Lynsey Crombie is the original ‘cleanfluencer’, with countless fans following her cleaning tips online.
In this special pullout, based on her must-read new book, she’ll explain why a Deep Spring Clean is exactly what you need right now.
And how her foolproof methods make it easy to turn your home into a happier, healthier and more peaceful place to live.
Have a quick walk around your home and make a list of the tasks to be done – ticking them off as you work through them will help keep you motivated, writes Lynsey Crombie, pictured above
My house was immaculate when I was growing up.
I have vivid memories of my mum and my two grandmothers cleaning, but it wasn’t until I took a job cleaning in a housing complex that I learned some amazing tips and tricks that inspired me to help others.
The elderly people I worked for had so many shortcuts up their sleeves, and before I knew it lemons were my secret weapon (they are a brilliant natural cleaner with so many uses).
I’m now evangelical about cleaning. I believe that if you can clean effectively using my little-and-often approach, your household will be happier for it.
Spending time in a clean house is so much more relaxing than living among mess and clutter and, with so much time at home on our hands, now is the perfect opportunity to get busy with a duster.
As the clocks go forward today and the hours of daylight get longer, those extra hours can really highlight any windows that need a good wipe down or show up cobwebs that have hidden in the shadows throughout winter.
But it’s not just about making your home look lovely – cleaning can help relieve stress too. While we are cooped up at home, scrubbing and vacuuming can be very therapeutic.
Whenever I feel low, I always go into cleaning overdrive and it’s remarkable how much better I feel afterwards. And we can certainly all do with a lift right now.
It’s also a great way to keep fit. Cleaning has become a mini-workout for me. There’s no harm in having a little dance with your feather duster or a spin around your kitchen with your mop, and the endorphins your brain releases as you exercise will improve your mood even further.
A deep clean will help to remove allergens from your home – whether that’s dust, pollen or animal hairs – so giving the house a really thorough going-over just as spring begins can help alleviate the sniffling that signals the start of hay-fever season.
I promise you that while it might seem daunting, getting cracking now will revolutionise your home – and your life – for the rest of the year.
Make it a game for younger ones and play to the strengths of older ones – they can do the heavier jobs such as running the vacuum around, while little ones can look through drawers, sorting things into piles [File photo]
A little bit of prep before you begin your spring clean will pay dividends. Schedule a whole day or two to do it with the entire family.
Have a quick walk around your home and make a list of the tasks to be done – ticking them off as you work through them will help keep you motivated.
On the day itself, turn off everyone’s phone – yes really! Otherwise it’s too easy to get distracted. TV is the same, so make sure it is switched off and play some upbeat music instead.
Plan breaks every few hours for a cup of tea, a biscuit and some phone time, otherwise you’ll never get the kids on-side. Remember, cleaning is hungry work!
Decide who will take responsibility for what. Make it a game for younger ones and play to the strengths of older ones – they can do the heavier jobs such as running the vacuum around, while little ones can look through drawers, sorting things into piles.
Finally, make sure everything is prepped. The vacuum cylinder should be empty, the cleaning caddy stocked (see the box for more on this), then it’s time to put on those rubber gloves and aprons…
There’s a job for every room- so let’s go!
There are certain tasks that you are going to need to carry out in every room. When was the last time you washed your curtains, for instance?
Where possible, take them down and pop them in your machine at home – just make sure you check the label first.
There are certain tasks that you are going to need to carry out in every room. When was the last time you washed your curtains, for instance? Lynsey Crombie is pictured above
You should be able to wash most curtains on a low temperature. If they can’t be machine-washed, you can steam them instead. Running them over with a steam cleaner will kill any germs, banish dust and remove creases.
While they’re down, give the curtain poles a good wipe with a damp cloth and soapy solution. You don’t need special products for this task – a bit of washing-up liquid in some warm water works well, and it’s antibacterial too.
This solution will also work on your windows. Wipe dry with a clean microfibre cloth in an ‘S’ shape to minimise smears. Don’t forget to wash the windowsills too. My best tip when cleaning windows? Avoid doing it on a sunny day – the soap will dry too quickly and smear the glass.
At a time when we are so conscious of germs, wiping down door handles and light switches is vital. Again, you don’t need fancy or expensive products. I like to use warm water with washing-up liquid or a Dettol spray if you have one.
Never spray directly on to a door as you’ll discolour the paint – spray on to your cloth instead.
Remember when cleaning that you should always work from the top down, so use a long- handled duster to remove any grime from the walls and the ceiling before targeting anything lower down, and then do the vacuuming.
Lamps and lights can really hold on to dust, especially if lampshades are made of fabric. Give lamps a dust using a microfibre cloth or feather duster and use a lint roller on the shades to remove dirt without damaging the fabric.
Finally, clean the bulbs themselves. Turn the lights off, let the bulbs cool, then spray glass cleaner on to a microfibre cloth and gently wipe them to remove any grime. After a good clean, your light bulbs will seem much brighter.
Another quick trick that can make a huge difference is cleaning your radiators.
One of the most common reasons for a cold room is not bad insulation but dirty radiators.
As well as wiping the parts you can see and dusting the top of the radiator, use a long-armed cleaning brush to clean behind it.
Use your spring clean as an opportunity to wipe down and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. And don’t forget to give all internal doors a good wash and polish too.
Try my 5-minute cleaning challenge
I swear by this five-minute challenge to keep my home ordered and clean on a daily basis.
The idea is that you set the timer on your phone, clock or cooker and attempt to get as much done in the room you’re in before the timer rings.
It’s a great way to start the day as it gets your heart pumping and your body moving.
The best part is that kids will usually happily get involved as you can make it into a game where you’re racing to get things done.
See how far you can get down that room’s list before your time is up!
- Daily laundry load
- Empty washing machine
- Hang up or put in the dryer
- Put basket away
- Open window
- Wipe toilet seat
- Put bleach in the pan
- Wipe sink
- Quick rinse of shower and bath
- Shake bathroom mat
- Change towels if dirty
- Empty dishwasher
- Wipe surfaces
- Put away anything that is out of place
- Quick vacuum
- Wipe any spots on floor
- Wash and buff sink
- Open window
- Make bed
- Pick up dirty clothes
- Quick surface tidy
- Fluff up sofa cushions
- Quick vacuum
- Tidy up books or toys
- Wipe coffee table
- Fold any blankets/throws
Give those kitchen cupboards a detox
In the kitchen, start with your cupboards. Take everything out and put it on your worktop. As you go, check use-by dates and bin any food that is past its best.
Give your cookware an audit too and repair any wobbly handles on pots and pans.
Throw away Tupperware that doesn’t have lids or is stained, and put any gadgets you secretly know you never use in a bag to give to charity.
While the cupboards are empty, give them a good wipe with a water and vinegar solution.
This breaks down grease marks that tins often leave behind. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell – this disperses quickly. Simply leave the cupboard doors open as they dry.
In the kitchen, start with your cupboards. Take everything out and put it on your worktop [File photo]
Give your fridge the same treatment, throwing away any food that has gone off.
Then soak the shelves and compartments in warm soapy water with a drop of white wine vinegar, which acts as a deodoriser.
Clean the fridge walls with a soapy water solution. Don’t forget to wipe in between the rubber seal – use a blunt knife covered with a microfibre cloth and dip it into warm soapy water, before working up and down, then clean the top and the outside, before putting the food back in.
If your freezer self-defrosts, do a quick audit of what’s in there. If you have to defrost it yourself, turn the power off, empty the contents and put what you’re keeping into cool boxes. Leave the freezer door open to melt the ice, or speed up the process by placing pans filled with boiling water inside.
Leave a few old towels on the floor to soak up any water that escapes, and once all the ice has melted, clean the shelves, drawers and inside in the same way you cleaned the fridge. Then switch it back on and put the food back in neatly.
Then it’s on to the oven. Use a good strong oven cleaner. Open a window and go off and do another task to allow the product to soak in. If you can’t get hold of a proper oven cleaner, try scrubbing with a white wine vinegar solution mixed with bicarbonate of soda.
To clean the microwave, place four slices of lemon into a microwave-safe bowl of water and cook on high for three minutes.
The steam from the water and lemon loosens stuck-on foods and grease and kills any nasty odours. Then wipe clean with a damp microfibre cloth.
Clean the fridge walls with a soapy water solution. Don’t forget to wipe in between the rubber seal – use a blunt knife covered with a microfibre cloth and dip it into warm soapy water, before working up and down, then clean the top and the outside, before putting the food back in [File photo]
Next, unplug the toaster, take out the crumb tray and empty it before washing in warm soapy water.
Turn the toaster upside down and gently tap it over a bin to get any crumbs out.
Then clean off any burn marks with a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water. Apply using a microfibre cloth, rub in and leave for five minutes, and then wipe off and buff dry for a super shine.
And don’t forget the bread bin either – ideally you should give it a weekly rinse with warm, soapy water.
Finally, it’s the odds and ends that never get done – replace kitchen cloths, sponges and washing-up gloves, wash out dustbins and recycling bins, sort through and organise plastic shopping bags, and have a ruthless trawl of the bits-and-bobs drawer, which is full of little pieces with no real home. You will probably find you don’t need most of the stuff anyway.
Use lemons to make the bathroom shine
Start with the airing cupboard. Go through and sort any worn bed linen or towels to be cut up and used as cleaning cloths.
Clean out the first-aid box and make a list of any items that need replenishing. Then sort through any cosmetics and beauty products, throwing out anything that’s dried up, looks or smells funny, or is no longer used.
Spray neat white wine vinegar on any mould patches on tiles, leave for 30 minutes and then rinse. Without the need for any scrubbing, the mould should vanish.
While you’re waiting, give your taps some TLC. It’s incredibly easy for limescale to build up on them.
My top tip for this is to cut a lemon in half, cover it with bicarbonate of soda and give it a squeeze so that it foams up. Rub all over the tap and finish by twisting the lemon half on to the spout.
Leave for 15 minutes and then remove the lemon and rinse off the juice – the limescale will come off easily. Buff dry to enhance the shine.
My top tip for this is to cut a lemon in half, cover it with bicarbonate of soda and give it a squeeze so that it foams up [File photo]
Keep allergies at bay in the living room
First of all, move pull out the sofa and any other furniture that you can handle and clean behind them. It will be rather dusty there if the area hasn’t been touched for a while.
If you have any electrical switches behind your furniture, I bet they have a layer of dust on them too. Turn off any devices and clean the sockets with a dry cloth or the vacuum cleaner.
While the sofa is out, remove the covers if you can and either put them in the washing machine or take them to the dry cleaner as appropriate – always check the label for instructions.
For any tough stains that are still present, mix together three-quarters of a cup of warm water, a quarter of a cup of white wine vinegar and one tablespoon of washing-up liquid.
If you have any electrical switches behind your furniture, I bet they have a layer of dust on them too. Turn off any devices and clean the sockets with a dry cloth or the vacuum cleaner [File photo]
Scrub the mixture in with a hard brush and then blot dry with a clean cloth or kitchen towel.
If you have cushion covers that can come off, pop them in the washing machine and follow the guidelines on the cushion’s tag. A light steam with a clothes steamer over your sofa will kill germs and help to keep allergies at bay.
I am a big fan of carpet-cleaning machines – they’ll make your carpets last longer and look newer for longer.
You can hire one but I recommend buying one (they cost about £200) as you will save money in the long run, especially if you share it – and the cost – with another family member.
Before using a carpet-cleaner on any rugs, flip them over and vacuum all over the back of the rug as this pushes out ground-in dirt, dust and debris.
Declutter any side and coffee tables, and go through your shelves. Sort through books, DVDs, CDs, candles and ornaments – make sure you give the tops of books a good dusting too.
Have a clear-out in your bedrooms
Flip and rotate mattresses, sprinkle on bicarbonate of soda to soak up smells, then vacuum. Treat any stains with a spot-stain treatment and leave to air for the whole day if you can.
Air your duvet by hanging it over the washing line in the fresh air and sunshine for a few hours. You can also use a dry-cleaning duvet solution at home in your tumble dryer if your drum is big enough to cope.
Although pillows and cushions are covered with cases and protectors, they do still need to be cleaned at least two to three times a year. Most can be chucked into the washing machine and laid flat to air-dry, but check the manufacturer’s instructions.
One key thing that really makes a difference in bedrooms is having a good clear-out of your wardrobes and drawers – ideally take out everything out, then vacuum inside the empty wardrobe and clean with warm soapy water.
Next, sort through everything you’ve taken out and make a pile of any clothes to donate to charity.
If you have storage space, switch out winter shoes and boots for summer ones and store winter clothes in vacuum-sealed bags. Now is a good time to wash hats, gloves and scarves, and dry clean winter coats before putting them away.
You can also use a dry-cleaning duvet solution at home in your tumble dryer if your drum is big enough to cope [File photo]
Can’t get to the shops? Make your own products at home
They’re usually better for the environment and safe to use around pets and children, as well as being less likely to trigger asthma and allergies. You’ll need some 500ml spray bottles and a funnel – and don’t forget to label your products so you know what’s what. Each can be kept for up to three months.
Pour 20ml of white wine vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil into a bottle. I like to use peppermint for this one, but you could also use eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.
Shake and it is ready to use. I love this multi-purpose cleaner for its versatility, which saves you so much space in your cleaning cupboard or caddy. You can use this product every day for shining results in your bathroom and kitchen, and throughout the house for cleaning up any messes.
Glass and window cleaner
Pour 20ml of white wine vinegar and 10ml of lemon juice into a bottle, fill the rest with water and then shake. This amazing glass cleaner is fit for anything you would use a shop-bought glass cleaner for, such as mirrors, mirrored furniture, windows and even metal taps.
Put 250g of bicarbonate of soda into a large jam jar with 20 drops of essential oil. Shake well and leave overnight in a dark place for the bicarb to absorb the scent of the essential oil. The next day, before you vacuum, sprinkle your carpet refresher all over the area you want to refresh and leave for 15 minutes to allow the bicarb to soak up odours from your carpet. Then, vacuum up the mixture.
Put 2 tbsp of bicarbonate of soda and 20 drops of your favourite essential oil into a bottle, fill with water and shake. I tend to make up two of these: a lavender mixture for the mattresses, as this helps aid sleep, and a lemon mixture for refreshing rugs, sofas and curtains.