A New Year, A Fresh Start
Happy New Year to you all!
I hope you're well and truly recovered from NYE and the holiday party season. I've had an unusually quiet Christmas and NYE due to family illness but with every cloud [..] it's been a great time to slow down, reflect and take stock.
Given that many people are still on holiday or about to enjoy the last weekend before work really kicks in, I thought I'd share some ideas of how to try and detox your home and prepare for the start of a happy, healthy and productive 2015.
CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES
Let's face it (excuse the pun), you're not going to do this at 8.15am on a Monday morning when you're tired and running late. You need to set aside 5 minutes once a month (or more!) to get down and dirty with your brushes, and what better way to cleanse your year that to start with clean tools. And it's actually really easy.
What you'll need:
x extra-virgin olive oil
x antibacterial dish soap
x clean plate
POPSUGAR's step by step guide is pretty simple - here it is:
Step 1: Mix two parts antibacterial dish soap to one part of the extra-virgin olive oil on a clean plate
Step 2: Grab your brush and wet it slightly with lukewarm water. Make sure the brush stays bristle-side down throughout the entire process. If water gets into the ferrule (the middle tube part that holds everything together) of the brush, it can loosen the glue, causing the bristles to fall out.
Step 3: Dip the damp brush into the soap mixture and coat it thoroughly. Next, work the mixture into the bristles using the palm of your hand and fingers. Continue until the soapy residue is makeup free.
Step 4: Rinse the brushes under lukewarm water until no soap runs from the bristles.
Step 5: Roll a dish towel like you would a yoga mat, and drape a paper towel over it so that most of the paper towel hangs off. (The paper towel should look like a slide coming down from the dish towel). Next, arrange the brush so the top of the handle sits on top of the towel, pitching the rest of the brush down onto the paper towel. This will allow your brushes to dry on a slant, while keeping moisture away from the ferrule.
Repeat with remaining brushes. Some make take two washings to get completely clean, depending on the amount of residue left behind. Allow them to dry overnight, and repeat about once a month.
SORT YOUR UNDIES
Unless you're extremely organised, most people have a slightly scruffy drawer of 'drawers' and the new year is a perfect excuse to sift through them, ditch the comfy Bridget Jones style pair you've had for too long and get organised. I've just done this and for us Caribbean chicks, it extended to my bikini drawer that needed some tough-love decluttering - if you haven't worn an item of clothing in a year, it's time to bin it/donate it (where appropriate!).
I haven't upgraded to drawer organisers just yet but am considering trying out the DIY organisers from Apartment Therapy's site found here which looks fairly straightforward. Or for those of us who can't be bothered there are many smart organisers available - try the Container Store or Ikea for starters.
There is so much value in having a nice space in your home to set up your computer, organise your personal mail and avoid using the dining table as a dumping ground, and we are in the early stages of creating a mini-home office in the corner of our living room and I can't wait for it to look somewhat like the above.
With this in mind, here is some desk inspiration for how to create an organised office-style space without spending a fortune:
KEEP CLEAN TIPS
Why not start off the year with a new stance on your cleaning ritual? Try some simple tricks so you can go longer without cleaning, it's less arduous and frankly won't waste much of your precious free time!
Here are some of the latest tips for keeping your home cleaner for longer :
Layer decorative rugs and throws on top of carpet or flooring you can easily vacuum or wash these without having to do a major cleaning overhaul.
Keep sets of supplies in satellite locations around the house so you can quickly wipe down surfaces. For example, stashing spray cleaner and paper towels in the bathroom cabinets and dust cloths in desk drawer.
Place a mat on both the inside and the outside of the front and back doors. Dirt will collect on both and reduce the amount throughout the house.
Never go upstairs without bringing along an item that belongs upstairs, and vice versa.
Leave the dining table set at all times. It avoids the table becoming a dumping ground for mail, keys and random items whilst giving a perception that the house is clean (and less likely to mess up!)
Real Simple has a great article for some hints on what not to do, could you be cleaning 'wrong'. Surely any cleaning is good cleaning...well think again, here are some of the top cleaning offences:
Placing all utensils in the dishwasher facing the same direction.
It's fine for all the forks to point up. (This prevents the tines from bending.) But when spoons sit in one direction in a standard dishwasher basket, they end up, well, spooning, which prevents a complete clean. Place some up and some down for a more thorough, even wash, and do the same with knives.
Spraying cleaner directly on a surface.
This method is OK once in a while but should be reserved for extremely dirty surfaces that need extra solution. This shouldn't be an everyday practice, because it will probably leave residue behind (for example, a gummy buildup on wood furniture and drip marks on walls). Instead, spray the formula onto a microfiber cloth. Wipe-downs done this way require less solution, which cuts down on buildup. (Your bottles of cleaner will last longer, too.)
Cleaning bare-handed (even for a quickie sink scrub-down).
Your skin is super-absorbent and will soak up almost any substance that touches its surface. Even natural products can dry out hands lickety-split. Avoid chalky rubber or latex gloves. Instead, choose gloves with a lined cotton interior. They offer more of a protective barrier and are so comfortable, you'll be motivated to put them on.
Putting a rinsed toilet brush right back in the holder.
Moisture breeds bacteria, so it's important to let the brush dry completely before stashing it. Sandwich the handle between the toilet seat and the base, with the business end suspended over the bowl, to drip-dry. Leave it for at least 10 minutes or until fully dry, then return it to the holder.
Considering a rinsed sponge clean.
Because food and bacteria hide in a sponge's crevices, a water rinse isn't enough. So once or twice a week, toss sponges into the top rack of the dishwasher, or heat wet ones in the microwave for two minutes. Another option: Use a sponge sanitizer. During the holidays, when cooking activities ramp up, it's best to clean sponges daily.
If you're looking to get serious about cleaning or needing some guidance on what tools work best for what task there is a very comprehensive guide on Jen Reviews dubbed "The Best Cleaning Products For Every Situation" by Jean Miller.
With over 10,000 words sorted into itemised practical tips, it's like a bible for cleaning!