Sunday 16 December 2018

The Lazy Cow’s Guide To Housekeeping

Deborah McCarthy,

It was “No Housework Day” last Monday! Yes, really. So here are some tips I have picked up over the years. You’re welcome.

1. Storage. Ideally, have a spare room upstairs that you can chuck things into and close the door. If that’s not possible, you need good storage around the house to hide things in. If this is also not possible, invest in some pretty boxes. You know the vintage floral kind that look so pretty? Fill them with junk to give the appearance of clutter-free living.

2. Baby wipes are your friend. One packet will clean an average sized house from top to bottom. They remove most things from furniture and surfaces. Always have a packet in the house, even if you do not have a baby.

3. An iron can cause serious damage to both your skin from burn injuries and to clothes – also from burn injuries. Don’t use one. For most things, you can get away with folding, especially if dried in a dryer. Hang clothes in bathroom when having shower and most creases fall out. If you absolutely have to iron something, a good hair straightener will remove creases.

4. Playrooms never look like they do in magazines. They are cesspits of broken Barbies, Lego that you stand on, and a strange smell, usually from a half-eaten banana hidden amidst the boxes of jigsaws which have bits missing and are never played with anyhow. For your own sanity, you need to accept this. A playroom will never be truly clean, and when partially clean it only lasts for two minutes before it is trashed again. It is a total and complete waste of time trying to keep one clean. Life is too short. All playrooms should be bulldozed off the face of the earth.

5. Beds. All beds should have a sheet over the mattress and a duvet. The end. No over sheets, throws, or any other malarkey. If you feel the need to get into a bed with crisp sheets tightly tucked in, check into a hotel or a hospital. If you put layers of bedclothes on all the beds in your house, you are just asking for trouble.



6. Dusting. I only dust when it’s absolutely necessary, but my friend Mr Sheen gets a lot of action. He lives beside the front door. A quick spray of him in your hallway twice a day gives visitors and your significant other the impression you have been dusting, when in fact all you have done is spray it in the general direction of the door and have actually been online all day! Genius, isn’t it? Nothing says clean house more than the smell of Mr Sheen.

7. The hoover can be used on many many surfaces, not just the floor. Sweeping up pasta/noodles should always be left until they go cold and hard. Relax, have coffee after dinner, then pick up the majority of the children’s dinner from the floor. It takes a lot less time this way.

8. Keep a spare tin of paint in the house. Let the marks all over the walls build up, then just lash the paint on it. Make sure the paint is the same colour as the walls. Blends in quickly, takes two mins.




9. Bribe your kids. Give them a brush or a cloth and introduce the idea of pocket money. I find half the time, they never look for the money after you give it to them. You can take it back again when they are not looking, obviously.

10.  Try to be more clutter free. Aim to dump two black bags of “stuff” a month. No point hanging onto to the hideous leather jacket in the wardrobe just because it cost a fortune in 1998: you are never going to wear it again. Be ruthless with your children’s artwork – do not let them catch you dumping it, though. Same goes for your husband’s T-shirts. I don’t know why men hold onto T-shirts for 20+ years, but it’s stupid and we all have a part to play in breaking this habit.

11. Scented candles. Yes, the smell can be overwhelming, nausea inducing, and has to be bad for the planet – but they mask all types of smells and create a nice glow that often hides mess. Invest in many.

12. The absolute most foolproof way of getting around housework is to employ a full-time housekeeper. Sadly, this is not possible for most people, but it is the first thing I would do with a Lotto win.

If you are really very bad at housework, you should have a cleaner. A good cleaner for two hours a week will keep your house ticking over and the cost is reasonable enough. What would you prefer – a weekly takeaway or a professional to do your floors and bathrooms? If you are crap at plumbing, you would hire a plumber: true? If you are desperate at housekeeping, a cleaner will help. Plus, it brings the added advantage of knowing you have to clean up a bit so your cleaner doesn’t think you are a despicable slovenly slut. It also saves time; a cleaner will do in two hours what would take you five, leaving you more time to earn money to pay the cleaner, spend time with your children, be happier, and so on.

Give up some other luxury and get a cleaner two hours a week. Newspapers and magazines can be read online, home hair colours are a lot better than they used to be, eat noodles or crackers twice a week instead of meat for dinner. There are ways to find the money to pay a cleaner.

13. If all else fails, I saw this tip online: “Always keep several get-well cards on the mantel. Unexpected guests will think you’ve been sick and haven’t been able to clean.” I have used it. It works.

If anybody wants to share their own tips of how to keep your house clean without actually spending more than twenty minutes a day cleaning it, I would LOVE to hear them please.



This blogpost originally appeared on is a new take on parenting websites, covering a wide range of topics relevant to real Irish parents and the highs and lows of raising children in 21st century Ireland.  Find them also on Twitter and Facebook.


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