How to deep-clean your home during coronavirus isolation
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Stuck inside because of coronavirus? Make sure your home is the nicest – and healthiest – place to be with a proper deep clean.
We are all going to be spending a lot more time inside over the coming weeks. That could mean it becomes more challenging to keep our homes ship shape – yet it’s never been more important to keep everything clean. Suddenly being at home with time to spare for cleaning becomes a bonus...
A proper deep clean is not a quick clean. It could easily take several days, systematically going through each room in the house. The benefits are huge, though: once your home has been deep cleaned it’s not only more hygienic but also easier to maintain in a clean and tidy state.
This is important for mental health as well as physical wellbeing, as psychiatrists have shown that living in a cluttered or untidy home can contribute to stress, depression or even a sense of fatigue. None of which is going to help us get through the lockdown.
So, here are six simple steps for completing your own deep clean.
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1) Make a plan
Decide on the order in which you’re going to work through the rooms in the house. It’s best to start with the most used – kitchen, bathroom, living room, hallways/entrances – before moving onto bedrooms. Before you clean, start tidying up and removing clutter. Ornaments can be cleaned and returned to position once you’ve sanitised the room.
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You’ll need a good supply of cleaning cloths (you’ll get through a LOT). Make sure you have disinfectant, bleach, washing-up detergent and, if you can get it, distilled white wine vinegar. You’ll want a pair of refillable spray bottles, too. If your vacuum cleaner uses bags, be sure you have spares, but also grab a stiff-bristled broom plus a dustpan and brush. You’ll need a long-handled duster or steps to let you get up to ceiling height. If you have hard flooring, a mop and floor-cleaning fluid are both essential.
2) Clean, polish, disinfect
Start by getting rid of as much dust as possible, working from the top of the room down. Don’t neglect windowsills, the tops of dado or picture rails and the skirting boards. You can use dusters or – if it can reach – a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Sweep carpets with the stiff broom to bring up any dirt in the pile, then vacuum. Be sure to hoover hard floors, too. The final floor clean should be the last job in each room, but vacuuming now helps prevent spreading dust around.
Hard surfaces can be cleaned by spraying with diluted detergent or distilled white wine vinegar, then wiping with a clean, slightly damp cloth. If it’s a wooden surface that needs polishing, polish it after this. To disinfect, spray with either disinfectant (diluted according to its directions) or a mild solution of household bleach – 10:1 or even 12:1 water to bleach. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth. When everything is done, vacuum again. Hard floors can be mopped, then disinfected – but check the care instructions for any vinyl floors before applying disinfectant.
3) Look after your cloths
Don’t mix your cloths. Dusters dust, cleaning cloths clean, polishers polish, and disinfectant cloths do nothing else. In rooms with many hard surfaces, you may use several cleaning and disinfecting cloths. For instance, in the bathroom you’d use one set for the bath and basin but a separate pair for the toilet. In the kitchen you’d have one set for worktops and the outsides of cupboards, one set for tiles and the outside of appliances, another set for the inside of cupboards... as a minimum. If a cloth starts looking dirty, stop using it and get another one. Wash all the cloths on a hot-water cycle when you’ve finished each room: don’t take them and use them in another room.
4) Move things and empty things
Don’t let furniture limit access: move it to clean behind it and under it. Make sure you clean the furniture itself as well: take cushions off chairs and vacuum them. Pull white goods out from under worktops. Get under beds to reveal epic layers of dust.
The kitchen can take an entire day so work patiently and systematically, emptying one cupboard at a time to clean inside. Clean the oven and grill – if you don’t have a specialist oven cleaner, mix baking soda, washing-up liquid and distilled white wine vinegar into a paste and let it sit on dirty areas before washing off with soapy water. Get all the crumbs out of the toaster and clean inside the microwave. Empty the fridge and wash inside with a sponge and soapy water before disinfecting it. Vacuum the dust out of the heat exchanger on the back. If the freezer isn’t frost-free, why not defrost it while you’re at it?
5) Handle your handles
Focus on areas everyone touches, especially door handles. Also look at light switches, remote controls, telephones, PC keyboards and games-console controls. Just remember not to spray any liquid directly onto anything electrical: apply cleaner and disinfectant by spraying them onto cloths and then wiping. If you’re worried about fiddly things like remote controls, wrap them in clingfilm to have a surface that is easily disinfected or simply removed and replaced.
6) Keep it clean
Once you’ve finished each room, keep it clean: don’t let clutter build up; dust and clean regularly; disinfect occasionally (but do handles regularly). Try to keep shoes out of the house, as they can bring muck and germs in from outside.
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