I was recently inspired during the days before Chinese New Year (which started on February 14) to clean the entire house and do some necessary baby proofing in the process. It is a custom in China to thoroughly clean your home before New Year’s Eve to get rid of the bad luck of the previous year. It’s similar to the “out with the old, in with the new” idea many in the U.S. express in late December, but taken more literally. Get rid of the old — especially the dust and dirt — to make way for the new.
When taking on a cleaning project, I like to tackle it with the same vigor and vim I do an uncluttering task. (And, as my friend Don often says: “If you lack vigor, bring an extra dose of vim.”) Here are the five tips I keep in mind when cleaning:
- Start at the top. If you’re cleaning a room, this means starting at the ceiling and moving your way down to the floor. You’ll inevitably stir up dust and other non-desirables, which means if you start at the top you’ll never have to clean a surface twice.
- Use the least caustic cleaner first. I think this is a tip I picked up from an episode of Martha Stewart Living, and it’s a good one. The less dangerous a cleaning agent, the easier it is on what you’re cleaning and it is almost always less expensive. You wouldn’t bring a cannon to a thumb wrestling tournament, so you don’t need to haul out the big guns unless you really need them. Plus, if you have kids or pets, you don’t have worries about accidental poisonings cluttering up your mind.
- Be safe. If you need to move up the caustic cleaner scale, make sure you aren’t using one cleaner that can interact with the residue of the previous product (like don’t use an ammonia cleaner with or on top of a bleach-based cleaner). Keep the area ventilated, wear eye and breathing gear if recommended by the manufacturer, and store the chemicals under lock and key. Read all packaging to ensure that you are being as safe as possible.
- Don’t feel you need to take on cleaning your entire house all in one weekend. At Chez Doland, we deep clean the kitchen and dining room on Monday, Bathrooms on Tuesday, Bedrooms on Wednesday, Living and family rooms on Thursday, and Friday is for the foyer, garage, and laundry room. After a 10 minute general pick up around the house, we focus for 20 minutes on the targeted room.
- Don’t tackle cleaning alone. If you live with other people, equally split up the tasks. If you live alone, call in a cleaning service every once in awhile to give yourself a well-deserved break.
Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Feel welcome to add your cleaning tips in the comments section of this post.