Cleaning your farmhouse might turn out to be a little different in some ways than cleaning a house in the city. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed over the years that you’ll need to learn to clean really well if you want to live in an old farmhouse!
Old houses can be a challenge to get clean, or a least to get feeling clean, especially before you’ve completed all of your renovations. There are of course the weird old house smells, but old worn-out finishes can look dirty no matter how much you scrub them, which is something I didn’t anticipate before we moved in. If your old house also happens to be a farmhouse, then chances are that it actually is dirty a lot of the time. Funny how no one talks about that side of things when you hear about how fun and romantic it is to fix up an old farmhouse, isn’t it? The truth is that farmhouses can often come with quite a few unique cleaning challenges. I thought it might be a useful exercise to share a few of the things that I’ve learned from my time in a farmhouse so you can maybe be a little more prepared for cleaning your farmhouse if you’re thinking of moving out to the country.
If you have an old farmhouse, there’s a good chance that you also have well water like we do. This type of water can lead to all kinds of interesting cleaning challenges and one of the areas that we notice it the most is with our dishes. If you hand wash everything, then you really won’t notice it as much, but if you use your dishwasher frequently like we do, your dishes can really be affected. We notice discolouration and fogginess on our drinking glasses and also on any clear glass bowls that go through the dishwasher often. Our silverware and our knives can also get a little bit of an orange tinge to them from the minerals in our water. We actually end up with a lot of rust spots on our knives if they ever make it into the dishwasher. That should never happen, but it happens. 🙂 Luckily my solution for removing rust from knives also works pretty well in all of these situations, it just takes a few minutes of your time.
Again with the well water. It can turn your toilet, tub, and sink orange and regular cleaning products just don’t seem to a do a darn thing about it when you have this much orangeyness on your surfaces. We even get orange streaks running down the walls from when the steam hits them. I’m not too sure how that works, science-wise, but it happens! Of course, keeping our new white farmhouse sink in the kitchen clean has been a big priority too! After a few years of frustration, I finally discovered a really quick, but kind of unconventional way to cut through all of those orange stains on my tub. You can read about that here if you’re already experiencing this, or pin it to save it for when you finally move into your own farmhouse!
Oh, the dust. Of course you have to deal with dust no matter where you live, but we have some special circumstances out here with the farmers working the fields all around our home and stirring up all that dirt. Then of course, the fact that we’re totally out in the open with no buildings around us causes the winds to really blow across the fields and stir up the dust as well. I shared a few of my favourite clever dust controlling tactics a little while ago so look into that post if you’re experiencing similar issues. And of course, if you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I’ll always tell you that a good quality feather duster is your best friend!
Window Tracks and Screens
With all of that dust, dirt, and pollen blowing around, your exterior window screens and window tracks can get dirty and unsightly pretty quickly. If it were just that, it wouldn’t be a big deal – but then there are the spiders, or more specifically, their webs. They pop up on a nightly basis on just about every surface of the outside of our home, but they seem to cling especially badly to the window screens. And then here’s the fun part: Everything else that blows by clings to them with extra strength. We’ve had some pretty interesting combinations of leaves, dandelion fuzz, dead dragonflies, and all kinds of other interesting things on the screen outside of our kitchen window before we finally just took the screen right off. As far as the dirt and dust goes, you really just need to clean your windows more often. When it comes to the spider web issue, there are two things you can do: When you install new windows, make sure they have the screen on the interior side of the windows, and until then, spray your window screens at least once a month with a spider spray from the hardware store to discourage the webs from being built there in the first place.
While you’re at it, spray around your exterior doorways, stairs, and seating areas as well. I’ve tried all kinds of natural methods and unfortunately, the spider spray is the only thing that’s given us a break from all of the webs that cover our house in the summer months.
Muddy Boots (and the mud they leave behind)
When you have fields all around your house as well as a big garden, you’re going to end up with some seriously muddy boots (and paws) from time to time. It’s actually not a huge deal if you’re prepared for it and have the tools you’ll need for cleaning nearby for those muddy days. You just learn to expect the mud and it’s not such a big deal if you’re ready for it. Of course, having a nice big mudroom like we finally added on last year really help to capture all of that mud (and it has a door so Chuckers can hang out in there for a little while if the need arises), but having a stack of cleaning towels and a mop nearby can really help keep the rest of the house from become a mud pit too. It can be tricky to deal with muddy boots because they have tread on them that really grips on to the sticky field mud but here’s how I clean my hunter boots that I wear in the garden and around the yard when they get really muddy.
Do you live out in the country? What kind of challenges have you faced when it comes to cleaning your farmhouse?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.