LIVING in lockdown has its drawbacks – but our homes have never looked better.
Almost half of us are cleaning and tidying more now than before we were forced to stay home.
A recent YouGov poll also revealed that sales of cleaning products and gadgets are soaring.
Telly cleaning expert Lynsey Crombie, the Queen of Clean, believes the extra housework doesn’t have to be a chore — if you approach it the right way.
The mum-of-three, who found fame on Channel 4’s Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners in 2014, is now a “cleanfluencer” with more than 188,000 followers on Instagram.
Lynsey, 41, from Peterborough, says: “Running a home does not have to be difficult, and you can get a huge amount of satisfaction from doing it.
“There is nothing better than relaxing in a newly cleaned and organised room and admiring all your hard work.”
Here, Lynsey gives her top tips and cleaning hacks to make your home sparkle and shine . . .
Get the essentials
PLACING well-stocked mini cleaning caddies around you home will save you time and effort, as you won’t have to keep going up and down the stairs in the middle of your cleaning. Here are the six essentials you need to have in your cleaning caddy:
- Window cleaner
- All-purpose cleaner
- Washing-up liquid
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric conditioner
- Toilet bleach
- Beeswax polish
You should be able to keep your home looking spick and span for £15 a month.
Try to stick to products you have tried, tested and like and don’t overload your cupboard with a multi-purpose cleaner in ten different fragrances.
Don’t worry about using disposable wipes, etc, which can be hard to come by at the moment and not good for the environment.
Repurpose old sheets, towels and T-shirts as cleaning rags. Keep a strong, heavy-duty plastic or fabric bag near your washing machine – save up all your dirty cleaning cloths and wash them together every time the bag is full.
Your biggest expense in keeping your home clean is your vacuum cleaner. Sales of cleaning gadgets have been soaring in lockdown.
You are not going to get a good vacuum that will last and keep your home clean for just £50. Make sure you invest in your vacuum, as it is going to help you out the most.
Read reviews, and make sure the vacuum suits the type of flooring you have in your home.
MANY ingredients in your own cupboards have cleaning properties. Here are some that can help to keep your home clean.
Will remove finger marks from stainless steel products.
Bicarbonate of soda
Will vanquish odours in the bin or fridge and remove mould.
In particular, Tea Tree Oil can be used as a disinfectant and repels insects.
Can be used as a disinfectant and can break down glue and tape residue.
A natural disinfectant.
Well known for its cleaning properties it is cheap and great for removing hard water marks on your shower screen, stainless steel draining board or taps.
Disinfects and repels insects
Will sharpen scissors by cutting some foil. It’s also useful for cleaning pots and pans if you scrunch it into a ball and get scrubbing.
White wine vinegar
This natural cleaner is fantastic at tackling mould and mildew patches. It’s also great for streak-free window cleaning.
Mixing bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar is a great way to clean your oven.
While a solution combining 50 per cent white wine vinegar, 30 per cent lemon juice and 20 per cent water is a great all-purpose cleaner and will leave your home smelling citrus fresh.
How to tackle those annoying, awkward bits
Always unplug your toaster before cleaning it. Take out the crumb tray, empty it and wash it in warm soapy water. Turn the toaster upside down and bash the crumbs out on to a sheet of newspaper.
Clean off any burn marks with a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water. Apply using a microfibre cloth, rub in, leave for five minutes then wipe off and buff dry for a super shine.
My favourite way of cleaning the microwave is to place four slices of lemon into a microwave-safe bowl of water then cook on high for three minutes.
The steam from the water and lemon loosens stuck-on foods and grease and kills any nasty odours. Wipe clean with a damp microfibre cloth.
Cooker hood filters
These can get really sticky, and they hold on to odours that can, in turn, make your kitchen smell. Make a point to take this filter out regularly and soak in hot water with a few capfuls of white wine vinegar to break down the grease build-up and smells.
They hold food we will consume, so it’s a good idea to give it a weekly rinse with warm, soapy water.
It’s incredibly easy for limescale to build up on your taps in a hard water area. My top tip for this is to cut a lemon in half, cover it with bicarb and give it a squeeze so it foams up.
Rub all over the tap and finish by twisting the lemon half on to the spout. Leave for 15 minutes then remove the lemon and rinse off the juice – the limescale will come off easily. Buff dry. In the regular cleaning of your taps, wipe with warm, soapy water and buff dry with a clean microfibre cloth.
Most taps are made from chrome, but if yours have an unusual finish, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The small black discs that sit on the rings on your hob get covered in burned-on food from spillages and splashes.
Place them in a plastic sandwich bag, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda, add a splash of white wine vinegar and vigorously shake the bag. Leave for 15 minutes and all the mess is lifted away.
Once used, give the smoothie cup a quick rinse under the tap. Then add a small squirt of washing-up liquid, half fill with water and put the cup back on to the base of the blender and switch on for ten seconds. This gives the cup a thorough clean and ensures the blades are clean too.
It’s a quick and easy way to clean that avoids any potential accidents with the blades.
When your machine is not in use, try to leave the detergent tray open slightly to allow it to dry out. Once a week, remove it and soak in warm, soapy water, then dry it before popping it back.
Don’t forget to also clean the space it comes from, putting your arm right in and giving it a good clean and dry.
Run a quick cycle with white wine vinegar weekly. This helps keep mould build-up at bay and neutralises nasty odours.
I also use a shop-bought washing machine cleaning solution monthly. Give the rubber seal a good wipe. You can use your detergent for this or mix bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar into a paste and use a small brush to get right into the rubber.
The filter at the bottom of your machine will need to be emptied regularly too. Try to do this at least once a month. If you can access the back of your machine easily, check the water supply pipe for any build-up of dirt.
Regularly empty the filter (mine simply twists and pulls). You can find how to do this in your instruction manual or on your dishwasher manufacturer’s website. Wipe down all the seals and around the door with a solution of 50 per cent white wine vinegar, 20 per cent lemon juice and 30 per cent water.
Lemon juice leaves a fresh, clean smell and lemons are also great for breaking down grime.
Place a cup of white wine vinegar mixed with lemon juice in the top of your dishwasher and run it on a hot cycle – this helps get rid of any grease and gunk.
Once the cycle has completed, sprinkle the bottom of your dishwasher with bicarbonate of soda, which is excellent at eliminating any nasty smells.
Wipe the lid and sides weekly. When you change the bag, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda in the bin to help soak up any nasty odours.
And don’t forget these
AS many of us have got a bit of extra time on our hands just now, these extra jobs are well worth tackling.
These collect a lot of dust, the build-up of which can prevent them working well. Use a small brush – an old mascara wand or toothbrush – and remove that dust.
Refresh plants by adding a little new soil to the top. If the plant looks like it has outgrown its pot, re-pot it in a slightly larger container.
Dust walls and ceiling
Use a long-handled flathead duster, the kind you’d usually clean the floor with, and reach up high to remove dust from walls and the ceiling. Remember that dust falls, so you will need to vacuum afterwards.
These pick up a layer of dust if they haven’t been touched in a while.
Pull out the sofa and any other furniture you can handle and clean behind them. It will be rather dusty under there if the area hasn’t been touched for a while. If you have any electrical switches behind your furniture, I bet they have a layer of dust too. Turn them off at the socket and clean.
Window and door tracks
These often-overlooked spaces can be sorted out with a small brush or toothbrush to remove the debris and mud. Then use a hand vac to collect the dirt.
Take everything out of your kitchen and bathroom cupboards and sort through the items you have. Disinfect the empty cupboards with a diluted vinegar solution. They may be a little sticky or have crumbs – use your hand vac to get these up and wipe any sticky patches.
Lamps and lights
They can really hold on to dust, especially fabric lampshades. Go around your home giving your lamps a dry dust using a microfibre cloth or a feather duster. For shades, use a lint roller rather than a vacuum nozzle, as these will not cause any damage to the shade. Make sure you clean both the inside and the outside of your lampshades.
Do the 5-min challenge
THE idea is that you set a five-minute timer on your phone, clock or cooker.
How it works
Choose three or four rooms to focus on.
Four rooms are then just 20 minutes of cleaning a day. Add another ten minutes for your daily laundry load, and at just 30 minutes total, you will be able to keep your house neat.
The added bonus of this task is speed cleaning is working your whole body and burning off calories.
Dirty laundry load
- Empty washing machine
- Hang up or put in the dryer
- Put basket away
- Open window
- Wipe toilet seat
- Put bleach/denture tablet in the pan
- Quick rinse of shower and bath
- Wipe sink
- Shake bathroom mat
- Change towels if dirty
- Empty dishwasher
- Wipe surfaces
- Put away anything that is out of place
- Quick vacuum
- Wipe any spots on the floor
- Wash and buff sink
- Open window
- Make bed
- Pick up dirty clothes
- Quick surface tidy
- Fluff up sofa cushions
- Quick vacuum
- Tidy up books and/or toys
- Wipe coffee table
- Fold any blankets/throws
My top ten tips
- Aim to wash a laundry load a day and work on getting this habit right, as it will make a huge difference to the way your home is run. Ignoring your laundry can create a big mess in your home and in your mind.
- Everyone should look after their own bedrooms and be responsible for bringing back stray cups or plates and making their bed daily. Ensuring windows are opened by everyone as they get up will keep the house aired and remove any odours.
- Decide when you are most productive in the day and stick to this time slot for your chores.
- Always dust first and vacuum afterwards – and to keep those carpets clean make a rule that shoes must come off as soon as anyone enters your home.
- If you’re using a tumble dryer, put a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls into the drum to speed up drying time and prevent clothes getting tangled.
- Use a small amount of WD-40 to get rid of carpet stains, especially those tough pollen ones from lilies.
- If you’re doing a lot of extra baking during lockdown and drop an egg on the floor, use a slice of bread to soak it up.
- Use bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar to unblock a drain. Sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the drain then pour down the vinegar. Cover with a wet cloth and the two will react to clean the drain naturally. Wait five minutes and then run hot water to clear it.
- A light steam with a clothes cleaner over your sofa will kill germs and help keep allergies at bay.
- Make it a house rule to only eat in the kitchen or dining room so you aren’t chasing crumbs around the house.