Sunday, 21 December 2014

Cleaning the Entrance

There's no escaping the fact that the entrance to your house creates that all-important first impression. Make it as open, clean and airy as possible. Nobody wants to walk into a dark, dank cave. It's worthwhile standing at the front of your house, taking a good look around, and working out what your entrance says about you. If you don't like the message, then it's time or a revamp! Always make a point of including this area immediately outside and inside your font door in your quick clean; that way you will impress your guests, as well as giving yourself that warm feeling when you come home at this threshold between the outside world and your domestic sanctuary.

Assembling Your Cleaning Kit

Clutter bucket - to transport displaced items; bicarb - cleaning agent; vinegar - cleaning agent; water - cleaning agent; methylated spirits - to clean mirrors; cloth - (such as an old T-shirt) to wipe and dust surfaces; straw broom - to sweep floors and clear cobwebs; dustpan and brush - to clear accumulated dirt; vacuum cleaner - to vacuum floors; mop - to wipe over floors; bucket - to hold water or to hold cleaning items; rubber gloves - to protect hands and provide grip; Scotchgard - to spray over carpet and rugs to protect them from dirt; hairdryer - to clean ornaments; spray bottle - to fill with vinegar or fragrance.

Quick Cleaning Outside Your Front Door

Remove anything that doesn't belong in this area with a clutter bucket. Then begin clearing any spider webs outside the front door, including around light fittings, with a broom. To deter spiders, wipe the broom head with a little lemon oil before sweeping and it will transfer to surfaces as you clean. Wipe along the door jambs, lock plate and doorknob with the appropriate cleaner. For brass, use a little vinegar on a cloth. For timber, use a little vinegar on a cloth or detergent or water. Dust the door with a dry cloth. If you have furniture on the front verandah, clean according to its surface. Shake your entrance mat and sweep the verandah or entranceway wit ha good straw yard broom. If there's a lot of refuse, collect it in a dustpan and place it straight into the green bin. Water any pot plans and remove any dead heads or portions of the plant that have died. 

How to Make Cleaning Speedier

One of the best ways to speed up your cleaning is to prevent dirt from getting into the house in the first place. That's why a mat placed at the front and back doors of the house is so important. A mat is a bit like a security guard for dirt. I think the best kind of mat is a copra one. If the drainage around your mat is poor, put a rubber-tyre strip mat underneath the copra mat, which will help with ventilation and keep it dry.


The best way to clean a copra mat is to give it a good bash against a wall, then hose the top and bottom. Dry it in the sunshine standing on its edge. Stop your cat or dog from sleeping on the welcome mat by spraying the mat with insecticide. 

Quick Clean Inside Your Front Door

Using the same clean kit, remove extraneous items with a clutter bucket and empty any bins. Dust the ceiling and light fittings with a soft nylon broom which has a little lemon oil on it (the oil will transfer to the ceiling and light fittings and deter spiders). Sweep along the walls and tops of cupboards or hall stands.

It's inevitable that you'll get marks on the wall, especially in high traffic areas. Be careful when using proprietary products to clean these marks because most have an alcohol base which can break down the paint surface and leave a bleached shiny spot. Clean your walls every week either with a broom or vacuum cleaner. Put an old T-Shirt over the broom head or brush to prevent bristle marks. Some dirty marks will come off using a good pencil eraser. You could also try rolling brown bread into a ball and rubbing it against the wall. If these don't work, try a very diluted solution of sugar soap applied with a cloth. Wring out the cloth tightly before applying. For build-up around light switches, apply vinegar and water sparingly with a sponge. To avoid drip lines, start cleaning from the bottom and work your way up, drying as you go.

Quick tip: Every time you change a light bulb, clean the other light bulbs wit ha cloth and they'll shine brighter. To prevent halogen lights corroding, wipe the connection of the bulb with a cloth once a week.  

Remove dust and grime from any paintings, wall hangings or wall art. Clean light switches, door jambs and any window sills. Clean any furniture with the appropriate cleaner.

If it's been raining, clear the water in umbrella stands or you'll create a mould farm or a home for frogs!

Quick tip: Create your own umbrella stand with a spaghetti jar. The bulb at the bottom of the jar is a perfect water collector.

What to do if you get a water stain on the carpet from umbrellas
If you get to the stain immediately, blot as much as possible with a paper towel. A Slurpex is ideal in this situation. If the stain has been there for a while, wipe it with a little glycerine ten apply a quality spot remover and use a paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

Wipe the top of the table or hall stand according to its surface. Hall stands often have mirrors which should be cleaned with methylated spirits wrung out on a lint-free cloth, such as an old T-shirt.

Quick tip: if you don't have room for a hall stand, install some hooks either behind the front door or along the wall to store coats. If you're in a rental property, use removable hooks which wrap over the top of the door. You can also now buy reusable 3M adhesive hooks. 

When cleaning picture frames, clean glass with methylated spirits and a cloth but be careful not to get methylated spirits around edges or it could seep into the print. Polycarbonate should only be cleaned with a damp cloth. Clean metal and timber as you would furniture. Clean plastic with glycerine. 

Clean floors by either vacuuming and/or mopping. Top mop, I wrap and old T-shirt that has been dampened with water and vinegar over a broom head, fix it with elastic bands and wipe over the floor. If you have rugs in this space, shake them outside. And remember, rugs and carpet are less likely to absorb stains if sprayed with Scotchgard. You can spray just at the entrance or the whole hallway - wherever there is a high dirt rate - which is particularly useful when it's raining and there's mud around.

Did you know? Black mud can be cleaned with detergent and cold water, but if you have red mud, use soap and cold water. Detergent reacts with the iron and manganese oxide in red mud and leaves a rusty or black mark. Soap won't do this because it's saponin-based. Never allow moisture to penetrate the carpet or you'll create further staining from the back of the carpet.

Quick tip: To freshen dingy carpets, make up a spray bottle containing 1 part bicarb and 3 parts vinegar and 5 parts water. If you like fragrance, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil, but avoid fruit oils because the brain associates them with the kitchen. Lightly spray the carpet, don't go overboard and soak it, then sweep it with a T-shirt-covered broom. Sprinkling bicarb on the carpet before vacuuming is a good general carpet freshener, but won't necessarily clean stains. These will have to be spot cleaned.

Water any pot plans, arrange flowers, spray fragrance, if you like using it, or add any froufrou, such as doilies. Empty the clutter bucket, put away the clean kit and update the master list.