With all this staying at home in the middle of spring cleaning season, there’s an approach to tackling the endless cycle of housework which the internet is loving, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Have you ever sat on the floor and washed your skirting boards? Me neither.
The nearest I get to being such a paragon of housekeeping virtue is to swipe a duster across mine every fortnight. It was following a quick search online for something to tackle a slightly blocked sink without having to drive to the supermarket for a dedicated product that I first came across cleaning guru Mrs Hinch, and her partiality for a bit of skirting-board scrubbing and just about every other household surface in sight.
Known to her family and friends as Sophie Hinchliff, this one-time hairdresser and Essex-based queen of clean has gathered an online following in the millions, with additional fan pages running into hundreds of thousands of members. All of them wanting her next top tip on how to keep the gaff as gleaming and ordered as her own appears to be on her Instagram account.
Checklists feature large as part of her approach and are the topic of her third book, The Little Book of Lists (Penguin), a pre-order bestseller on Amazon before it was even published last month.
“Nothing helps me feel more organised than putting pen to paper and getting everything that's buzzing around my head down on to the page," she says.
For the uninitiated, though, some of Mrs Hinch’s buzzwords and phrases might confuse when she talks of having “loads of Hinch Lists and Fresh’n Up Fridays to help you plan your hinching”.
Being a fan of Fresh’n Up Fridays myself, it’s the first thing I would suggest trying as a hinching novice who might typically blitz the house once a week. Faced with a worse than usual state of the place while everyone is at home all the time, it may be more than enough for you to cope with for the time being.
“Simply go around every room in the house and write down a maximum of three things in each room you’d like to get done, and take the list with you as you work,” Mrs Hinch tells us. “There’s nothing better than waking up to a lovely fresh house on a Saturday morning.”
As we’re currently having difficulty telling which day it is, it could just as easily be Tidy Up Tuesday or Thursday, but if Fresh’n Up Friday spurs you on, try upping your game a notch with her Clockwise Clean.
“Walk into your room of choice with your cleaning basket,” she says.
Another option is the swifty Hinch Half Hour. “Write a list,” she tells us, “Set a timer for 30 minutes and off you go and get as much done as you can.”
I hadn’t tried this one before, so with rubber gloves and cleaning cloths to the ready, and mustering the enthusiasm to rub, scrape and polish crannies where no cloth, cotton bud or toothbrush has gone before, I joined the Hinch Army (yes, it’s a thing), and set about, like millions before me, hinching my way through jobs outside the realms of duster and vacuum cleaner application.
Simultaneously, I consulted some of her stories on Instagram, and remembered I had a slightly blocked sink when I came across her solution which is to pour soda crystals down the plughole, followed by a spray of white vinegar, a slosh of disinfectant and a kettle’s worth of boiling water. Success followed, signalled by some reassuring belching sounds as plumbing indigestion cleared itself.
While there are many tricks Mrs Hinch offers that I will use as the need arises, and I particularly like how she takes standard cleaning products and makes them multi-functional, there are some ideas not quite for me.
For instance, her suggestion for freshening up duvets with a spray of mixed water and fabric conditioner, and keeping spare bed linen fresh with tumble dryer sheets slipped between them are ones I’ll skip as I buy neither and find their scent overpowering.
But her idea prompted my own version where I now spray my favourite room fragrance onto sheets of kitchen paper and pop between towels and sheets in the airing cupboard.