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I just realised I have NO idea how to look after a house. Guidance and encouragement, anyone?

(63 Posts)
fuzzpig Mon 19-Nov-12 10:04:40

This is really embarrassing!

I am 25 and have never lived alone. I got a staggeringly bad example from my parents - house falling apart, dust and clutter everywhere, mouldy food, broken windows not fixed (my bedroom), mice/rats/slugs/beetles etc, it was not nice to grow up with - and escaped the hell hole moved out with DH. Similar with learning to look after my body/appearance, but that's a whole other thread which my self esteem isn't ready for yet!

We get the basics done (DH is actually much better at getting on wih it than me - I have AS and am rubbish at routines and organisation) and at least we aren't in as much of a state as my parents (and our landlords have not complained when they've visited), but I really have very little clue how to keep a house properly clean and lovely!

We've had an awful couple of years due to our health, DH is nearly better but as mine is now getting worse (CFS/ME) I am really starting to see how much harder life is because our house is messy! We have managed a lot of decluttering recently (I have a thread on the Christmas board about it grin) and that has helped, I feel ready for being more house proud now and having a simple, achievable routine. I have tried flylady/Ongoing GH threads in the past but I found it too difficult to keep up with, I think I'd do better if somebody could tell me what needs doing and how often, what stuff to use etc, and we can just get on with it and gradually make it habit.

Our house is tiny, no garden, very small bathroom and galley kitchen, carpet everywhere except kitchen. Plenty of storage but not using it efficiently at the moment.

Can anyone give me a few tips please? thanks

mummysmellsofsick Mon 19-Nov-12 10:14:01

Decluttering is a good start. I'd buy a stash of ecloths. You can get cheap ones in sainsbury's I use them with water or dry to clean nearly everything. I use ecover products because I can't bear chemical smells. Why don't you take a room at a time and tell us what you don't know how to clean/ care for? <clean freak despite username>

Herrena Mon 19-Nov-12 10:14:05

My DH would laugh at me responding to this as he claims I am ridiculously messy!

However, I have picked up a few nuggets as I have gone on:

1) If you have mould starting to grow on bathroom grouting, give it a good spray with Dettol Mould and Mildew remover (green bottle) and leave overnight. Rinse off the wall the following morning - we haven't needed to scrub and it seems to keep mouldiness at bay. One a fortnight should do it.

2) Tidy up, then pick up a rag and wipe anything that looks dusty. Then hoover. One a week if we manage it.

3) Wipe down bathroom/kitchen sink with cillit bang, leave for ten min, then rinse by wiping with a wet cloth. I have noticed how much my quality of life improves when the sink looks shiny, so do this once a week/fortnight or so.

4) Spray kitchen surfaces with antibac every few days (at least). I do this more frequently if handling raw meat or eggs (i.e. straight after). Use kitchen roll and put it straight in the bin after.

5) Replace your kitchen sponge regularly - they get disgusting pretty fast! Say once every week.

I will watch with interest to see how I compare to others (disclaimer - I have two DC under two years grin).....

PeggyCarter Mon 19-Nov-12 11:14:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fuzzpig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:35:23

Thank you for the replies! smile am taking notes!

Can I just write a few questions (well I'm going to anyway grin)

Windows - how often should you get them cleaned outside, and how often do you clean inside? And what cloth? We have a decent spray but rags just seem to leave little bits of fluff on them.

How often should you air a house out by opening windows?

What is a good way of drying clothes in winter?

There is some mould that even the bleaching sprays won't shift, what the heck do we do?!

How much do you have to ventilate after a bath/shower?

How do you look after white goods (eg maintenance wash?!)

What should we be doing outside the house - gutters etc?

How often should you clean plug holes/drains and how do you do it? I am losing a lot of hair in the shower sad we have those seive things but they don't seem to catch it all (likewise, some foody bits seem to slip down in the kitchen sink)

I'm sure there's more but that'll do for starters. grin

barleysugar Mon 19-Nov-12 11:54:12

It's taken me about 10 years to get good at basic housekeeping, fuzzpig so don't worry! My mum was too good at housework and the house always looks clean but she never really taught us how to do it, so when I left home I was sort of amazed how a home didn't really clean itself!

To answer your questions, windows only get washed in and out twice a year here.

We only open the windows when it gets too hot.

I fish hair out of the plug hole with my fingers, it normally forms a clump anyway.

I find bits of food can go down the kitchen sink as long as they are rinsed down and not fatty.

I find the best things to concentrate on are

1. Clean toilet bowl and seat ( every day)
2. Shiny sink and draining board (every time I use it)
3. Bed pulled straight each morning.

I Hoover every two days and dust about once a fortnight :sloven:

PeggyCarter Mon 19-Nov-12 11:55:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fuzzpig Mon 19-Nov-12 12:03:12

These are all really helpful thanks!

Two more if I may grin

How often should you clean an oven? We've used oven pride which was great, but is there something we should be doing in between using it to stop it getting so gross?!

Moths in the carpet... how do you get rid?

onemorechoccybiccy Mon 19-Nov-12 12:04:03

Very dull I know, but routines are the only way to go in my opinion.

I have a web based to do list on It's a pro account so I can use it on my iPhone too. This is the only thing that keeps me on track!

I add things as I go along. Most of them are recurring and the great things about RTM is that the repeat intervals vary so you can add an item like 'Clean bathroom' and set it to repeat 'after 1 week'. It doesn't matter if you miss a day or so you can just jump in where you are.

To be honest, some days I am crap but the more I use it the more disciplined I am. Consistency is the key. If you do jobs regularly, they get easier and easier! smile

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 19-Nov-12 12:06:39

I open bedroom and bathroom windows every morning for a bit and leave beds turned down all day.

Windows get cleaned outside by a window cleqner every 6 weeks or so, inside as and when they look too bad.

I keep a stash of clean hand towels in the bathroom and once everyone has had their shower in the morning, get the used handtowel and wipe down the bath/tiles/basin before replacing it with a clean one. This makes the bathroom look much better and reduces potential for mould growth. I also give the loo a quick squirt of spray and wipe over with loo roll in the morning and use one of those gel discs on the bowl to keep things clean in between proper bathroom cleaning which is once a week. Window stays during showers and for a while after the last shower.

Floors - I have a lightweight cordless vac that I whizz round with every day (downstairs) and once or twice a week upstairs. Also a mop with built in squirter so I can give the kitchen floor a quick clean most days too.

All of the above takes 10 mins max.

AlsoI use those pledge disposable dusters on handles for dusting surfaces, downstairs once a week, upstairs, er, less frequently. I give the bathroom and kitchen a more thorough clean every Monday too.

This little lot plus keeping clutter at bay and kitchen surfaces wiped keeps it pretty good on a daily basis, there a lots of more occasional things but I don't think that's what you need right now. Well done on the decluttering, it makes a huge difference.

onemorechoccybiccy Mon 19-Nov-12 12:07:25

Not great at ovens myself but I would say if you use it regularly then clean with Oven Pride once a month and give it a wipe over with an e-cloth once a week.

My Nan used to wipe the oven over after every time she used it. Good idea in theory...

ditavonteesed Mon 19-Nov-12 12:19:22

not great myself but thing I get by ok,
weekly -
mop hard floors
change either kids beds or ours, on the week I do ours I wash towels.
daily -
Washing (keeps on top of it), dry it on airer or radiators if the heating is on.
air house for at least an hour every morning but leave windows open all day if I am in.
every few months -
windows inside (cleaner comes monthly for outside)
shampoo carpets (we have dogs and cats this isnt needed otherwise)
have a clear out of kids rooms you would be amazed how much crap they collect.

Take anything you are chucking straight to charity shop else it sits in a corner and you forget about it.

I dont use many prodeucts, just a damp duster. I use method surface spray and I use normal toilet cleaner as it smells if I use the eco ones.

ditavonteesed Mon 19-Nov-12 12:19:52

Oh and oven once a year, but I wipe it down qhile it is hot probably weekly.

hk78 Mon 19-Nov-12 12:29:04

It helps to loosen the grease/muck inside the oven if you switch it on for a bit with a roasting tin/ovenproof bowl inside with water in it - condensation does the hard work for you, then you come in after with your e-cloths.

Obviously make sure you dry it all thoroughly to avoid rusting etc.

<Can't believe I've posted in Good Housekeeping grin >

Queenmarigold Mon 19-Nov-12 12:29:31

Have a list of stuff you do every week: clean beds, clean towels, clean bathmats etc. Then sweep floors and hoover / mop. Then through clean of bathroom.
My proble is washing, I really struggle and have a constant round of wet stuff of radiators, pile of stuff to iron in ironing basket and pile of ironed stuff ready to go away again. I do loads of washing as my mum would never wash my clothes for me and I insist on my DC having clean, ironed fresh clothes for school each day and nice PJs a few times a week.
You're all going to say, that's my problem isn't it - don't do so much washing then, Queen, - yeah yeah I know!!.

lostconfusedwhatnext Mon 19-Nov-12 12:39:27

I'm afraid drying clothes is always a problem in winter if you don't have a drier. We don't and can't afford to put the heating on.

A mn-er linked to this and I WANT ONE:

You still need somewhere to put it but I would think you can get the clothes dry and put away faster.

My tip is: by lots of rubber gloves in your size and your DH's size, to fit comfortably. I have realised that a large part of hating housework comes from having very dry skin and it makes my hands very sore. Keep gloves in all the rooms where you might be tempted to do a little light cleaning (bathroom, kitchen etc) and you may find you are keeping on top of things instead of letting it build up.

Sorry to hear about your house when you were little.

ISingSoprano Mon 19-Nov-12 12:52:16

This is what I do:

Bed lined changed fortnightly
Bath towels/bath mats washed weekly
Bathrooms - thoroughly cleaned weekly including floors
Kitchen - every day when washing up after evening meal hob is wiped clean, all leftover food put away, worktops antibac'd, sink and draining board wiped clean
Dusting and hoovering - weekly.
skirting boards - damp dusted when I remember!
Oven cleaned - ovens are supposed to be cleaned??!!

Slatternismymiddlename Mon 19-Nov-12 19:53:26

Glad I'm not the only one who wondered about cleaning the oven!

I work 3 days and on the other 4 I try to open the windows every day, even it is only for 10 minutes. I picked this tip up from one of the 'make my house smell nice' threads, it does make the house feel fresher.

After every time I wash/condition my hair a lot comes out. I rub my hands together thus creating a hair ball (lovely), this is too big to go down the plug hole and I just lift the ball up at the end of the shower and put it in the bin. (I'm starting to think I lose a lot of hair!).

I never heard of a maintenance wash until I came on here. I would do one every couple of months.

Cuddledup Mon 19-Nov-12 20:12:45

If it makes you feel any better I'm almost 50 and I'm still trying to get the hang of how to "keep house" - my excuse is we have a big house, I've only married a few years and didn't realise that because of my gender that meant I had to do the housework shock but DH does do the cooking grin.

I liked Flylady because she made me feel that I wasn't alone in being UNable to get the hang of this domestic lark. Her website is a bit messy but I enjoyed her book Sink Reflections and her Youtube clips are really funny and helped me get started. Her phrases "Just jump in where you are" and "you can do anything for 15 minutes" really keep me motivated.

BUT what I really really like is a website called
- the author Tsh Oxenreider has a cleaning list you can download and tackle over the week. It helps keep me focused. Her book "Organized Simplicity" is worth a look as it gives you ideas on how to tackle each room. Her podcasts are also interesting / funny and tackle all sorts of issues from fashion, childcare to travelling etc etc.... BTW I only found out this website / book from MN.

Finally - don't beat yourself up - just do 15 minutes a day and you'll soon notice the difference. Good luck!!

Chubfuddler Mon 19-Nov-12 20:25:58

It's a lot easier to keep a house clean if its also kept relatively tidy, so ruthless decluttering regularly plus adequate storage is half the battle.

If you have space separate laundry baskets for darks and lights is a good idea, your washing is sorted for you.

I leave the extractor fan on or window open until the bathroom mirror has demisted, and we don't have any mould spots so that seems to do the trick.

No one should be a slave to housework, but half an hour a day should be enough to keep a house your size (and that includes laundry) looking perfectly decent.

swanthingafteranother Mon 19-Nov-12 21:54:40

Fuzzpig when I was your age, I really hadn't a clue, and only just getting better at 47.

However, I would say,at 25, I was good at clearing worktops, cooking nice meals, and keeping loo clean. Also I did a lot of hoovering, it was addictive.

Drying clothes on airer over the bath is good, we keep bathroom window open in our house most of the time. Radiators also used in our house, but we open windows a lot, even in winter.
Spend money buying a very good hoover (a Henry is foolproof) as a hoovered floor will deter moths. Also hoovering always makes a room look loads better, like mowing a lawn really... I used to hoover every few days when I lived in a flat. (Hoover skirtings, move furniture regularily, under beds to deter moths. At least every 3 months, rotating round the rooms in house. ie: not all at once, but every room should be "deep" hoovered every three months AT LEAST.)
Shoes can live in a rack in the hall.
Put things in cupboards even if cupboards are untidy inside, it will cheer you up to have clear surfaces, and then you can progress to 15 minute task cupboard sorts every so often. Don't get bogged down ironing if you find the task of putting things away a hurdle. Just put things AWAY! (in vaguely the right place)
Laundry basket for dirty clothes
Clean laundry basket for clean clothes if you aren't good at immediately putting things away...again it makes you feel better to know clothes are in one place. Then put everything in proper drawers/cupboards immediately rather than piling them in bedrooms, and risking them getting muddled up with dirty stuff...
Put washing up away when clean and dry, don't leave it out on drainer.
Work out which cupboard is most efficient for each ite. Heavy saucepans low cupboards, cups near kettle, plates near table, glasses easy to access for drink of water etc..
Start thinking in rotation about groceries. Requires ACTION PLAN. Go out and buy big box of washing powder, cleaning stuff, loo roll enough for three weeks.
Then another trip ditto on rice and pasta, salt, tinned tomatoes, oil, cereal, enough for three weeks.
Then ditto big block of cheese, spread/butter, onions, carrots, potatoes.
That done, you will find the rest of daily/weekly grocery shopping much more enjoyable, and you will have made economies of scale.

I have three kids, and it has taken me AGES to work this out. I suffer from spectrummy challenges myself, and find it quite difficult to prioritize or sort things. You will be fine. Sometimes not being too obsessive about housekeeping can be a blessing we inherit from our parents. Keep the housekeeping as your servant not your master wink

BertieBotts Mon 19-Nov-12 21:59:11

Marking place smile

swanthingafteranother Mon 19-Nov-12 22:00:58

And a lot of people who you might think have very clean houses are in fact just very good at tidying, and good for them. Sometimes tidying is that thing which pulls a room together and then you feel able to clean it afterwards wink So don't dismiss things like straightening books, putting clutter in baskets, pushing condiments into the corner, piles of mags, plumping cushions. It does work, makes a room feel cleaner and brighter and then you can tackle things like hoovering and dusting, if if initially you are still suffering from clutter.
Ultimately clutter is the thing to deal with, but in meantime you can still get a "fix" and make yourself feel a bit more on top of things by tidying.
Sometimes people get overwhelming by thought of decluttering and just give up before they have started, but the trick is to tackle it room by room or inch by inch - a book here, a old dried out brown sauce bottle there, a margarine tub there... All makes a difference in course of a year.

ICouldBeYou Mon 19-Nov-12 22:03:56

I am a bit of a slut, but I'll try and remember some of my gems...
First up, face wipes: keep them in bathroom, after brushing teeth use wipe on face then wipe round sink and toilet seat/rim if needed. Put in bin, not in toilet. Viola, self-care and cleaning in about 30 seconds.

ICouldBeYou Mon 19-Nov-12 22:05:47

When bringing washing downstairs, use a sock (if not smelly) or similar along skirting/bannister to dust.

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