Has the latest lockdown got you inspired you to tackle some neglected jobs around the house?
Why not get that new-home feeling by tackling a whole-house clean. We don’t mean just a quick sweep with the broom and a wipe down of the bench, but one that leaves the home germ-free and sparkling.
While it can seem like a mammoth job, it’s one that can be easily done if you take it room-by-room.
“We all have those cleaning tasks that tend to get pushed down the list,” she says. “But the feeling of a freshly cleaned home and the impact this has on your mood is definitely a worthwhile reward.
“Start with a plan, then pop on your favourite playlist and tackle one or two areas each day,” she says.
Rune Sovndahl, CEO of Fantastic Services Group, says: “Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by thinking of the task as a whole. Take it one room at a time.”
Let’s start with those pesky shower screens. “Use a paste of bicarb soda, a generous squirt of vinegar and dishwashing liquid and a few drops of eucalyptus oil,” says Sovndahl.
To confront stained grout, Mila suggests mixing 1 cup of bicarb soda with 1/3 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Make sure the area is well ventilated and leave for 15 minutes before washing off.
For the sink, Sovndahl’s recipe is 2 cups of water, half a cup of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Again, the key is to leave it to do its work – just for a minute or two this time – before wiping clean.
One of Mila’s most popular TikTok videos uses shaving cream to clean mirrors and keep them fingerprint- and fog-free for longer.
And, for toilets, Sovndahl says you can choose your cleaning weapon of choice. There are commercial toilet cleaner products and natural options like vinegar or boiling water. Or, you can try an unconventional approach and use Coca Cola to lift rust rings. “Pour it around the bowl and let it sit for half an hour to give the acids time to break down the stains,” he says.
Don’t forget to look up! To clean your exhaust fan, Sovndahl recommends using your vacuum cleaner with a special attachment for getting in between the vents. “For a more in-depth clean, remove the vent if possible and use a damp microfibre cloth,” he says.
Now it’s time to pause, rest and enjoy the fruits of your labour so far. Then, onto the kitchen, we go …
Mila’s advice for cleaning your stovetop is to leave a paste of bicarb soda and water around the burners for 30 minutes before spraying on vinegar with a dash of lemon juice. Sovndahl suggests using a toothbrush to get into small grooves for a more thorough clean.
To degrease rangehood filters, Mila recommends first soaking them in very hot soapy water before sprinkling them with bicarb soda. Run them through your dishwasher’s hottest setting and leave them to air dry.
It might be a dreaded job, but cleaning the oven has to be done. Take a deep breath and follow the advice of Sovndahl. “Use a dishwashing tablet to scrub away dirt and grime,” he says. “Keep scrubbing until you no longer feel the stain’s resistance, then it’s time to wipe away the residue and give your oven a once-over with a multipurpose spray.”
And, for the oven racks? Mila offers the weird yet wonderful tip of soaking them in your bath. Simply line the bathtub with an old towel and submerge the racks in very hot water. Pour over a mix of laundry detergent dissolved in water and leave them to soak overnight. The next day simply wipe down for a scrub-free clean.
For shining splashbacks, Sovndahl suggests gentle dishwashing liquid rather than anything abrasive.
For marble or stone kitchen benchtops, Sovndahl counsels a gentle touch. “Clean spills as soon as they happen with a soft sponge and warm water,” he says. “If you really want to use a product, purchase a spray designed specifically for marble or stone.”
For wooden benchtops, Sovndahl says to avoid acidic cleaners like vinegar and instead stick to diluted soapy water and re-oiling the wood every few years.
Your sink is best left until last. To clear bacteria and prevent blockages in the drain, Mila’s hack is to pour 1 cup of bicarb soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup of warm white vinegar. Watch it bubble for a few minutes before pouring over boiling water. Then, pour salt on a lemon or lime half for the rest of the sink and use this as a scrub.
Congratulations, you’ve now got clean bathrooms and kitchens. It’s time for a halfway celebration. You’ve got this!
If your couch snacking has resulted in crumbs that defy even the best vacuum cleaner, Sovndahl says that Fantastic Services cleaners use tape to pick up smaller fragments from creases.
Mila suggests wiping down leather furniture with warm water and dish soap to remove stains, then polish with melted coconut oil. For fabric furniture, spray a mixture of soda water and dish soap, then wipe away any stains.
Dust surfaces and items on shelves in a way that captures the dust rather than reallocates it. Chantel’s tip for keeping things dust-free for longer is to mix up a spray of water, vinegar, and coconut oil.
We spend around eight hours here every night, but how often do we deep clean our bed? “When we’re working from home, it is even more important than ever to have a space dedicated to rest and retreat,” says Mila.
Both Mila and Sovndahl suggest sprinkling a generous layer of bicarb soda on your mattress. “The longer you can leave it on, the better,” says Sovndahl, recommending between 15 minutes and several hours before thoroughly vacuuming it off.
Ironing your bedsheets after washing them – using a 50:50 mix of vinegar and water for the rinse cycle – is not just about getting them smooth. “The heat helps to kill the last of the germs and dust mites,” Sovndahl says.
If your work-from-home desk has become a scary repository of dust, detritus and crumbs, it’s time to not only do a clean but resolve to tidy this hard-working area more often.
Given that research has found more germs on keyboards than toilets seats, follow Sovndahl’s advice: “Use either a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol or an alcohol wipe to disinfect your computer, keyboard and mouse.”
Now you’ve sorted the specifics of each room, it’s time to blitz the items that are throughout the whole house.
“Start from the top,” says Sovndahl about cleaning walls, ceilings and floors. “Any residue that falls will then get cleaned later.”
For ceilings, Sovndahl suggests using a vacuum cleaner or a long-handled duster.
The idea of cleaning your walls might seem overwhelming. “But clean walls can make a massive difference to a space,” says Sovndahl. He suggests starting with dusting and then using sugar soap in a circular motion (after testing in an inconspicuous area) backed up by a baking soda paste for any stubborn stains.
Mila suggests using a microfibre mop to help you reach the full height of your walls. Use the same mop, or try Sovndahl’s suggestion of covering a broom with a dampened tea towel for running along cornices and skirting boards.
There’s nothing better than sparkling clean windows. Sovndahl suggests diluted vinegar and tackling small scratches with a dab of non-gel toothpaste on a soft cloth, then scrubbing in a circular motion.
For blinds and curtains, Sovndahl suggests starting with a vacuum then using an old sock for slatted blinds and a steam cleaner for curtains (with the proviso that you ensure they fully dry).
And, finally, it’s time to tend to the floors.
For carpet, you initially need to assess whether spot stain cleaning using a good quality foaming cleaner is needed before doing an overall deep vacuum.
For wooden floors, Sovndahl suggests vacuuming thoroughly before mopping in line with the grain of the wood.
Sovndahl’s suggested hack for tiles is scrubbing with two scoops of Napisan Gold Pro Stain removal powder added to a bucket of warm water. “Once the first layer of grime has been removed, mop over the area again with hot water,” he says. “Presto, your tiles will be better than brand new!”
Well, that’s the inside looking spick and span. Your next mission (if you choose to accept it) is to head into the great outdoors. No, not for a walk. For cleaning the outside of your home.
Start by sweeping any outdoor areas, whether tiles or wooden decks. “Sweeping regularly will keep outdoor areas looking good,” says Sovndahl. “And, it will make it easier to do the deeper cleaning that is required a few times a year.”
Outdoor furniture needs regular cleaning, even in the cooler months when it might not be used as much. “Maintain your outdoor furniture year-round, so it doesn’t look old and neglected by the time warmer weather rolls around,” says Sovndahl. “A good DIY cleaning solution is a quarter cup of ammonia, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a quarter cup of warm water.” And, for sturdy furniture like wicker, simply hose it down.
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