Monday 16 July 2018

How to clean your house in HALF the time - and why it should only take 30 minutes

A new guide from the Good Housekeeping Institute says we should limit chores to just 30 minutes a day. No problem, says Aggie MacKenzie

Ready for battle: You don’t need a ton of cleaning products to get your house clean
Ready for battle: You don’t need a ton of cleaning products to get your house clean

There is really no need these days to spend hours and hours slaving over housework. My apologies if you've just spent the bank holiday getting the house ship shape, but truly, most of us could do these tedious chores in half the time if we followed a few simple shortcuts.

A new guide from the Good Housekeeping Institute recommends limiting chores to just 30 minutes a day, and taking one task at a time. I couldn't agree more - though I do remember one man on How Clean Is Your House? who would wear the same pair of socks for days in a row, and then when it was time to change them, would use that sock as his dishcloth. Perhaps that was taking the two-in-one approach to cleaning a little too far.

But still, there is an argument for killing as many birds with as few stones as possible when it comes to housework - and you don't need to fork out for lots of cleaning products or an eye-wateringly expensive vacuum either.

There are so many simple shortcuts for giving your house a thorough deep clean: from using a DIY scraper on the grease of your oven door to shining bathroom taps with a used hand towel, there are all sorts of things you can do to cut the amount of time you spend cleaning in half.

Bathroom

The old way

Have a look at the sheer number of cleaning products on sale in supermarkets and you might assume you need five different sprays and three different kinds of cloth to get your bathroom looking sparkling. It can take 40 minutes to clean every inch of your bathroom this way.

The new way

Baby wipes are the answer, in an emergency. I know they're not terribly environmentally friendly, and you mustn't flush them down the loo. But used in moderation, they are the perfect tool to cut down on the number of products you use and the amount of time you spend cleaning. You can clean an entire bathroom with just two baby wipes (depending, of course, on the size of your bathroom). Rather than scrubbing away with lots of different cloths and a different spray for every kind of surface, run a couple of wipes over everything and you'll have it looking sparkling in no time.

Aggie MacKenzie
Aggie MacKenzie

Windows

The old way

In the old days we'd have products like Windolene - that was grim stuff - to smear all over the windows. Most cleaning cloths seem to leave little fibres on the window which look terribly messy.

The new way

You don't need any products at all, all you need is a microfibre cloth. The surface is covered in millions of fibres so whenever you rub something, there is a lot of agitation and friction, so all the dirt comes off really quickly. It cuts down your cleaning time enormously. All you need to do is - and it doesn't matter really how dirty the window is - just wash it with something like a terry cloth, and then buff it dry with a microfibre cloth for mirrors and glass. It's so quick and easy.

Scuff marks on paintwork

The old way

Those marks which collect on the walls going up the stairs from children's bulky school bags always seem like an impossible task. They go uncleaned for weeks until eventually, you stop noticing them. When you do attempt to tackle them, they can be a nightmare to scrub off - you'd be there for half an hour wiping furiously with a J Cloth and a bucket of soapy water, spilling it all over the carpet.

The new way

You need a Magic Eraser. It looks like a white sponge, and it's very light and very abrasive. Wipe it lightly over the surface of a painted wall or door frame and the mark comes away - a great deal easier than going hunting for the leftover paint tin in the shed.

Woodburning stoves

The old way

They can be a nightmare to clean. The glass door becomes caked in black and there are products you can get to clean the glass, but they're quite expensive and not always that effective.

The new way

All you need is to get some newspaper, scrunch it up, wet it, and then dip it in the ash lingering at the bottom of the stove. Wipe it across the glass and it all comes off like magic. Ash is very abrasive and as it's the same material that's on the inside of the door, it works really well.

The kitchen floor

The old way

Washing the kitchen floor is a satisfying job when you have time to do it, but waiting for it to dry is the real pain - half an hour spent keeping the dog in the hall and shouting at the children not to go skidding in while it's drying.

The new way

Have a pair of old socks which you wear while you're cleaning the floor. As you go along, dry the floor with your feet. It might sound a little grubby, but you'll have a clean, dry floor in minutes and you can just pop the socks straight in the washing machine.

Tumble drying

The old way

Tumble drying always seems to take longer than you need it to, but it gets a far better result than air drying. It's the job you end up doing late at night when you realise the sheets that were hanging on the line all day have just been drenched in an evening downpour. You find yourself standing by the tumble dryer putting it on in bursts again and again until it's dry, before going to sleep on slightly damp sheets.

The new way

If you're in a rush, put a couple of dry towels in with your wet sheets and everything will dry much faster, as the dry towels absorb some of the moisture from the wet sheets.

The tops of your kitchen cupboards

The old way

It's a grim job which most of us rarely get round to tackling. Once a year we might brave standing on a kitchen chair to inspect the layers of grime and grease which have collected before attempting to smear it away with kitchen roll.

The new way

In fact, there's really no need to do it at all. Rather than getting up there to wipe away the grease and dust which collects on the top of kitchen cupboards, line the tops of them with either old towels you can pop in the wash or newspaper you can throw away and change.

As told to Eleanor Steafel

Irish Independent

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