Although it can feel like a terrible bore and nuisance, cleaning on a regular basis will save you more time and effort in the long run. In fact, doing a little bit each day can make the whole chore of cleaning less overwhelming and more bearable – rather than procrastinating for weeks and then realising with desperation that things have reached crisis point and that you have a huge list of things to get through in one weekend.
Firstly, keeping things generally tidy and putting things back in their “proper places” will make the chore of cleaning much easier. So, make it a point of picking things up as you go and returning them to their allocated places and storage locations.
If your home is split-level, it can be a good idea to keep a small box or basket at the foot of the stairs as a temporary receptacle for all things that need to be returned to the other level – thus you can collect all misplaced items and return them in one trip instead of making several unnecessary trips.
Hoarding is a tempting and popular habit but it is also one of the biggest obstacles to keeping a clean and tidy house. Make it a point of regularly emptying out any crammed cupboards and drawers and sorting through their contents, disposing of anything that you no longer use or need. This not only means that you can locate things quickly and more easily but it also provides fewer places for dust and grime to collect and therefore fewer places to clean.
By simple habits like keeping on top of the laundry, restoring the kitchen to order after each meal and a quick vacuum over the rooms with high traffic and activity, they soon become second nature and you can maintain a comfortable, clean environment with very little effort.
Many of these involve the “good habits” mentioned earlier, which if practised regularly, will soon be done without thinking and will only take a few minutes every day.
- Do not make your bed immediately after getting up – leave the bedclothes open and allow the bed to air while you shower and have breakfast. Opening the bedroom window will help this process and reduce the level of humidity in the room (which encourages mould to grow) as well as limiting the number of dust mites lingering.
- Wash up after each meal and wipe all surfaces clean, replace things in the pantry and utensils in their drawers or racks – keep the kitchen generally clean and tidy. It is a good idea to change any dishcloths or tea towels you use daily.
- Vacuum or sweep the kitchen floor, which usually accumulates more debris than other rooms in the house. You may also like to do this with any areas of high traffic, such the hallway by the front door or the area by the back door leading to the garden – particularly if you have pets or children.
- Keep an eye on toilets and use the toilet brush to keep things fresh and unstained.
- Keep clutter to a minimum by returning things to their proper places.
- Splitting certain chores and assigning them to certain days in the week can help to make the workload more manageable – for example, designating Sunday for washing bed linen and towels.
Naturally, there are several cleaning jobs which don’t have to be done on a daily basis – these can be done on a weekly schedule but it is still a good idea to stagger them on different days throughout the week to save you having a nightmare and having to spend an entire miserable day cleaning at the end of the week.
- Strip your bed and air your mattress then change to fresh bed linen. In particularly warm weather, you may wish to do this two times a week.
- Change and replace all the bath and hand towels.
- Do a thorough vacuum, sweep or mop of your floors.
- Do a thorough clean of the bathroom including the toilet, sink, shower and/or bathtub, mirrors and floors as well as any wall tiles that need cleaning.
- Do a thorough clean of the kitchen, especially the areas not usually covered in your daily routine – for example, wipe cupboard doors and splash backs, wipe the oven and microwave, check the fridge and disinfect any rubbish bins.
- Wipe fingerprints from any smooth surfaces that show up the oily marks and dust all exposed surfaces. (Dusting is the one job that can wait if you are pressed for time).
- Do the ironing
If you have kept on top of your daily and weekly chores, these tend to be the little “extras”. They are not vital for every day comfort and hygiene but they just give that extra bit of sparkle and peace of mind.
- Clean your windows, both inside and out. Commercial glass cleaners are readily available although a solution of vinegar and water will also do the trick. Wiping with crumpled newspaper after the glass is dry will help polish the surfaces to a nice shine.
- In addition to the usual bed linen, wash your mattress covers, pillow protectors and any other under bedding. It is also a good time to turn your mattress (do this at least once every two months).
- Have a sort-out of cupboards and drawers and get rid of any unnecessary clutter.
- Do a more thorough vacuum, including all the hard-to-reach areas you usually ignore, such as the cobwebs in high corners, behind the sofas and under the beds.
- Dust and wipe any lamps and lampshades.
- If you have wooden furniture, this is a good time to get out the polish – the same for mirrors and any silver frames and ornaments.
- Give the oven a thorough clean, using a specially formulated oven-cleaning product if you wish.
- Do a more thorough dust, checking all forgotten corners and ridges as well as the blinds, door tops and picture rails.
While it may seem like a quaint, old-fashioned concept, a big seasonal clean is a good idea. This is a good time to wash things like curtains and rugs and even scrub walls, to remove any ingrained grime and mildew. Shampoo any upholstery. Dust or vacuum books, CDs, videos and other things stacked on shelves. Consider cleaning your ceilings and walls and perhaps a professional deep clean of your floors, particularly if you have carpets. Lift and shift aside any heavy furniture and appliances and vacuum or mop underneath them.
Take your blankets, duvets and pillows to the dry-cleaners if necessary, otherwise follow the care instructions and wash them at home. Check through your wardrobe and pack away any clothes that will not be worn that season. This is also a good time to do an overhaul of your wardrobe and consider giving away any clothes that you have not worn for two years. Do another check of your drawers and cupboards and throw away anything that is broken or no longer in use. Also check garages, basements, cellars, attics, lofts and garden sheds.