A clean house is a pure joy. The problem is it takes a lot of work to keep it that way.

A clean house is a pure joy. The problem is it takes a lot of work to keep it that way. If given the opportunity I would hire a housekeeper. I don't because I feel bad about spending the money, yet every Saturday when I am trying to knock out a checklist of chores, I find myself thinking about all of the things I'd rather be doing. Really when you think about everything a woman is expected to do, cooking, cleaning, organizing, and paying bills, keeping a house is a full-time job. When I am off in the summer, I am always amazed at how well I keep up with everything when I am working. I am far from a perfect home manager, but I do the best I can.

One of the best books about how to clean a home is entitled, "How Clean is Your House (2004)" by Aggie MacKenzie and Kim Woodburn. Perhaps you have seen these ladies on the BBC network on television. They have a show by the same title. These women remind me of modern day Mary Poppins. They are always ready to come in and save the day with their cleaning strategies. Their latest book is, "The Cleaning Bible: Kim and Aggie's Complete Guide to Modern Household Management (2008)." While I haven't read their latest publication, it is on my to-do list.

You must be thinking to yourself why would you read a book about cleaning? Why wouldn't you just roll up your sleeves and clean something? I suppose the answer is that I am always looking for ways to do things better. Due to my breathing condition most commercial cleaners make me deathly ill. I can't use strong smelling scents like Lysol, or CLR, or even the trusty old Comet cleanser. The odors and chemicals that are in these products make me throw up, wheeze, and have an asthma attack. I tend to stick with old-fashioned home remedies that are not only cheaper, but they are healthy and environmentally friendly too.

For example, I always keep a squirt bottle on hand of vinegar and water. Vinegar kills germs naturally. While it does smell like vinegar, there are things you can do to freshen your house. The book above taught me to cut a grapefruit in half and use it to scrub sinks, showers, and tubs. The acid in a grapefruit along with some baking soda will get rid of soap scum on fiberglass. It can even be used to clean algae from a boat. The ladies also taught me to place a bowl of water with lemon juice in it in the microwave and warm on high for two minutes. The lemon juice and steam cleans the inside of the microwave and makes it easy to wipe out. Also, they suggest pouring coffee grains in an old piece of pantyhose tied in a knot and place that in your refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh and clean. The books they produce are full of little tips and tricks to make life fresher and cleaner. Check out these publications to tidy up your own home.