5 low waste Christmas gift ideas for the home

To be honest I was not planning on doing a Christmas gift guide as cleaning and organising products are not something that most people would think to give for Christmas presents. However there are a lot of people out there that are starting to think about their environmental foot print and how they can reduce their waste. So I thought that Christmas time is actually the perfect time to encourage this by giving gifts that may start someone on that reduce waste journey. I have identified 5 kits for the home that you can actually easily make and give as awesome gifts for Christmas.

  • DIY Natural cleaning kit

  • Kitchen Kit

  • Laundry Kit

  • Bathroom Kit

  • Home scent kit

DIY Natural cleaning kit

home made cleaner in glass jar and baking soda in glass jar

I recently took part in our work place night market and had to come up with some gifts to sell for fundraising. I decided to make some DIY Natural cleaning kits, and they were a hit, so I thought that these would make great Christmas presents. In my kit I had;

  • General cleaner

  • Scrubber

  • Cleaning cloth

  • Sample of essential oil

  • Jute bag

They were really easy to make and most items can be found around the home or could be easily purchased from your local supermarket. To make the kit you will need;

  • White vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Small jar

  • Spray bottle (glass is preferable)

General Cleaner - mix a 50/50 of white vinegar and water into the spray container and label it "General Cleaner”

Scrubber - fill the small jar with baking soda and for extra special treat put a few drops of an essential oil and mix through. Then just label “Scrubber”.

Don’t forget to provide instructions on how to use and refill so the person can continue to use after the ingredients run out. You can sign up to receive my free guide and recipe printable for the cleaning kits below;

FREE DIY Natural Cleaning Kit

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If you are not confident to make up these kits, however love the idea you can just order these fabulous starter kits from Figgy & Co

Kitchen kit

Handwash and dishwash in glass jar

In this Kitchen Kit I have;

  • Cotton Dishcloth - washable

  • Hand wash dispensers - refillable

  • Dish wash dispensers - refillable

The great thing with the Kitchen kits are that they are not only pretty kitchen accessories, they are also functional and totally reusable.

To make these kits you just need some dispensers and buy or make the cotton dish cloths.

If you want to make the dishcloths and don’t know how to crochet here is a great tutorial that will get you going. For those that don’t have the time and just want to buy some here are my fav’s in NZ;

Don’t forget to check out Etsy which has a great selection of cotton dish cloths.

cotton dish cloths

For the dispensers you could just recycle some empty ones that you have around the home. I do have a preference for glass as they do last a lot longer, are easier to clean and good for recycling. There are a few places that stock refillable glass dispensers. I have recently come across this great online store , Packageless Pad that stocks a great selection of glass containers and these Classic Syrup bottles are perfect for using around the home.

To add a bit of home decor it’s nice to place them on a tray and maybe add in a plant, so you could add these into your kit to jazz it up a bit.

Lastly don’t forget to fill the dispensers with the soap, for the hands and the dishes. Ideally use a product that is chemical free and obtained from a refillery and or a eco-friendly product like Eco Store from the supermarket.

Laundry Kit

For the Laundry kit I just got a selection of jars that you can easily label Laundry powder and Soaker. You could also add in some wooden clothes pegs. Most of these items you can get at a supermarket or find around the home. I sourced my jars at the time from The Warehouse, there is still a good selection. The refillery GoodFor also has a good selection too . Also you could try Figgy & Co as you can get both the jars and laundry product. In fact they have The Laundry Pack which you can purchase.

My laundry set up is below where I have the laundry powder, soaker and I have baking soda and a bottle of vinegar. Hint a wee mix of soda and vinegar in the wash, especially for towels helps fluff them up.

laundry products in jars

Bathroom kit

One of the exciting things that I came across this year was recyclable toothbrushes and organic toothpaste. As well as better options for dental floss and cotton buds. Eco store has introduced a range which is available from most supermarkets or online. Go Bamboo is also worth checking out too as they have the cotton buds.

Something else to think about for the bathroom kit is a sample pack for Hair and Face products that don’t come in plastic bottles. The fabulous products from Ethique would make a wonderful present. Oh and please check out Soaps by Roi a fabulous Kiwi making beautiful products based on Rongoa Maori (Maori medicine).

Once again with the other kits you could put them into storage jars and gift them all set up. Example below is a Bathroom kit.

Bathroom hand wash and soap kit.png

Home scent kit

Who loves walking into those lovely home stores with those gorgeous scents floating around the air, how lovely would it be to give a gift that can make someones home smell like that. All you need is some jute bags, cotton balls and essential oils and scented candles.

The jute/hessian bags or cotton bags, I source from Spotlight of all places and the cotton balls can be sourced from the supermarket. For essential oils I source mine from doTERRA and an awesome place in Akaroa, NZ called Fire and Ice.

Just place a drop of oil on each cotton ball and pop them into the bag and hang them in places around the home. I use mine in the wardrobes, linen closet, kitchen and bedrooms.

Scented candles are the best, but make sure you get quality candles and ones made with Soy. I have been fortunate to have a lovely lady at work who makes the most wonderful soy candles. Also check out Soy Delights Nz as you can purchase from her Etsy store as well.

Home scents kit.png

So there you have it 5 Christmas gift kit ideas, which are easy to put together, budget friendly, reusable and produce very little waste and encourage more people to reduce their environmental foot print.

Have a wonderful Christmas my dears, and enjoy your gift giving.

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Kitchen Undersink cabinet organisation

To be sure this is not the first time that  I have done a blog about organising things under the kitchen sink cabinet. My previous post Taming the mess under the sink takes you through how I had things organised in our old kitchen and the process I went through to get things sorted.  Now that I have a new kitchen it's time to review this cabinet space again and get it working even better.

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Use of space

When we moved back into the kitchen I just put things back into the kitchen sink cabinet in the pretty much the same way that we had it in the old kitchen, and I didn't really think that I would need to make any changes. However I have found that we started using things differently and some things I just didn't use anymore.

One of the biggest changes is that I now have two shelves and where as in the old kitchen I had just the bottom shelf in the cabinet. I also had to use the sides of the doors to place things, like washing up gloves, brushes, plugs etc. In the new kitchen under sink cabinet the second shelf has turned out to be a great place to store those items I had on the side doors.

The one thing that I found was not working as well was how I organised my kitchen cleaning products. I use a mix of my own home cleaners plus new products that I have received with my new kitchen, such as stainless steel cleaner and stonebenchtop cleaner. I had these stored in different places in the cabinet and it was a bit of a pain not to have them in one place.

I also managed to collect a lot of nice new tea towels and could no longer keep all of them in the original container, plus I have a some drying mats that I now use on the side of the sink.

There were a few containers that I had kitchen cleaning items in, that I found I just was not using any longer. Lastly I was getting frustrated with my storage of my essential oils, it was not ideal and I really wanted to get them into one storage container.

So I set about planning how I wanted to reorganise this space. I also thought that it would be a great opportunity to try and pare down what I really need under the sink and reduce the amount of stuff that I had and so created my wish list;

  • Replace disposable dishcloths with washable cotton dishcloths 
  • Store all the kitchen cleaning products together 
  • Better storage for all my essential oils
  • Better place for the dishcloths and tea towels
  • Reuse storage and organisation containers from my home
  • Replace the container for the dishtabs as it had a broken top
  • Container for the Steelo (pot scrubbers)
  • Somewhere to put the gloves, brushes, plugs etc.
  • Place to house plant food 

STORAGE AND CONTAINERS

It just so happened that Pete and I checked out some hospice shops recently and I came upon some great storage finds that were perfect for the under sink kitchen cabinet; a tin caddy , glass jewellery container and small bowl.

cleaning_caddy.png

 

The tin container is perfect for the kitchen cleaners and even has a handle on it which is perfect so I can just take the whole thing out when doing the cleaning. Best of all I was able to corral all my kitchen cleaners into the one container.

The small bowl turned out to be just the right size to hold the sponges and plugs and it sits within the original container so I can have the gloves and bowl altogether.

bowl.png

 

But I've kept the best to last, the glass jewellery box for $3 turned out to be the perfect essential oils container.  The lid was broken which was fine by me as I didn't need it anyway.  I put in all my essential oils which are easy to see and I can also hold the other bits and bobs that I use with my oils. I have to say I am so happy with this find.

essential_oils.png

 

For the rest of the containers I just used what I already had and found some unused glass jars for the dish tabs and the Steelo.

glassjars.png

 

If you don't have any existing containers and need to purchase them here are my best picks, from Amazon for my Northern hemisphere readers and Kmart for us Kiwi and Aussie readers. I have tried to find similar products to those that I have used. 

Amazon

Kmart

LAYOUT

When working through organising a space, it is really important to make it really functional, If it's not functional then it will not be long until the space gets messy again. 

The first step in the organising process, for me, is to take everything out and map out how I think the space can work well. Thinking about the things I use and how I use them, how I will store them. This process really helps me to decide the best layout. 

So after a bit of fiddling around I struck upon the new and perfect (may I just say) layout.

undersink1.png

 

The top shelf was best to hold those items that you reach for often, like dishcloths, gloves, scrubbers etc.  In the middle, under the sink I put the everyday sink items, rubber glovers and sponge bowl, then the dishcloths one side and the cleaning cloths on the other.

On the bottom shelf, at the back I have the plant food as I only need to access these once a month.  In the front I have the kitchen cleaners all corralled in the tin container. In the middle is all my essential oils and on the other side are my jars with the dish tabs, steelo and disposable gloves.

 

I have moved all the tea towels to the linen cupboard and they have their own, bigger, storage basket. You will see this when I get to do my Linen closet reorganisation. 

I have not changed my above sink storage , as per my previous post, however I will be making changes on this soon and will reveal that when I do a full review of my overall kitchen organisation.

I am really happy with how I have gotten everything organised this time and did manage to tick everything off my wish list.

undersink2.png

 

So how is your under sink cabinet? Need a good clean out? Need motivation or help? Just drop me a line as I am happy to chat about best options. or just share your great ideas.

Want to see more kitchen organisation and other home organisation? Stay tuned by signing up below, to my newsletter where I share even more great ideas and content. 

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2 routines to master your day, feel good and achieve your goals

I often get asked "How do you fit everything in?" "You must be so busy" My reply is always the same "routine, routine,routine" For as long as I can remember I have had daily routines, blame it on my Mum. She had us in routines right from day one, and well I did the same with my kiddies, maybe that's why they started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, both of them. Anyway back to the point, routines can have some real benefits, like giving you more precious time to do what you love to do, achieving your goals and you feel good because you are getting things done!

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It`s probably fair to say that everyone has some type of routine in their life. Most of us just see a routine as a function or a need, like brushing your teeth, having a shower or doing #2's at the same time everyday!!!!! however not everyone uses routines as a way to save time and achieve your goals. Initially, that's how I saw routines too, however over the years I have noticed some benefits of my routines and worked on making a more conscious effort to develop really effective routines.

When the kids were little and we were in that morning madness phase of getting everyone out the door, that was when I really kicked routine into top gear. Having routines meant that we all knew what we had to do and everything was sorted and ready to go, no running around madly trying to find things and do last minute homework or assignments in the car, or dashing into the shop for lunches. The biggest benefit for everyone was that day always started pretty calm and on time. Ok we were human and sometimes things did go to the dogs!! but not that often.

So now as a midlifer and emptynester my routines are different and the same. I still have to get up and get ready and still have to clean the house!!! However I have more me time so I have been able to add some self care and development routines into my life that is really paying off and certainly helping me to achieve my goals and "fit everything in".

Achieving your goals is actually done by taking small steps regularly, action this, done , on to the next action. A good example is a goal to get fit and lose weight, achieved by taking small actions everyday , like 30 minute exercise and a morning smoothie. So in reality, to achieve your goals you need to "master your day", well that's what I think. By mastering your day everyday you achieve your goals! And that's where the routines come in.  Developing useful and effective routines in the morning and evening can help you to achieve these goals. The best way to illustrate this is for me to take you through my morning and evening routines.

My Morning Routine

Alarm goes off at 5am, weekdays and 7am in the weekends. This is an hour earlier than I need to be up because I use this time to focus my mind, exercise and learn. Some of you may be familiar with the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod . I follow a very similar approach, so my first 60 minutes of the day looks like this;

  • Meditation - 10 mins
  • Affirmations and visualisation - 20 mins
  • Exercise (yoga) - 10 mins
  • Readings and journal - 20 mins

I use a couple of really good apps that have free programmes plus paid subscriber programmes. I just access the free ones which are just perfect for me at this stage.  Calm is a great meditation app and has got great reviews and awards. There is a really good 7 day course for free that introduces you to meditation, totally recommend you doing it.  I now just us the "timed meditation", 10 mins and it always ends with a lovely quote to get your day started.   

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Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I ran for a number of years, however being a long lanky thing I am not really designed for it and after a number of calf muscle blow outs, had to stop. Mrs B (awesome yoga guru) put me onto Yoga and I have not looked back, now incorporating it into my daily routine, both morning and evening. I use Asana Rebel app again as with Calm I use the free programmes which I find great. I did pay for a subscription which gives you the ability to build your own exercise programme and even gives you a coach. If you need help with motivation, I would recommend getting the paid subscription, it's a nominal monthly fee. The other point of note is that I actually took a 10 week Yoga beginners course which I again would strongly recommend. I think that without knowledge of Yoga poses you may not get the full benefit.  

So by 5:40am, I am warmed up and energised with a clear and calm mind and good focus for the day. I then go and make myself a cup of tea and do my readings and journal which actually is my learning time. I listen to podcasts of Webinars that are relevant to what I want to learn more about. Spotify has great podcasts, currently listening to Simple Pin Media which has fantastic tips and information for bloggers on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog business. I also have the Library app called Libby where I loan audio books from our local Auckland library, Getting Things Done by David Allen is on my playlist at present. (Totally buy the book, there is a reason it's a top seller). I always get some gems of learnings and actions to take from my "readings" in the morning which I follow through on and ensure that I action. 

Books_learnings.png

 

At 6am I'm good to go and start to get ready for the day and at 7am am out the door with Smoothie in hand and jump on the bus.

Now I really need to be honest here, I was never one that thought a lot about meditation, affirmations etc, in fact always thought it was a bit tree huggish!. However after doing some research into personal development I started to look into this more and I have been absolutely blown away by what a difference this has made for me. So for me the big benefits are the ability for me to be really focused on what I need and want to achieve, the commitment level and motivation I need to achieve it, the energy and passion and how important looking after myself is in order to achieve my goals. I do also feel a lot calmer and focused on what I have to do today, my mind is not a muddle of "to do's". I certainly feel fresh and alive in the mornings than being half asleep!

My evening routine

Unlike my morning routine, my evening one is spread out over the evening and some have time frames and others are more tasks/actions that I need to do every night. Here is my evening routine;

  • Yoga - 30 mins 
  • Tea together at the table
  • Tidying with Tania work - 1-2hours
  • Zone Cleaning - 15 mins
  • Kitchen cleaning  - 15 mins 
  • Lunch preparation
  • Clothes out for morning
  • Reflection and planning

The first thing I do when I get home...well after me and Pete have our wee hello hug and kiss, I get my yoga gear on and do a 30 min session.  It is normally a pretty sweat inducing session and really gives me great energy to get going again at the end of the day. 

Pete and I also always sit down at the table and have tea together and catch on the day and ourselves and family. That's probably one the most important routines that we have always done, before we have kids, while the kids were at home and again now they are gone. 

My cleaning routine is easy as I have a regular one that I use which is based on zone cleaning. I am just modifying it as the completed renovations have changed what I need to be cleaning. If you want to get an idea of my cleaning routine check it out here . I would also recommend that you check out my Home Cleaning Pinterest board which has lots of great information on home made cleaners and cleaning routines. 

kitchen_diffusor.png

My kitchen cleaning just means that the last thing I do at night is clean down the counter tops and make sure everything is cleared away. I also give the floor a quick once over with the microfibre cloth. As I do this every night it means I do not need to  big weekly clean of the kitchen as it is always clean. I also like to put my essential oil diffusers on, one in the kitchen to get rid of the cooking smells and one in the lounge.....Pete calls them "stink pots" yep he is a Southern man, so does not always appreciate the way of lovely smells from essential oils. 

Making my lunch and getting my clothes out the night before just takes away the rush and hassle of making decisions in the morning. You need to do this, it makes such a difference to the morning. 

Once in bed I review my day, checking what I have achieved and plan out my actions for the next day, and just like the start of the day, I do this with a cup of tea....ohhh bliss. then my head hits the pillow and I`m out for the count.

nighttime_reflection.png

 

Reflecting on achievements, no matter how small are motivational, for me any way, even if it's that huge pile of washing that's been sitting on the couch forever! Sometimes things occur during the day and you don't get everything done so it's a good time to plan and work out realistically when you can do it.  By just taking a few minutes to do this makes a huge difference to the mind and how rested it feels. I find it does really help me in getting a good sleep.

Making it a Habit

My routines are now habits so I don't really think of them as anything other than a part of my day. However I do know that it's because I have these routines that I can achieve so much in my day. So like the saying goes...I am what I repeatedly do.

So how do you get into a habit of doing your routine everyday, morning and night? Well I think it just comes down to commitment. How committed do you want to be?  What do you really want to achieve or change? 

Something that I do find helpful and it might seem a bit silly, but it does work, is a habit tracker.  I use these when I am adding or changing routines. The research says that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so tracking the routine everyday for at least 21 day gives you a good chance at turning your routine into a habit.  

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To help you with tracking your morning and evening routines I have created a habit tracker. Yep no excuses now. Just pop your details below and the Free Habit tracker printable will be winging it's way to you.

Free Habit Tracker

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A simple and easy to use tracker to help you turn your routines into habits

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Master my day

So by simply doing my routines every day I am actually achieving my goals, because every day I take another action and another step closer to my goals. This makes me the Master of my day and not the day being the master of me! 

I'd love to hear from you, are you trying to achieve some goals, or simple wanting a less chaotic day. Think about trying a routine, even a few small actions, list them in the habit tracker and give it a go, remember it only takes 21 days!

Happy habit making everyone

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How to clean your tile and glass shower with DIY cleaners

Have I told you how much I am in love with my newly renovated master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom! Pete and I love the simple design and understated style. I love how easy it is to keep sparkling clean and looking new. In fact, the ease of cleaning and maintenance was an important feature in the design. As a paid cleaner, in my younger days and cleaning up behind my kids I know what a real pain it is to clean bathrooms. 

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Both showers in the master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom are the same in design. Our master bath/ensuite is what is referred to as wall to wall. In other words the shower runs along the full width of the end of the bathroom, having one wall as the shower end and the other wall as the end of the shower.  The side of the shower is one piece of glass which is just over a metre long. It gives the shower a nice open feeling while containing the water.  It is a very simple design and best of all there is no doors and therefore no joins and metal parts which can get grimy and caked in soap scum and difficult to clean. 

The biggest battle with keeping a tile and glass shower clean is the build up of soap scum on the glass and in the grout of the tiles. Also depending on the colour and texture of your tiles, soap scum can easily show up on the tiles themselves, especially if you have dark tiles. I recall my gorgeous sis from helenryan eBoutique (shameless plug here, check out her bags... like OMG) renovated her bathroom and got black slate tiles in the shower and said "never again" . It was a complete nightmare to try and keep the film of soap scum from showing on the tiles.

My mission was to work out how to ensue with the soap scum battle and win while using natural home made cleaners. As my readers would know, for a few years now I have fully converted to home made natural cleaners and am loving them and totally impressed with how effective they are. If you want to read about how I set up my cleaning kit check out my post here .

Therefore it was important for me to work out what the best tactic would be for tiles and glass shower, using home made natural cleaners. So bring on Pinterest! I got my fingers googling and got some great ideas, (follow me on my Pinterest page, Home Cleaning

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The first thing I learnt was that I have to change my shower cleaning routine. In the past I would clean the bathroom showers once a week. The old showers were...really freeking old...and cubs so not the easiest to keep clean. I hated...hated the weekly scrub fest that would have to take place. So what my Pinterest research concluded was that a daily cleaning routine would be the best approach. I figured out that I would need to have a "kit" of sorts in the bathroom as I would need to access it daily...but what to put in the kit? Then I came across this excellent post from Becky at  Clean Mama. I have followed her for a while and love all the fantastic and helpful information that she provides, do check her out. Anyway this particular post had everything that I wanted to know and gave me the inspiration to come up with my "kit"....so big thanks Becky @ Clean Mama

So what is in my kit?

ensuite_shower_cleaning_kit.png

 

The Cleaners

My general cleaner - this is my all purpose general cleaner that I use pretty much for all cleaning in the home.

  • 50/50 White vingear and water 

Seriously how simple is that! I already keep a bottle in my kitchen, laundry and cleaning kit so I simply made up two more for the bathroom "kits" . This cleaner is what I use to clean the shower glass and shelves and the tap and shower faucets.

The liquid is used to help clean the tiles and grout and I put it into the "scrubber"

And that's it folks!

 

The Equipment

  • Shower squeegee
  • Sponge
  • Scrubber/sponge thingy which holds the dish liquid
  • Container/kit
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You can pick up these products at your local supermarket or just get them online.

The spray bottles have been a challenge to find. I originally found some in the Japanese $2 dollar store, however I have not been able to find them again. Even better are these glass bottles which I will be getting to replace the plastic ones. 

The Daily Cleaning Routine

Now just to clarify, I do this when I have my daily shower. Cleaning the shower is sooooo much easier when you are actually having a shower!!! That's my one tip of the day.

I have got the daily shower cleaning routine down to three steps and a total of 1-2mins...5mins maybe max which I do at the end of my shower.

Step 1 - The scrub down

Not you! the shower!  Take the scrubber (with the dish liquid) and simply scrub around the high use area of the tiles. This would be around the bottom third of the wall tiles under the shower facet and the side wall as well as the tile floor area around the drain and where you stand. 

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Make sure that you give the tiles a good once over and ensure that you scrub into the grout. This does not need to be a full on scrub fest, remember you do this daily so it only needs to be a quick once over to stop the soap build up. 

The just take the shower head and rinse! 

Step 2 - The Spray and wipe

Take the general cleaner and spray the glass, and faucets.

Then wait....do not rush in and wipe off. The secret to vinegar and water cleaner is to wait to allow the cleaner, to what I call "stew" , this ensures that it activates with the surface to lossen the dirt. 

I take the sponge and go over the glass and faucets to ensure the "scum" is actually moved off the surface. If you just use a squeegee you will not move the scum off the surface, you just take the water off.

Then I get the squeegee and wipe down the glass. I also use the squeegee to move any excess water off the tiles into the drain.

Step 3 - The Look

Step out of your shower and enjoy the view of a beautiful clean shower!!!

As I said this should only take you a max of 5mins, if that! And you are done. 

I have found by doing this each time I have a shower there is no need for me to do any other "shower cleaning" so no more weekly big scrubbing jobs.  I have actually freed up a lot of my weekly cleaning routine by doing this...bonus!

Just a note to ensure that you do replace the sponges when they get a bit old and dirty, atleast once a month. Check out the Scotch-Brite one as it comes with replacement heads.

The guest bathroom

I have set up a similar shower cleaning kit for the guest bathroom. The main difference is that I only use this when we have a guest using the bathroom.

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So when we do have a guest I just do the same 3 steps as above. Of course I wait until the guest has left the bathroom! The only difference is that I use cloths instead of the sponge and place these in the wash after each use. This is because I keep the cleaning kit in the cabinet as I don't want my guest to see the kit and I don't want a wet sponge sitting in the kit in the cabinet.

The Disguise

To be honest I really hate seeing cleaning stuff out in the shower area, however as I need to access the kit daily in our master bath/ensuite, it really does need to be in the shower.  However I figured a way to disguise it, or rather make it less obvious.

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Thanks to the room we have in the shower I have placed a stool at the end with a couple of pot plants, which was in part how I wanted to style the ensuite anyway. It just so happened that I could put the "kit" in underneath the back of the stool so it's tucked nicely out of view but easy to access at the same time. 

There you have it, my 3 step daily shower cleaning routine with hame made natural cleaners all done in under 5 mins.

I will be bringing you an update on the kitchen cleaning, as with the bathrooms, it is newly renovated and I have set up a new cleaning routine as well.

I hope you found this post useful in some way.  Let me know what you think and if you have any cleaning hacks...always keen on those.

Here is a FREE cheat sheet with the details on how to make and use these cleaners which you can keep and have on hand...no excuse now not to be cleaning!

FREE Cheat Sheet

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Quick and simple cleaning tips to stop soap scum build up

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Stay clean!!! until next time

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