How to clean just about everything for under $5

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Hey there!  Sorry I’ve been so silent the past week or so.  I had a number of meetings early in the week and then we got our air vents cleaned sending me into a cleaning tailspin.  Once they got all of the dust and icky stuff out of the vents, I thought it would be the perfect time to deep clean the rest of the house!  Thankfully, after two days of cleaning, it’s sparkling.  For a few days at least. 😉  When you clean obsessively for 8.5 hours straight, you notice which cleaners really work and which cleaners are just posers.  And I am happy (and totally surprised) to report that these few ingredients can clean most of your house/apartment/dwelling better than anything else I’ve tried… it’s like magic.  Really, it is.

 

Magic Cleaning Supplies | www.SimplyCait.com

 

You can clean almost anything with Dawn dish soap (I prefer Dawn Ultra), distilled white vinegar, and water.  I can’t take credit for this nor credit anyone else, because it’s all over Pinterest and the blogosphere and there’s no telling which brilliant woman came up with it.  But, I can’t keep amazing things like this to myself and everyone who I’ve told about it had never heard of it!  I make two concoctions to keep on hand for various cleaning duties, so I recommend you buy two nice spray bottles from The Home Depot so you can have them both at the ready whenever you need them.  {You know you’re getting older when you have your favorite “nice” spray bottles… yikes}

 

Cleaning Concoction 1

Good for: Extremely dirty areas like tile and tubs, baked on grease in the kitchen, or any really gross, sticky, nonporous surface. (I realize grout isn’t nonporous, but it works great on it and I’ve done it a number of times so I’m pretty confident recommending it)

 

Recipe:

1 part distilled white vinegar

1 part Dawn Ultra

Directions: Spray generously on gross surface, wait 5-10 minutes, scrub gently and rinse off.

 

It’s seriously that easy.  Our tub needs to be resurfaced, so it takes on dirt and grime super easily.  This is the only thing that will clean it and make it white again.  This concoction also worked amazingly on the mini-blinds in our kitchen that had grease and dirt stuck all over them.  (How does that even happen?!?) I just sprayed it on outside, scrubbed after about 10 minutes, and then rinsed them with a hose.  This stuff is seriously impressive.

 

Cleaning Concoction 2

Good for: Windows and other glass-like surfaces.

 

Recipe:

1 part white distilled vinegar

1 part water

Tiny splash of Dawn Ultra (I mean tiny.  Like, a teaspoon-ish for a whole bottle.)

Directions: Spray generously and wipe off with a paper towel or soft cloth.

 

This stuff amazed me.  I actually started cleaning all of our windows last week, because one day I looked up and realized that they were just a dirty, streaky mess and couldn’t handle it.  Isn’t it weird how you don’t notice things for the longest time and then you look up and are like “holy $h*t that is embarrassing.”  So, I already cleaned them with two different glass cleaners (I wanted to test out Windex vs. Method) but they kept bothering me because I could see streaks when the sun was shining through them a certain way.  I looked up window cleaners on Pinterest and found this concoction x 1,000,000,000 so I thought I’d give it a try.  Let me tell you, it makes your windows freaking sparkle.  I will never use another cleaning solution again.  You walk into different rooms and realize it’s just so much brighter.  It’s amazing how much of a difference super clean windows make.

 

I hope you like these uber inexpensive and impressive cleaning concoctions as much as I do.  If the faint vinegar smell bothers you, I’ve heard of people adding essential oils to mask it.  I didn’t have any on hand to try, but it seems like it could be a great solution!  You could even develop your own signature scent or change it with the seasons if you want to be fancy.

 

Happy cleaning!

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Backyard Update

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

We’ve been working hard on our backyard plan and have a lot of progress to report!  It has been a lot of work and pretty exhausting, but we took a much needed break this last weekend to spend some time with family and friends and celebrate Father’s Day.  It was amazing to host in our own backyard and have a bit more space to move around and enjoy the sunshine… just enough fuel to keep us going!

 

Here’s a reminder of what the backyard looked like when we first got started:

Before

before

 

before

before

before

before

 

The first project we took on was adding the screening between our house and neighbors.

#simplycaitsbackyard | www.SimplyCait.com

 

#simplycaitsbackyard | www.SimplyCait.com

#simplycaitsbackyard | www.SimplyCait.com

If you like to see pictures side by side like me, you’re in luck.  Here’s the evolution!

Before and After | www.SimplyCait.com

{You may have had a sneak peek of the tree planting if you follow me on instagram.}

 

The peony bushes that were originally in our yard started blooming!  Oh how I wish those things would bloom all summer…

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

After building the retaining wall, the next logical step was to put in our new fence.  We decided to go with a white vinyl privacy fence because after all this work, the less maintenance the better.  I thought that choosing vinyl would be  a somewhat controversial decision, but we have received so many compliments on it (and absolutely love it ourselves) that I am 100% sure that it was the right decision for us and our property.  My dad and brother did the majority of the fence install themselves, so I’m not going to do a tutorial, but I’ll post soon about how we chose our fence and the realities of the install vs. the instructions online.

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

As you can see from the side by side below, we also patched the burnt out grass with new sod that we took from the retaining wall project.

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

And then in true “if you give a mouse a cookie” fashion, we needed some landscaping along the fence in the corner that isn’t going to be covered by the deck we have planned.  Here’s the before:

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

{The fence is fairly shiny in this picture, but you don’t notice it as much when you’re in the yard in person.  When we were deciding whether or not to DIY it, we got bids from local fence companies and they said that the sheen diminishes after 2-3 years in the sun.}

Below is the “after.”  We got the hostas and daylilies for free from neighbors on Nextdoor.  I chose to do a Northern Bayberry, rose, and Strawberry Sundae hydrangea bush in the corner to add a bit of height and interest.  Throughout the yard, I tried to pick plants that would bloom at various times throughout the summer (or the majority of the summer in some cases) and have color interest in the fall.  I didn’t want to shrink the yard with too many plants, so I did alternating hostas and Spirea Snowmounds for a lush border.  We clearly still have to do edging and mulch.  That will be this weekend’s project.  Woo!  {Note: the edge of the grass line is where our yard used to stop.  Adding the retaining wall and pushing the fence line out gave us about 4-5 more feet of usable yard space}

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

The rose bush in the corner started blooming the day after I took that picture.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

And, yes, I have pink flamingos in my yard.  My dad was horrified when I told him that I bought two.  I love them!  They add a little personality to the fairly formal color palette.  And, I think they give off a strong “life of the party” vibe. 😉

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

We also planted clematis vines along the front chain link fence for some more natural screening.  It’s not much to look at right now, but I’m very excited to see how big they get this summer and next year.  The one the previous owners planted is amazing right now with hundreds of blooms.  I can’t wait until the whole fence is covered in the vines and flowers.

Backyard Update | www.SimplyCait.com

 

The next big project will be our deck.  Over the weekend, my dad made a scale drawing of the deck plan and all of our furniture so I could plan out the space.  (One of my major weaknesses)  Isn’t he amazing?  I certainly am lucky.

Deck Space Planning | www.SimplyCait.com

Stay tuned for more updates.  We still have a lot of projects planned to fully realize our vision!

 

What outdoor projects do you have planned for this summer?  Are you a little bit at a time person or a power through and do it all at once type?

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