping is awesome too….nice that you gave them a shout out!

  26. Lesley says...

    Pretty Caroline!

  27. Sheila says...

    I’ve used Grove products for about 2 years now and really like them. Seems weird to have a strong opinion on sponges, but I LOVE their sponges made from recycled materials. They’re so much softer than typical ones, but the scrubber side still works great! I don’t use them all the time, but always buy a few when I order Grove refills.

    • SC says...

      Unrelated to this post but “seems weird to have a strong opinion on sponges” reminds me of a scene from a hilarious New Girl episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SLkVf4nlHQ.

      To anyone who hasn’t already watched all of New Girl on Netflix during quarantine…run, don’t walk.