Good organisation and cleaning will put you back in control of your home, says Kya deLongchamps
We all do it. We take the Christmas cards and that invoice we really should forensically explore, and stuff them all into the top drawer in the hall.
It’s an irritating deception, with indecision shovelled into every dark corner of blind storage. Without committing to a new routine, celebrity spring cleans with a final spritz of Evian, are a waste of your precious time.
Most of this disaster is of our own incremental making.
Remind yourself that this year, this sort will be the most thorough and will not be replicated at this intensity or scope. We’re putting you, back in control. Stay positive.
Few people relish the prospect of a complete, deep, whole-house clean. It’s often a siren blaring emergency — when a special guest visits or worse, when selling up.
Even wrangling one rogue room can feel totally overwhelming.
Get out a project book or your laptop and make a plan. If you can only offer 20-minute blocks to de-clutter, organise and/or clean — no problem, but don’t slide out of the schedule.
Have your ever-present technology ping you.
Show intent and start today — this day. Make your bed and insist others do. Pull the covers back neatly if you prefer to air the mattress. Empty and finish one drawer.
According to a report published in December by the University College of London using 8,500 couples, gender norms are alive and well. Fewer than 7% of couples interviewed shared housework equally. Delegate.
Identify the monster, regular tasks (for instance, windows) and leave more time for them. Schedule them on your phone’s calendar for the next 12 months with audible reminders.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, use a spot upstairs and another downstairs to keep clutter in cardboard boxes for immediate sorting in your next time block.
If you can wing something back to a predetermined, micro-managed location easily in the course of every day, it’s far more likely that you will keep that area orderly. A small filingcabinet is a gift for the family archaeology — the Erik from Ikea, €90, or atwo-drawer Pierre Henry, around €62 from Viking. For second-hand deals try CM Furniture at the Marina Commercial Park in Cork.
Twice a year, do a clearout with a small shredder by your side; from €24.99, ProAction 8 sheet, Argos. Remember any storage without regular housekeeping will fail.
Don’t buy storage pieces that add another two square metres to storage problems. Little boxes, little boxes — full of ticky-tacky.
Identify what counts and cut down antediluvian, ephemeral dross. Stop weighty, impulse purchases.
Conjure extra available, legitimate storage for the coming year, everywhere — 15% is ideal for a growing family.
Sorting and systematising create an intelligent flow in the kitchen, bathroom or your home office. Integrate the way you like to do things.
Micromanage every storage unit — trays, boxes, folders.
For papers, try a new filing system after the clearout. It hits the top level of a three-tier tray — mail. Once examined it travels onto the next of two levels (actionable) or it’s filed, binned or shredded. Actionable means call the sender, pay the bill — whatever.
Even if you’re uploading records to cloud storage, it’s vital to be organised about it. Even hiding obsolete information is oddly spiritually exhausting.
Mari Kondo has created an empire out of one single notion. Be in the moment with your stuff. Value it or let it go.
If you open a drawer and there’s a tangle of stuff in there you’re not using, question its right to stay — blocking your access to what you do need.
Own it. If the kids insist they want that split hurley or box of toddler toys, drop it off in the centre of their room and they may grow less sentimental. Stop supporting bad decisions.
If you haven’t worn items in a full year (right through the four seasons) dump or donate those clothes.
To lighten the load in your bedroom wardrobes, try a dress rail with a well-considered collection in a spare room for occasional wear; €9-€15, Ikea.
Cunning advertising has us in a state of utter terror regarding bacteria. Everyone should practise safe household behaviour in the kitchen and bathroom.
It’s unlikely you will develop sepsis off a light switch — you’re less likely to if it’s relatively clean.
Keep cloths for bathrooms and kitchens well separated — microfibre has a useful bright colour.
Dust is unsightly and hazardous for anyone’s lungs. Mould and bacteria can be in the mix under sofa cushions and other warm places. Not acceptable.
Keep the stove door shut — biomass creates dirt.
Bacteria including E.coli are trafficked inevitably from certain areas of the house — seriously spreading if you’re inattentive.
If you have crawling babies and toddlers be meticulous about floors and use HEPA filtration when you vacuum.
Airborne commercial sprays heavy with toxins and unnecessary fragrance are completely unnecessary. Stop buying into this lucrative fiction. See our full Lean Green Clean guide here
The next time that demanding friend calls your mobile, sprinkle a little pure water on a clean, micro-fibre cloth, and wring out.
Don a headset with your phone in your top pocket and tour the room, wiping off small ornaments and shelf surfaces.
Energise the ad breaks. When the latest cast member has been spliced and diced in The Walking Dead, pull the sheets off your bed, put them in the machine and in the next ad break — make the bed.
Radio podcasts including RTE1 and BBC Radio 4 are fantastic for putting your mind into a more stimulating setting. Spend the remaining 12% of brain and muscle memory on wiping out cabinets or sanitising the fridge.
Leave a clean microfiber cloth in the shower area and wipe off the taps and doors at the end of your shower — one minute’s work.
Turn on one crazy song and have little ones clean up toys into designated tub storage as a game.
Remember that serious cleaning starts from the ceiling down (logically).
Carpets are the dirtiest thing in most homes, and in high traffic areas are ideally vacuumed three to four times a week.
Use mud-catching rugs at entrance doors and no-shoe dictates to cut the ingress of mud and petrochemicals.
Hire a steam cleaner for a hideous pile.
Invest in a de-shedding glove for your dog and cat. Use it outside; JML TrueTouch, €12,99, Woodies.
Drop a little fabric conditioner into a bottle of water and spray lightly over freshly vacuumed soft furnishings.
Together with the necessary anti-bacterial attack with white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice— water and washing-up liquid can do almost everything.
When you go to leave the house, fill the sink with hot water and a squirt of your favourite scented detergent or fabric conditioner.
Believe in the power of the vacuum and the wandering swat. Professional house cleaners rarely have a damp cloth out of their hand.
Room by room? Read our guide