Whenever you see a house or apartment portrayed in films, or even on the TV, it’s always spotless isn’t it?
Is this actually reflected in “real life” when people have jobs to go to, lives to lead, things to do that are far more interesting than cleaning your own house?
The TV shows don’t show the army of cleaners off-camera do they?
If like me, you don’t have a cleaning company living in the spare bedroom, you have to roll your sleeves up and do it yourself.
In reality we may actually do a fair bit of housework when we have the time, or employ a cleaner if its affordable and within the family budget, but regardless, just how clean are our houses?
The house may look clean upon first glance, but in these paranoid times with doom and gloom in the news each day, is our house really as clean as it could be?
Is your own house hygienic or harbouring germs and other nasties you never knew?
Here are some top tips on how to get your own house REALLY clean.
There’s the right way and the wrong way in everything, and although I don’t profess to be the tidiest person, I do at least make an effort.
I’m not trying to “teach granny to suck eggs” as the somewhat weird British phrase suggests, pretty much anyone can clean something, we’re showing you HOW to clean, WHAT to clean, what to USE to clean, and WHY you should clean!
This is especially topical just now as at the time of writing, the Coronavirus epidemic is making everyone, including me, think a hell of a lot harder about keeping things clean and at less risk of being germ-ridden, although it’s important to keep calm and not to overreact at present.
This is not a guide on how to make your house virus-proof, I am not a Doctor, or a scientist, this is just sharing some common sense tips that my family have passed down over the generations, and recent news items about the importance of increased hygiene have made me think very hard about changing the way I clean my own home.
I hope you can use some information here and I hope it helps you to get where you live as squeaky clean as you can!
Some points below are expanded upon with links to external websites, which will open in a new window so you don’t lose your place on this page.
The best methods to clean your house explained.
For your house to be super clean, you need to start thinking differently about the property you live in.
You also need to think about cleaning outside as well as inside.
It’s scary to think, but pretty much every surface in the home is a potential harbour of germs and bacteria, but we shouldn’t get hysterical about it, it needs a clear head and some common sense too.
You also need to think about the METHODS you use when you do housework and perhaps some tips here will help you with that?
There are behaviours you can change which will make the cleaning of your residential property easier to carry out, and in some cases, it will save time too, both now, and in the future.
So now we have established you are going to read this, get some top tips, and then go and clean your house, what else can you do to help matters?
What about the fact that even if your home has been cleaned already, there are other things inside the home that can harm health too.
Your house also can contain toxic items which can potentially harm your health.
Yes your home, or more specifically its contents, can actually be potentially harmful and you may have been living around these items without even knowing about it.
If you are reading this on a laptop or a PC, glance down at your keyboard.
Then pick up your mouse and look at the top and the bottom.
They are filthy aren’t they?
Even if you think your house is clean, it is not…..
(I bet you have started to clean your computer as we speak, LOL!)
In addition, If a smoker lives, or used to live, in your house, even though they may not smoke anymore, harmful traces are still there.
Here’s what you need to do to clean your home of toxicity left behind by cigarettes.
- Clean curtains and all soft fabrics, and then use febreeze on them once cleaned.
- Scrub and clean all solid floors such as wood and stone.
- Have all your carpets professionally cleaned or replace them if you can afford it.
- Wipe down all wooden surfaces such as doors, windows, skirting boards etc.
- Clean the insides of the windows, both the glass and the frames. (Hint: once you have done this, look at the cloth or tissue you have used and note the brown residue you have removed.)
- Clean all picture frames too. (Hint: Remove the picture from the wall. Is there a “tide mark” left on the wall? Maybe it is now time to decorate too.)
- Clean all internal glass, mirrors and wall tiles. You may be shocked at the build up of this grime.
What other things around the home can be potentially harmful to health?
Many homes that have an old textured wall finish called artex on walls and ceilings may not know that much of it contains asbestos.
This is best left where it is and painted over, or have it removed by a professional company as the dust from asbestos is very harmful.
Cosmetics can also cause asbestos as uncovered in a fairly recent study on the effects of asbestos (opens in a new window)
Old paint can contain LEAD which can be very harmful to you. The UK government have a guide which explains all about lead in paint here.
We can have the cleanest house in the street, but it still won’t be hospital-style clean as there are toxic elements at play within the home too.
Did you know that non stick cookware contains a compound called Polytetrafluoroethylene?
Mere mortals such as you and I commonly know this as Teflon. When heated this emits small amounts of gases which have been linked to cancer in some cases.
Mothballs contain Naphthalene which can cause cancer in animals but thankfully not humans, so if you have a dog or cat, keep them well away from any area where you are using mothballs please.
For more information about harmful items in your home mentioned above, visit housebeautiful.com for the full list.
Damp is a major health risk and this is something that very much needs your attention if it has started happening, or has been there for a while.
Black mould releases invisible spores, like toxic pollen, into the air in the house and they get inhaled by the occupants, and then the toxic bits stick to the linings of the lungs and throat, eventually causing breathing problems.
Cavity wall insulation can also cause damp if the house has rain driven onto the walls during bad weather because the rain meets the insulation material and is transmitted into the inside of the house so if you have a house like this, get rid of the cavity wall insulation before it ruins your health and your internal walls!
The website lifehack.com argued that perfumes and fragrances we use every day can contain very harmful chemicals indeed.
“Toxic chemicals in perfumes contain benzaldehyde, camphor, ethyl acetate, benzyl acetate, linalool, acetone and methylene chloride and can, when inhaled, cause dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, irritation to throat, eyes, skin, and lungs, kidney damage and headaches.”
So as we have seen, there are various things you can get rid of, or moderate their use in the home, to move towards a cleaner and healthier house.
So now let’s move on to cleaning. Internally.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and start cleaning, but remember to wear old clothes, something comfortable to work in.
A small point to note, if you suffer from dry skin on your hands, apply hand cream before you start, and if possible, wear some rubber gloves to protect your hands.
You will need a selection of the following cleaning supplies before you start
- A vacuum cleaner
- Microfibre towels
- Kitchen roll
- Bin bags
- A mop and bucket
- Rubber gloves or similar.
- A dustpan and brush
- Cleaning products
- And anything else you may have that would assist you to clean.
Pay attention also to the BRAND of cleaning products you buy as some can actually contain harmful elements themselves, which sort of ruins the whole concept really?
I usually use ASTONISH cleaning products, which I get from my local discount store.
They work well, plus they are not tested on animals, which also means my vegan daughter doesn’t give me any grief for buying them!
There a method in everything so our method is always to start at the top of the house and work down, or if you live in a flat or a bungalow, start left and work to the right, or vice versa.
In addition start your cleaning at the top of each room, the highest points like light shades, picture rails, hanging wall art, and work down lower as you progress.
Anyone overly worried about the spread of the coronavirus should pay attention to cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles or TV remote controls, but this is something that should be done as part of your cleaning routine anyway.
Methodically working is a very efficient way of cleaning, and ensures you do not miss anything.
Speaking of method, many professional cleaners I have spoken to, carry out their job in a task-focused way, meaning they will do all the hoovering first, then all of the dusting, then all of the wiping, instead of cleaning one room in full, cleaning the next one in full, and so on.
It seems to save them time, but it’s whatever works best for you.
What to clean, and how to clean it.
There are various ways to clean so we want to show the right way to do it.
One of the first things to do is to make it easier for you to clean so remove any obstructions.
In the kitchen, for example, do those spice jars really need to be on top of the worktop? Put stuff away so you have clutter-free surfaces to wipe down. Do all the washing up and put cups and plates away.
Do the piles of shoes in the hallway need to be there? Put them neatly away in a cupboard so you have free rein to hoover or mop down floors.
Rinse and repeat (literally) across the entire inside of the house so nothing gets in your way.
De-cluttering your house can also uncover previously unknown piles of dust, fluff, filth and germs.
One thing that many people already do when they get home is to take their shoes off.
In some countries this is the norm for everyone. It seems a bit fussy but think about it, the outside is where the germs are, and the mud and filth too, so it makes sense to leave your shoes (and the filth) at the door, don’t tread them around the house.
(My God, I am starting to sound like my mother……)
Along the lines of de-cluttering, you can also look around for ways to stack, or file things, such as keys all neatly on a hook out of the way, a small bowl to hold your loose change, a pot for umbrellas to live in, and so on.
Wipe down all surfaces, clean pictures on the walls, mop down hard floors, bleach the loo and everything inside the bathroom. Clean windows using glass cleaner of course, do all the hoovering, including the stairs, wipe all door handles with disinfectant, wipe down light bulbs in lamps (remembering to switch them off first and wait for them to cool down obviously), and pour bleach down all sink plug holes.
If the information so far horrifies you, or you think you will die of boredom carrying it all out, put some of your favourite music on and dance along to it whilst cleaning.
(Just make sure the neighbours or passers by can’t look into your windows as you are singing into a bottle of cleaning fluid or using a broom as an air guitar.)
So as you can see, cleaning your home and making it germ-free is very much the way forward this year, however we also learnt that many homes contain things that can harm our health too, even if we do have the cleanest home in the road, it’s still not enough sometimes.
How to clean the outside of your house.
Cleaning outside can be a bit trickier than inside.
Of course we have the weather to contend with, bringing rain, snow, cold and so on, or in the summer, baking heat, all of which have their own challenges. This also includes pollution in the air which sadly there is not much you are able to realistically do about that apart from to move house altogether!
Due to its very nature, you will never ever get the exterior of your house 100% spotless but you can do some things that will make it cleaner and thus easier to maintain, and less likely to cause future problems, all of which can be more expensive than internal repairs.
You will need a selection of the following cleaning supplies before you start cleaning the exterior of your house.
- A power washer or garden hose
- Specialist cleaning agents for specific tasks, such as UPVC cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Mould and mildew cleaner
- Step ladder
- A selection of brushes and brooms
- Heavy duty bin bags
- Paint and associated supplies to paint.
The first thing would be to appraise the situation.
Take a good hard look at every aspect of the exterior, from the paths, to the grass, and the paint work.
Does anything catch your eye immediately? Flaky paint on the front door? Mould on the walls or dirty gutters.
Remember the exterior of your house has far more hazards than inside, so remember to think safety when doing anything outside and don’t take risks.
If you see, for example, a dirty length of guttering, it is often best, unless you have a good ladder and head for heights, to get someone in to help. A quick search online will bag you any number of local tradesmen willing to come along and clean out of reach items, often for a very reasonable price too.
If the paintwork looks shabby, get a quote to have the house painted.
If the paths and the driveway look dirty, get some path cleaner like Swarfega patio and driveway cleaner for about £12 from Screwfix then powerwash it or use a garden hose and a stiff broom.
If the front door or the garage door looks scruffy, paint them, it’s not that difficult, but as mentioned above, anything in a high place, leave it to the experts.
Have a general tidy up and de-clutter outside and whilst you will never get it as clean as the interior, to say the least, you will have made a good effort in combating the risk of germs and dirt getting into the home in the first place.
The post-cleaning ritual
Once you have finished cleaning, your clothes will probably be dirty so make sure they go straight into the wash basket.
If you have been using any of the cleaning products or tools we mentioned earlier, make sure they themselves are clean before you put them away again. If you have been using cleaning cloths, either put them in for wash, or dispose of them, they aren’t expensive to replace.
If you have been cleaning outside, remember to clean your shoes before putting them neatly away.
If you have been wisely using rubber gloves to clean, any potential infection or germs may be on them so make sure they are thrown in the bin, and then wash your hands afterwards.
If you do all of the above just once, the house will stay cleaner for longer, and subsequent cleaning will be much easier so always keep on top if it.
You don’t have to get obsessive about cleaning, just common sense, the right approach and the willingness to put in a few hours hard work will pay dividends in the future and you have the reassurance of a clean, safe and relative germ-free home.
Now let’s get to work and let’s clean!
(But please remember to SHARE this article with your friends before you start!)