Give your home a clean slate for the new season with these smart ideas that will restore order room-by-room, task-by-task.
Take an archaeological approach to your home and discover what lies beneath. Look first to your walls and windows – there’s bound to be a buildup of everyday grime here, and addressing this each year will stop the grime becoming a permanent fixture that dulls painted walls. If your window treatments need laundering or a professional clean, this is the time to sort it out. Dust and vacuum (in that order) the walls, starting with cobwebs in corners and on cornices, working down to floor-dwelling dust bunnies – the brush attachment for your vacuum is ideal for this job. Finish by wiping your walls with a multi-purpose spray. Use a microfibre cloth to clean light fittings, windows and mirrors for a streak-free finish. Then with a slightly damp cloth, clean all paintwork including doors, windowsills and skirting boards. For polished timber, a rag with a touch of furniture oil will do the job. Now you can tackle what lies under and behind your sofa, TV unit and bookshelves – give these larger furniture pieces a dust then vacuum hard floors and go over with a mop. Carpets can be sprinkled with a little bicarbonate of soda or carpet cleaner and vacuumed.
Tip: Displaying your cleaning tools means addressing messes quickly – hang equipment on hooks, alongside pots, pans and utensils. Only showcase the absolute essentials.
Use the philosophy of a kitchen work triangle to take on your cooking zone – think cooktop, sink and fridge. Your cooktop and sink get the majority of your everyday cleaning attention, but how often do you check what’s in your pantry? Do a stocktake and discard items past their use-by date, then wet wipe, dry and restock. Move onto your cupboards taking the same approach – remove servingware, glassware, small appliances, platters and cookware. Be ruthless and donate anything that you no longer use, and again wipe the shelves before replacing what you’re going to keep. Also, take a look at the state of your oven, microwave and dishwasher. Take this opportunity to give each a proper clean.
Big task: Switch off your fridge and freezer and empty the contents into the sink with ice. Toss anything past its prime. Use bicarbonate of soda and warm water (two tablespoons to one litre) to clean and deodorise the interior and shelves. Once clean, keep a small bowl of bicarbonate of soda in the back to absorb any ‘fridge-y’ odours. Give the coils at the back of the fridge a vacuum to remove all the dust before plugging the power back in.
Finishing touch: Create a little breakfast corner by keeping your kettle, coffee machine and toaster on a tray. This will keep any spills and crumbs off your benchtop, and cleaning will just be a matter of rinsing the tray and giving each appliance a quick wipe.
Tip: Copper may be the metallic finish of the moment but did you know that a copper fibre cloth will polish pots and pans, as well as stainless-steel sinks as you clean them? Steer clear of non-stick surfaces though.
Lint from winter woollies and flannelette is no doubt lingering behind the dryer and can be a fire hazard – your vacuum cleaner will make short work of this. Then wipe down both the dryer and washing machine with a little soapy water.
Big task: Sanitise the inside of your washing machine by running it on the longest and hottest cycle with a cup of white vinegar.
If the machine has separate detergent and fabric softener containers, give them a rinse in the sink, along with the lint filter.
Finishing touch: Pop plastic clothes pegs in the cutlery basket of your dishwasher next time they need a clean.
Tip: Before putting away your cool-weather jumpers and quilts for another year, wash or dry-clean them. Give woollens a good brush to get rid of lint and treat quilts to some sun to deter musty odours.
Get your bathmat in the wash. Vacuum then clean the walls with a bucket of hot water and two caps of eucalyptus oil or multi-purpose cleaner. Set aside a set of sponges and brushes for bathroom use only and scrub down your shower, bath, sink (don’t forget taps, spouts and the showerheads) then tackle the toilet. Empty out your cabinet or vanity and carefully dispose out-of-date cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Finish off by giving the floor a mop.
Big task: Get rid of gammy grout by scrubbing it with an old toothbrush dipped in bleach, then rinse well.
Finishing touch: A new shower curtain, towels and bathmat in this season’s colours will instantly freshen up your pamper zone.
Open all the windows to get as much fresh air and light as possible flowing through. Clean the walls and windows, leaving the floor as the last cleaning task. Strip the bed and sort what needs to be aired, washed or dry-cleaned. Flip and turn the mattress, sprinkle a little bicarb soda and vacuum with the upholstery attachment.
Big task: Commit to a wardrobe edit. Empty closets and drawers and clean them with a damp cloth. Divide your clothes into those to be donated or stored until next winter from the ones you want to put away. Be sure that all your cool-weather clothes and linen are clean before you store them. Scrub sliding door tracks with an dry toothbrush to help the doors run smoother.
Use the same tactics as you did in the master bedroom – beds need to be stripped and all bedding washed, and mattresses flipped and turned. Dust and wipe down bookshelves, wardrobes, drawers and toy boxes – don’t forget to give toys a clean, too.
Big task: Sort through the toy box and wardrobe for toys and clothes that the kids have grown out of or have become a bit shabby.
Finishing touch: Organise a garage sale with any bits and bobs you no longer use, or compile a care package of cute hand-me-downs for friends and family who are expecting – share the love!
Once you’ve cleaned the walls and windows, dust books and ornaments as you reorganise them, then wipe down tabletops and bookshelves. Take rugs and cushions outside and give them a good whack with the back of a broom. Shift your sofa, coffee table and TV unit to clean behind and beneath – when it comes to cleaning, your vacuum is your best friend.
Big task: Hire a steam cleaner to refresh carpets and fabric-upholstered furniture. The models from hardware stores and supermarkets are very easy to use, so make the most of your booking and do all your carpets in one go.
Finishing touch: Open all the windows after you’ve cleaned
and treat yourself to a bunch of fresh flowers on the coffee table.
Want more? Check out these decluttering and storage tips and ideas:
>> storage buys for a pristine bathroom
>> storage ideas to tidy up your bedroom
>> decluttering secrets from a professional organiser
>> 7 tips on how to declutter your bathroom