Bringing home a new baby is a special time for parents. It’s full of love, joy, and excitement… not to mention sleep deprivation, a whole new category of messes, and a burgeoning need to defend against germs.
Kaley Diaz knows all about this. Not only is she a mommy and a children’s photographer, she also writes about all things baby on her blog Kaley Ann, and as a contributor to the parenting blog Modern Parents, Messy Kids.
Here are her top cleaning tips for new parents– with a few tips on how older siblings can help out and feel involved, too. She starts, though, with a great gift idea for the new parents.
Cleaning Tip No. 1
Make a “New Baby Cleaning Kit”
Sure, sweet onesies and ruffly dresses are fun to buy, but why not give parents what they really need to have a baby? A new baby cleaning kit will be the most appreciated and used gifts that the new parents receive. (And if you are an expecting parent, go ahead and make yourself one – you won’t regret it!) Our second baby was born a few months ago and this is the gift that I wish I had received, so now I make them for all my new parent friends.
Make sure you include only non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaners, because there is no time more important than when your baby is a newborn to keep your house free of toxic fumes. Method has a great line-up of non-toxic cleaners, and I’m sure you can find an alternative for any product you use.
I included in a galvanized pail:
- Method Dish Soap for all the baby bottles and pacifiers that accumulate every day.
- Method Pink Grapefruit All Purpose Cleaner to keep every surface in the house sparkling. (I love that you only need one spray to handle almost any job because the baby clutter will take up enough space on its own!)
- Method Free and Clear Laundry Detergent because the amount of laundry that one little seven-pound human can make is unbelievable.
- Method Juicy Pear Hand Wash and Method Lemon Mint Foaming Hand Wash to keep the germs away. Stock up since there will be a lot of hand washing going on in the first few months.
- Method Daily Shower Spray to keep things clean after each shower since there will be a lot less time to spend cleaning the bathrooms once the baby arrives.
- Some Easy Erasers, a microfiber duster, some brushes and cleaning rags to get any cleaning job done.
- A few all natural cotton muslin swaddling blankets a few small toys and rattles just for fun.
Cleaning Tip No. 2
Purify the Air by Adding Plants to the Nursery
Did you know that the air inside your house is two to five times more polluted than the air outside? This is especially scary for parents of infants– the lungs of infants are still very immature.
The best way to clean the air inside your house is to open the windows every chance you get. Cross breezes do wonders for improving indoor air quality. The other way to improve the air quality for your baby is to put plants in the nursery. Certain plants can clean up to 90 percent of the toxins out of the air in less than 24 hours.
Plants (in a colorful ceramic pot to match the nursery) make a great gift for a new parent. Some good choices are Aloe Vera, Sansevieria and Spider Plants, which are all very easy to care for. Because, let’s face it, new parents have their plates full already trying to keep their newborn healthy and happy, the last thing they need to worry about is a plant.
I like Aloe Vera because in addition to cleaning the air my baby breathes, I can use the gel from inside the plant when she scratches her face with her razor sharp little nails.
Cleaning Tip No. 3
Keep Changing Areas Smelling Fresh with Homemade Deodorizer
The plants may be removing the toxins from the air, but they sure aren’t getting rid of the dirty diaper smell! For that all you need is baking soda. Fill a 1 qt. metal paint bucket about half way with baking soda, and wrap it with twine to make it look like part of the decor. Try to place it close to the changing table or diaper pail to keep the air smelling as sweet as your baby.
Cleaning Tip No. 4
Use Method Detergent and the Sun to Remove Baby Stains
How is it that such tiny, cute little things can make such big messes? It seems like we go through a dozen outfits every day. And at least half of those are stained in some way or another. The good thing is that I have figured out a fool-proof way to get out any stain that a newborn can possibly make. This method works on everything from sweet white onesies to cloth diapers to crib sheets.
Start by washing the soiled items with Method Free and Clear Laundry Detergent. I love Method Free and Clear because I don’t want any fragrances or nasty chemicals that may harm my sweet baby’s sensitive skin. I like to do an extra rinse, just to make sure there is no residue left that may irritate her skin. After washing, simply hang the items on a clothesline in the sun. And like magic, within a few hours, the stains will have disappeared! (If it is windy, don’t forget the clothespins or you may be washing again)
Cleaning Tip No. 5
Homemade Carpet Cleaner
Baby clothes and diapers aren’t the only things to take the hit when baby makes a mess! It is almost inevitable, the time I set the baby down without something under her is the time that she spits up or has a diaper malfunction. And, unfortunately, I can’t use my laundry trick on the couch, mattress, or rug.
To clean these messes, first blot the soiled area with towels to remove the moisture. Then mix baking soda and a few drops of essential oils in a mason jar and sprinkle liberally on the soiled area. Let it sit for a few hours, or overnight if needed, then vacuum it up.
Cleaning Tip No. 6
Make a “Tasted Toys” Bucket
Babies explore their world with their mouths, so it is imperative to keep baby’s toys sanitized. But what new parent has time to hand wash and sterilize each and every toy after use? To keep things easy, set up a system to simplify the washing process.
Line a galvanized pail with a laundry wash bag. Once a toy or pacifier needs to be washed, drop it into the pail. The next time you are going to run the dishwasher, zip up the wash bag and put it right on the rack. Use a Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pac and it will sanitize the toys and leave your dishwasher sparkling clean.
Cleaning Tip No. 7
Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the High Chair Clean
High chairs take quite a beating and, with all of those crevices, they are so hard to clean. But with a little bit of elbow grease, it can be done. Start by taking off any pads, straps, and any other removable parts. Then combine all-purpose cleaning vinegar with a little bit of Method dish soap in a spray bottle.
Spray all over the high chair, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to loosen any stuck on food or debris. Using a plastic putty knife, scrape away any gunk, and wipe clean with a wet cloth.
Cleaning Tip No. 8
Homemade Fruit Fly Repellent
Kids are notorious for leaving half-eaten bananas on the counter. And with a newborn in the house, it may be a while before those bananas get picked up and put away. Cue the fruit flies. And once those pesky little creatures settle in, they multiply like crazy.
Luckily, it is cheap and easy to make a trap that they can’t resist. Mix Method dish soap and apple cider vinegar in a mason jar and set near the fruit bowl or anywhere else the fruit flies tend to congregate. They will be attracted to the smell of the vinegar, and will try to land on the surface. When they do, the soap traps them in and they drown. It is strangely satisfying to see how many you can catch in such a short period of time.
Cleaning Tip No. 9
Give Older Siblings a Cleaning Cupboard
Big siblings are sure to have a bit of free time on their hands while mom and dad are caring for the new baby, so supplying them with their own tools to help clean up will not only give them something to do, it will make them feel helpful (and hopefully give Mom and Dad a little rest).
Clean out a cupboard or find a shelf that the older sibling can easily reach. Hang a dustpan and brush, a microfiber duster and a tile and grout brush from some Command small hooks. Then stock their shelf with a kid-sized scrub brush, some easy erasers, and a non-toxic cleaner. Add some cleaning rags (or old baby washcloths) and make sure to have a bucket or pail where they can put the dirty rags when they are done.
Cleaning Tip No. 10
Keep a Chore Chart for the Older Siblings
Help the older sibling keep track of ways that they can help out around the house with a simple chalkboard chore chart. A 3′ x 4′ chalkboard panel is the perfect place to make lists, and to doodle when the chores are done. Hang a Chalk Marker or piece of chalk from the chalkboard with twine and keep an Easy Eraser close by to clean it off when the list is complete.
The first few weeks and months with a new baby is a wonderful, exhausting, and often messy time. These tips will help you (or your new parent friends) keep a fresh home with minimal effort so you’ll have more time to rest and enjoy your newest family member.
Check out The Home Depot’s online Cleaning Supplies page for everything you need for your spring cleaning. And take a look at more spring cleaning tips here on The Home Depot Blog.