Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home

No-Nonsense Advice that Will Inspire You to CLEAN like the DICKENS


By Thelma Meyer

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When Thelma Meyer tells it to you, she tells it straight: Clean the kitchen daily! Don’t waste anything (not even the water leftover from those potatoes you just boiled)! Always work hard! This philosophy meant that when Thelma’s daughter Monica founded Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products (named after her mom), the products were designed to work hard for you.
Now for the first time, Thelma’s sage advice is being made available in this revolutionary cleaning guide chock full of practical tips and secrets based on the premise that life is hectic and messy — and so keeping your house clean and nice is the only sensible thing to do. With shortcuts and tips for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Home contains unexpected advice such as:
Never use vinegar and water on wood floors. One part dish soap and four parts water is the only way to truly get them clean. And remember to buff with a terrycloth towel.
Always clean out the fridge before grocery shopping. Serve the kids “Musko” (“must go”) for dinner, using the items that were fast approaching expiration.
Wash windows on a cloudy day to avoid the nasty streaking that happens when the sun’s out and glass dry too fast.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Home is two parts common sense and one part inspiration. Read it and learn how to clean like the dickens.




All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.




NEW YORK, NY 10017


Wellness Central is an imprint of Grand Central Publishing. The Wellness Central name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: March 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-55628-6

ILLUSTRATED and DESIGNED BY Werner Design Werks, Inc.

To my family.

To all the mothers in the world who love and sacrifice for their families.

To God. (Cleanliness is next to godliness, after all!)

And to Vern Meyer, my husband of fifty-four years.

Without Vern, nothing would be possible, least of all this book.

He's made our house easy to clean, very comfortable, and spacious

by building, rewiring, refinishing, and enlarging it as we grew.

I can't imagine a better person with whom to build a home.


Dear friend,

Ever since my daughter Monica started Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, back in 2001, people are always asking, "Is Mrs. Meyer a real person?" Well, I'm here to confirm it once and for all. My name is Thelma Meyer, and my daughter named her cleaning products after me to honor my good old-fashioned values. Nothing gives me more of a kick than when I introduce myself to someone who uses the products. Just recently I was waiting for a flight with a nice lady who was amazed when I told her who I was. What an honor!

I'm proud of the products that carry my name. The Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products are powerful against dirt, grime, fingerprints, and the like. The philosophy is to make straightforward, honest cleaners that smell good and work like the dickens on dirt. They are also aromatherapeutic, which is a fancy word for healthy and good. But in my forty-plus years of cleaning house, I've learned that it's not just what you use to clean, it's how you clean, too.

Keeping up a house in a small town in Iowa while raising nine kids was no picnic, but I've discovered handy tricks for making day-to-day duties easier, monthly jobs seem like a cakewalk, and annual tasks a bit less grueling. That's where this book comes in.

So no, I'm not a cleaning superhero, but I really do exist. Grab your duster and follow me—we've got some work to do.

Wishing you a CLEAN and HAPPY HOME,

Mrs Thelma A. Meya


My husband, Vern, and I got married in 1954. We lived in a trailer park in Des Moines with our twins until I got pregnant with our third child. "Thelma, it's time to get a house," Vern said. So we sold the forty-two-foot trailer and used the money from that as a down payment for a two-bedroom Cape Cod cottage-style house in Granger, Iowa.

We paid $12,000 for our new home, located about twenty miles northwest of Des Moines, in May of 1955. It was one of the first new houses in town.

And did we fill that house up! With nine kids, pets, kids' friends, and neighbors all around, I had to stay on top of things, but not drive myself too crazy. I adopted a "casually clean" policy. I believe in having a clean house, but I'm not one to have a perfect house. I like neatness and I like to see my home in an orderly fashion—I don't appreciate clothes or towels lying around—but I'm not a meticulous housekeeper either. Every day I'll do a little something, and when company comes, like my bridge friends, that's when I'll really get to work, making sure the windows are washed and all the fingerprints removed. But in general, the house just has to be clean enough and uncluttered. I like to focus on the big picture—getting the chores done daily so there's more time to enjoy life. It's all in the way you look at it. If you have a poor attitude, life is going to be a bear. You can look at your house and get overwhelmed and see all of the things that need tending to. Or you can tackle jobs little by little, whistling while you work, and know that even if your home doesn't shine from top to bottom, it's good enough for you.

I also believe that when you stay on top of things it's so much easier in the long run. Make a plan, and take the time to do chores right the first time. Don't stint once you commit to a task. That means throwing a little elbow grease into mopping up the bathroom floor and polishing the wood furniture. If you do it well, I promise you that there's pleasure to be had in that.

There's always going to be confusion when you're running a household, but there will be less of it when you take an organized approach. Figure out what works for you: Do you hate waking up to a not-too-tidy house? Take a few minutes before bed each night to do a little cleanup. Rather use that time for sleep? That's okay, too. I love freshly made beds, ship-shape surfaces and floors, and the smell of clean laundry. Some folks find ironing a soothing task. Do whatever suits your fancy.

In this book, you'll find tips for cleaning every room in the house and tending to the garden and patio, too. We'll go from kitchen to bathroom to office and every nook and cranny in between. I've shared the down-and-dirty tricks that I've been using for years! And since it never hurts to learn something new, I also asked friends and family to share their cleaning secrets with me. You'll find some great ideas in here—ketchup for cleaning copper and denture tablets for the toilet—that I just learned about, too. There are some sneaky ideas in here, including ways to get out those inevitable stains and foolproof solutions for dealing with life's little annoyances, from loosening a stuck drawer to getting bubblegum off a carpet. You'll also find that I have a lot of opinions on everything from clean curtains to parenting, in My House, My Rules.

My kids will weigh in with memories on what it was like to all live under one roof. (Boy, did it get crazy now and then.) Sometimes they remember things differently than I do, that's for sure. One thing they don't forget is how much they pitched in. Throughout this book, I mention how important it is to give your kids chores; it teaches them how to work hard and it will also make your life a little easier. My kids had to clean their rooms every Saturday, among other things. Be firm with your kids and tell it to them straight. Many parents just talk to their kids constantly—talk, talk, talk—but soon their kids will just stop listening. One of my favorite mottoes is SYE (save your energy). Don't ask young children if they want to clean their room. Just say, "Time to clean your room now." This avoids any possibility for disagreement.

I'm going to preach here what I practice: Use the least amount of water and energy possible. I was taught from an early age to save water. I was born in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, so water was hard to come by. My parents were Kansas farmers and hardly had anything to live on, and I remember my mom telling me that one winter we lived on nothing but tomato soup. We never had a lot, so we never consumed a lot. And that way of living was ingrained in me. Even today, I'll keep a bag in my purse and pick up litter as I see it. I'll reuse water too; I'll pour the water I use to wash my veggies into my houseplants. Waste not, want not. It's about respect for money and respect for our planet. Don't take what you don't need, and make do with what you have.

Also, care for yourself and your family by avoiding harsh disinfectants. The smell of a cleaning product shouldn't give you a headache. Read up on ingredients, making sure that anything you use is safe, especially if you have kids or pets around. You can get your house just as clean with a cleaning product that doesn't require gloves or masks. Check out my list of safe cleaning products on page 28. You'll see them cited throughout the book.

I like cleaning my house, I really do. And I want you to, as well. At the end of the day, try not to make yourself upset about housework. Why worry about it? You've just got to do what you can do and keep your home as neat as you can. It's all about enjoying yourself along the way and taking good care of your family, your community, and everything you love.


circa 1965

First we had the twins, Tom and Tim—and they were total opposites. TOM is the older twin; he was born before dinner and Tim was born after dinner. Tom's a diamond in the rough. He walked, striding across the floor, at ten months. He was a rebel and challenged us a lot, and he was always Mr. Busy. Whether it was cleaning pigpens or playing football, he just always had to be doing something. He works in sales and marketing, lives in Bend, Oregon, and has two children, Alison and Cale.

TIM was quieter and not as boisterous as Tom. He was always building things, losing tools in the yard while helping his dad fix cars, and generally tearing things apart to see what made them work. He spent his springs and summers mowing lawns, falls raking leaves, and winters shoveling snow. Now he's retired, after more than 20 years in the fiber-optics business. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Terry, and their dogs, Trouble and Twiggle. They're blessed with a daughter, Tammy, and son, Trevore.

Next up is MONICA —she was born six days before the twins turned one. She was the responsible one and could take charge, that Monica. She was like a little mother; she would take over for me if and when I needed it. As a youngster, she was the cook of the crew, but she also did outdoor jobs like walking beans, which meant cutting the weeds out of the beans with a corn knife. I remember a friend called for Monica one day and I said, "She's out walking beans." The friend later said to her, "I didn't know you had a dog named Beans." Monica is very fun, and she's a visionary too. She can just put her mind to something and bring it to fruition. She's the founder and CEO of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day and Caldrea. She and her husband, David, live in Minneapolis and have two daughters, Aundrea and Calla.

Thirteen months later came MARIA . As a child, she loved sports, being outside, and horses. But we couldn't afford to send her anywhere to ride horses, so she'd call up friends to see if she could ride with them. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and we always had fun teasing each other. She was very responsible and is to this day; as a family nurse practitioner in Des Moines, Iowa, she goes to meetings all over the United States, learning the latest information about keeping families healthy. Oh, and she loves to quilt; she and I could sit and quilt together all day. She and her husband, Pat, have three kids: Zach, Valerie, and Bart. Their first child, Bart, was killed in 2000 in a car accident.

TERESA was born sixteen months later. She was rather quiet and loved to create, and was the smallest of the bunch—still is. And nowadays she's very serious and has a wonderful brain. She understands the mechanics of how things work really well. She's lived in Rochester, Minnesota, for most of her life and does fund-raising for a parochial school. She and her husband, Roger, have given us three grandkids: David, Lauren, and Claire.

JANE arrived next, seventeen months later. She was a tomboy. She'd mow the lawn and help in the garden, and at six feet tall, she played basketball all through college. When she answers the phone you think it's me. She looks like me, has a lot of my mannerisms, and is kind of loud like me. She's very capable in the kitchen too. When she comes to visit, she'll say, "Mom, sit down!" and she takes over. She has a Ph.D. (which I jokingly tell her means "piled higher and deeper") in sports administration and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

Twenty-two months later came JOE . Now, Joe could just buffalo you. He was so smooth. I used to say he had a silver tongue because he was so slick. I remember going to school and telling his teacher, "Please don't let him buffalo you," because he could easily try and talk you out of something. And he's still like that now. He's very good-looking—with wavy black hair and blue eyes, he's just a gorgeous hunk of a man. He's an entrepreneur and lives with his wife, Susan, in Atlanta. They have two kids: Isabella and J. Paul.

PAT came twenty months after Joe. Pat was quiet, a deep thinker, but the type you don't mess with. You might think someone like that, who's quiet and shy, would be a pushover, but he wasn't. He was persistent and a heck of a wrestler. And he's a very hard worker. He's worked for the Pella Corporation for many years and lives in Pella, Iowa, with his wife, Jackie, and their four children: Jacob, Madeline, John Ross (whom they call Jack), and Natalie.

Last up is my baby, DAN . He was always reading and playing basketball. When Dan turned five, Vern said I could go back to work. So, after I put the kids to bed I would go to my job as a delivery-room nurse. When I'd come home in the morning, everyone would be at school except little Dan. I'd tell him, "You have to babysit Mom" so I could go rest. He'd answer the phone and the door. Dan loves children—he plays with his kids constantly. He's a pilot, so when he comes home from a trip his girls are all over his lap. They just think he's the cat's meow. He's my playful one. You get him started and he can keep the whole house roaring. He and his wife, Florence (we call her Flori), have Daniel, Dillon, Blayne, and Marin, and live in Billings, Montana.

they truly are my PRIDE joy and JOY


Keeping your house clean is largely about staying on top of what needs to be done when. Tending to your household regularly will save you time in the long run. The more time relaxing and the less time scrubbing, the better.


  • Wipe down the countertops
  • Wipe down the kitchen sink
  • Sweep the floors
  • Take out the trash


  • Wipe down appliances—inside and out
  • Scrub the toilets, tubs, showers, and sinks
  • Clean the mirrors
  • Dust furniture, light fixtures, banisters, and shelves
  • Change bed linens
  • Do the laundry
  • Vacuum the carpets, drapes, and upholstery
  • Mop the floors


  • Clean the inside of the microwave
  • Scour the burner grates
  • Clean the vent-hood filter
  • Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Wipe down the insides of medicine cabinets
  • Scrub grout
  • Dust ceiling fans
  • Wipe down doorknobs and switch plates
  • Clean electronics
  • Vacuum moldings, baseboards, and heating and cooling vents
  • Disinfect the garbage cans


  • Clean the oven's interior
  • Clean the inside of the fridge
  • Thoroughly clean countertop appliances
  • Vacuum the vents of the fridge, washer, and dryer
  • Wash cotton slipcovers
  • Wash comforters and duvet covers
  • Wash bedroom pillows
  • Vacuum and flip the mattresses
  • Dust lamp shades
  • Wash the windows
  • Sweep the ceilings
  • Clean the fireplace


  • Clean the pantry (and toss expired items)
  • Air out the drapes
  • Wash throw pillows
  • Sort through closets to decide what to keep, repair, donate, or recycle


Go out and enjoy the warm weather—after you tend to these chores, of course.

GET CLEAR Clean your windows inside and out with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Use a squeegee in long strokes to dry them. Replace storm windows with screens. Polish window and door hardware.
LOOK AT WHAT'S UNDERFOOT Vacuum the entire house, including baseboards, moldings, ceilings, and walls. Launder your area rugs and shampoo your carpets; you can rent a carpet cleaner from a hardware store or grocery store.
SHINE IT UP Wax wood furniture and floors.
BE SAFE, NOT SORRY Make sure the batteries in your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors are working. Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they work, too.
BE FRIENDLY TO YOUR FURNITURE Wipe down upholstery; steam-clean anything that's deeply soiled.

TAKE A CURTAIN CALL Hang your drapes and blankets outside to air them out.
GIVE the APPLIANCES SOME TLC Clean the inside of the fridge and freezer with baking soda and water. Vacuum the grates, vents, and coils on your fridge, stove, air conditioner, and furnace.
SLEEP ON IT Vacuum mattresses and box springs. Leave the windows open while the beds are bare to air them out. Wash pillows and down comforters.
JUST LET IT GO Toss expired food, medications, and makeup. Go through your closets; chuck anything that's stained or tattered and give away stuff you haven't worn all season. Store winter clothing to make room for spring and summer goods.
CONQUER the GREAT OUTDOORS Scrub outdoor furniture and hose down lighting fixtures, walkways, porch and deck floors, and the driveway. Clean the gutters.


Time to batten down the hatches! Don't let the cold weather catch you off guard.

MAKE YOUR WINDOWS SPARKLE Clean the windows, paying extra attention to the ones on the south side of the house, to allow sunlight to stream in.
MINIMIZE LEAKS Check the weather stripping around windows, doors, air conditioners, vents, and fans to make sure there are no gaps that will let heat escape and waste energy. Replace any weather stripping that looks old or worn. Consider placing plastic sheets over any particularly drafty windows.
BE SAFE Change the batteries in smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
GET WARM and TOASTY Clean your furnace filters of built-up dust and dirt by vacuuming. Or, if they're too far gone, buy brand-spanking-new ones.
CLEAN and INSPECT YOUR FIREPLACE Vacuum the interior and screen, and check the flue. It's important to do this to make sure you don't have any dirt buildup before winter starts. Consider hiring a professional to do the work for you.

PAINT AWAY If you were thinking of painting a room or ceiling, now's the time to do it, while it's still warm enough to open the windows for ventilation.
TEND to the OUTDOORS Wipe down the gutters. Clean the porch, deck, driveway, walk- way, outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and swing sets. Take the lawn mower (drain the gas tank before storing it), garden decorations, and outdoor furnishings to your shed or basement to protect them from the elements.
CHECK the GUTTERS and DOWNSPOUTS Remove pine needles, leaves, acorns, and other debris from gutters to allow water to drain out easily, and make sure that downspouts are pointed away from the house. Also, check to see that they're firmly attached; use sealant to close any gaps, which will cause leaks.
MULCH YOUR GARDEN So the leaves have taken over your yard. Don't toss them— use them as mulch for your garden or start the spring compost pile.
PLANT, PLANT, PLANT It's a great time to plant, because the soil will be warm and moist. And don't forget to fertilize your lawn; doing it now will give your grass the nutrients it needs to get through a harsh winter. And prune your bushes while you're at it.


Life, like our homes, can get messy. If friends call to say they're heading over for an impromptu visit, but your house is a disaster—don't panic. Take a deep breath and do what we nurses call triage.


Shake out the welcome mat. Dust the entryway console. Sweep the floors, paying special attention to sofa and chair legs, where dust tends to gather.



On Sale
Mar 2, 2009
Page Count
240 pages

Thelma Meyer

About the Author

Always thrify, Thelma Meyer raised nine children in Iowa and kept the house clean. She helps promote the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products.

Monica Meyer is Founder and President of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. She spent many years as a brand builder for leading retailers, and was a marketing executive at Target.

Learn more about this author