Cleansing & Cleaning 101

Cleansing is kind of the metaphysical version of “did you turn it off and on again?” It’s sort of the ubiquitous answer for when things are off-kilter. But let’s get some real talk going.


Cleansing works because it clears the air. Cleansing works more on a spiritual and emotional level. But it can only do so much. Want to know what the biggest form of mental clutter is? Actual clutter. Yeah, really.

You can actually test this right now. Look around right this very second. Do you see a pile of stuff you don’t know what to do with? Magazines or catalogs you haven’t recycled yet along with a random book you’re not finished reading but aren’t totally into. It’s probably right next to that thing someone gave you that you don’t particular like. Or look elsewhere and see where you continuously leave that jacket or drop your mail when you enter the door. How about that sink or fridge? Stacks of dishes or old take out containers? Clutter.

We, as a civilization, hoard things. It’s really because we’re a civilization that it happened. We’re sedentary, stationary. So we keep stuff because we can. And that tends to keeping stuff that is no longer needed or wanted.

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Kiki is a slacker.

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What use is cleansing yourself of negatively spiritual when you haven’t physically cleared out all that crap that you have negative connotations for? What good is cleansing the air when there’s a sink full of dishes and the counter is a mess?

Cleaning and cleansing should go hand in hand. It sucks. Trust me I know. There’s nothing worse than feeling like crap and having to scrub your toilet. But it gets the air moving. It gets the place you live in to clear the air for you. And it helps shake up that energy again. Energy gets stale, like air. Cleaning wakes it up again.

Cleaning can be really hard for some people. It’s stressful, even, especially if you’ve let it go for so long. But! I have some inspiration for you:

Unfuck Your Habitat (also here on tumblr) can be a huge motivator for cleaning. Not only are inspiring stories shared, but there’s lots of tips for cleaning and keeping your place clean. There’s even checklists, challenges, and basics in case you’re not sure what to do (hey, don’t be embarrassed. It’s not a skill everyone learns). It’s also available on tumblr, an app is available in the iOS and Play Station, and there’s an upcoming book.

Apartment Therapy has so many articles on cleaning and decluttering. So many. Just, expect to be there a while. It’s one of those sites where I go for one article and end up thirty articles later reading about something that doesn’t even apply to me. It’s kind of hard to find what you’re looking for but The 2016 Healthy Happy Home project has monthly checklists and with January a month away, The January Cure is something to sign up for.  (Both these projects are annual on AT but the previous years are posts so you can just use those as a guide).

How to Grow the Fuck Up is a tumblr blog but it is massively useful to anyone who has been told to do an adult thing… but never knew how to do that adult thing. From what you need in a first apartment to how to write a resume, it covers the gambit. I recently just used it to double check how to write a check. I never write checks so it was nice to have that post and image to calm my anxiety down. While HtGtFU does cover cleaning and stuff like that, cleaning and cleansing is more than “I washed some dishes and burned some incense”. Getting your finances in order can be a huge cleansing/cleaning move that reduces major stress. Expand the cleaning/cleansing box!

Habitica is fantastic is you need incentive and like video games. I’m a big gamer and using the website as a sort of daily check-list has made sure that I get my shit done by 300%. Since it also allows you to set long-term goals I can post reminders of my to do list and, you know, feel super accomplished by doing that thing. (It usually helps me get those things done, save for replacing the clothesline has been on that list for over a year now. Sigh.


So those are some sources for you. But having a little magical help can’t hurt either, right?

Enchant your soap

I enchant my dish soap with cleansing powers. When I put it on my sponge or cleaning cloth, I trace a sigil I use to cleanse the space. Then I just scrub as normal and call it a day. I tend to use/make my own cleaning agents so I can use magic that way. But on the off-chance I use something chemical or non-handmade, I’ll enchant that too.

You can also toss a pinch of cleansing herbs in a bucket of wash water. You can even add some into the washing machine (watch for staining from herbs or stick the herbs in an old sock and tie it off.) You can do a lot of low-key stuff like this than can make a major difference.

Wash water

I mentioned it above but it deserves its own category. Here’s my not-so-secret recipes for cleansing-cleaning.

All-purpose wash water

To be used on floors, walls, and general cleaning. Don’t use on wood furniture or things that react to citrus.

  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 gallons of water

Mix and use immediately. Dump what you don’t use. Hot water and fresh juice is best but use what you’ve got.

Furniture wash water

Great for cleaning wood and things sensitive to citrus water

  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 gallons water

Mix and use immediately. Dump what you don’t use. Hot water works but I tend to let it cool to warm before use.

Glass cleaner

  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2-1 gallon water

Mix and use immediately. Dump what you don’t use. You might want to don on some gloves for this one. Wipe clean with newspaper or old printer paper.


Cleansing sprays

I’ve mentioned this before but I love this stuff so I’m mentioned it again. You can enchant your room air fresheners or fabric fresheners to keep the scent longer or for a specific purpose. (Like to calm anxiety, better sleep, etc)

You can also make your own. The recipe below can be used on anything from fabrics to the general air itself. It’s a water mist so, you know, too much will make things wet. Go figure.

Cleansing spray

  • 5-10 drops of chosen essential oils or fragrance oils
  • Half a pinch of sea salt
  • Distilled water to fill

Fill your spray bottle halfway with warm or room temp water, add a tiny bit of sea salt and swirl until the salt dissipates in the water. Then add in your chosen essential oils or fragrance oils to taste and strength preference. I’ve used both distilled and purified water for this and noticed no real difference but I go through a 6 ounce spray bottle in less than a week so maybe I use it too fast. I recommend the distilled water just in case.

Cleaning and cleansing is a pain in the butt. I won’t hide that truth from you. No one likes washing kick boards on the cabinets or the trim behind the couch. I sometimes sing or talk my way through with a spell. In Yule: A Celebration  of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison (review coming soon!) there’s a fantastic cleansing + cleaning informal ritual with little charms to say. Check it out if you’re interested.


My biggest personal tips

Make sure you’re in the groove and mildly enjoying yourself. Once you get to hating the process, switch to some other, more fun chore. Has the reality of scrubbing tiles set in? Get up and fluff couch pillows or do laundry instead. It’s still cleaning but you don’t come away absolutely miserable. Just remember to go back later.

Take your time. Unless you need to do stuff today OR ELSE, then do a bit here and there. I tend to do most of my cleaning while waiting for water to boil.

Check lists are your friends. I’ve given some suggestions in the links above but here’s my cleaning schedule for each and every month. Surface clean is dusting, sweeping, picking up stray items, and watering plants as needed. Deep clean means all the surface cleaning stuff plus going through drawers and closets, wiping down electronics, washing floors, surfaces, baseboards, and so. The first month or two is kind of brutal but once you get do it a month or two, it’ll be much easier to keep up after that.

  1. Surface clean living room and kitchen and review gardening to do list
  2. Clean bathroom
  3. Surface clean bedroom
  4. Clean “extra” room (study, hallway, playroom, etc)
  5. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  6. Deep clean bathroom
  7. Clean windows
  8. Clean floors (sweep, mop, wash rugs)
  9. Surface clean bedrooms
  10. Deep clean living room and kitchen
  11. Clean bathroom
  12. Clean closets (hallway, linen, bathroom, bedrooms, storage areas)
  13. Clean “extra” room (study, hallway, playroom, etc)
  14. Deep clean bedroom (bedroom closet too, if not done)
  15. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  16. Deep clean bathroom
  17. Clean door knobs, light switches, cell phone covers, remotes, etc.
  18. Clean fridge and pantry
  19. Clean entryway and/or porch (hallway too, if needed)
  20. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  21. Clean bathroom
  22. Surface clean bedroom
  23. Clean floors
  24. Clean storage areas (garage, attic, junk drawer, etc)
  25. Surface clean living room
  26. Deep clean living room and kitchen (yes, again)
  27. Clean bathroom
  28. Surface clean bedroom
  29. Clean a “much needed space” (that area you’ve been ignoring or isn’t covered elsewhere
  30. Clean floors
  31. Clean outside spaces (driveway, garage, patio, porch, yard, etc)

My daily check list before bed is far less structured. It makes sure I do basic stuff but it’s full of things that might be skipped. And I have all day to complete it. I sweep often because cats and copious electronics.

  • Make bed
  • Do all dishes so the sink is empty
  • Clear off kitchen counter and/or table
  • Pick up obvious stray items
  • Write out tomorrow’s to do list
  • Plug in / turn off electronics (phone, computer, so on)
  • Personal care (brush hair/teeth/shower/etc)
  • Sweep

I don’t follow these schedules super rigorously. If I miss a day, oh well. I don’t go back and make up for it.

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A little breath of spring on this super cold day.

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December may be a weird month for a post like this but it’s actually the perfect time for it. Winter holidays are here and you’re probably going to have guests over. Or you’re getting new stuff as gifts or scored on some super sale. Or guests are leaving and you really need to reclaim your space.

Cleansing during and directly after the winter holidays can save your sanity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home from a holiday party and just needed to air out my life. It gives you back control and it makes your life lighter.

Here’s some other good posts on cleansing:

Good luck, stay safe, and have a happy December!