Is January the messiest month of the year or what? Most homes are slightly the worse for wear in the new year (some of the owners are also!). We’ve enjoyed ourselves and let the housework slide, and that’s okay. We just don’t want it to slide too far.
Tackle that mess like a boss. The first step is to remove any non-recyclable rubbish – don’t just move it to a corner: get it into a bag and out of the house. Next deal with the recyclables. It’s not a bad idea to flatten all the cardboard and load it straight into the car for a trip to the recycling centre. If you still have your Christmas decorations up, carefully pack those away. Now you’re half-way there!
There may be more clutter than usual in your kitchen and living areas. When we’re given new stuff for Christmas, it can take a while for that stuff to find a home. You might even find you need to discard some of your old stuff to make way for the new. Once your new things are stored in the correct place, you’re likely to appreciate them a lot more (unless you don’t really like them, in which case you can discreetly list them on eBay).
With the tidying and discarding out of the way, you can begin the cleaning. Or not. At this point you might decide to call in a professional cleaner. You get the best value from your cleaners when the area is relatively free of rubbish and clutter. Cleaners will empty bins but may not remove rubbish elsewhere because they don’t want to accidentally discard something the client wanted. They will pick up clothes and other belongings and arrange them neatly but, unless they are very familiar with a house, they won’t be able to put these things away. If you don’t have the energy to put random things away before the cleaners come, just hide these in a cupboard or in the spare room. That way the cleaners can concentrate on what they do best – cleaning!
There are various books on the market to help people clean and organise their homes. There really isn’t one right way to do it. The approach you take will depend on your personality, your capabilities and the time available to you.
For those of you with a strong sense of order, I’d recommend The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Some of you may cringe at the idea of clutching each of your belongings to ascertain whether they “spark joy”, or maybe you’ll collapse in a fit of giggles. Nevertheless, Marie’s ideas can help people let go of stuff they don’t want. You can thank that hideous floral shirt and lovingly fold it up for a charity shop collection bag. That way you honour your Great Aunt Mabel by allowing her gift to spark joy for others.
People who are really into shining surfaces and sweet smells in the house might gel with Hinch Yourself Happy by Mrs Hinch (Sophie Hinchliffe). Mrs Hinch is always busy on social media, and so are her followers. You might just find a dose of hinchiness provides the cleaning motivation you lack. Join the Facebook group called Hinch Army Cleaning Tips and you’ll always have a whole gang of hinchers to buoy you up when some cleaning task has got the better of you. You could even post before and after pictures of your cleaning projects! There’s nothing like a few dozen likes and loves to keep you motivated.
Just as we were despairing there is no cleaning guide available for real people, Rachel Hoffman wrote Unf*k your Habitat. This is a fab book for those struggling with cleaning and domestic order in general. I love the non-judgmental tone of this author. Not everyone can afford a regular cleaning service, and not everyone is capable of a huge cleaning marathon, yet everyone deserves to live in a decent environment. Mental health issues and physical disabilities can get in the way of housekeeping and this book acknowledges that. It also acknowledges it’s okay to ask for help. I highly recommend it.
After I finished this blog post a new national lockdown to prevent the escalation of the pandemic was announced. It may mean you’re more reluctant to have someone in to clean the house, even if it is technically allowed, in England at least. I know many cleaners are nervous about entering homes, not so much for their own sake but out of concern for clients and vulnerable members of family bubbles. If you happen to be stuck with your own housework for now, take Rachel Hoffman’s advice and make sure that every day you do one thing – anything at all – to improve your habitat.