Will your house be cleaner if you own a floor steamer, a sonic scrubber, a carpet washer and a little cordless hand-held hoover? It might be, but only if you get those things out of the cupboard once in a while. I don’t have any of that equipment in my kit. In addition to cloths and cleaning products, I have a regular vacuum cleaner (with cord attached), a microfibre mop, a bucket, a long-handled duster and a window vac.
A decent vacuum cleaner is essential in the war against dust. Our domestic cleaning team mostly use Hettys and Henrys (Numatic brand), because they’re reliable, manoeuvrable and stand up to being carried around in the boot of a car. The new Hettys even have a nifty wee set of on-board accessories: a dusting brush, an upholstery brush and a nosey parker. The other advantage of the Numatic vacuums is that you don’t have to wash filters (the only filter is the one above the dust bag; it just needs to be shaken out now and again). The dust bags themselves are composed of layers of microfibre that filter out allergens and prevent them from recirculating in the air.
What kind of vacuum should you buy? Bagged or bagless? Corded or cordless? Upright or cylinder? HEPA filter? I recommend checking Which magazine or another buying guide to decide on a vacuum that best suits your needs. Think of the type of house you have and whether your hoover needs to fit into small spaces. Consider also the weight of the appliance if you’re going to have to carry it up and down stairs.
Most vacuums need maintenance in order to continue sucking effectively. The instructions that came with the appliance will explain how to clean the filters, and how often. Turbo heads – such as those on most upright models – can become clogged with hair and so have to be dismantled and cleaned periodically. Many vacuums come with air filters that should be changed regularly. This is especially true if you have a dog, otherwise the hoover will develop a doggy smell which will permeate every room of the house 😉.
My favourite kind of mop is a Vileda Supermocio because the heads are easily pulled off and can be washed in the washing machine. The Supermocio microfibre heads dry quickly in the sun or on a radiator. Some members of our team prefer mops with cotton and microfibre string heads, while others like the flat mops. The flat mops (e.g. Vileda Ultramax) are great for doing large floor areas.
In my opinion, the most important feature of a mop is that it is clean. You don’t want to be mopping your floors with something that stays permanently damp – always dry the mop head between uses. Remember that microbes love moisture. When you think about it, mopping the kitchen floor with a damp, smelly mop is akin to wiping the kitchen bench with a cloth that spends all its time in a dirty puddle in the sink, and we wouldn’t do that (or hopefully not!).
Unfortunately, my obsession with clean mop heads means that I’ve broken half a dozen mop handles in the past few years. The bit of the Vileda handle that the microfibre head clips into is only plastic, and will break eventually, particularly when you change the heads as frequently as I do.
Steam mops are popular with some of our clients. Our domestic cleaners don’t have floor steamers because there is a limit to the amount of equipment they can carry around. Also, steamers aren’t suitable for all types of flooring. Still, a steamer is certainly worth considering if you have large areas of tiled floor. They have the advantage of sanitising surfaces without added chemicals.
Most homes will need a mop of some description. However, in houses with only very small areas of hard flooring (e.g. a tiny kitchen and a tiny bathroom) you may be able to get by with just floor wipes. I don’t recommend the mops made to hold floor wipes – wiping the floor by hand gives a better result.
Although you can often suck up cobwebs with the vacuum cleaner, a long microfibre duster (see the photo) is handy for high cobwebs. The end can screw off, allowing the duster to be fitted onto a broom handle. These dusters are good for sweeping along the walls to remove dust and tiny cobwebs that are difficult to see. They’re also the right size to slide between stair supports, an area where dust can build up.
My favourite cleaning accessory is undoubtedly my Karcher Window Vac. True, it is not an essential item of equipment, but it makes fast work of cleaning glass and removing water from glass and tiles. Any home with large glass doors, picture windows or a walk-in shower needs one of these! I use my Karcher every time I clean a shower: after applying bathroom cleaner containing a limescale removing agent to all the surfaces with a sponge, I leave it a couple of minutes, wash it off, then dry the shower with the window vac. Any water accidentally sprayed onto the bathroom floor can be quickly sucked up with a WV2 Karcher (the WV1 model has a smaller tank and isn’t quite so suitable for removing spillages on horizontal surfaces). Easy!