Everyone knows how to clean, right? No! Wrong! These days many of you fabulous young adults leave home without basic housekeeping skills. You might have 5000 followers on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean you know how to clean a toilet.
Keep calm, we’re here to help as you set off for your adventures in the world. The easiest thing to do would be to hire us to clean your flat, but maybe you’re moving outside of Yorkshire, or maybe your living allowance won’t stretch to weekly cleaning services. That’s why you need this handy guide to clean living quarters.
Tip 1. Keep it tidy guys!
Put rubbish in the bin (and recyclables in the recycling bin) straightaway. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to get up from your desk when you’re in the middle of something, put a bin right by the desk. Also, use bin liners, because there’s nothing worse than having to scrape mouldy food from the bottom of your rubbish container.
As tempting as it is to throw clothes on the floor, avoid this at all costs. Dirty clothes go straight into the laundry hamper (make sure you have one!), clean clothes go in the drawers or wardrobe, and clothes that have been worn but might be clean enough to wear again should be hung up or folded neatly on a chair. I would advise using a small coat stand to hang up things you might wear again. A chair can quickly turn into a rag heap, but if the clothes are hanging on hooks you can see what’s there.
Bits of paper on surfaces prevent those surfaces from being cleaned, and they look messy. A filing system that consists of a single cardboard box is better than no filing system at all.
Please return all dirty dishes to the kitchen [this is your mother speaking]. Refer to Tip 4.
The smaller your living space, the tidier you’ll need to keep it. Small apartments are not always quicker to clean than larger homes, in fact they often take longer because they tend to be more cluttered. So try not to accumulate too much stuff, and be tidy with the stuff that you have, then you can get the cleaning done in no time at all.
Tip 2. Suck it up!
You may be surprised to learn that most of the dust in our homes actually comes off us and our pets. We shed a lot of skin and hair, especially in the bathroom.
The other kind of dirt in our houses is soil from outside. Wearing only slippers or socks in the house drastically cuts down this outside dirt.
A decent hoover is your top weapon against dust. It doesn’t need to be large or expensive, it just needs to suck properly. Don’t throw the attachments in a cupboard and forget about them – they are invaluable in small homes. Use those attachments to clean along the skirting boards and right into the corners, use them to clean under the sofa cushions and in all the nooks and crannies, including the space behind the toilet. The wee brush attachment is great for dusting shelves and cleaning extractor fans (you can wash the brush if it gets dirty) and the skinny plastic attachment is good for getting cobwebs on the ceiling.
What’s the best value small vacuum cleaner? I can recommend the Hoover Enigma Pets Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner TE70EN21, which is currently £96.83 on Amazon (it was on sale for about £60 when I bought mine a year ago). This hoover was voted the best vacuum under £100 on Mumsnet.
Tip 3. Keep the bathroom and toilet in top condition
A shower that has been allowed to accumulate a heavy coating of soap scum (that waxy deposit consisting of soap residue and body fats) and limescale will take many hours of professional cleaning to bring up to scratch. In the long run it saves time to clean it as regularly as you can. Those of you living in hard water areas need a bathroom cleaner that will remove limescale, such as Cif Power and Shine Bathroom, or Powerforce Bathroom Cleaner from Aldi.
Wash with shower gel (not hard soap) and dry the shower with a squeegee after use. If you dry the shower religiously, you’ll probably only have to clean it with bathroom cleaner every three weeks or so. However, you should remove hair from the drain every time you wash your hair. This task is only gross if that hair has been in the drain for weeks or months, then it is ewww…
Always rinse the handbasin after use, especially after brushing teeth. Clean the taps, handbasin and counter at least once a week. Limescale-removing bathroom cleaners should be rinsed off otherwise they can cause marks on the taps. For a quick wipe down of the handbasin etc., just use an antibacterial surface spray and a microfibre cloth.
Toilets need cleaning at least once a week. Guys, flush them after every pee. It might seem like a waste of water, but they get really bad limescale stains if not flushed each time. Keep a packet of antibacterial surface wipes near the toilet; use these to wipe down the cistern, flusher, lid, seat, around the top of the toilet and the toilet base. In the bowl you can use thick bleach or toilet gel (e.g. Toilet Duck Action Gel Citrus), though the gel is better if you’re seeing limescale stains. Leave the chemical in the bowl for at least 5 minutes, then brush and flush 😊.
Towels should be changed regularly, especially if you can’t dry them between uses. Damp towels make for a bad smell in the bathroom, and they’re not very nice to use. For those of you who don’t have clothes washing facilities in your quarters, think about using microfibre gym towels instead of big fluffy cotton ones.
Don’t forget the bathroom floor. Clean it at least once a week. For tiny bathrooms, it can be just as easy to use floor wipes instead of mopping.
Tip 4: Clean the kitchen as you cook
Food prepared in a dirty kitchen might not be safe to eat. It’s best to clean as you go. This is really important if others are using the kitchen too. Your flatmate might not know you spilled raw chicken juice on the counter, and he might just make himself a sandwich there (and if all the dishes are dirty he might not even use a plate).
Make a habit of returning all dishes to the kitchen and washing them, if not immediately after use then at least once a day. With any luck you’ll have a dishwasher. Dishwashers were a truly inspired human invention [did you know, the first dishwasher was invented by a woman, Josephine Cochrane, in 1886]. If washing dishes by hand is the only option, don’t allow food to dry onto the plates, otherwise they’ll need soaking.
In many homes, mail and stray pieces of paper will end up on the kitchen bench or the coffee table. Trust me, the kitchen is a really bad place for paper. You don’t want to spill red wine over an important document. Also, kitchen surfaces need to be wiped down regularly, and that will be hard if they’re covered with stuff. As tidiness guru Marie Kondo advises, a good kitchen is one that’s easy to clean.
Kitchen hygiene is a fairly large topic, therefore I’ll cover it more fully in another blog post. Watch this space!
Tip 5: Ventilation!
You have better things to do than cleaning mould off ceilings. So make your space inhospitable to mould: keep it dry and ventilated. Open the windows when it’s warm enough. Air out your bedroom because we produce quite a lot of moisture just by breathing. See https://thecountrycleaners.co.uk/lets-outsmart-mould-and-mildew/ for more info on keeping your flat fungus free.
The team at Yorkshire Country Cleaners send warm wishes to all of you leaving home for the first time.
Go carefully now…