Whether you are embracing the minimalist movement to declutter your life, or embracing tiny house living in a small home or RV, there is one method of decluttering and maximizing cabinet space that is rarely talked about: decluttered cleaning supplies for minimalists. Effective minimalist cleaning for small space and RV living is definitely something to think about before embarking on those lifestyle adventures.
A cleaner for everything…
I'll never forget my mom's house growing up. We had a cleaner for everything. One cleaner each for our tile floors, hardwood floors, walls, furniture, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, stove, oven, windows, toilets, tubs/showers, TV/computer screens, fridge/freezer, carpet stains, laundry detergents, stain sticks, laundry boosters, fabric softeners (both for washer and dryer), air fresheners galore… and a bunch of random “just in case cleaners” I didn't know what we needed them for. And like any good mom, mine taught me the value of always having unopened backups so you're not needing last minute trips to the store mid-clean.
Since venturing out into my own adult adventures, I carried her cleaning habits with me… overcrowded under the sink stash and all… thinking nothing of it. Yes… my apartment was spotless… but heaven forbid you look under my kitchen sink… or in the bathroom cabinetry. I never figured out how or organize all those bottles. And being in the military… I ended up throwing or giving away a LOT more than I care to admit each time I moved (every 2-3 years).
Little did I know about all the unanticipated consequences to having so many cleaners…
In 2005, I came down with a serious neurological and autoimmune health crisis that continued to worsen through 2012. We aren't 100% sure what sparked it, but it did look like some sort of chemical exposure happened while I was stationed in the Middle East. Life was tough, and suddenly going on sneezing rampages each time I sprayed my window/glass or kitchen cleaner didn't help.
In 2013, I found a few tricks to lessen the severity of my chronic autoimmune disease. After reducing my seizures and time spent bedridden through cleaning up our food habits, we took on some research into our cleaning habits too. This is where we learned about all the harmful chemicals hiding in cleaning products, and dove into over a year's worth of me researching full time looking for safe and effective alternatives, and seeing how my chemically sensitive body would handle them.
Looking back on it now, I totally cringe. Every single one of the cleaners I grew up with ended up containing a myriad of harmful chemicals in their ingredients (which is the case with most homes and offices) that prevented my body from doing what it is meant to do: heal. Not to mention seeing how much easier my time spent cleaning became once we downsized and took the minimalist approach to cleaning.
I reduced our 9 different cleaners down to one nontoxic cleaner that can be used on everything in our home, cars, and grill. 2 bottles vs 18 (yes… I had backups to my open stash! Now we have one diluted bottle and the original undiluted bottle that can make over 60 diluted bottles).
One bottle. One that didn't make me sneeze or give me headaches each time I sprayed it. A cleaner made from distilled plants that not only cleaned remarkably well (better than all the expensive cleaners we previously used), but also used health-boosting essential oils. The cleaner that helped me reduce my chemical burden, allowing my body to finish its unexpected and dramatic healing process.
ONE cleaner I could effectively use for quite literally EVERYTHING. Then allowed me to have the space under our sink for trash bags, grocery store paper bags, our crock pot and insta pot, our travel dog water tub… and still have room for anything we needed to store temporarily! Hello more space in our little pantry for real foods.
One cleaner that instead of compromising health, actually helps support physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
Transitioning to RV Life
Summer 2018, my husband and I decided to move our little family (two small boys and two giant dogs) into a small travel trailer full-time to better enjoy a prolonged cross country move for his job that took us from Virginia to Rhode Island to Texas.
I looked under the kitchen sink and saw at the “tons of space” under it…
Immediately having flashbacks to my life before switching to one cleaner… smiling because back then, I would have had more cleaners than that little cabinet had space for. Not this time, thank Heavens. I smiled knowing how useful that space would be for our family.
When we loaded the trailer, we were fully aware at the limited amount of space we had, and the fact that we needed to be creative to fit everything we needed for a few months, not knowing when the next time would be that we would be in a house. Having minimal cleaning supplies that I know work wonders on everything from the oven to grills to showers to toilets to floors, carpets, counters… and everything between… I smiled knowing we would have more than enough space for everything, and still be able to dedicate one of the cabinets to my sons for their clothes.
All the items we fit under our kitchen sink:
- Dishwashing soap: one bottle (lasts 2 months),
- Diluted cleaner: one bottle,
- Concentrated bottle of cleaner: one small bottle, lasts our family 6-8 months
- Foaming Hand Soap: one bottle in the kitchen, one in the bathroom… lasts our family of 4 one month.
- Laundry detergent: one bottle, lasts our family of 4 a month and a half.
- Our beloved instapot,
- Large fire extinguisher (because we wanted to be more prepared than just having a tiny one that came with our camper),
- A dish strainer,
- An electric tea kettle,
- Our Ninja blender with food processing attachments (because this Mama needs her daily dose of healthy smoothies and couldn't imagine not making brownies for months on end),
- A few cookbooks,
- Essential oil diffuser,
- A small kids' craft bin.
All the items we fit under our bathroom sink:
- Toilet scrubber
- Hair cutting tools
- Pouch for my makeup
- Pouch for extra deodorants, toothpaste tubes, and toothbrushes)
- Dog shampoo
- Tabs for the black tank
- Foaming hand soap refill bottle
- Roll of paper towels
All the items we fit behind our bathroom mirror:
- Shampoo for us and one for the kids
- Conditioner (each lasts us about 2 months)
- Body wash
- Foaming bottles (3) for shampoos and body wash, which helps each large bottle last 6+ months each
- Foaming handsoap bottle
- Face wash
- 3 lotions (body lotion, face lotion, night time face cream)
- Sunscreen: 2 bottles… we always have a backup handy)
- Bug lotion/spray
- Toothbrushes and 2 toothpaste tubes
This simplicity made a world of a difference with our packing and planning. This enabled us to ensure we had the extra storage space to handle packing additional clothes to support us through the oncoming winter weather in Rhode Island followed by feeling like summer in Texas.
And more importantly… this simplicity gave me more confidence in our ability to actually live in a 28 ft long tow-behind travel trailer… a MUCH different experience from the 2300 sqft 4 bedroom 2 bathroom house we were used to.
Being more confident in our living arrangement and how we maintain it definitely made me a much more confident and prepared mom… and that helped set my boys up for an easy, loving transition… something that made my heart sing.
Have you embraced minimalist cleaning?
Let us know about your experiences in the comments!
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PS If you're ready to dive in with minimalist cleaning, grab your set and come join our supportive community filled with tips, tricks, ideas, and love for helping you achieve a better quality of life.