Bedrooms are another place where we spend a lot of time, but not a lot of time cleaning. Make the bed, vacuum, put away the laundry … that’s probably about it. But with all of the soft goods in a bedroom, it sure could use a good cleaning, from pillows and blankets to mattresses and that pesky problem area … the air! A refreshing bedroom is a modern organic home oasis, worth cultivating and keeping clean and organized.
The Process: Purge, Clean, Organize
The bedroom should be relaxing and space for dreaming and enjoying time away from the hustle and bustle of life, but it can wind up cluttered and messy just like any other room. Let’s start with the nightstand, that friendly little table that’s supposed to hold only the essentials for a good night’s sleep, but ends up holding books, medicines, movies, gift cards, candles, pens, headphones, lip balm, Kleenex, empty drink bottles, jewelry, and so much more. A messy nightstand, floor, and dresser top do not instill calm thoughts and deep dreams. Let’s purge the unnecessary items to create a calm, comfortable, cozy room.
As I mentioned, drawers, floors, and flat surfaces in bedrooms are the main trouble spots. You might also have a chair that gets dumped on or an over-the-door organizer that gets overwhelmed and messy. Go through everything and decide if it really needs to live in the bedroom. Does it belong in the closet? The laundry room? The trash? Corral all the loose change you find into one jar and place that jar in a conspicuous place near where pants pockets are emptied. Recycle receipts that pile up on dressers. Put medicines back in the medicine cabinet, makeup and hair products back in the bathroom, and dirty laundry in the hamper. Pick up, and you’re halfway there.
Vacuuming is the easiest way to make this room look clean, so give it a good refresh and open the windows to let fresh air in if the room feels stale. Wash and steam the curtains if they need it, clean the blinds, and wipe down fan blades and lampshades. Clean mirrors and picture frames, run a rag around the baseboards, and basically freshen up every surface.
Organizing the bedroom is fairly simple since there are few moving pieces. The main furniture stays the same, and the nightstand and dresser are functional storage pieces that will simply need to be used well to hold everything you need. I believe in creating a lot of walking space in the bedroom, as much as you can, so keep extra furniture to a minimum or place it against walls or the foot of the bed. In drawers, bamboo drawer organizers are wonderful for keeping short-sleeve T-shirts and long-sleeve T-shirts separate and his-and-hers socks organized, and their smooth edges won’t snag anything delicate.
On top of the dresser, use functional but attractive containers to keep small items under control and keep the aesthetic modern and clean-lined. Pottery pieces are good for this, as are glass and woven pieces. Layer items to create a unique look—for example, you might place a small tin on top of a box, and a candle on top of the tin. Place small dishes in front of picture frames to keep jewelry tidy, and arrange daily-use items such as perfume and moisturizer on a mirrored tray. These small touches add a great deal of atmosphere to a room that can often be relegated to utilitarian. Hang art on the walls, keep a few cozy blankets on the end of the bed and in a basket beside the dresser. Make it personal, since this is a personal space.
CLEANING BED FRAMES
Bed frames are the unsung heroes of most bedrooms. These metal bars or basic wooden platforms allow us to sleep comfortably night after night. They also collect dust in their crevices and, if you eat in your bedroom, crumbs that may attract critters. Keeping the bed frame clean is a simple task once you get the mattress out of the way, but you may need an extra set of hands to accomplish moving the mattress and box spring if there is one, as these are unwieldy for one person.
Once you have the mattress and box spring out of the way, lift up the bed frame and vacuum under the entire area. If you can’t lift it up, use the handheld vacuum attachment and clean the entire area. This section of the carpet rarely sees the light of day, so it’s also a good idea to give it a good carpet refresh (pg. 102).
Take the angle attachment and vacuum all the corners and edges of the bed frame. Next, mix together 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup warm water, and add 15 drops of lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil fends off mites and bugs and inspires sleep, too. Spray on a clean cloth and wipe down the bed frame. This works on laminate, metal, and wood.
If your bed frame is wood, now is a good time to polish it using the wood polish on. If there are crayon or permanent marker marks. I like to add a drop of lavender essential oil in each of the four corners of the bed frame, too, as an extra touch.
Let the bed frame thoroughly dry before you put the mattress back on. Of course, this is a great time to clean the mattress as well.
Mostly gone are the days of needing to flip and rotate your mattress every few months, but a good mattress should still be well taken care of. Memory foam mattresses are the most popular these days, so here’s how to clean those, along with a traditional spring mattress. This process also works well for memory foam cushions or pillows.
If the mattress has a removable cover, the machine washes it and line dry or dry on low heat. High heat will shrink your mattress cover, making it a pain to get back on, and it will be liable to pop off during the night with movement.
While the cover is washing, mix 2 cups of baking soda with 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Sprinkle this mixture over the surface of the mattress. Let sit for 10–15 minutes. Then, using the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum, vacuum up all of the baking soda, being sure to get in the seams and any pockets.
Spot clean the mattress using a mixture of 1 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon castile soap. Use a sponge or cloth to dab into stains and spots. Then take a clean dry towel and apply firm pressure to the wet areas to soak up all the moisture. Place a fan in front of the spots to help them dry thoroughly before you put the mattress cover back on.
KEEPING THE BEDROOM COZY WITH CANDLES
Making your own essential oil-scented beeswax candles is a wonderful way to ensure the bedroom air stays fresh without adding chemicals that come from wall plug-ins or harmful aerosol sprays, and even commercial candles that have lead wicks and artificial scents. Beeswax, in both blocks for larger projects and pearls for smaller ones, can be found in most natural food stores and even craft stores.
- 1 pound beeswax
- 50–60 drops vetiver, lavender, or geranium essential oil
- 100% cotton candle wicks with metal bottoms
- Assorted small glass or porcelain jars for your candles
- Small saucepan
- Metal wax melting jug (a bowl or tin can will do in a pinch but be careful!)
First, prepare your jars. Wrap the wick around a pencil until it is the right height for your jar, and set the pencil across the top of the jar to hold the wick in place. The metal piece should fit flush against the bottom of the jar. Make sure the jars are on a heatproof surface.
Place the beeswax pastilles in the metal bowl or tin you’ll be using to melt the beeswax. If you purchased a block of beeswax, first cut it into manageable pieces. Place this container in the saucepan and fill the saucepan so the water is 2 inches up the side of the container holding the beeswax. Melt slowly over low to medium heat.
Remove the jug or can from the hot water. Stir in the essential oils. Very carefully pour the hot wax into the jars you’ve prepared. Let sit overnight. Trim wicks to ¼ inch.
FEATHER FLUFF: WASHING DOWN COMFORTERS AND PILLOWS
Down comforters are the crème de la crème of sleeping covers. But these delicate feathers need a bit of extra care. I recommend taking them to the laundromat, where you’ll have access to a commercial-size washer and dryer that will handle the extra fluff factor of these comforters and allow the water to actually circulate and rinse clean. If you have an “extra-large” load setting on your washing machine, be sure to use that. You can also wrangle these into the bathtub, but be prepared with towels on the floor for the inevitable drips since it won’t be spinning dry. Despite the powers of line-drying that I love, down comforters do not do well hanging on a line, as the feathers will all fall to the bottom and clump there, never drying well.
If washing in a machine, use the gentle cycle and add an extra rinse if possible for the wash. Use a gentle soap, and only add half the lowest amount listed on the label for a load. Too much soap is the death of those tiny feathers. Wash a hand towel or two with the comforter to keep the feathers agitated during washing.
Immediately transfer the comforter and towels to the dryer. Use wool dryer balls to decrease the clumping of the feathers in drying as well. Do not use any additional dryer sheets that can cause static. Use a low to the medium-high setting, and be aware that this will likely take quite some time to dry thoroughly. But since there are feathers in there, thorough drying is essential to prevent mildew.
WASHING DUVET COVERS, SHEETS, QUILTS, AND COMFORTERS
Duvet covers, quilts, and synthetic comforters can generally be machine-washed on a gentle cycle and machine-dried as well. But let’s break them down one by one and see what suits them best.
Duvet covers: Most duvet covers can be washed just like sheets if they are made of cotton material. If they are made of denim, corduroy, velvet, or a quilted material, you may wish to follow the instructions below for heirloom quilt washing.
Sheets: Sheets can, and should, be washed in hot water to release built-up body oils, sweat, and dirt that will eventually discolor them. Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle for extra cleaning power. If your white sheets are losing color, use oxygen bleach according to the package instructions. Do not use oxygen bleach and vinegar at the same time!
Synthetic comforters are sturdy enough to be machine-washed. I recommend machine-drying them as well because they will have the same drying issue as down comforters. The filling will fall to the bottom and dry in a clump, never being quite the same, and if they aren’t thoroughly dried, they may mildew. I recommend machine-drying comforters.
Heirloom Quilts: If your quilt is a lovely heirloom that needs a bit of extra care, place it in the bathtub and give it a bath with a few tablespoons of gentle hand-washing liquid (pg. 86), being sure to rinse it extremely well. Lay it out on a bunch of towels, and roll it up, squeezing very gently, to get the majority of the water out so the heaviness isn’t stressing the delicate fabric on the line. Line dry or lay flat on a few towels in the grass. Keep in mind that colors will fade if line-dried in the sunlight.
New Quilts: Modern quilts can be machine-washed to speed up the softening process, which, is, of course, actually a breaking-down of the fibers. But new quilts can be stiff at first, so a few machine items of washing might do it well, and then you can decide if you prefer to hand wash or machine wash your precious, soon-to-be heirloom. New quilts do exceptionally well line-dried, too, which is less harsh on the intricate stitching than a machine dryer.