Basic Housekeeping For The Lads' Flat

Well done, guys – you’re out on your own.  However, if you want to keep your new flat looking like something reasonably fit for human habitation and won’t send prospective girlfriends running in utter horror.

Let’s start with the tools of the trade.  Absolute minimum will include a vacuum cleaner, a broom, a mop, a bucket, several cleaning rags (a torn up old T-shirt is ideal) and maybe a scrubbing brush or too.  You’ll also need a few chemical weapons – either specialised chemicals, sprays and solutions (they’ll have what they’re good for printed on their labels), or else plain dishwashing liquid, some soap, baking soda, vinegar and some strong alcoholic spirits like vodka or whisky.  The advantage of the baking soda, vinegar and alcohol is that they are multi-purpose.

The vacuum cleaner is the easiest bit of cleaning to do, and it’s amazing how it really makes a room look a lot tidier (it also prevents infestations of fleas).  If you have the habit of dropping stuff on the floor instead of into the bin or putting it away, you will need to tidy the floor up first, which is by far the hardest part of the job.  Then plug in the vacuum cleaner, switch it on and get vacuuming.  A couple of pointers, however.  First, don’t vacuum up things that are longer than the hose of the vacuum is wide (if you have a pull-along type of vacuum), as these will get stuck at the bend, requiring you to poke around with bits of wire to clear the blockage.  Secondly, don’t vacuum up wet stuff unless you have a special wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner, and never vacuum up vomit – the smell will stay in the vacuum cleaner for ages, so it gives of an odour of eau de puke each time you use it.  How do you know when you need to vacuum?  Do a few press-ups on the carpet – if you get a close-up of fluff, dirt, bits of leaf and hair each time you come down, it’s time to vacuum. 

You can vacuum smooth floors (e.g. lino or wood) but lino will need mopping from time to time, especially in the lav nearest to the bowl – you know what I mean!  To mop a floor, always sweep or vacuum it first to get loose grub off, or else you’ll end up sticking it to the floor.  Then get your bucket and fill it with warm water.  Squeeze in a generous amount dishwashing detergent, pump the mop up and down to get some bubbles, then get mopping.  Mopping involved rubbing the squeezed out damp mop over a patch of floor, then rinsing it out with another couple of dip sand squeezes. Plan your escape route so you don’t have to back out of the bathroom over a wet floor, walking all over what you’ve just done in your not-so-pristine sneakers.  If you want to polish a floor (this is optional), do it like you would a car, putting on the polish first, letting it dry, then buffing it up with a soft cloth.  Doing the final buff by wearing an old pair of socks and skating across the floor is kind of fun.

Dusting is dead easy.  Use a soft cloth, possibly damp, and wipe it over the top of the stereo, the mantelpiece, windowsills, TVs and computer equipment, picking up the dust as you go.  Then throw the duster in the wash.  Fancy feather dusters made of ostrich feathers are best kept for computer keyboards.

To clean baths and sinks, use the baking soda or a spray-n-wipe and a soft cloth.  Rub it on until any gunk has gone, and don’t forget to do the taps.  Rinse off afterwards.  Around basins, you may not need to use much domestic cleaning product, as what you are cleaning off is toothpaste and soap – which cleans quite nicely.

The loo is considered the worst thing to clean, but it’s not that bad.  Use one of those toilet duck things to squirt around the rim of the bowl.  Leave this to sit, then scrub the bowl with the toilet brush like heck, making sure you get all of the bowl and the top of the downpipe.  Then slosh some disinfectant (or vodka) onto some loo paper (or a cloth) and wipe down the seat (top and bottom), the lid (ditto) and the outside of the bowl.  Drop the old loo paper into the bowl.  Get a fresh bit of loo paper and dust the top of the tank.  Then flush the old bits of paper and the bubbly stuff down.  Top up supplies of loo paper and remove old rolls.  Done.