We all think we know a thing or two about looking after our personal space. We know that shelves need to be dusted (the layer of grey on the surface is evidence enough) and that floors must be vacuumed. We know to change our bed linen and towels regularly (hopefully), and we are pretty clear on the fact that kitchens must remain spick and span hygienic havens.
But however much any of us knows, there is a lot to learn. Think your toilet is the dirtiest surface in your home? Well, studies have found more bacteria on common household items like kitchen sponges and cloths, chopping boards, and even cellphones or our own clothes.
And did you know that your mattress is probably home to a population of dust mites? This is where removable, machine-washable mattress protectors come in handy.
There are also a number of areas in your home that you might not even think to clean, or you don’t clean properly, or perhaps you just don’t know how to clean them at all. It’s time to use some elbow grease and get down and (un)dirty.
Here are SweepSouth’s five cleaning hacks from the pros (aka their experienced SweepStars):
1. Bed linens are such a mission to change. How do you do it properly?
For starters, keep linen sets together in a cupboard so it’s easy to just grab a fresh set for your bed. This makes it so much simpler to quickly change your bed linen. There’s also less risk of saying “agh, I’ll do it tomorrow” if you don’t have to dig around trying to find sets of pillowcases and the correct duvet cover and sheet to match.
If you have fitted sheets, how to correctly fold them is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of all time. The top tip here is to pop your hands into the corners to keep them straight and square. Put your hands together and you’ll have a straight line. Easy, at least in principle. So good luck with that!
As for changing the duvet cover itself, the most common tried and tested way is the “flip it inside out, grab the corners of the duvet with the inside corners of the cover, and shake the cover on over the bed” method (that’s possibly even the official name for it).
2. Red wine stains on white t-shirts. Can they ever become white again? How?
We’ve all heard a number of common solutions for this (cover it with salt, wash it in cold water, pour white wine on it), but which are myths and which actually work?
The first rule, as with any stain, is to treat the area immediately. That isn’t always so easy, however, if you’re out and about when the offending spillage occurs. So, don’t fret if you can’t as there are ways to manage a set stain too.
If you can treat the stain immediately, then first things first: you need to dab the area (with a clean, dry cloth) to remove excess liquid. Whatever you do though, DO NOT RUB THAT STAIN!
Fortunately, the insanely common household item, salt, really does work. Scatter it over the wine-smeared area and leave it for a while. The salt soaks up the wine and lifts it from the particles of the fabric. Then rinse with cold water. You can also soak the stained fabric in cold water or soda water before popping it in the washing machine.
For dried, older stains, try soaking in dishwashing liquid or washing powder and cold water. You might have to repeat this a few times, depending on the severity of the stain.
3. If everything is super messy, where is the best place to start? Is it the dishes, the floor, a room?
The best way to keep your home clean and tidy is to declutter and properly organise it. Hoarders, this one’s for you: it’s time to make a change! First, get yourself some storage crates or boxes and maybe even some vacuum-pack bags. Apply the “have I needed or used this in the last three months” rule to, well, pretty much everything you own.
Then play the keep it, stash it, or dump it game. Things you use regularly, sure, keep ’em! If you definitely want or need to keep it (maybe it has sentimental value), then store it away somewhere safe. These items do not need to be taking up surface space, so they belong in the back of a cupboard for now. Finally, anything you do not use, and probably will not use, can be donated (if it’s in pretty good condition) or dumped. You’ve got this!
It’s also a good idea, although you probably knew this already (even if you didn’t stick to it), to keep on top of your cleaning schedule and rotate those little odd tidying jobs on a daily or weekly basis. Besides, isn’t it so much easier to wipe a surface if you don’t have to move 20 things off of it first?
4. Cleaning a microwave can be tricky ... - how do you do it properly?
It’s time to get steamy. Place a (microwave-friendly) bowl with water and vinegar or wedges/ slices of lemon in the microwave and heat on full until the water is hot and the sides of the microwave are steamed up.
Then just wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. Done! Top tip: the more often you clean it, the easier it is to clean. Just saying.
5. What top cleaning tip do people often overlook?
It’s great that there’s an official product out there for cleaning just about anything. But sometimes it’s better to use household ingredients like lemon, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda over supermarket cleaning products.
You already know the microwave trick, but lemon can also be used for cleaning and deodorising wooden chopping boards and plastic boards and bowls. You can even put a little salt on half a lemon and use it to scrub stubborn pots and dishes. Fridge a little whiffy? Keep half a lemon inside . But wait, there’s more: lemon is great for polishing cutlery and removing spots of rust.
Vinegar can be used for cleaning windows, floors, and even getting rid of pesky weeds in the garden. But bicarbonate of soda is the answer to many of the woes of pet owners: sprinkle it on your couch or carpets and vacuum it up. You won’t be sorry. And, like lemon, it’s great for deodorising dodgy smells.