Monday 31 July 2017

Cleaning Short Cuts and Tips to Keep Up with the Housework

A neat and tidy downstairs cloakroomIt's very easy to get completely overwhelmed with housework. I do. It feels like I blink (or get absorbed in Facebook arguments) for a second couple of hours, and Armeggedon appears, uninvited, in my house. There are various issues that can cause this unwelcome phenomenon to occur. Maybe you are a bit of a hoarder, or have a brood of mini-hoarders, or just have other things you'd rather be doing. Whatever the reason, you are left with two choices; you can either dedicate yourself to a life maintaining a spotless showhome, worthy of a spot in Good Housekeeping or, you can do what I do and cheat a bit, fake it, and have a clean and happy home, without the hours of rubber-gloved drudgery. Here's how.

1. Little and Often Ever wondered how much you can get done during that space of time  you spend staring out of the window, waiting for the kettle to boil? Quite a lot actually. You can probably manage one of these; wipe round the kitchen surfaces, empty the bin, clean a few cupboard fronts, empty the dishwasher, have a word with those teabag stains in the sink, etc, etc. This will depend on the speed of your kettle and the size of your kitchen, but the point is, all those little moments over the space of a day add up, so don't waste them. If you do a little job everytime you have an idle few minutes, it makes everything far less of a chore, as it doesn't build up into a giant project by the end of the day. 

2. Never Leave a Room Empty Handed Why does everything always end up in the wrong place? I've devoted entire afternoons to committing stray items to the rooms they belong in and it is a tedious task. It's not necessarily going to clear all the clutter, but try always taking something with you as you go from one room to another. If you do this for long enough, you won't even notice you are doing it, which makes it a much less onerous way of tidying up. It's a great habit to get into, and you don't end up with a massive boring job, probably involving more crap than you can reasonably carry , by the time you get around to it.

3. Economy of Effort This also applies to going upstairs. Piles of washing, shoes, toiletries, always end up in a perpetual pile on the bottom step, waiting for the day when someone remembers to take everything up. Instead, take a few things every time you go up, and a few things every time you go down (empty bottles, toilet roll tubes, etc, or glasses or mugs from the bedroom). It soon becomes second nature and it doesn't feel like effort, because you're going anyway. 

4. Painful Piles Piles of undefined crap are the worst offenders for making a house look untidy, so it's better not to let them build up. When you put something in the right room, it usually takes a small amount of extra time to put it where it's meant to go, instead of starting yet another pile. It is so worth the small effort when you finally manage to cure that pile problem in every corner. The worst piles are usually washing piles and these are my nemesis. There's no easy are less tedious way of getting through them, except to set aside a time of day ( I do mine before I go to bed) to get them done so they don't build up to epic proportions, on the scale of Mount Washmore. Although it does make a great cat bed.

A cat asleep on a pile of washing

5. Microfibre Magic If you have yet to discover the microfibre cloth, and you want to master low-effort cleaning, you need to get some. It's not often I strongly recommend a product, but when I was a cleaner, I discovered these, and they make housework tasks a breeze. If you suddenly find you have guests coming, You can quickly whizz round the bathroom with your usual cleaner, then polish everything up to an impressive shine with one of these in seconds, it will look like you've been cleaning for hours! They shine up door handles, and can have mirrors looking perfect, with no streaks, in minutes. They also dry floors easily too, just chuck one down and skate round with it under your foot, easy! There are lots of other uses for them, which I can't possibly list, and they last forever. I've still got the same ones from when I started a cleaning job six years ago. 

6. Hard Surface Cleaner This is not a selling post, but I have discovered a few gems that make life a lot easier, in cleaning terms, so I might as well share them. I originally reviewed this Eco Egg hard surface cleaner for a blog post and I'd never heard of it. Since then, though, I've found so many uses for it. Because you just use a slightly damp cloth, it's a much more efficient way of cleaning, you can just wipe and go. Also, it is quite grainy, so it is really good at making short work of the really stubborn stuff. It gets a hob top shiny and clean in minutes (yep, even the burnt-on stuff) and is amazing on wall tiles. I realise I sound like an advert, but I couldn't believe what a difference it made. I used to spend ages scraping at my hob with a cooker scraper! You can buy it here from Amazon but you may find it cheaper elsewhere if you are not in a hurry. QVC quite often have good offers on it. This is my hob, halfway through a five minute clean!

A hob top half cleaned with Eco Egg hard surface cleaner

7. Get Everyone Involved So far, despite being a parenting blog, I haven't mentioned other people. That's because all the above tips apply equally to anyone, not just families. However, it's a great idea to get everyone involved in these habits if you do have little ones, or even bigger ones. As children get older, it's good for them to pitch in and, as they learn by example, all of the above will help them see what's expected. It's up to you to establish what your children are capable of at different ages, but we started off with a daily 'tidy up time' after dinner for their own toys and moved on to introducing other tasks as they got older. At 11, L puts all his washing away for pocket money, vacuums, cleans the car, does his best to keep his room tidy (work in progress!) and is just beginning to learn to cook easy meals. Any habits you can instill in children when they are young will be a massive benefit in the long run, to them and you. Although it might be a while before they appreciate it! Incentives work well, such as pocket money, a treat, or a reward chart. 

A small boy tangled up in a nearly-made bed!

8. Clear the Clutter or Organise it Better Clutter is an age old problem, but, personally, I think it actually has two issues attached to it; 'too much', obviously, but also 'badly organised'. The thing is, if you have badly organised clutter, it makes it harder to put things away, so you put it off, and you're back to those pesky piles again. Some clutter, though, might be important to you and that's fine too, you just need to find a way to organise it. Have regularly clear outs, with different categories; 'Charity Shop', 'Rubbish/Recycle', 'Keep', 'Store'. Your 'Store' pile might be things like drawings the children have brought home from school, old notebooks, or other items of sentimental value. Keep these separate to things you use every day, so you can organise your storage space better. Once you get down to just your 'Keep' pile, look at what you have the most of, and try to plan your storage to fit. When I did this, it turned out I had more of a shoe problem than I would like to admit, so I bought this shoe rack. Okay, it's not the most beautiful piece of furniture you will ever see, but having them all in one place and accessible means that they are not all over the floor and I can even wear them, now I know where they all are.

9. Use it or Lose It Be ruthless and be honest with yourself. Do you really need 15 duvet sets for four beds? Probably not. Are you really going to fit into those designer jeans you love? (If the answer is 'maybe', they can always go into the 'store' pile for now). There is a theory that if you haven't used something in a year, or certainly two years, you aren't going to and it can go to a new home. Whilst this doesn't always apply (think snow shovels and sledges) it's definitely something to consider when you are sorting through your stuff. If you struggle to let go of items you've loved previously, remind yourself how much joy they can bring to someone else. Charity shops are also grateful for donations of lovely things and some will even collect if transport is an issue, or consider your local school or church fete's bric-a-brac stall.

10. Other People's Opinions Once you've got through the clutter and have got to grips with the little tidying tasks, you will hopefully remain in some semblance of order for visitors and your own state of mind. It might not be perfect and you will still have to take on the bigger housework tasks when you have the time and energy, but keeping on top of things is half the battle, so hopefully this will help. However, the most important thing to remember is that hygeine is really important for yours and your family's health, but how tidy your house is, is your own business. If you prefer a 'lived in' home, that's totally up to you and anyone that has a problem with it, probably isn't visiting you for the right reasons! 
Meme featuring 'excuse the mess we live here' on a coffee stain.



  1. I love micro fibre clothes they are amazing! Some great tips here, but isn't it funny how some people (e.g. the other half) never clean up!

  2. There's some great tips here! I really need to get better at cleaning!

  3. what a great post! I must admit I am quite tidy but at times the little mess can get out of control! R

  4. I need to adhere to this advice more! We hate cleaning. We did recently have a big clear out though so the house feels lighter and more spacious!

  5. These are some really fantastic tips especially during the school holidays when time is even less to do things like housework. I always try and leave a room with something to put back as well as the use it or lose it approach

    Laura x

  6. I really need to get better at tidying up, my room is a state!


© The Parent Game. All rights reserved.