Right now, we’re struggling to overcome a pandemic, but our hygiene standards are at an all-time high. A diligence for hand washing has spilled over into the household, and for once we’ve got the time to deal with domestic tasks frequently neglected.
Bored of tidying the living room, scrubbing the bathroom and disinfecting kitchen surfaces? Step up to the challenge of ticking off jobs you probably never even imagined needed doing.
1. Blitz oven grime
Hobs regularly get a rinse down, but how often do we tackle ovens? Over time fat and food debris build up on the walls and shelving, burning and spewing fumes every time the appliance is switched on. Choose a non-caustic cleaning product to avoid damage to both kitchen surfaces and your health – any stubborn stains can be cleared by soaking them with bicarbonate of soda overnight. Non-toxic products shouldn’t leave lingering odours, but to be safe fill a tray with water and lemon juice and heat to 120C for 20 minutes beforehand.
2. Remove dust from radiators
Whatever the design, radiators are magnets for dust, which often ends up collecting in the hardest to reach places. Allowing it to fester is not only unhygienic but can also impair heating performance, so it’s worth making the effort to delve in. For tight spots impossible to vacuum, collect fluff by dangling a damp cloth, or wrap it around a wire coat hanger for greater control.
3. Empty kitchen cupboards
At a time when supermarket trips should be minimised, creating storage space for long-life food is more important than ever. While most items are stamped with expiry dates, others fall into a grey area. Can you recall exactly when those burgers went into the freezer? And how long have strands of saffron been drifting around the bottom of a spice jar?
According to Bord Bia, larger cuts of meat can be safely stored for up to 6 months, smaller cuts should not be frozen for more than 4 months, and minced meat should not be frozen for more than 3 months. Most spices have a shelf life of three to four years.
4. Sort sock drawers
How irritating is it to wake up and find a drawer full of odd socks? Admittedly, Skype, Zoom and Houseparty only require dressing from the waist up, but there is a sense of self-respect to be earned from wearing matching smalls. Empty the drawer, layout each sock and ball them into pairs. Think of it as a game of Snap.
5. Detangle electrical cables
Not everything in the world is wireless. When the back of a TV set starts to resemble electrical spaghetti, it’s time to tidy cords and cables neatly away. Hair scrunchies can be used to create manageable bundles, or thread stray wires through empty toilet rolls to avoid any tangles.
6. Descale the showerhead
In areas with hard water, limescale deposits quickly form in bathroom taps, turning power showers into pathetic trickles over time. White vinegar is the simple, cost-effective solution: clean a removable spout by immersing it in a bucket of the acidic liquid; if the shower is fixed, fill a plastic bag instead and use a rubber band to tie it to the head.
7. Clean your mattress
It’s a place where we spend a good proportion of our lives, so its no surprise beds are a den of dirty hair and dead skin cells. A vacuum cleaner will remove most of the detritus from a mattress, while baking soda can be used to help soak up stains and deodorise bad smells. Steam cleaners get the best results and should be used every few months.
8. Clean windows crystal clear
At the moment, we’re spending a lot of time gazing through windows, and who really wants to connect with the outside world through a veil of pigeon poo? It’s tempting to choose a sunny day to get glass gleaming, but if cleaner dries too quickly it will form streaks. While squeegees are a window cleaner’s favourite tool, it’s easier – and less messy – to use a microfibre cloth for smaller panes.
9. Deodorise the washing machine
If your whites are running grey after cycles emitting foul smells, it’s likely the washing machine is due a good clean. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the detergent drawer, clear the debris filter (it’s usually on the bottom of the machine, behind a hinged cover) and clean the drum with dishwasher tablets on a hot wash.