How I Naturally Sanitize My Home, or What I Love About My Favorite Household-Cleaning Tool

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I have a really nice vacuum cleaner, but I never use it.  

I bought it after installing new carpet in my last house and man, I would vacuum all the time.  It was my favorite chore, because it was easy and active and the vacuum had a little light on it that told me when I needed to keep cleaning a certain spot...then when the light turned green, I knew that spot was clean and I could move on.  It had no bag, but a dustbin that I would have to go dump into the garbage can, and wow, even when I thought my floors were clean (the house had a no-shoe rule, to help keep the dirt away), I would be shocked at how much gunk I dumped out.  But I liked it.  I liked how I could see the progress I'd just made with cleaning - all that dirt I'd vanquished.

Our our current home, however, has no carpet.  Just laminate floors and tile in every single room.  What to do now?  I hate to sweep and mop - maybe just run my trusty vacuum some more...

And I would.  For the first year or so, I just kept vacuuming.  That great vacuum had a "floor" setting and boy, I used that sucker like crazy.  But I never felt the floors were getting truly clean.  I mean, I actually felt them, and they really didn't feel completely clean.

So I became the Swiffer Queen.  Armed with my spray bottle of vinegar and a pile of old washcloths, I would first vacuum the floor like normal (still couldn't bring myself to use that broom) and then squirt and Swiffer my heart out.  

I'd learned early on that it was crazy to buy those disposable Swiffer cloths, or even a generic brand, because I could just jam an old washcloth into the little clip-holder thingies and then throw them in the wash and reuse them!  And I didn't need a separate cloth for dry Swiffering and wet Swiffering, either, because I could use my old washcloths either way!

This method worked, but it had a huge drawback.  It was so much work.

What I really wanted was to go back to my happy vacuuming days and just run some machine over all the floors and trust that they were clean simply from that.

That's when I discovered the steam mop.
An appliance that works like a vacuum, sanitizes everything and is natural like vinegar, but cheaper to use because it just takes water and saves my hand from all that squirting?

I was too excited.  My mom had gotten a steam mop a couple of months earlier, but the one she tried didn't work at all.  I had faith that another brand would work miracles, so I researched and settled on what was to become my new favorite household-cleaning tool.

I got this and have been so pleased.

Not only does it produce floor surfaces that are so clean I would literally eat off of them, but it came with an attachment that allows me to roll it over my mattresses and couches and sanitize those, too.

Have you ever seen those pictures of all the bugs and mites that are living in your mattress, happily feasting away on all your dead flakes of skin?  (Ewewew!)

This kills those little buggers.

I suppose you could run a vacuum attachment over the mattress afterwards to suck up all those little dead mite carcasses, but I'm usually just happy enough to know that I'm laying on top of critter corpses and not little live creatures.

Now that I think about it, that would give me a reason to use my vacuum... {grin}

I love running the steamer over our couches and chair cushions, as well.  My sweet Italian Greyhound Bishnu had hardly any hair and didn't really shed, but he was still a pup who enjoyed a romp in the yard and after enough time had passed, that not-so-sweet doggie perfume would begin to fill the air.  

The steam mop would get rid of that smell, especially when I sprayed my Homemade Household Odor Eliminator on it first.

Bishnu's been gone several years, but now Gv is beginning to climb all over the furniture and those sweet little hands and feet aren't always squeaky-clean...

Additionally, I love my steam mop because I can also use it to sanitize the granite counter tops.  

Granite.  It's a natural stone.  Sitting out there in the great outdoors, it faces everything the elements can throw at it with aplomb.  Then why is it that you can't clean it with anything but special, chemical-laden, expensive granite cleaners?

Argh.  So frustrating.

But my steam mop rises to that challenge, too.  I continue to wipe the counter down constantly with just hot water, but when I want the counters really clean, I break out my steam mop.

Voila!  Disinfected counters, sans chemicals!

The mop I have came with two cleaning pads, but I (wisely) figured I'd need more, since the entire house gets treated.  I bought a set of extras and  I really like these pads, because I can throw them in the wash and then just let them air dry to reuse again and again. 

Oh, and a tip:  use distilled water, if you can.  The steam mop comes with little packets of mineral deposit-remover to clean the reservoir, but you won't have to really do this if you use distilled water.

I've had my steam mop for at least seven years.  The model I have is one of the early versions.  The drawback of my older model is that the telescoping handle sometimes collapses while I'm pushing it.  There is a newer model out and I would guess that the company has tweaked its function a bit and corrected the collapsing handle issue.  It looks to me like this is the equivalent to the model I have now.

However, in looking up the current product, I discovered this version .  Wow.  I am so saving up my nickels and dimes for this as a replacement, because not only does it do everything my current steam mop does, but it also has the capability to spray a jet of steam onto tile grout and it includes a wand to run over smaller areas of furniture.  It's not that much more that the basic version, either, so I would definitely choose this one over the other, if possible.

I'm so excited to get the fancier one at some point; I think it would really solidify this tool as my favorite household-cleaning appliance, for sure!

What do you think?  Do you have mostly carpet in your house, or laminate, wood, or tile?  Are you happy with a broom and mop, or do you vacuum and mop, or do you have one of these steam mops, too?  Let me know what works for you - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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