Monday, 16 July 2012

The Key to Cleanliness

As I've grown older and lived away from home longer, I've noticed that a frightening number of people in my generation haven't got the slightest idea how to clean a house, let alone run a household! This post is for them!

The key to Cleanliness: Daily Habit
If someone truly wishes to maintain a clean and tidy home environment, the ground work must be done each and every day. I'm not saying that a full spring clean must be completed each day, no-one has time or energy for that, but I am saying that the act of cleanliness is a continual one. A clean and tidy mindset must be developed so that over time it is as natural an act to pick up the dirty clothes or wipe the kitchen bench as it is to eat or sleep. This idea of continual cleaning may frighten some people, but it is the most efficient and time-cheap way of keeping order in the home. If the mess is allowed to pile up over days and weeks, naturally the task of cleaning it becomes overwhelming. However, if a little is done each day to gain and maintain cleanliness then the whole task takes very little time or effort and the reward is a comfortable and sanitary environment that induces no shame when friends come to visit.

How to Begin
If your house is a disaster area, then these tips are for you! You have two options: go into cleaning overdrive to gain order in one day, or, tackle your house one room at a time, over time. The latter is probably more appealing. Choose a room to begin your new clean way of life in, it may be a bedroom or office, any room which takes your fancy. Begin to tidy this room by sorting through any piles of stuff on the floor or tables. If there is rubbish or unwanted/unneeded items, throw it away or send it to the charity store. Once you have determined what you wish to remain, put the items away neatly in boxes/shelves/drawers. Having sufficient storage space makes keeping the house tidier, so you may need to invest in an extra bookshelf or some plastic storage tubs to roll under the bed. Once the room is free of clutter, you can see to vacuum the floor and dust the furniture.  Each day tackle another room in the same manner until your house has been cleaned right through.

Maintaining Cleanliness
The step above is hard work and maybe you have done this many times in an effort to keep your house clean and tidy, but your house will not keep itself in that state. I have a friend who cleans for several days as hard as she can. Once things look clean, she simply goes on living as she always has and doesn't think to clean again for another month or two. After a very short time, her room is at least as messy as it was before she began and so she feels that the effort was not worth it! Her problem is that she doesn't maintain the new-found cleanliness! I have a few simple ideas to help maintain a clean and tidy house.

1. Pick up after yourself.
This means that when you shower, you put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket (not on the floor). This also means that if you take books off the shelf, pull toys out of the cupboard, study at the kitchen table or move the contents of your house in some way during the day, that you put them all back either when you are finished with them or at the end of the day. Daily 'picking up' will prevent mounds of clothes and stuff from accumulating in your clean house. It literally takes 5 mins in the evening before bed to see to this small task.

2. Wash the dishes every day.
This step is very key to the cleanliness and hygiene of your home. Dirty dishes not only look disgusting, but they begin to smell disgusting very quickly, especially in warmer weather and give a very unsanitary feel to your house. I have shuddered internally at some homes when I see that their dishes have not been done for several days or when they wash a dirty plate for me to use as they are serving food. This task can easily be shared around the family; my husband washes the dishes for me every evening before bed. In the morning I can simply put them away and my kitchen is clean and hygienic to begin each new day. (The task of washing the dishes should also include wiping down all kitchen surfaces that have been used for preparing food during the day: benches, stove top etc..)

3. Sweep the Kitchen floor every other day.
Like washing the dishes, sweeping the kitchen floor helps to maintain the hygiene of your home. Food crumbs attract cockroaches and mice and are simply dirty. Making this a regular habit also makes the vacuuming easier when it comes time to do a full clean.

4. Do the laundry as soon as the basket is full.
Laundry is one of those things that must be done when the sun is shining so take advantage of sunny days and don't let the laundry pile get out of control. As with anything else, the more there is, the less motivated you will probably feel to do it! For us 21st century women, laundry couldn't be easier; you put it in the machine and press 'start'. Hanging the washing out takes as little as 5 minutes. Not a difficult job. I wash on approximately the same couple days each week. I find that routine makes it happen.

4. Clean the Whole House Once a Week.
This is the only slightly time consuming part of the cleaning process. That said, it takes me between 1-2 hours to clean my entire house top to bottom each week. Completing the above chores regularly makes for a quick full clean. Fully cleaning the house should involve at least the following:

a) Vacuuming the Floor
This is self explanatory and the time it takes to complete simply depends on the surface area of your floor.

b) Cleaning the Bathroom
This task includes cleaning the sink/basin, mirrors and the shower (walls and floor).

c) Cleaning the Toilet
You should use some sort of strong toilet cleaning product to scrub the toilet bowl and then clean the seat with the same product.

d) Dusting
This should be done before the vacuuming and include each surface that collects dust in the house (bookshelves, cabinets, photo frames, coffee tables, TV, shelves etc.).

e) Mopping tiled surfaces
This point is optional, but I do find that it makes my house appear cleaner (remove grease and marks on the tiles) and smell fresher for the week. Mopping should be done after the other cleaning is complete and left to dry for at least 30 mins.

5. Ironing Once a Week
Ironing is one of my least preferred household tasks and if I let it would build up forever. Sadly for me, my husband works in a profession that requires business wear and I have to iron regularly. The best way for me to keep up with it is to pick a day and iron on that same day each week. Watching a movie or listening to music helps make it more interesting.

Now the above list of household tasks may frighten the beginner cleaner, but don't feel too concerned. Most of them don't take as long as they look like they might and they certainly aren't difficult. Some people may even choose to break up the weekly tasks and make them daily tasks to fit cleaning into a busy schedule. This may look something like:

Monday: Washing
Tuesday: Ironing
Wednesday: Dusting & Vacuuming & Mopping
Thursday: Washing
Friday: Bathroom & Toilet
Weekend: NO CLEANING!!

If we only remember that the key to cleanliness is daily habit, then our homes will be so much easier to keep under control! Come on Ladies, we CAN keep our homes clean and tidy!


1 comment:

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