Anyone who knows me knows I like a nice tidy house. I'm not too concerned about germs. I don't go around with antibac wipes. I don't even dust every week. More like once a month. I just like a place for everything and everything in it's place.
When someone visits my house they will almost always comment on how neat it is. It's not over the top showhome neat (I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable!) but neat and tidy in an inviting homely way. I hope at least! I often get asked just how much house work I do and what tips I have. I have actually blogged on this subject before, but it was quite a long time ago now. At the start of a new year, I think getting tidy and organised is at the forefront of many people's minds, so I thought it would be a good time to share my top tips.
Tidy as you go:
This is probably my No.1 tip. I feel the key to a tidy house is not to let it get out of hand in the first place. Many of my tips tie into this one. Once you build them in to your daily routine, you probably won't even realise you're doing them! It's logical really. Tidy up as you go along. Don't let things pile up. If you are cooking, wipe up surfaces as they get dirty. Wash equipment, pans etc up straight after. If you are baking a cake, do the washing up whilst the cake is in the oven. If you have had the children in the bath, rinse and wipe down the bath afterwards, put the toys away in a bath toy tidy so they can dry, hang the towels up. If you've done the washing, hang it up at the first opportunity. Once it's dry, don't leave it in piles, put it straight into the draw. I know it's hard with children, remember, I have two of them! Rope them in, or if they aren't interested in helping, at least tell them what you're doing. Have them in the room with you. They can play whilst you clean up. You can tell them what you're doing and why.
Bleach is your friend. Say it with me now: "Don't fear the bleach, bleach is your friend!". You don't need to go over the top with bleach, but honestly, it's so handy to have around. There are so many things this bottle of household wonder can help you with. I have a bottle downstairs and upstairs. Both out of reach of course. I keep a bottle in the bathroom because I rinse Felix's nappies up there. I shower his nappies off in the bath and like to fling a bit of bleach around the tub a couple of times a week just in case. It's also very handy to pop down the loo 2/3 times a week. The sink as well. I don't have time for a deep bathroom clean every week, but a quick once over with bleach keeps you on top of things. I have gloves in the bathroom. If I don't have much time, I pop them on, pop some bleach on a wad of loo paper, wipe that around the tub, sink and finally the loo and that does the trick! Bleach is also fantastic for keeping the grout between tiles looking bright. Pop some on a sponge and wipe it over the grout and tiles. Leave it for a while (half an hour or longer) and then rinse down. Nice shiny & white! You can also apply it to an old toothbrush and use that to get into small areas. Mildew on windows? Get in there with that bleachy brush! Stains on your white walls? Pop a little bleach on and wipe off after a short while. If you don't have any bleach handy, toothpaste can often be used to clean off stains (I use it on my white gloss painted windowsills!). Just be careful when wielding the bleach - watch your clothes and skin!
A cloth. My friend. My bathroom is kept tiptop between cleans all due to my wonderful collection of absorbent flannels. I always have a flannel in the bathroom, but not for washing with. No, for wiping down the surfaces! It doesn't have to be a flannel. Any absorbent cloth will do the trick. After every bath and shower, the tub, tiles, taps, shower head, mirror and metal shower shelf are wiped down. It keeps limescale from building up. It keeps things looking clean and shiny. The same goes for the sink. It only takes a moment after hand washing or teeth brushing. Whip that cloth out. If the shower has been on, the windows and mirror get fogged up. They get a wipe down as well.
Using cloth nappies with Felix, I tend to use cloth wipes on his bum.. but I do still have a use for good old baby wipes! I keep a packet in my bedroom (much cheaper and kinder on my skin than dedicated face wipes if you buy ones without balm in them) and a packet in the living room. They are great instant dusters. You can easily dust a whole house with one or two wipes. They clean stains off painted walls. You can clean the floor with them. Hand them to the kids and tell them to get to work. Clean sticky marks from toys. Wipe doors down. Clean the windowsills outside! Clean inside your car (I have some in the glove-box!). Clean your laptop! Wipe dust of light bulbs and light shades (make sure they aren't hot!). Clean the inside of your washing machine door. Picture frames! I even clean our buggies with them. I'm pretty sure they come in handy for anything.
Storage & clutter:
Have a good clear out. I love it. I'm probably addicted to clearing out. It's very theraputic I feel. Don't hang on to stuff just because. Don't hide things away. If you've bought a load of new clothes, go through your wardrobe and have a good clear out. Sell stuff. Give it to charity. Always make space for new items though, don't just keep shoving more and more in. You'll never wear it all anyway. You can always store winter clothes in the summer and vice-versa (under-bed storage bags are great for this). Kids create a heap of artwork. Come up with a good way to display some of it (on the fridge is traditinal and brightens up the kitchen). You can buy frames to pop art work in. What I tend to do is keep it on show for a while and then store my favourite peices in a file. The rest gets photographed and then recycled. It's hard, but you just can't keep it all. The same goes for cards. Some get used again for crafts, but mostly, they get recycled.
Invest in some good storage solutions. Take advantage of storage space in the attic and garage. Vacuum bags are very good, especially when it comes to storing clothes. I keep clothes for the boys this way.
Don't let toys get out of hand. In my experience, children don't play with that many of them anyway. I'm not saying don't have any, but take note of what they are playing with. If there's something they never play with it, sell it or give it away. If they are older, ask them first. Ethan is getting to this age. He notices if something disappears, even if he doesn't use it. I ask him now. He gets a chance to play with it. If he still doesn't, we give it away with his consent.
Rope in the kids:
From an early age, children can help with tidying up. You have to make it fun, a game. I'll admit that due to being a control freak, Ethan hasn't been too involved with tidying up until recently. Once he started school though, I thought it was silly that he helps to tidy up there but not at home. He sees me keeping things tidy though and has already learned to copy. I suppose some people might not think this healthy, but like me, he likes things in their place!
Ethan likes to help out with cleaning, so I have two dusters. He takes one, I take the other. He is also getting to an age where he likes to buy things. It might be a lego figure or a lolipop, but it gave me an idea. It seems silly that I have to keep buying him treats. I wanted to hand him some control and responsibility. So, for a few months now, Ethan has the job of making his bed in the morning. If he makes it every day, he gets £1 a week. He can then choose to spend it or save it. Mostly he saves it. He's currently saving up to buy a Catbus (any other Totoro fans?!). I know he loves the feeling of doing something himself. It saves me a job and it also helps him learn about earning money, not just being given something.
A handheld helper:
No, you dirty thing, I don't mean the vibrating kind! Getting a handheld vac was one of the best purchases we EVER made. I really mean that. Children mean crumbs. Everywhere. And an increase in sock fluff. Bloody sock fluff. I feel I am permanently waging a war against sock fluff! I love my handheld vac. The big Dyson probably only gets used once or twice a week, but the baby one is out several times a day. We have two laminate floors downstairs. They show up fluff and crumbs really quickly. Our dining table is in the living room and I have to vac up crumbs under it several times a day. It's so much easier than trying to use a dustpan and brush on carpet or getting the full sized vac out. It's also great for a quick vac around the whole house now and then. Or in the bathroom which is another laminate floor. Or in beds if some cheeky so and so has eaten toast in bed!!! Also fantastic for the car. Ours is from Lidl. It's far superior to the Vax one we owned a while ago. Only cost about £16. It's lightweight and gets into small nooks. Buy one with lithium iron batteries. They are better quality and you'll get far more power from them and they last longer between charges. Make sure your vac has a wall mounted charger - super handy!
I'd never use it on skin (mineral oil just sits on the skin blocking it!) but it's fantastic for shining up metal surfaces. I wipe it on to my hob, sink, toaster, kettle, bin. Polish it with a cloth. Lovely shine!
Classic - de-scale the kettle, de-scale your washing machine. Yes, quite often you should run your washing machine on a 90 degree cycle, empty of course with some vinegar in the powder draw. It'll keep it clean and should help with limescale. I think you can even put it down the loo to tackle limescale!
Well. I could probably go on all day, but I think those are my favourite tips. Do you have any? Share below!