How to get your household chores complete in time for Christmas.
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but if the celebrations are at your house, it’s probably going to be the most stressful. There are decorations to hang, presents to buy, parties to attend, work to finish, food to prepare, and gifts to wrap—not to mention the cleaning to do!
The very thought of keeping a mental track of everything I need to achieve over the next few weeks is overwhelming. So I created a Christmas cleaning schedule to take that irritating ‘to do’ list off my mind and free up space for more important thoughts—like, ‘what would I say on a blind date with Chris Hemsworth?’ Yes, I know he’s already married. Stop spoiling my daydream!
Anyway, below is an outline of my plan in case you, too, get a little stressed when life puts you under the pump.
So, what’s the first rule of house cleaning?
Play some of your favorite music to make the job more enjoyable. If you are on your own, crank the volume and sing your heart out!
Supplies: Rubber gloves, mop and bucket, duster, scourer and multiple sponge cloths, microfibre cloth, dish brush, dish washing liquid or dishwasher tablets, vacuum cleaner, sweeping brush, grout scrub brush, window wiper or window cloth, air freshener, cleaning sprays or bicarbonate soda and white vinegar, tea towels, bathroom towel, fabric softener dryer sheets.
Wednesday, December 13
The best way to clean a house is to start with a major tidy. Go room by room and put all clothes, shoes, toys, and general clutter away in their rightful place.
TIP: If you have kids of a reasonable age, take a load off yourself and have them tidy their own rooms. I know, I know, that’s like asking for milk from a Bull. Just remind them, Santa does have a list and he’s checking it twice!
If you want to do a really serious clean, organise any messy wardrobes, toy boxes and airing cupboards. Evaluate what you are putting away, it’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate over time and it only adds to a feeling of chaos and overwhelm.
Thursday, December 14
Do you have any idea what lies hidden in the black depths of your kitchen cupboards? I actually found some items I forgot I even had: a Cadbury’s hot chocolate machine, a box of martini glasses, a pestle and mortar, even some Christmas cookie cutters I don’t remember buying—bonus!
Empty each cupboard and draw, one by one, and wipe them down with a damp sponge cloth. Pay extra attention to where you store your pots, pans and any cooking oils as it’s always a dirtier space.
TIP: Only put back crockery you have used in the last couple of years, if it’s been there longer and you haven’t used it, you probably never will. Give it away.
Friday, December 15
This next task may sound tedious, but I actually found it rather cathartic. If you are a Virgo or Capricorn, you’re going to love it. It’s time to empty the fridge and pantry. Wipe down the shelves and decide what items should go where. Put things that you use often in the middle spaces (within easy reach) and less used items at the bottom. With the fridge and freezer, you may want to go shelf by shelf to stop anything defrosting or going bad while it’s out.
As you sort through your provisions, check the expiry labels and throw away any out-of-date products before restacking. You may be surprised by what you find. I discovered a disintegrating pack of herbal tea that was over 10 years old! Oops.
TIP: Take this opportunity to make a shopping list of items you need to replace and supplies you need to stock for Christmas cooking.
Saturday, December 16
This is a task I loathe with a passion. If you don’t have aluminum blinds, you just saved yourself a world of frustration. My house if filled with them—and while I love how they look—they’re murder to clean. They bend and kink out of shape all too easily. If you do have blinds, dust them as best you can and wipe them with a warm, damp cloth. I’ll have to explore the best way of cleaning aluminum blinds in a future post.
TIP: Close the blinds and give them a quick wipe over with a fabric softening dryer sheet. This will create an antistatic barrier and help with future dust control.
If you have curtains, give them a shake out or even pop them in the washing machine if they’re on the dirty side. Just don’t do what I did and put blockout backed curtains in a hot wash. Major meltage moment. Always read the label.
Now it’s time to get out your bucket and warm water to wash the windows. Use a squeegee or window cleaning device if you have one, otherwise, use a glass cloth for excellent results. The natural light in your home will seem a lot clearer and brighter once you finish up with the outside windows, but that’s a job for tomorrow.
Sunday, December 17
Get out in that sunshine, you’ve got a full day ahead and it’s supposed to be 32 degrees (sorry if it’s raining, you can never trust the weather bureau). If you like working outdoors, today is your day, if you don’t . . . Partner? Parent? Hire a Hubby? That’s all I’ve got, sorry, if that doesn’t bail you out, you’re on your own, so get mowing.
Wipe down your outdoor settings, especially if they are out in the open, birds love target practice. If you have a high pressure hose, this is a great time to get it out.
Sweep up any leaves and debris from the driveway, pathways and under trees. Gather up garden clutter and put things in their rightful place. Use a cobweb broom, or even a normal broom, to remove cobwebs from walls, windows, eaves, and under any verandah roofing.
Finally, wash the windows. Treat yourself to bath tonight if you have one, you deserve it.
Monday, December 18
We’re in the laundry today. If your laundry looks like a landfill, wash, dry and put away all clothes and towels in laundry baskets. If it’s a hot day, they should be dry in no time.
Wipe down the washing machine and dryer if you have one. We expect them to clean things for us and often forget they need cleaning themselves. If you have a top loader, make sure you wipe detergent residue from around the top of the inner drum and inside the fabric softener dispenser. If you have a front loader, ensure you clean out the filters and wipe any mold build up from around the door seal.
TIP: Put the empty washing machine on a full hot wash along with half a cup of bicarbonate soda and two cups of white vinegar. This will disinfect and clean where you can’t reach.
Clean out and organise laundry cabinetry and shelving if you feel up to the effort. You’re probably feeling like enough is enough around now and I don’t blame you, it’s hard work this cleaning lark. We are nearly there so keep going. Think of the end game.
Tuesday, December 19
If you have allergies, take a Claratyne because today we’re dusting! Dust all ceiling fans, light fixtures, furniture units, surfaces, knick knacks and any nook and cranny in sight. Don’t be surprised by the dead bug cemetery you might find in any upturned light fittings. Eww, right?
TIP: Turn your TV off when dusting with an electrostatic duster, and always dust from top to bottom and left to right to ensure you’re not just moving dust around from one place to another. Use your fabric softening dryer sheets again on the ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Wednesday, December 20
Clean out the bathroom vanity cupboards and draws. Again, you only need to do this if you feel like a major overhaul. Wipe them down and replace what you really want to keep—throw or give away any accumulated and unnecessary junk. Remember, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Wipe down the vanity surfaces and clean the mirror using a glass cloth for a beautiful, streak-free finish. I think that’s enough for today.
Thursday, December 21
Back to the bathroom. Put your rubber gloves on and clean the shower. Tile grout can be a real nightmare to bring back from the dead. One of the best methods I have found for cleaning those horrible pink mold stains is, again, white vinegar and bicarbonate soda. Soak your grout brush in a cup of vinegar then dip the bristles in a bowl of bicarbonate soda. Scrub away and watch the magic happen. White vinegar is also great for removing soap scum from the glass door.
TIP: Put vinegar in a spray bottle for easy use all over the house.
Make sure your gloves are still on and give the toilet a good, deep clean. This means removing the toilet seat, if you can, and making sure you clean around all the tricky hinged areas. A hand-held steam cleaner is great for this job, not only does it push the filth out of hiding, it kills every germ in sight for a superior clean!
Last thing, don’t forget to stock up your toilet roll holder and disinfect your toilet brush.
TIP: For tough stains under the toilet rim, try soaking some paper towel in vinegar and sticking it underneath for 20 minutes or so before scrubbing. Just don’t flush the paper towel when you are done, throw it out.
Friday, December 22
Time to break out the big guns and clean the appliances. Clean the microwave, oven, stove top and, while you are there, wipe down and disinfect the bins—they always get overlooked.
TIP: In a heat-proof bowl, add half a cup of water, half a cup of vinegar and a couple of slices of lemon. Put this in the microwave and turn it on for 5-10 minutes to loosen up grease and grime. Remove the bowl with oven gloves. It will be hot. Then wipe the inside with a damp sponge.
TIP: To soften a film of baked-on grease and grime in the oven, make a paste with vinegar and bicarbonate soda and use it to coat the internal walls of the oven (not the heating elements). Leave it to soak all day. Give it a final spritz with vinegar and get to scrubbing. Use a spatula to scrape any super stubborn areas. Your oven glass will look shiny and new, and you’ll actually get to see your turkey roasting now.
Saturday, December 23
We are on the home straight, yes! Pull out the vacuum—or sweeping brush if that’s the case—and go over the floors. Make use of any hand-held attachments and go over the couches as well. Get right into the sides and down the back. You may come across a couple of dollars or even a lost remote.
Give any floors a good clean and shine with your mop of choice.
TIP: There is a variety of mop types and which one is best for you is totally dependent on the type of floor you have. There are flat mops, sponge mops, strip mops, string mops, steam mops . . . the list goes on. Any type of mop is fine for most floors; you just need to be extra careful with water usage on certain floating floors. You don’t want excess water getting in the cracks and warping the seams.
Sunday, December 24
It’s Christmas Eve! I know, I know, you probably have a load of cooking to do, so let’s get those final tasks checked off.
Wash and dry any remaining dishes, put them through the dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one.
Wash any glassware that you want to use on Christmas day. Leave them to dry upside down on a towel and then polish them up to a high shine with a microfibre cloth.
Wash the kitchen sink and wipe down the bench tops and any other surface that needs a final once over.
Now go around the house and do a final check. Did you miss anything? If so, get to it; if not, congratulations, you’re done!
TIP: Soak your silverware in an aluminum-lined dish filled with boiling water, bicarbonate soda and salt for a glorious Christmas finish.