Love it or loathe it, keeping the house looking clean and fresh can be a real time investment. Get the maximum result for the minimum of effort with our top tips.
1. Clean little and often
No-one wants to feel that they’re cleaning and tidying constantly, but just half an hour a day is enough to help you keep on top. Tidy up as you go along, put everything away as it’s finished with, give bathroom sinks a quick daily wipe over and straighten sofa cushions when you leave the room.
2. Sort out your cleaning cupboard
If you’re anything like me, a lot of your cleaning time is spent rummaging for cloths and brushes in an over-flowing cupboard!
Turn everything out, and get rid of anything that you never use. Invest in some small coloured plastic baskets, and fill each one with the right tools for different rooms – for example, the ‘bathroom’ basket could contain disposable cleaning cloths, cleaner, soft cloths for buffing taps, bleach and rubber gloves. If that sounds like overkill, have an ‘upstairs’ and a ‘downstairs’ basket.
3. Invest in some door mats!
The less dirt brought into the house in the first place, the better. Use an exterior plastic or jute mat outside the front door, then a washable, ‘dirt trapper’ mat indoors. Position a boot scraper outside, and ask people to remove dirty shoes before coming in.
4. Love your oven
Line the bottom with a non stick oven liner (available from eBay, Amazon, Lakeland, John Lewis, Argos and many other retailers), and you’ll never have to scrub it again. The liner can be wiped occasionally with a damp cloth, or even put through the dishwater.
5. Go modern
There are hundreds of cleaning products on the market now designed to take the effort out of cleaning. Using shower shine on the cubicle (a no-rinse, spray-on cleaner) every morning after you’ve showered will banish soap scrum and keep everything sparkling for minimal effort. We also like microfibre cloths, which are washable and mean you can clean bathrooms and kitchens using water only.
6. Clean top to bottom
Being organised really does save time. Start at the top of the room and cleaning downwards, so that dust falling from windowsills, shelves and furniture ends up on the floor before, not after, you’ve vacuumed!
7. Let products work
When you’re in a hurry, it’s really tempting to apply products like bathroom cleaner to sinks and then rinse it off immediately. What’s happening, though, is that you’re wiping it off before it’s had a chance to sink in and dissolve soap scum, meaning you’ll have to rub harder to remove stains. Apply cleaners and let them sit for two or three minutes while you do something else, then you should be able to rinse with very little scrubbing required.
8. Keep tools clean
Cleaning equipment soon gets covered in grime, and won’t do a good job unless it’s looked after.
Keep a stack of cloths so you can use clean ones each time, wash broom heads and dustpans regularly and empty the vacuum clean bag when it’s three quarters full, to give the best clean.
If you prefer using disposable cloths, cut them in half. The smaller size is fine for doing most jobs, and you’ll get double the use out of each pack.
9. Distract yourself
Pick a half hour podcast, plug in your headphones and listen while you clean. If you prefer music, anything with a lively rhythm is great for vacuuming to!
10. Create a ‘clutter basket’
Most people have a dumping ground in their hallway or kitchen where odds and ends accumulate – things that aren’t required in the short term but can’t thrown away. Give them a special home with a smart lidded box or basket, keeping surfaces clean and tidy.
By Sara Walker