Welcome to July! You know what that means: It’s time to celebrate the independence of the good old U S of A from Great Britain in 1776. And if you’re like me (someone who has lots of work and not enough employees), you’ll be working on the 4th. To be honest, I’m happy about that—it will help distract me from all of the wacky shenanigans happening in the Land of the Free right now—such as the disgraceful, heartbreaking, and terrifying reversal of Roe v. Wade which makes women desperately LESS free and the ongoing, willful disregard for common sense gun control that would go a long way in curtailing constant tragedy. But I do have some good news. After a little research, I’ve learned there are some less fraught celebrations that take place in July. Need some levity? Well, you’re in luck! July 1st is International Joke Day. Do you like fiber? Guess what?! July 3rd has got you covered with Eat Beans Day! And I doubt that you know this, but July 4th is also Build a Scarecrow Day (yep, I couldn’t make that up)! Anyway, I hope these tips will give you a little boost amid all the current craziness. Now let’s talk cleaning!

The metal grates on my stove are covered in grease. How do I get it off?

In my business, when I do “first time cleanings” (a.k.a. the first time I clean a house) or “move-out cleanings” (cleaning a pad before it’s sold or so a renter can get their deposit back), I find that cleaning stove grates is often one of the bigger tasks in the kitchen. Cleaning those grates seems to be a chore that most people find not-so-great (heyo!), and so they just never do it. I’ve tackled this job so many times that I’ve come up with a foolproof method for removing all of that slippery grime. First, fill your sink with a mixture of very hot water, a cup of white vinegar, and a few squirts of dish soap (As always, I recommend the grease-cutting champion, Dawn). Place the grates in the sink and let them soak for about an hour, in order to loosen the grip of the grease on the metal. I usually use the soaking hour to clean the other parts of the stove and oven. After the hour is up, you’ll drain the sink and rinse off the grates. Next, grab a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water (a few drops of my favorite essential oil adds some luxurious olfactory sensations to this grimy job), and spray the grates thoroughly. Now sprinkle some Bon Ami (you can also use baking soda, but I feel that you get more bang for your buck with Bon Ami) all over the grates. Bon Ami is my favorite all natural cleanser (think Comet without all the poison). Bon Ami contains five ingredients, none of which will damage your precious bod: calcium carbonate (limestone), feldspar powder (mild abrasive), sodium carbonate (soda ash), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and C10-C16 alkylbenzene sulfonic acid (surfactant). Now squirt some Dawn onto a scouring pad and scrub the hell out of the grates. Periodically rinse off the grates and firmly run your finger or a dry rag over them. Do you feel or see grime? If so, it ain’t clean. Keep on scrubbin’. When the grease is finally gone, dry the grates and place them back onto your clean stove. Yay!

It’s so hard to motivate myself to clean. Any tips on how to get myself into a cleaning routine?

I feel you on this one. I find that it takes me around 10 to 15 minutes to get into the cleaning zone, and about 30 minutes before I enter the cleaning K-hole. After all, cleaning isn’t a goddamned party for most people; it’s physically and often emotionally exhausting. Also, cleaning sometimes involves decluttering, and figuring out what to do with all your valuable possessions can be stressful. A good cleaning motivator for me is knowing that I’m going to feel a lot better after I’m done. (Also, since cleaning is my job, good old casheesh is obvs a major motivator.) Did you know that a cluttered or dirty house can contribute to depression, fatigue, and anxiety? Welp! According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women (I’m assuming that this applies to men as well, but maybe men are just fine with untidy homes) who live in dirty or cluttered homes that are full of unfinished projects are more likely to feel fatigued and depressed and have higher levels of cortisol. Yowza! I can actually attest to the clutter = depression + fatigue equation. While my house is clean, it is very cluttered. I can say, without a doubt, that this hodgepodgery is truly affecting my mental health at the moment. I sincerely feel depressed and tired when I look at my abode. At the same time, I feel very overwhelmed at the thought of organizing all my crap. But I must say, when I have in the past managed to kick myself in the ass and get things organized, I feel great. No lie, after I find places for my stuff, I get a major burst of energy and want to do all kinds of other projects. With all of this said, the best way that I’ve found to get myself to clean is to just start doing it. Pretend that you’re a robot, put one foot in front of the other and go. As far as the nuts and bolts of cleaning your home, I highly recommend going in deep initially (dusting everything, vacuuming, mopping, thoroughly cleaning the bathroom and kitchen) to make your future cleaning regime easier. Once you get your house to that good baseline, routine cleanings will be easy peasy: a quick dust, vacuum and mop, a zip through the bathroom, and a swift scrub of the kitchen and you’re done. I also find that “cleaning as I go” is very helpful: If I dirty a dish, I wash it. After a bath, I wipe out the tub and so on and so forth. I hope this makes sense!

Got cleaning questions? Email

illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm