I’m the spit-up covered, booger-wiping mother to both a toddler and a baby, which means that the majority of the surfaces in my house are coated with . . . well, actually, it’s probably best you don’t know the details. Especially if you’re planning to visit. Have a seat! Never mind that sticky — wait, where are you going?
We all know parenthood is messy (and smelly, and gooey, and smeared with various bodily substances), so without getting too Martha-y about cleanup — can anyone without a full-time housekeeper and nanny really expect that their home will remain sparkling clean in the wake of small children? — what are your tried-and-true methods of dealing with the inevitable catastrophes? Here are a few of my favorites:
Waterproof mattress pad. I bought this when we moved our toddler from the crib to his Big Kid Bed, and holy cats, am I ever glad I did. He sleeps on a futon mattress, which I can only assume would have thoroughly absorbed all the various Unpleasant Spills that have occurred on its surface in the last several months had it not been protected. And then we would have had to drag it out in the backyard and set it on fire. As it is, we just wash the pad and linens when necessary, and no major harm done.
Disposable pads. In a similar vein, these disposable underpads are a really handy product. They’re, well, an incontinence product sold at medical supply shops, and I never would have known about them if my friend hadn’t given me some extras she had from when her kids were little. The baby’s crib mattress is sealed in plastic so it can be wiped clean, but it’s still a major pain in the ass to have to strip off sheets, clean the mattress, and put on fresh sheets — especially in the middle of the night. When Dylan was a few months old he was basically a milk-barf fountain, and to make cleanup easier I would put down a pad (which nothing leaks through, unlike fabric), put a thin blanket over the top of that, then lay him down for the night. That way, if there was a Massive Hork Incident, I could just whip off the top layers of his bed and toss the pad, instead of wrestling with the fitted sheet. I only went through a few of them, but boy were they useful at 3 AM.
I have it on good authority they are also handy for, er, post-birth Down There Overflow. The End!
Mrs. Meyer’s Countertop Spray. I feel like a knob saying that I “love” a certain cleaning product, but I LOVE this brand. The lavender-scented spray does a fantastic job of cleaning up, you know, WHATEVER, and leaves behind a strong, fresh smell. Totally perfect for some of life’s ookier wipe-up jobs.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I’m pretty sure I’ve plugged this product a few times, but seriously, it works so well. Crayon marks? GONE. Banana goo dried to a hardened blob on the highchair tray? SEEYA. Make sure you test your surface first because I’m pretty sure this thing will take off paint if you’re not careful, but for the down-and-dirty grime, it’s amazing.
Baking soda. Okay, so this one’s kind of a no-duh, I know, but for repulsive laundry situations like Barfed-on or Pooped-in Clothing, baking soda can’t be beat. I add detergent then shake in a whole bunch of Arm & Hammer — like a cup? maybe more? — if the washing machine contains some truly objectionable stuff, and voila, the reek is gone. This works great on sour-smelling towels and stinky milk-bibs, too.
Have any kid-cleanup tips of your own to share? Please do!