The Ultimate Cleaning Playlist

Need some motivation to start the big house cleanse? Dance yourself clean with this ultimate compilation of housekeeping ballads

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10 Essential Tools for Spring Cleaning

Common Good founder Sacha Dunn has selected a great list of tools for this spring cleaning round-up. Shears from London’s Labour and Wait? Vintage-feeling laundry bins on wheels? We’re inspired to get down and dirty and clean house – and that’s saying something! It should be no surprise that the maker of Common Good’s simple, delicious-smelling and toxin-free cleaning products has a few stylish ideas about how to get dirty jobs done, but, nonetheless, we’re impressed.

Read through Sacha’s list of cleaning tips and treat yourself to a little shopping for a few house-keeping staples. We recommend upgrading your spring cleaning experience with a bottle of Common Good Dish Soap in lavender and big fresh stack of flour-sack towels.

Here are the ten tools Sacha needs to get the house in good order.

Dustpan and broom

Sweeping is not my favorite thing but I noticed that I liked it so much more when I got a nice broom. Plus, I keep it hanging in the kitchen so it’s easy to grab, and I wouldn’t want to look at a plastic broom all day. Same goes for a good metal and wood dustpan and broom. A well-made, natural brush or broom might cost more, but it will last. 

Flour-sack towels

I use these for everything: as dishtowels, for dusting, wiping up spills or cleaning mirrors. They’re inexpensive and last pretty well. I use the older ones for hard cleaning and the nice new white ones for dish towels. For awhile there, we didn’t have paper towels, just these cloths. (Now we have a puppy in the house – and the paper towels are back!)

Glass-spray bottle

I keep distilled white vinegar in a glass spray bottle (an old Common Good All Purpose bottle because I have it). You could use any old spray bottle and just put a label on it so you know it’s now vinegar. Use it with baking soda for extra cleaning and to help remove the grit (it’ll fix up like the volcano science experiment).

Vinegar and baking soda

There are so many things you can do with vinegar, water and baking soda! Mix a paste of baking soda and water and use as a gentle abrasive scrub cleanser on walls, bathroom surfaces, oven doors, rub onto pans and let sit overnight to remove burnt on food, etc. Once you’ve cleaned with the paste, spritz with a little vinegar for even an even better clean. I sprinkle baking soda onto our rugs a couple of times a year and then vacuum it all up. It’s great at absorbing smells, and now that we have a puppy, it’s especially useful. If the water isn’t going down the kitchen or bathroom sinks fast enough, I’ll sprinkle a little baking soda down the drain, pour in some white vinegar and then boiling water. I might have to do it a couple of times, but it has always worked at unclogging the drain. A sprinkle into the wash will work as a laundry booster, as well, and takes odors out of clothes. I love these two. 

Spool of twine 

I use it all the time – tying up paper recycling, hanging kids’ art, tying up wrapping paper to stop it unrolling –  it’s so useful for organizing. Buy a whole spool of it.

Scissors

A big pair of sharp dressmakers’ scissors and a pair of this type of scissor is essential.  

All-purpose cleaner

I don’t have time to make my own cleaners, so of course, I use our all-purpose cleaner several times every day. For spring cleaning, I’ll use it to clean walls and door frames and things that don’t get attention every day or week.

Organization baskets 

We don’t have much storage, so you can see almost everything we own. Storage boxes or baskets (I love these wire-mesh storage baskets) keep stuff out of sight, organized and help me put everything away, in the right spot, faster. I don’t have to think about where everything is going.

Laundry bags and baskets 

The best way to keep track of clean or dirty clothes is to have a laundry bag in each room and a basket for clean laundry. My favorite are Steele laundry bins. I’m always surprised by how often I have to switch the seasonal clothes out (I’m Australian and seasons are still a novelty to me). Before putting away the winter clothes and boots, I’ll wash them, then store them in all-purpose storage bags. These bags are pretty air tight, so no need for mothballs. If you do have concerns about moths, cedar balls are fantastic, or make up a dried herb mix with rosemary, mint and cloves, dried in the oven and then put into bouquet garni bags (or old tights) and pop them into the stored-clothes bags. Works perfectly.

Bucket

We live in an apartment and don’t have a laundry sink so a bucket is essential for soaking clothes and mopping floors. Because so many of our things are out in the open, I have a nice galvanized bucket,  so it’s just as pretty to look at as it is useful.

 

Read the original version by Suzanne Hall for Chalkboard Magazine here.

What We're Reading

Fall is here. As many a yoga instructor have mentioned this month, fall is a time of transitions and changes. Here at Common Good, it’s a time to curl up by the window and crack open a book. Here’s what we’re burying our noses into instead of looking at those cute French bull dogs on the subway:

East of Eden

I started this novel on my journey back east from Hawaii. A ten hour, non-stop flight requires something truly epic, and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden delivers. The rough and tumble tale of two Salinas Valley families seems particularly prescient in light of the current scarcity of resources in California. While it might be difficult to replicate the experience of flying over the checkered landscape of America’s “Salad Bowl” while reading about it, Steinbeck makes it easy to envision the potential early 20th century farmers saw in a land full of rich soil, mud and dust. Of course, the book has its problems—racism foremost among them—but I became hooked after reading about the story’s villain, Cathy Ames, I mean Kate Trask, I mean Kate Albey. The woman changes her name so much in the novel it’s hard to keep up! With the face of an angel and a heart of stone, Kate runs Salinas’ most depraved brothel with the business savvy Donald Trump would admire.

-Genevieve

 

The Vagabond

Honestly, I picked this book up for $1 at a thrift store recently because I thought the illustrations on the cover were very nice. An unexpected twist, it’s a great book! It’s Colette’s semi-autobiographical tale about navigating life as a newly divorced, independent woman in a man’s world (Paris in the early 20th century). It doesn’t feel dated at all. Her descriptions of an unexpected suitor who poses a threat to her newly, delicately constructed single-lady life are both hilarious and ring all-too-true if you’ve ever teeter-tottered on the cusp of romantic ambivalence towards someone. She also refers to this romantic pursuer as “The Big Noodle,” which is amazing. 

 

Priests and Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Engineered Landscape of Bali

 A fascinating study of how far off the mark western society was in their understanding of Balinese water technology. The Balinese water irrigation system was intricately tied to their social and cultural systems, going so deep as to influence their perception of time. When Green Revolution notions of increasing agricultural yields were imposed on this pre-existing system, agriculture and water management was effectively decoupled from the religious and social structures. This resulted in decreased yields and increased incidences of pests. This book reinforces the notion that water issues are affected by the specifics of locale and culture, and in turn, how intricately bound societies are to their water supply.

-Tara

 

Woolen dryer balls: an homage to the early history of felt

Before I go into dryer balls, which have a surprisingly mysterious genesis, I’d like to start with the history of felted wool. Because felted wool is ancient.

Felting came much before weaving and other fiber arts. In order to produce felt, one just has to take some wool and add a little heat, pressure and moisture. It was so easy to make that an early Christian myth posits that Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers, and his companion Saint Clement created felt by stuffing wool into their sandals as the fled from an angry Roman emperor around 300 AD. After running nervously for miles—so the story goes—the soon-to-be saints discovered that the sheep’s wool had mixed with their sweat and the fibers had fused together after the constant pounding from their anxious footfalls.

A thrilling tale, Saint Christopher’s woolen travels are relatively new compared to felt’s origin as the first fabric known to humankind. Some sources state that felt remnants found in Turkey date back to 6500 BCE.

What did the first makers of felt use this marvelous product for? You named it, armor.

Yes, it was used for shelter, clothing, decoration, and magic, but also armor. This was particularly important for Chinese armies around 1400 BCE, because at that point, their main rivals from Turkey were using felt as large overcoats that acted as armor against Chinese arrows[1].  Lesson: felt is tough.

For fashion, felt was huge. Nomadic cultures in 200 BCE wore bolts of felt wound around their bodies in order to stay warm in the cold and dry in the rain. It’s pliability re: animal skin and its ability to absorb moisture were particularly attractive qualities back in the days of yore. Second lesson: felt is not only strong, it is tough on moisture and protects against cold as well.

The ancient Greeks were also hip to felt fashion, and Xeres’ troops donned felt caps, called tiaras. Their rivals, the Trojans and other non-Greeks, wore slouching felt hats that would become known as the Phrygian Cap, made famous by French revolutionaries and the Smurfs. In the western tradition, these hats became synonymous with liberty and freedom.

Which brings me back to dryer balls. It’s no coincidence that those looking to free themselves of dryer sheets and fabric softener turned to a product composed of an all-natural fabric that was not only strong, but could handle the heat and absorb moisture. And that’s just how felted wool dryer balls work. Toss them in with your laundry and they slowly beat out water while naturally softening your clothes and absorbing excess water in the process. Because of this, they reduce drying time and keep hazardous chemicals out of the drying process.

Now, as the dearth ancient felt artifacts will attest, felted wool dryer balls won’t last forever, but if you aren’t looking for a 1000-year guarantee, a 1000 loads might suffice.

So, the next time you find yourself looking for an all-natural, chemical-free substitute to dryer sheets that saves on time, energy and money, think back to humankind’s roots and go with our all-natural, 100% felted wool dryer balls. Available now!

 

[1] Laufer, B. (1930). The Early History of Felt. American Anthropologist, 32 (1), 1-18.)