The lazy housekeeper's tool kit
The annoying thing about cleaning is that it's you think you have finished but then discover more needs doing.
If only vacuum cleaners could turn themselves on, feather dusters worked without human intervention and mops washed floors all by themselves.
But in the absence of the Housework Fairy inventing magical cleaning tools, it's worth knowing the implements that make cleaning a little bit easier.
As household mess spreads into uncharted territory, arm your cleaning cupboard with the right weapons to wage war on housekeeping. (The human effort may still be hard to rustle up.)
Floor cleaning is hard and tedious so whatever you can do to improve it is worth investing in.
The smartest thing any housekeeper can do is buy a great vacuum cleaner. Not just a pretty, well-priced vacuum cleaner but a top-of-the-line, super terrific, unreal, suck-'em-up cleaner that makes floor cleaning easy.
Cheapie vacuum cleaners can create more dust than they suck up while more expensive models will have a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to trap those nasty particles you suck up from that dirty floor.
We love our Dyson vacuum cleaner, which has a HEPA filter. Other brands people rave about include Miele and Nilfisk.
Trust us: a good vacuum cleaner is worth the money. It saves having to sweep (which is physically more arduous), reduces the dust mites in carpets and rugs and reduces the need to mop hard surfaces such as polished timber or tiles.
Keep the arduous task of washing down showers and baths to a minimum with daily maintenance.
Wiping shower walls with a squeegee after each shower will prevent moisture-fuelled moulds taking hold, remove soap scum and dirt and keep the bathroom in great shape for a quick once-a-week scrub.
Wiping the shower down after each use with a towel (preferably one that is still scratchy from being air-dried in the sun) will practically eliminate the need for that weekly bathroom clean altogether.
For indoors, a long-handled soft broom with good-quality bristles will pick up the dirt better and last longer than an el cheapo plastic broom.
When it comes to mops, go for quality that will last and sturdy replaceable heads.
A few microfibre cloths are also a great addition to any household. Damp microfibre cloths will remove bacteria from surfaces, especially if you wipe the surface dry afterwards with an old rag.
A sturdy bucket with a strong handle is also vital.
And remember, washing with plant-based detergents and hot water - and drying the surface afterwards - is the way to practise harm-free hygiene without the need for chlorine or phosphate-intensive cleaners.
Recycling and cleaning in one
Who says the only things you can recycle are bottles and newspapers? Old T-shirts and cotton towels can be cut down to size for a constant supply of absorbent cleaning cloths.
Old socks can be pulled on your hand and used to dust surfaces, while those manky old toothbrushes are the perfect tool to scrub around taps, the sides of sinks and around stove elements.
And don't throw out old spray bottles - re-use them for homemade cleaning solutions.
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