Spring cleaning is so passé

Spring is definitely in the air and it seems impossible to avoid the noise about spring cleaning: from Mrs Hinch’s bestselling book of cleaning tips to a tongue-in-cheek article about the house-proud in this Month’s Cosmopolitan Magazine. But, never fear – I’m about to take the pressure off. Spring cleaning is so passé – it’s had its day; it’s done with; it’s SO over!

Spring cleaning of the modern home is unnecessary. It harks back to the days when a home’s heating was coal fired, sometimes up and downstairs, throughout the winter months. By the time that spring arrived, a major clean-up of the house’s soot-blackened interior was an absolute necessity: chimneys needed sweeping; carpets and rugs needed to be taken outside and beaten; curtains needed laundering and replacing with lightweight summer pairs; windows needed washing and buffing to a shine with a ‘shammy’ (chamois) leather. These days, however, that sort of palaver needs to be consigned to the past. Nowadays, we need to keep on top of the housework throughout the year, and do what feels appropriate for us, our lifestyles and the home environment in which we want to live.

I’m a great admirer of Mrs Hinch and can understand why she has so many house-proud disciples: our homes look better and make us feel good. But cleaning isn’t a religion. Don’t get me wrong, although I don’t possess obsessive zeal, nor do I need everything spick and span at all times, I’m not a slut – I keep on top of housework and household chores and maintain a tidy and welcoming home. I have to since I downsized to a small apartment. I could cover every surface of my home with books, papers, project materials, writing materials, half-written blogs …. But now I don’t have room for piles of ‘stuff’ everywhere. I have to contain and confine them (if temporarily) usually in the study – on which I can close the door if necessary.

I’m definitely house-proud: I love my home and how it reflects me, both back to me and any visitors who step across the threshold. I live alone, so always make a special effort if I know visitors are arriving! The trick is to maintain a standard or level that means your home is seen at its best all the time, for example when unexpected visitors arrive. I assume that there’s nearly always some tidying and housework that needs doing, so I may as well do a bit at a time, and regularly – on the basis of what I can see needs doing. Here are a few of my tips for keeping on top of things.

• If you can see dust on one surface in a room the whole room needs dusting. Clear surfaces and polish after if you’ve got real wood anywhere. If you’ve moved dust about and it’s settled on the floor, get the vacuum out and suck it up.

TIP: To prevent your hoover from clogging up with pet or human hair, wearing trainers or other footwear with a ridged sole, scrape your feet over carpeted areas where you would expect there to be hair, even if you can’t see it. (For example the place where you brush/dry/style your hair.) Hair will form strings or clumps that you can pick up and put in the bin.

• If clumps of dust and hair billow across hard floor surfaces in front of you, it means the floor needs vacuuming more than mopping.

TIP: Clean small laminated flooring areas, or ad-hoc stains on such, using heavy-duty floor wipes. It saves on bending over and filling a bucket with soapy water. Place one wipe on the floor surface and under each foot. Rub out individual stains and/or dance around the floor covering the whole surface area. Turn or replace wipes as necessary. Mopping is best for removing stains.

• In the bathroom: clean the shower when you’ve finished your ablutions and while you’re still in it; clean the toilet (bowl, seat, lid and pedestal) properly at least once a week, the bowl more frequently as required. If you’re cleaning the toilet you may as well do the sink too. (It takes a minute!)

• Notice bad smells – bins anywhere not just in the kitchen; burnt stuff on the bottom of the oven; the toilet (see above); the bed and bedroom (just saying); trainers in the hall – and deal with them straight away. Empty, clean, refresh and spray Neutradol liberally as required.

• Before you go on holiday do all the above, plus the recycling and rendering the kitchen spotless, and make up a clean laundered bed to return home to. You’ll thank yourself when you get back.

In Solo Success! I wrote, “Value yourself by valuing your space” about the importance of your home environment in relation to self-respect. “Is your house/flat a cosy nest or is it a messy shambles…..? Is it worthy of you and supporting your values and goals.” Look around. What can you see needs doing? To make it look, and you feel, better.

21 May 2019