Here’s my ten top tips for cleaning and decluttering your living room…
Use spring and the improvement in weather to wash and dry sofa covers and cushions. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove lost crumbs. The same can be used for pet hair but a damp cloth or rubber glove can work just as well. If you have a leather sofa wipe this down to remove stains (following manufacturers guidelines) and treat it to prolong its life. Pull out and vacuum behind large items to get rid of dust, cobwebs and anything else you might find.
2) Light fittings:
Light fittings are obviously something I use everyday and take for granted when the nights draw in but rarely do I stop to think how much brighter it would be if I gave them some TLC every now and again. Dust on light fittings and bulbs can make a huge amount of difference to their luminance. Ensure they are turned off at the switch first and dust regularly using a feather or fibre duster or lint free cloth – this will only take a few seconds if done every week so shouldn’t be too much of a chore.. For a more thorough clean or for caked on grime (especially in kitchens), take the bulbs out and use a dampened cloth to clean. Take care when handling and never do this with warm bulbs as the difference in temperature (between the bulb and the cool, damp cloth) could shatter them.
3) Skirting boards:
Usually these are kept dust free by using a duster or one of the accessories on your vacuum cleaner. However, surface scuffs from shoes and furniture or paint splatters (if you’re like me and forget to use masking tape when decorating!) can be a bit trickier to remove. I find lemon cream cleaner brilliant for bringing the whiteness and shine back to gloss paint. Put a small amount on a cloth and rub the area gently until the mark is removed. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth to ensure no residue is left on the skirting board. This can also be used for door surrounds and window sills.
4) Door, door knobs, airvents and switch plates:
Sticky finger marks can be tackled using lemon cream cleaner as well – just follow the same method used for skirting boards. Dust doors, door knobs and airvents regularly too – I often forget these during a weekly clean but they can make a huge difference to the overall appearance of your home. Airvents can also collect dust, throwing it back into the air when switched on, a bad thing for allergy sufferers.
5) Walls and ceilings:
Walls and ceilings can all get a little grubby after the cold, wet weather and people and pets bounding through your house. If you haven’t got the time or inclination to paint, a quick dust and wipe will do the job. Start by dusting down the walls and in the corners of the ceiling. A feather duster or disposable “fluffy” one will do the trick. I was surprised about just how many cobwebs you can’t see. Matt paint is great for wiping clean, as a damp cloth doesn’t spoil the finish. However, I wouldn’t recommend this on silk. Your walls and ceilings should all be left brighter after only 10 minutes work.
6) Curtains and blinds:
Most curtains will need specialist cleaning so ensure you check the label or get advice on the type of fabric first. Slat blinds can be dusted easily with minimum effort – close the slats one way and dust and then reverse to dust the opposite side.
Vacuuming alone does not stop carpets from looking dull, flat and worn. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to wash them regularly. Deep down cleaning can remove residue, stains and embedded dirt from fibres. Carpet washers are widely available to buy and can easily pay for themselves in just a few uses. Remove as much furniture as possible from the room and then vacuum thoroughly first. Wash following the user’s instructions. Carpets can be dry and rooms back in use in 2-3 hours.
Its not until the sun starts shining that I see how dirty my windows have become in the depths of the darker months! Window cleaning liquids can struggle with dirt and grime that’s been there for a while. They can also cause smears and leave an uneven finish. 2 things every home with have in their cupboards work wonders; vinegar and newspaper. White vinegar works the best but malt vinegar works just as well, if you can stand the smell! Dilute 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a bowel and use a soft cloth, just dampened with the mixture, to clean your windows. If you prefer to apply using a spray bottle, always ensure this is washed out and left empty after use. Vinegar and water can go off if left together. Buff using a sheet of black and white newspaper (colour ones are made from a slightly different paper, which doesn’t seem as effective. The colour can also transfer onto your clean windows, ruining your hard work)
Leave windows open regularly to air rooms.
Sideboards, coffee table shelves and magazine racks (even the dining table if you have an open living space like me) seem to be the perfect breeding ground for those “neat little piles” of bills, newspapers and to do lists – all those things that need putting somewhere (or throwing away) but you never have the time to sort through. When spring cleaning your living room, this is the best space to start as it means you can actually find the surfaces to dust. Start by sifting through everything and splitting it into ‘ to keep’ and ‘ to bin’. The piles should half instantly. For anything, which is ‘to keep’ file it away in your important documents folder. If you don’t have one of these, they are readily available at stationary stores. For the ‘to bin’ items, keep a bin bag by your side and throw anything you can straight into it (make sure you shred any confidential items such as bank statements or mail bearing your name and address) There is great satisfaction in getting rid of things and a half full bin bag will always tempt you to fill it with those other bits and pieces you’ve been meaning to discard. Abit of ‘life laundry’ is good for the soul!
10) Fresh flowers:
To make yourself, your house and your guests feel brighter, put a vase of fresh flowers in the room/s you spend most time in. Daffodils are in abundance at the start of spring and their yellow colour is great for spreading a little happiness. They are relatively inexpensive too – and can even be picked from outside (as long as you’re careful they don’t belong to somebody else!).