I wrote a post last week with tips on how to speed up cleaning, and it was really popular. So this week, I thought I’d include some speed-cleaning tips specifically for the kitchen. The trouble with kitchens is that they’re in constant use and staying on top of the mess is the only way to tackle it. No miracle solutions, little and often is the only way to do it I’m afraid!
- When you’re cooking, fill the sink with hot soapy water and try and clean as you go. It makes such a difference to the amount of dirty dishes left at the end of a meal.
- If you’ve got the space and cash, a dishwasher is great. Be sure to make sure you load as you go to keep surfaces free of dirty dishes. I load through the day, put it on before I go to bed, and unload during breakfast.
- Shine your sink a la Fly Lady (read one of my earlier posts for more info). However much I hate to admit it, having a clean and empty sink every morning does inspire you to keep on top of other jobs. After our dinner (most nights!), I empty the sink and fill with hot water. Pop a bit of bleach into the water and leave for as long as I can before I want to crash on the sofa. After rinsing well and wiping down the taps, I dry the whole area with a tea towel and shine the shiny bits with a microfibre cloth.
- Have good mats at every outside door. Capturing dirt on mats saves a lot of cleaning. I like coir matting (you can get them from local carpet shops and they’ll cut them to whatever size you need), but Turtle Mats are good too. Just make sure the mats have a latex backing (to retain the dirt) and give them a good shake outside regularly.
- Sweep up or use a hand-held hoover to help keep on top of crumbs. I try and give the floor a quick once over after every meal. I also have a packet of floor wipes that I use to spot clean if my 3 year old pest has spilt something.
- Use a steam cleaner to wash floors rather than a mop and bucket. I hate mopping the floors, it just takes too long so I bought a steam cleaner about six months ago. Whilst it still takes me a lot longer than I’d like, it dries much quicker. I pop a bit of vinegar in the water and it helps gets the floors cleaner without going streaky (the vinegar smell subsides really quickly – I promise!)
- If you’ve got a choice, don’t opt for high maintenance surfaces in your kitchen (like wood, polished or gloss) to save on too much faff. But most of us just inherit what was in the house before we moved in.
- Try and keep clutter to a minimum to make wiping over the surfaces as easy and quick as possible. More storage, shelving, notice boards and a major declutter can all help.
- I use any old disinfectant spray that happens to be on offer in the supermarket for regular quick wipe-downs. Be sure to replace cloths often (you can pop dirty ones into the dishwasher). Dry any wet patches on your surfaces (particularly round the sink) to avoid water stains.
- Again, given a choice I would opt for an induction or ceramic hob as they are the easiest to clean (Lazy, moi?!). Bar Keepers Friend is great for stubborn marks, just be sure it is suitable for use on your appliance.
- I never have much success with oven cleaners and find they leave everything smeary. Oven Pride is quite good (the one that comes with a bag for your wire racks) but I think it is still quite time-consuming and tough to get everything properly clean. My preferred way is to get the professionals in once a year! Costs vary across the country but I’ve had mine cleaned for £50 and they leave it really sparkly and as good as new.
- To stop your oven from getting too dirty, use a liner on the bottom that you can just take out and wipe down (Lakeland sell a good one). I use tin foil to line my grill tray and baking trays (have also got some disposable foil baking trays for doing roasts which saves SO much washing up!).
Hope these tips help! Would love to hear any more…!
Cookware and cleaning gadget specialist Lakeland have a 60% sale running at the moment. Although they sell a lot of fancy gizmos that might as well have “kitchen cupboard clutter” written all over them, they also sell some real gems that are great time-savers. Anything that makes it quicker for me to keep the house tidy and clean and is in the sale is a winner with me!
Here are few items that I’ve popped in my virtual shopping basket…
Magic Mitt – was £6.99, now £2.79. I love e-cloths, they make dusting super-easy and mean that I don’t use as many cleaning chemicals and sprays. Just a bit of water, and you’re away. This one has three cloths on the one mitt – dusting, polishing and glass. I’m going to get a few and have one upstairs and one downstairs.
Ostrich Feather Duster – was £13.99, now £9.99. People in the know (the Fly Lady included) claim that ostrich feather dusters are the best for trapping dust and cobwebs, much better than their synthetic cousins. We live in quite an old cottage with many an eight-legged lodger, so I’m forever spotting cobwebs all over the place. I’m hoping this is going to be much better at getting rid of them.
Wardrobe Buddy – was £9.99, now £4.99. My wardrobe is a mess and I’ve got handbags all over the shop, I think this will really help introduce a bit more order. It’s got eight pockets and will be perfect to store handbags, belts and scarves.
Small Collapsible Strainer – was £9.99, now £3.99. Inspired by a post this week on the great foodie blog Crumbs, I’m thinking I could do with another much smaller colander for all the little handfulls of fruit I seem to wash through the day rather than using my big one all the time. This one also doubles as a seive and is collapsible to boot.
Mason Cash Large Mixing Bowl – was £16.99, now £9.99. Now I know this isn’t going to help me clean or tidy the house quicker, but I just love Mason Cash bowls. Good old proper mixing bowls, like the ones my grandmother has. Love it in cream too!
Cable Snap – was £8.99 now £3.49. What a bargain! You get a pack of five for that price too. These should be really handy in our home office stuck on the back of our desk (wouldn’t want them stuck on the table top) to hold all the various cables and chargers, saving us digging round the back to find the right one.
Phew! With all that lot I’ll also qualify for free delivery (free for any order over £30.00)!
The Fly Lady and her cleaning schedules are often a hot topic on various parenting and lifestyle forums, and if you’re looking for a way to get to grips with the dust and dirt in your house (which I am) her book or website are good places to start. For those uninitiated in the ways of Mrs Fly (that’s not actually her name, it stands for Finally Loving Yourself by the way), essentially she sets down a detailed housekeeping system for her followers (who she calls Flybabies).
She’s got that love/hate quality like Marmite, Gina Ford or Fearne Cotton. There are plenty of people online who rave about her, although I wonder how many of those would freely admit that they consume her saccharine-sweet phraseology to their real-life friends. I have tried her approach a few times in the past and there are some really useful parts that I am definitely going to follow from now on.
- “Shine your Sink”. The Fly Lady encourages new members to start with Babysteps, one for each day of their first month following her schedule. It makes sense that you need to start small and slowly build a routine and learn new habits rather than get overwhelmed and give up. The Shine your Sink philosophy makes sense too – even if your kitchen is a health hazard, if your kitchen sink is left clean, empty and sparkly every night, it motivates you to keep the surrounding area clean too.
- “Declutter”. It is easier to keep a room tidy and clean when there is less stuff to tidy and clean. Simple.
- “You can do anything for 15 minutes”. Another sensible approach and one that suits my gnat-like attention span. The Fly Lady advocates setting a kitchen timer and tackling a job for only 15 minutes. It means that you do that job with a bit of motivation, speed and avoid getting overwhelmed. It also fits well with having children about, you don’t feel too guilty leaving them to entertain themselves for such a short amount of time.
So if it’s so flipping great, why have I started and stopped following the Fly Lady approach many times before? Because for all the really sensible routines and suggestions, there are as many elements of the programme which are downright unbearable.
If you sign up to receiving email reminders, you get millions of them. I kid you not, you get about 10 a day. It makes no sense to me that someone would preach the benefits of decluttering by cluttering up someone’s inbox. Most of them are utter self-promoting nonsense too, flogging all manner of crap that will CLUTTER UP MY HOUSE!!!!
It’s one thing to be prescriptive when encouraging reluctant slatterns like me to pick up a duster, but she takes it to a whole other level. The Fly Lady sees fit to tell you to drink more water, when to go to bed and (as someone who’s child regularly wakes at around 5.30am this last one really takes the biscuit) to get up 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the family so that you can get dressed and greet your loved ones with a smile. Uh no, no and NO!
But then there are 550,000 people on her mailing list who must think that Fly Lady holds the key to that tidy home that I want, so maybe it is me who is the unreasonable one.
I like the approach of some Mumsnet members that use their Good Housekeeping chat room. They have monthly posts so that they share the good parts of the Fly Lady system without subjecting themselves to all the bad bits. Very wise.
My next (baby)step is to take all those sensible elements and adapt them to form a system that suits me and my family, because in the end that is the only way new habits will stick.