Summer came and went by so quickly. In less than a month, the kids will be heading back to school. In between trying to squeeze in some more beach and pool time, we have to start packing away the summer gear in preparation for fall. I don't know about you, but my household gets more cluttered than ever in the summertime. Kids and pets are making messes around every bend. Piles of books and homework are now substituted with clothes and toys. Over the years, I've picked up on a few techniques to make summer cleaning more bearable. Now is the perfect time to share these tips with everyone. As we're coming to the end of summer, we need to pick up the pace!


Safety first

The phrase "safety first" is not for nothing. Before we do any sort of activity, being safe should be the main concern. You might be thinking to yourself, "I'm just cleaning. I've done this hundreds of times!"  However, one mishap is enough to discourage good cleaning habits. Tons of injuries happen around the home. Don't let it happen to you. Here are a few tips that can help your household stay safe during cleaning routines.


1. When carrying an armful of items, make sure you can see where you're going. Tripping and falling is one of the leading sources for injuries. If that isn't enough to alert you, think of the new mess you will have to clean after you spill!

2. If you have to use a ladder or a step-ladder, make sure your area of reach is within your range. If it isn't, do not attempt to reach anyway. Take a few extra seconds to reposition your ladder. You'll be glad you did.

3. If you have to spend a lot of time on your hands and knees, use some knee pads to keep the pressure off your joints. Borrow them from your children's rollerblading set. Or, try sitting down on a mat instead. Keep your back straight to prevent aching later on.


Throw away the unnecessary items

I'm a pack rat. I'll admit it. In an era where everyone is trying to go green and help the environment, it's hard not to be. I have a surplus of glass and plastic tubs I've collected from food containers over the years that I think will be useful one day. Some have actually been used. Others, not so much. In order to de-clutter my home, I have learned to let those items go. Take some time to sort though some of the items that you've had for years. If you've had an item for around 2-3 years, and it hasn't been used once, it's time to get rid of it.  Toss it or give it away to a friend or a relative. Better yet, sell it in a yard sale. Make some money and de-clutter at the same time! Letting go of your clutter may be hard, but once you actually see the outcome, you won't even miss your dingy plastic tubs.


Get help from the kids

Why slave around cleaning your home by yourself? Get the kids to help. It's their home too! One way to get them to help without a struggle is to employ a reward system. For every task that a child does correctly, give them a prize. A prize can range from a cookie for dessert to getting to pick the radio station in the car for a day. Having a cleaning team working behind you will make cleaning a lot faster and fun for the whole family.


Pay attention to bottle labels

Harmful harsh chemicals are usually hiding in our commonly used cleaning products. Make sure you follow the directions on the label before you use them around your family. To minimize exposure to the chemicals, remember to use with gloves and a face mask. Keep pets and children away from the cleaning area, just in case. Also, never mix chemicals. This may lead to unwanted chemical reactions.


Upgrade to alternate cleaning supplies

Green and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies may be more expensive, but it is worth it in the long run. Not only are these products safe to use in the home around your family, it can also be good for the environment. It is best that we try our best to keep chemicals out of our home. The next time you are in the market for cleaning supplies, take a look at the ingredients list. If it is full of words you cannot pronounce, you should most likely stay away from those. An even better and cheaper way to have alternative cleaning supplies is to make your own! It is actually easier than it sounds. A lot of household products are multifunctional. For example, hydrogen peroxide is a great multi-surface sterilizer. It can be safely used around children, pets, and pregnant women. Test porous surfaces before you apply it all over.  Also, lemon is a great water stain remover. You can use the juice from a lemon, or directly rub a lemon half on the area that you want to clean. It also leaves a nice citrus scent!