Cleaning hacks for a tidier 2022

I’m a busy mom with three small kids, anxiety, two (smelly) dogs, a cat, two cars, a (muddy) farm and a brand-new house.

Do I require therapy? Probably. But in the meantime, nothing makes me feel more at peace than relaxing in our sitting room with a cup of tea after a busy Saturday spent cleaning; admiring my excellent work.

Now, I said “a busy Saturday” spent cleaning for a reason: if you entered my home on any other day, it wouldn’t be nearly as presentable.

Housework is something my husband, the kids and I need to learn to juggle on top of our busy work and school schedules.

Queen of clean

Someone who is no stranger to helping those who struggle with housework is Lynsey Crombie, also known as the UK’s Queen of Clean.

You might recognise her from the Channel 4 series Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners or from her appearances on This Morning and Good Morning Britain.

“After my son was born, I was eager to get back to work – but the cost of child care was just too much,” she explains. “So, I set up a little cleaning business locally, and most clients allowed my son to sit in his car seat. It grew from there!”

Also a best-selling author, her books The 15-Minute Clean, How to Clean Your House, and The Easy Life all walk readers through Lynsey’s approach to keeping homes clean and organised. She recently launched a new vacuum range and is currently working on a cleaning app.

“I love the end result [of what I do],” she says.

“I have worked with a lot of hoarders and I love to see the end result and how it improves their mental health. I also love to help busy families get into an easy routine and show them that housework is manageable, even with very little time.”

Helpful hacks

Of course I wanted to pick her brain on a few tricky cleaning problems my husband and I have encountered since moving into our new home. You might find her responses helpful, as well.

And before I get any letters, I know buying an off-white sofa was a terrible idea. This is a safe space; free from judgement!

Lynsey’s cleaning solutions

I have three kids and a brand new, off-white fabric sofa. Am I crazy thinking I can keep it nice and white?

Cleaning hacks for a tidier 2022

You were very brave choosing an off-white sofa with three children! I would invest in some good quality throws and give it a weekly vacuum. For any stains or marks; mix together liquid laundry detergent with some bicarbonate of soda with some slightly warm water to work into the stain. This [mixture] acts as a natural whitener/brightener. Leave for 15 minutes, then rinse with a clean white cloth. Do not work in a circular motion as this can cause water marks! Instead, work with the direction of the fibres, or up and down. If you wanted to purchase a shop-bought product, try DR Beckmann upholstery cleaner (the one with the brush head).

There is soap scum on my glass shower screens – what can I do to remove the scum and maintain the clear glass finish?

Mix together, in a spray bottle, 20ml of white vinegar, water and a squirt of washing up liquid. Shake really well and spray all over the shower screen. If you have stubborn soapy scum, hard water or limescale, leave this on for around 10 minutes to allow the mixture to work. This will remove all marks and will leave a streak-free finish. Use a micro-fibre cloth to scrub and, after rinsing, use a different one to buff dry.

I see so many new mops on the market – what is the best kind of mop for hardwood, laminate, or ceramic tile? Steam or otherwise?

I am a huge fan of steam as it eliminates the need to use lots of chemicals around the home, so for any stone, tiled or vinyl floor opt for steam. For your hardwood and laminate areas, [I would] invest in the BONA mop system – the micro-fibre floor pad that comes with this system is unbeatable. I would use this with their targeted floor cleaner.

My kids have the seats in our family car badly stained from drink spills and chocolate. How can I give them a deep clean without having to spend on a valeting service?

If you have a carpet cleaning machine, use the upholstery attachment to clean the seats. Just leave the windows open so it dries well. If you don’t have one, you can steam clean these using a steam cleaner or, again, opt for the Dr Beckmann [the same product for cleaning the couch].

Any tips for cleaning and maintaining your appliances (like dishwashers and ovens)?

The best tip is to give your oven a wipe over with a warm soapy cloth after every use. This stops grease and grime build-up and will save you so much time in the long run. For your dishwasher, ensure you rinse the filter after every use and do a clean cycle once a month. You can buy a shop-bought dishwasher cleaner (they all work well), or add a dish of lemon juice and a drop of washing-up liquid to a bowl, place on the top shelf and then run a wash cycle.

We had a really nice memory foam mattress in storage and when we moved it into our new house we noticed some black mould on it. Is there any saving it?

This is one of my most asked questions! Use hydrogen peroxide (around 6%) and apply it directly to the stain or mould. Leave it and then rinse.

To bleach or not to bleach? Do you use bleach and in what capacity/how regularly?

I don’t use as much bleach as I used to – I have cut right back and realised it is not needed as much as I thought it was. I do bleach my toilets, but not every day. In between bleach days, I make my own toilet cleaner using citric acid and bicarbonate of soda (and the clean is just as good). I don’t use bleach anywhere else in the house.

Many people, myself included, now have marble, granite or quartz countertops – how can we keep them gleaming?

Warm soapy water is your go-to here, as it won’t cause any damage. Buff dry after rinsing with a micro-fibre cloth. If you want a shop bought product, METHOD does a great cleaner.

What are your three biggest pieces of advice for messy people, like myself, and how they can stay organised?

Break the house work down and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Involve everyone who lives in the house and use a timer method: set the clock to five, 10 or 15 minutes, and bash out what you can with all distractions turned off.

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