In the midst of a nationwide lockdown, families have been thrust together like never before whilst some face the challenge of being isolated alone. Stress levels are high for most as people are forced to take on additional roles of teacher, carer and home-worker. Cleaning – whether it’s usually done by yourself of a trusted, local company – is likely to fall to the bottom of list. And yet we’re all worried about hygiene at a time like this. So how do you find the balance?
“If you’re staying in the house, washing your hands regularly and social distancing when you do have to go out, then your main concern at home can be about creating the most relaxing environment possible for yourself and your family,” says Chris Wootton, Managing Director of national domestic cleaning brand, Poppies. “Think wellbeing and cleanliness right now, not deep cleans and house-wide sterilisation. Be sensible and practical and only focus on what is going to make the most impact.”
Mess causes stress
When a room is tidy, it instantly feels like a calmer, more pleasant place to be. This is key to surviving isolation, and it doesn’t have to be a military operation. Once a day, pick things up off the floor or stack into a neat pile, out of eyeline, straighten cushions and clear plates and cups away. This simple act of visual decluttering makes a big difference to our emotions when we walk into a room or space in the house.
Little and often
A tidy room is also easier and much quicker to clean. At times like this, a few shortcuts are fine and will last you for a number of weeks until things start to get back to normal. In all but the kitchen and bathroom, do three things for maximum impact: damp dust surfaces that are in your eyeline, dust around things instead of in, under and behind and run the vac around without worrying about getting into every nook and cranny. Open a window, if possible, to ventilate and breathe in some fresh air. What you have now is a tidy, clean room to relax in. Do this every few days to avoid a ten-minute job morphing into a metaphorical monster.
Prioritise heavy use rooms
Bathrooms and kitchens get the most use and, if left alone for more than a week, cause the most stress. A simple solution is to have a very quick and easy routine to follow that provides a surface-level clean with visually calming results. Focus on touch points and shiny, fingerprint prone surfaces. In the bathroom, wipe down the sink, taps, mirror and toilet. Get into the habit of squeegeeing the shower down after use – 15 seconds that make a world of difference! In the kitchen wipe down working surfaces including the stove and sink. Once a week, get under the toaster, kettle and breadbin, wipe out the microwave and give the floor a mop.
Clean then sanitise
Clean first, then sanitise. It’s tempting to douse your home in antibacterial spray but in reality, it’s not necessary. Coronavirus is proven to be effectively removed and dispersed with ordinary cleaning products. However, if you absolutely feel the need to sanitise, make sure you clean surfaces first with general detergent of some kind. You can only sanitise a clean surface.
Wash the cloths you’ve cleaned with, don’t reuse them during this time of isolation – simply throw them in the washing machine on a quick wash at 60 degrees. Have two sets of cleaning cloths so that one set can be in the wash whilst you’re using another.
Gamify the work
Got the kids at home? Great – put them to work without them even knowing it! Who can pair up those washed socks the quickest, or fold towels into the neatest pile? Ever noticed how loading the dishwasher is a bit like Tetris… just how cleverly can they make use of the space in there for those dirty dishes? Getting the kids involved is a lovely way to do something together, that’s actually useful, and teaches them some valuable life lessons along the way.
“Now isn’t the time to host the tidy-home awards,” says Chris. “When all this is over, your regular cleaning company can take care of the deep clean – or you can bring one in so that you don’t have to! In the meantime, this is about taking care of your own wellbeing and the day-to-day comfort of your family. Don’t try to be perfect, just do what you can.”
Please take specialist advice and follow official instructions if someone in your household is isolating with a confirmed case of COVID -19.