I am not by nature a ‘tidy’ person. I feel I have worked through my demons to transform from student slob to semi-domestic goddess (well, one can hope).
Day-to-day my home is usually quite tidy, clean and presentable.
I have reached this by learning some tough life lessons and ultimately, better habits. As we move into Spring, cleaning is often on the agenda. We fling open the windows, see the flowers blooming, breathe in deeply and say ‘I need to Spring clean the house!!!’ But what I would like to shed light on in this article, is that it’s about changing your habits.
Spring cleaning your cupboards, your floors and your habits, will prove for a long life of tidyness.
From Student Slob to Learning on the Job
To give you a background to my spring cleaning journey, I come from clean parents. Professionally, they were both in jobs that required them to clean in one way or another. This carried on into our home. But it did not pass to me. It meant that they were very good at cleaning up after me. I became very good at procrastinating and listening to the ‘Top 40’ on my radio on a Sunday night, considering tidying my room.
My student years saw the lowest point of my cleaning. As with some students, we are catapulted into adulthood. Washing up seemed alien. Any sort of laundry routine was out of the window. I was never unhygienic, I was just never tidy by nature and lived through organized chaos.
In my late twenties, I left a long term relationship and set up home for the first time, on my own.
During this time I realised that I couldn’t blame anyone else for the mess. And no one was going to clean up after me.
Slowly but surely, I became a changed woman. It was around this time I met my now-husband. He is a very clean human. We moved in together into our house and have now welcomed little Charlotte into the mix. During this time my job changed from working in an office to working in hospitality. That meant cleaning took up 90% of my professional time. And goodness me, that changes you.
‘Why is she telling me her whole life story?’ you may ask.
Because you need to understand that I am no Mrs Hinch. I’m not Marie Kondo. I love watching them and watching the programmes. But fundamentally, I am an untidy person. Who has worked really hard to change her habits. So if you are like me, read on to learn some game changing habits, which I hope will change your cleaning routines in time for Spring.
Getting to the Basics
A clear, written, cleaning routine
When I lived on my own, I drew up a cleaning routine.
It worked for me then and they are great. I had one up until recently and still stick to it loosely, but since having Charlotte, things do not go to plan. I used to be pretty good at sticking to the ‘hoover downstairs every other day’ etc, however, a baby throws you off. What I do really try and stick to now is a good laundry routine.
My laundry routine is that basically, each day is a particular ‘wash’ day. For example, I change the beds and immediately wash the sheets on a Monday, Towells on a Tuesday, Whites on a Wednesday, Darks on a Thursday, delicates on a Friday, Colours on a Saturday and anything missed that needs doing, goes on a Sunday.
I made the laundry routine because I hate getting into a laundry ‘bottleneck’. You know, where the tumble dryer is full, the washing machine has finished, but the airinging cupboard is full…you get the idea. By deciding which things get washed on which days, everything tends to flow better. If I do everything on a Friday for example, the above would happen.
I appreciate that this won’t work for everyone. If you have a massive family, you must do loads of washing.
But for us, this has worked for a while. It means generally, every load has its time to be put away and we’re never running out of pants.
The 10 Minute Rule
I am a procrastinating cleaner. Something that could have been cleaned in 10 minutes will take me half an hour. This changed when I discovered the 10-minute rule.
When you enter a room that needs cleaning set your watch for 10 minutes. Then just go for it. Get as much done as you can. Then when it’s over, move on.
My problem has often been that I spend too long doing one room and neglect the rest. By doing this, in an hour, technically you can zoom through 6 rooms. And when the pressure is on, it’s amazing what you can get done.
Clean Left to Right and Top to Bottom
Have you ever entered a room that needs cleaning and got overwhelmed? Me too.
By cleaning left to right and top to bottom, you tackle each bit and before you know it, you’re back to where you started and it’s all clean. Genius eh?!
Along with the basics, I’ve picked up a good few habits along the way, mainly through working in hospitality.
When your job depends on being good at cleaning, believe me, you learn quick.
Never go Upstairs or Downstairs Empty-Handed
One of my previous bosses drilled this into me. It was mainly from cleaning tables in a restaurant and she used to tell us ‘never come back empty-handed, there’s always a table to clean on the way’. And she was so right. So now, if I’m going up or down the stairs and I’m not carrying my small child, I always glance around. Is there a coat to take upstairs, or a wash load to go to the machine? It declutters, saves time and keeps things neat.
Unload the Dishwasher or the Drying Rack first thing in the morning
On the days I don’t stick to this, it all goes wrong. Dishes pile up. So first thing, put away your clean pots from the night before. It will keep you ready for what the day throws at you. Which with being a parent, can be anything.
Listen to Audio Books and Podcasts
Because it just makes cleaning more enjoyable. Don’t watch TV in the background because you will get distracted.
I have got through so many Audible books when cleaning. And it feels like an odd sense of achievement or doing two jobs in one. If you check out my favourites for either January or February, you’ll find some great titles that I’ve listened to so far.
Do a quick whip around
Cleaning doesn’t have to be this huge task. Before bed, simply look around. I imagine my Mum walking in. Is there anything that automatically looks really bad? Just quickly sort it out. Toothpaste in the sink? Wipe it up. Old socks on the floor put them in the basket. Don’t blame, don’t resent. Just do it for the sake of getting it done.
So there we have it. My main habits for a clean house. Now, don’t expect miracles. As I pointed out, I am a recovering student slob and deep down I just want to lie there and eat crisps with my feet up whilst the laundry surrounds me like a little nest. But recently, I said to my husband about Spring cleaning and realised how much I’ve changed.
So this Spring, don’t just clean behind your sofa. Grab a pen, write out a little routine and get some new habits to make the most of your lovely home for those long, sunny days