Yes, I know. Housework is a nightmare, or it can be if you make some common mistakes. I know I’ve made a few of these over the years and learned the hard way (and learned not to do through training as a professional cleaner, but that’s another story). How many of them are you making?
Mistake #1: Ignoring It
The only things that really will get better and/or go away if you ignore them are pimples, cold callers and spam emails. Everything else – like credit card bills, phone calls from your Mum – get worse if ignored. This applies to cleaning your house. It does get worse if you ignore it and unless you have somehow managed to acquire a Harry Potter-style house elf of your very own, then you will need to pay some attention to your housework. Alternatively, you could get the next best thing to a house elf, aka a cleaning lady (or cleaning gent – what do you call a guy cleaning “lady”?). Whatever you prefer, you need to make sure that somebody is getting busy with the vacuum cleaner and the dusters.
Mistake #2: Having Too Much Stuff
One of the things that they never seem to tell you is that hanging on to too much cluttery stuff means that you make the job of cleaning your house a whole lot harder. This is obvious in the case of chronic hoarders, where the whole house seems to be full of piles of trash and treasure side by side, making it impossible to find the carpet to vacuum it… if you can find the vacuum cleaner. However, even lower amounts of clutter means that you’ve got more to dust, more to clean and more to care for.
Actually, I’d use this principle rather than the Marie Kondo tip of seeing whether or not an item in your home “sparks joy”. I sometimes wonder if Ms Kondo owns household necessities such a s a broom or a toilet brush – I’ve got them in my house and they’re pretty important to things but they sure as heck don’t spark any joy. Even a gold-plated loo brush a la Saddam Hussein won’t do that. But you need to have basic cleaning implements nevertheless if you want a home that’s fit to live in.
After that digression, the question you should ask yourself is whether the item is worth the effort of cleaning and caring for – or whether you need it for cleaning and caring for other things. Do I like that figurine of a white Lipizzaner stallion enough to dust it regularly or to pay someone else to dust it? Yes means I keep it; no means it goes off to the charity shop where someone else will find it and love it.
There’s a truckload that can be said on decluttering and how to do it, so I’d better stop here and get onto some of the other mistakes that people make. But if you need help in this area, there’s a lot of info out there, so no excuses!
Mistake #3: Having Carpet Everywhere
I love the feeling of carpet underfoot and carpets and rugs certainly make a room a lot warmer. However, as delicious as carpets are in the living room and in the bedrooms (as long as we vacuum them regularly), there some places that you should never, ever in a million years have carpet. Top of the list would be the toilet (yes, that includes those specially designed little rugs that fit around the bowl), followed by the bathroom, the laundry and the kitchen. If you’re renting a place that has carpet in the kitchen – like happened to my brothers – then you might need to have a little chat to the landlord about getting it removed or at least about having a bit taken off the rent in exchange for the extra deep cleaning carpeted kitchens are going to mean.
Mistake #4: Cleaning The Floor First
If you do your own housework, one of the quick cheats for doing it in a hurry is to vacuum the carpets and sweep the floors for an instant lift. However, although this works if you’ve just learned your mother-in-law is 10 minutes’ away, it’s not a good idea on a regular basis to do the floors first. This is because all the other cleaning work that you probably need to do – dusting, removing dead flower arrangements, putting things back where they belong – will make things fall down. It’s much smarter to do the carpets last, as any professional cleaner will tell you.
Mistake #5: Having A Special Cleaning Product For Every Different Job
if you look around your supermarket shelves, you can probably find a special cleaning spray for the bathroom, another one for the toilet, another for the kitchen, another for “general use” and another for… That sound you can catch just on the edge of your hearing is the sound of your great-grandmother’s ghost laughing her head off. She would have told you – and most commercial cleaning companies would agree – that you don’t need a truckload of different products. You just need a few general all-purpose cleaners for everything. This could be a commercially produced cleaning spray or it could be one of the natural cleaners like baking soda or vinegar, but you’ll make your cleaning life a lot easier if you have to have a different product for every surface. A professional will tell you that one of the secrets to efficient cleaning is to take all your gear with you as you go, and it’s hard to do this with ten bottles of spray.
However, notice that I said different products. You will need to use separate tools for dirty areas and for clean areas. One rag for the kitchen bench and another for wiping down the toilet seat, for example. Or one scrubbing brush for dealing with stains on the carpet and another for getting grass stains off your favourite white jeans. This avoids cross-contamination and helps your home stay healthier.
Mistake #6: Forgetting To Clean Your Cleaning Tools
Who watches the watchers? Or, in a home cleaning context, who or what cleans the cleaners? Your cleaning tools need to be cleaned themselves from time to time. After all, a broom that’s full of grit and old cobwebs is more likely to spread new dirt onto the floor. The same goes with dirty mops, sponges, dusters and the like.
You can’t expect to do a good job of cleaning your home with badly maintained tools, so take a bit of time to care for them. This isn’t hard. It’s a matter of pulling that handful of fluff off the broom and giving it a good bang on the steps, tossing the used dusters and cleaning rags in the washing machine, storing the toilet brush in a wee bowl of disinfectant and giving the mop a good plunge up and down in a bucket of fresh warm soapy water to rinse it off after use.
While you’re at it, don’t forget that tea towels and sponges need to be changed regularly, so toss these in the washing machine as well while you’re at it.
Mistake #7: Using Too Much Product
Whether you’re a fan of commercial cleaning sprays or whether you’re a baking soda and vinegar enthusiast, using too much cleaning product is always a mistake. This is because you’ll be left with some sort of residue that will attract more dirt and look sleazy and grimy before long. I know it’s tempting to think that if a little bit works well, using even more will be better but this just aint the case! Start with just a little bit of whatever you fancy and then apply a bit more if you find that little bit isn’t enough, just like a professional cleaner does.