The cleaning tips your mother never taught you

Because I really like having a clean home, but most of the time I have better things to do.

It all came together when I decided to not immediately replace the domestic worker that did the majority of my household cleaning once a week – initially I just didn’t feel like going through the shlep of finding someone suitable. I live in a slightly smaller than average two bedroom duplex so it’s not like I have a mansion to maintain, and before I realised what was going on I started enjoying properly cleaning my own place. Here are 10 things I’ve found helpful to make the job as easy as possible.

1. Don’t make extra work for yourself

Because I can be spectacularly lazy at times (and honestly, who WANTS to spend more time cleaning than they absolutely have to?) I love all kinds of hacks and tricks that keeps your space and your things cleaner for longer. Examples? Line your oven dishes with foil and baking paper and you’ll practically never have to wash them again. You don’t ever have to scrub your toilet if you pour thick bleach in once or twice a week. A loose mat in front of an open door catches LOADS of sand and dust that would otherwise have gone onto your floor.

2. Vacuum trumps broom

On any surface, on any day. Somehow I was always lazy to fetch and plug in the vacuum, but it does a much better job at picking up hair (between the cat and I our hair seems to be everywhere), dust and all kinds of annoying little bits of dirt that you would end up sweeping back and forth with a broom.

I vacuum every area of my flat including the stairs, bathroom and kitchen. How often you do this will naturally depend on the amount of traffic in your home, but once a week upstairs and twice a week downstairs works for me. While you’re at it, vacuum your mattress, curtains and couches every now and then too.

3. Have clear areas and clutter areas

I have a couple of areas that always need to be clear and free from clutter – kitchen counters, side tables, basins etc. I then have separate areas where I don’t mind clutter at all . I have a massive bookshelf that doubles up as a decor feature that has all all my living room odds and ends – candles, ornaments and whatever else I quickly need to find a home for. The point is to have a couple of spaces that will always be clear and empty – this magically makes your space look cleaner and at least somewhat organised

4. Get the good stuff

I used to despise washing the floor for multiple reasons – two of them being that I’d sooner lick a toilet bowl than wring out a spaghetti mop with my hands, and those squeezy mops are pretty useless. Apparently it’s as easy as getting a mop that can be twisted/spun to wring out the water, and now I don’t mind a quick floor-washing at all.

I’ve also started reducing the number of cleaning materials I buy because honestly, I don’t even need half of what’s currently in my stash. And you’ll be surprised at how many things you can clean with a good quality microfibre cloth alone. Bonus: eventually you’ll run a more eco-friendly ship AND you’ll save money.

5. Spot cleaning

Spot cleaning is the best way to successfully avoid the tasks you don’t like for as long as possible. If there’s only one or two dirty spots on the floor, you better believe I’m sorting them out with a spritz of cleaner and a paper towel instead of washing the whole thing again.

Little chunks of cleaning also feels like less of a mission – wipe down the counters while you’re on the phone, give the shower a swipe every day before you get out, rinse a coffee cup if there are no other dishes, wipe the fridge door if you see fingerprints.

6. Cheat/prep

I set things up for myself to make tasks easier. If there’s something downstairs that needs to get to my bedroom, I’ll put it on the stairs and grab it next time I’m going up. I always do a sweep for stray towels and clothing items the night before I’m due to do a load of laundry, and then park the laundry basket in front of the machine. It sounds incredibly mundane but these little things make a big difference.

7. Bite size chunks

There will always be tasks that are more enjoyable than others. Me? I despise doing dishes and my kitchen doesn’t have space for a dishwasher. I manage this by doing dishes in small batches – I just suck it up and do it daily whether there are three glasses or a full basin to be washed. This is the one chore I must force myself most to do, so I wash every dish begrudgingly – but at least it goes quickly because I don’t have to deal with yesterday’s sticky sauce residue. And remember to line those baking trays and oven dishes with foil and baking paper – I haven’t given an oven dish more than a rinse in ages.

8. Distract and reward yourself

Some cleaning tasks are rewarding (hello sparkly bathroom) and some are just plain boring. Folding laundry is one of the most mundane things in my life, so I watch a Youtube video or listen to music while I’m doing it to make it a more tolerable experience.

9. Smells

I’m really sensitive about home odours. I permanently have doors and windows open (which is still the best deodoriser, by the way) and I use a lot of essential oils – in the mop water, on a cloth to wipe down surfaces, dropped onto loose mats and obviously in burners. I also have an air purifier that uses scented drops (it smells amazingly clean) and I love a luxurious candle or a room spray.

10. Put a time freeze on tasks

I can’t remember where I first read about this, but it’s one of the most useful habits I’ve adopted. For me a good time freeze on household tasks is 24 hours – meaning if there’s something I really, really don’t feel like doing (hello unfolded laundry) I allow myself to dodge it for a day. Sure, I can have it done within 10 minutes – but sometimes it’s just not a priority.

If you have some genius cleaning tips of your own, now would be a great time to share them with the rest of us.

C x

PS – Full disclosure: my mother actually taught me about the vacuum, the foil/baking paper and the shower-wiping.

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  1. Nov 16, 2015 / 11:02 AM

    LOVE these tips… I am such a sucker for decluttering and cleaning posts! Will definitely be implementing the baking oven dish tip, as well as pouring some bleach into my toilet bowl a couple of times per week. Also like the idea of dropping a few drops of essential oils onto rugs, etc – nothing worse than a stinky, musty home! Thanks for these!

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 11:20 AM

      Pleasure and thank you! I love them as well but sometimes I’m exhausted just after reading some of these tips so I tried to keep it really simple x

  2. Marné
    Nov 16, 2015 / 1:11 PM

    Great post Chantelle! Your mother taught you well 😉
    Where do you buy your essential oils from? I know they’re not as scarce as I would think, I just always seem to look them over when shopping.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 1:44 PM

      Thank you! I’m pretty biased toward SOiL oils –, also at most Dis-Chems.

  3. Nov 16, 2015 / 1:12 PM

    Great tips! Your mother is a very clever woman; I also vacuum everything. I don’t even know where our broom is…

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 1:48 PM

      It’s SO much easier and more effective!

  4. Bianca
    Nov 16, 2015 / 1:27 PM

    Love this! I am also obsessed with having a clean house and dread it when my domestic goes on leave. Usually then I’ll divide the house cleaning over 2 days – kitchen & bathrooms in one day and then bedrooms and lounge the other day. Makes it much more tolerable that I’ll only spend about 1/2hours a day cleaning than the whole day. Those toilet blocks that you chuck into the cistern do a good job of keeping things clean too! I also always try and put something back in its place the minute I’m done with it – makes keeping things tidy that much easier.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 1:47 PM

      I also like splitting upstairs and downstairs sometimes. Yes, I use the plain bleach blocks – they smell super clean and keep the bowl sparkling 🙂 I struggle so much with putting things away when I’m done with them but I try!

  5. Vivella
    Nov 16, 2015 / 1:31 PM

    Great tips thank you! I sometimes give the bathroom floor and surfaces a quick wipe while running the bath water. I keep a spray bottle with approx 1/3 vinegar, topped up with water and a few drops of any essential oil. I have one in each bathroom and one in the kitchen and just about anything can be wiped down with this, including mirrors. If I have any leftover shampoo or even bubble bath I dont use, I keep it to scrub down basins and loos as well.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 1:45 PM

      Those are great tips, thank you!

  6. Nov 16, 2015 / 1:41 PM

    I love this post – thank you for sharing.
    Love the foil trick and cannot believe I never thought of that but I will be doing it going forward.
    Such a great post 🙂

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 1:45 PM

      Thank you and pleasure! It’s my fave lazy-person habit 🙂

  7. Monique
    Nov 16, 2015 / 2:52 PM

    I put left over hot water from the kettle down the drain. Stops the drains from clogging up or smelling.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 9:02 PM

      Thanks, good tip!

  8. Nov 16, 2015 / 6:42 PM

    I love this article. The cleaning tips are very helpful. I clean up every day as I have a toddler and its extremely exhausting. I have to try to put a time freeze on tasks.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Nov 16, 2015 / 9:02 PM

      I can imagine you’ll have to clean regularly with a toddler around! The freeze works great to give you a breather when you really, really don’t feel like doing something.

  9. Feb 5, 2016 / 2:34 PM

    Brilliant cleaning tips! I am always curious and interested in cleaning suggestions and advises. I rarely have a time for deep cleaning, therefore I am always looking for helpful cleaning solutions!

    • Chantelle Bester
      Feb 8, 2016 / 5:17 AM

      I’m a lazy cleaner so I love the short cuts myself!

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