We're spending so much time at home, but is anyone else finding it hard to stay motivated when it comes to cleaning?! To inspire our efforts, we've come up with a definitive cleaning calendar to help us stay on track – whatever this unpredictable year has in store for our homes.
Get all those jobs done with help from our care and cleaning advice
There are plenty of good reasons to get on top of your housework, not least for your mental health. Research last year by cleaning and laundry expert Dr Beckmann reveals that for 90 per cent of us, an untidy or dirty home affects our mood.
Another 25 per cent say it makes them less productive, and a quarter also admit to it causing arguments with their housemates or partners. So for a harmonious 2021, it might be worth putting these chores in your diary.
January – Declutter the house
There's still time. January is the perfect month to declutter. A tidy house is good for your mind, happiness and well-being, and will allow you to switch focus to other areas in your life. What better way to set yourself up for the year ahead?
It's a particularly good time to tackle the kids' rooms. Make space for the new toys and clothes they were lucky enough to receive at Christmas by taking anything they don't wear or play with any more and donating it to charity.
February – Clean those hard-to-reach spaces
When was the last time you cleaned under the bed or behind the sofa? EXACTLY! Now's the time to do just that.
Clean behind radiators and along difficult to reach ledges, picture rails, door frames and shelves with a flexible dusting tool like JML’s RadiClean.
Simply rub it with your hand to build up static, then bend it as required so you can reach even the most high and inaccessible spots without much effort. It’s also useful for dusting slatted blinds and shutters, for reaching cobwebs from high ceilings and for cleaning between stair bannisters.
Alternatively, our how to clean a radiator guide has all the expert tips you need for this hard to reach spot.
Other areas to target include wardrobes and cabinets, shelves, frames, bannisters and skirting boards. Getting behind, under and around will ensure every area of your home is spick and span.
March – Freshen up fabrics
Hopefully it's not quite so cold outside, making it a good time to tackle upholstery and rugs, blinds and curtains. They're often neglected but it's important to clean them. Research shows they can pose health risks if dust mites are allowed to form, since bacteria and mould attaches to dust.
Vacuum fabric blinds and curtains and take them to the dry cleaners if necessary.
Plump up any loose cushions and throws and put them outside on a sunny day to air. Vacuum floor rugs then take them outside to beat and shake them, ensuring any loose dirt is removed.
April – Clean the windows
With spring well and truly sprung, sunlight should hopefully be streaming through your homes. The downside?It will show up even the tiniest of smudges on the glass, which is why it's a good month to clean the windows.
Read our full guide: How to clean windows – get sparkling windows with our expert tips
May – Spruce up the garden
Here come the Bank Holidays, and with them, barbecue season. From the garage to the greenhouse, it’s all too easy to neglect outdoor cleaning when our focus has been on interior spaces for so long. But a little hard work in May will reward you for months to come.
Start by having a good sweep up – rake dead leaves off gravel and turf, brush up debris from decking, paths and paved areas. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes to the overall appearance of your garden. Don’t forget to lift plant pots and sweep up loose earth that gets washed out and gathers beneath them.
Next, break down spring cleaning your outside area into small, achievable jobs that you can do whenever the sun shines. It’s better to focus on one area – clearing out the garage, for example, or flushing out your gutters – than trying to do lots of things at once.
June – Tackle the DIY
By now, you should be well in to your cleaning regime, so it's time to take things to the next level with some DIY. Fix that leaking tap, do some painting or deal with creaking floorboards.
July – Aim high
Freshen up by taking time to move anything hiding on top of bookcases, kitchen cupboards, wardrobes or bathroom cabinets. Not only does it look unsightly, but an enormous amount of dust gathers quickly.
August – Make floors fabulous
With the whole household traipsing in and out, your floors can be a breeding ground for germs. Steam kills 99 per cent of bacteria and viruses, so use a multi-tasking steam cleaner to clean your carpets, hard floors, upholstery and surfaces with minimum elbow grease.
Choose a model with a large water tank so you won’t have to stop to refill it too often and opt for a design with a 360-degree rotating head and a hand-held optional function, to get the job done more quickly and easily
September – Love your sofa
Don’t neglect upholstered armchairs and sofas, which can gather fluff, biscuit crumbs and greasy marks over time. Now's the time to get them ready for long nights in front of the telly.
Start by vacuuming all textile surfaces thoroughly, using a brush attachment to remove loose dust and hairs. Get inside nooks and crannies with your vacuum cleaner using a narrow nozzle – you'll be surprised at the dirt that accumulates behind cushions.
If your covers are machine-washable, follow the washing instructions and launder the covers yourself. If you have fixed covers or non-washable upholstery, use a steam cleaner (check with your manufacturer first for suitability) to kill bacteria and freshen up fabrics.
October – Head to bed
Brrrr. It's getting chilly, and it's time to swap your summer duvet for one with a bigger tog count. So why not give your bedroom a good clean at the same time.
Launder all your bed linen including spare sets and follow washing or dry-cleaning instructions to clean your bedding such as duvets and pillows, too, which can harbour dust mites and sweat and are often forgotten.
Vacuum and turn your mattress, vacuum your bed base (and wipe it if it is not an upholstered design) and ensure you clean under your bed thoroughly as this is a key area where fluff and dead skin cells can build up over time.
November – Scrub up any appliances
Your appliances are likely to see serious action at Christmas, so November is the time to get them ready. And we're not just talking the fridge and the oven. It’s not visible, but limescale, dirt and detergent builds up inside washing machines and dishwashers, leaving them prone to mildew and bacteria.
Flush out any nasties with a proper internal clean using a specialist product (we use Dr Beckmann's Service-It range), so your machines live longer and carry on performing effectively.
Getting baked-on food and grease off oven shelves and grill trays is never a pleasant job, but deep-cleaning your oven will ensure it’s hygienic to use and doesn’t belch out acrid smoke whenever you turn it on.
Use a fume-free spray or gel to break down grease, then scrub muck off (wearing gloves and goggles) using a sponge scourer.
December – Do one final detox
The final clean of the year should be focused on getting your house prepped for Christmas and New Year. Do a deep clean of the bathroom and kitchen – our guide to how to clean grout will help you get every nook and cranny gleaming.
Also, if you have a porch area for coats and shoes, make sure this is organised and smelling fresh.
Follow our cleaning calendar and you won't just benefit from a tidier home. Dr Beckmann's research shows that mopping can burn up to 168 calories per hour, deep cleaning a bathroom can burn up to 145 calories per hour, while ironing shifts 90 calories per hour.
That means getting to work could help you lose a few pounds, too!
We said it last year but we mean it this time – in 2021, we're finally getting our houses in order. We're going to keep on top of the dust and the disorder at all times.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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