Keeping your home fresh and sparkling needn’t be an endless chore
If The Grinch Who Stole the Weekend were ever to make it to the screen, you wouldn’t have to go far looking for the greedy green monster – just look under your carpet. Dirt - grimy, greasy, slimy dust patiently piles up the entire week, waiting in shady corners and lurking under beds only so it can ruin that precious weekend. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a maid (or several), you’ll know that dust has a way of sneaking onto shelves, collecting on fans and accumulating in kitchen cabinets just to torment you. To break this vicious cycle, we asked experts to help us with tips that will make daily cleaning seem bearable.
The most used room in the house; the kitchen is most likely to be the dirtiest too. But tackling this room need not be a mammoth task. Manisha Amol, vice president, marketing, Modicare Limited, advises, “Plan your cleaning routine the night before. If the menu is planned beforehand, then pre-cooking preparations can be done the previous night. This will help create less mess in the morning.”
Mona Sharma, advisor, housekeeping, The Suryaa, Delhi, advises cleaning one shelf at a time. “As and when you pull down jars to use condiments, clean the shelf,” she says. “All it takes is a swipe of the duster and if done daily, the dust does not form a thick layer.” Sharma also advises cleaning utensils soon after using them. “It’s better if you clean up straight after cooking rather than leave utensils and cutlery in the sink for the next day since stains tend to get harder with time.” When it comes to the fridge, Meenu Tognatta suggests buying only as much stock as is needed. “If stored for more than a week, food not only loses its nutritive value but also rots faster,” she explains.
With footfalls from the entire household, this room is not only vulnerable to dust but also bacteria and grime. So create a niche outside the main entrance where family and guests can remove their footwear to avoid getting dirt inside the house, suggests Meenu Tognatta. “It’s not only hygienic but also prevents stains on the floor,” she says.
Make decluttering your mantra. “Books accumulate maximum dust and take the longest to clean. So if you have books that are a one-time read, donate them to schools or public libraries,” says Mona Sharma. Manisha Amol has the same advice to offer about your closet. “An easy way to declutter is to donate old toys, clothes and other items to needy people,” she explains.
Don’t place all your crystal and silver on display. While they’ll do little to add to your status, they’ll certainly do worse for your cleaning routine, say the experts. “Keep your shelves and table tops as empty as possible. And if there are some items that you’d like to display, soak them in a mixture of warm water and ammonia once every fortnight to have them glistening for longer,” says Meenu Tognatta. “Also, you can also save a lot of stress by choosing dark furniture with light upholstery, instead of the other way around.”Bathroom blues
This room alone decides the cleanliness pedigree of the entire house. Naturally, with all that water and humidity, it gets dirty a lot. Hard water stains and grimy tiles can be tackled effectively. "Hang an old wash towel next to the basin and wipe it dry every time it’s used. Do the same with the floor using a broom or a plastic wiper. That way you keep hard water stains away in the least possible time," says Mona Sharma. "You can use home remedies like vinegar, lemon, bleach and baking soda to tackle all stains effectively rather than depending on market cleaners and decloggers."
Separate footwear for the bathroom for different members of the house helps maintain sanity as well, suggests Tanuja Kangabam, spa manager, Seven Seas Evania Spa. “Keep an extra pair for guests as well, as that keeps germs from entering and thus prevents the growth of mold and fungus,” she says.
The final solution
The weekend becomes a beast of burden only because the entire responsibility of cleaning rests on a couple of hours. Expanding the schedule over the entire week could make for more pleasant weekends. “Clean a few minutes each day. Stay on top of the mess to stay in control of the mess. Instead of having a cleaning marathon to make the whole house sparkle, spend a few minutes each day tidying up. Your home will always be spotless,” says Manisha Amol. “Carry a broom or a duster as you pass from one room to the other and just clean the corner that you see, right then. It’ll ease things a lot,” says Mona Sharma.
How not to Clean
1 Don’t lie on the bed, calculating how much cleaning needs to be done. That’s one way to ensure you’ll never do it.
2 Don’t run around frantically, mopping, cleaning, washing and making beds. The faster you try to be, the more it will slow you down. And you don’t need an expert to tell you that you won’t be doing a very good job either.
3 Don’t rush to the store to buy cleaning products, the empty bottles of which you discovered only now. When have you ever come back with just what you were looking for?
4 Don’t spend more time organising old newspapers and junk, which you insist on preserving for posterity, rather than doing the 5 dirty dishes in the sink.
6 Don’t concentrate on the tiny bookshelf and magazine rack as you get caught up reading that one article you missed in the entire issue.
7 Don’t close your eyes for ‘just five minutes’ after an hour of cleaning. You’ll only wake up hours later, with things still undone.
8 Make sure you throw all junk into dustbins or garbage bins as you clean. Or you’ll only end up tripping on it.
From HT Brunch, August 28
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