Let's Spring Clean the Living Rooms!

Do you like my slightly 'Dick and Jane' title? I am going for sprightly, as, let's be honest, spring cleaning needs a really good sell. I worked out while dusting the walls this morning that I have the same number of rooms to clean as there are weekdays over two weeks. So, a room a day. I may go back to work exhausted, but I will be happy, satisfied, and ever so smug.

As always, I have started with the living areas - there is ever the possibility of Life interfering with best laid plans, so starting with the most public, most used, and therefore dirtiest rooms makes sense.

Day One: Living Room

Cleaning always works best starting at the top and working down, so this morning I started with the ladder balanced on top of the coffee table to reach the living room light fixture. Don't tell my mum. The light fixture was, of course, filled with dead bugs and covered in bug poop. I washed it in warm, soapy water, and cleaned fly poop off the ceiling. I sometimes wonder what my fifteen year old self would think if she could see what I am doing with my/her life..

Then I dusted the top of the walls and ceiling where all the spiders make cobwebs, then wander off.. where, I wonder? I have a nifty, telescopic duster thingy which is excellent for this, and also dusting off the top of the curtain pelmets. More perching on the step ladder as I clean fly spots and finger marks off the walls.

Next, it being the end of the fire season, I swept all of the ashes out of the hearth with my lovely art-deco dust pan. All the ashes go in a bucket to be tipped onto the redcurrant and gooseberry bushes later. They love all that ashy goodness. And I get to play at being housemaid. If only there was a footman to flirt with..

Now that the fire has been cleaned out, everything else gets dusted. Then washing the windows. These are the only original windows left in the house, and tend to get mouldy in the winter. Ugh. Nasty. After this I have a cup of tea and take Posy and the dog for a walk in the sunshine. Vitamin D for the housemaid is a necessity.

Now vaccuuming, moving all the furniture and taking all the cushions off the couch. When the children were little they loved this and made forts out of the couch cushions. Posy enjoys all the treasures she finds behind the couches, and I finally discover where the missing thermos lid got to. How did it get behind the couch? How? And how much furniture can we squeeze into the dining room so I can shampoo the carpet later? Note bunting from Posy's birthday party. She won't let me take it down.

Lunch. I am reading Up and Down Stairs, history of the domestic servant in England from medieval to modern times. It is an excellent choice while spring cleaning in the 21st century, because all my jobs pale in comparison to the average day of the average housemaid any time over the last four centuries.

After lunch I take my baby girls to the airport and send them on their way to their dad for three days. It is rather awful seeing them fly away, but an hour later they arrive safe and sound, and I know they will be having a whale of a time. Meanwhile, I have warned The Girl (who stayed back because she is working) that I won't be cooking while the girls are away. We will eat boiled eggs and read books every night.

When I get home I shampoo the carpets with my friend Cindy's carpet cleaner (thanks Cindy, you are a star!) which makes the house smell like wet dog, so then I walk the dog and spend that last hour of sunlight weeding around the orange trees and admiring the beautiful view from the highest point of the garden.

Tonight I will leave the furniture in its state of derangement while the carpet dries, then tomorrow I can put it back, and move on to cleaning the dining room..

Day Two: Dining Room

While Posy isn't here to notice, I sneakily remove the birthday bunting. Today I get to dance on the dining room table. First I start with the cobwebs on the ceiling. The budgies really hate that giant blue duster. Maybe they think it is a giant blue budgie with sinister designs? Then I stand on the table to wash the light fittings, and again with all the fly poop on the ceilings. This is the warmest space in the house, and flies love it (yes, in Tasmania, even the flies need to keep warm). Clearly, there is an issue with flies in the summer here. Our windows aren't designed for fly screens, and anyway, I love opening them straight into the fresh air. Luckily, Benson-the-wonder-puppy adores eating flies, and last summer when he first came to us we had a lot less flies in the house..

My technique with getting any kind of stain off, including fly spots, is this. I only ever use a bucket of warm soapy water (a squirt of dish detergent) for cleaning. Cheap, and just as effective as sprays. First, I wipe over the area to be cleaned, then leave it for a few minutes. When I go back for a second pass, stains generally come off quite easily. The formula for this is: water + soap + time = clean without too much elbow grease.

Next, The Girl helped me to move the first sideboard so that I could clean behind it. Oh, deary, deary me. The detritus and dust and, er, treasures, of at least two years that had accumulated behind that sideboard! Budgie feathers, dirt, oranges that had rolled off the fruit bowl and quietly fossilised, a dozen marbles, lego, pens, almonds and acorns.. but mostly an appalling accumulation of dust. The Girl sensibly remembered several other things she had to do, so that left me to gingerly sort through the debris, vacuum, scrub walls and floor, and wash the windows. My window washer recipe: one spray bottle filled with 45% water, 45% methylated spirits, 10% ammonia. Spray, and dry with an old nappy.

That left only seven more windows to wash before elevenses. But I got to enjoy the pear blossom.

Next, I took down my extensive vase collection from the other side of the dining room, and washed it all. Then I succumbed to spring fever and took the dog for a walk in the sunshine, and had lunch in the sun as well.

After lunch another sideboard to pull out and clean behind. Seriously, those budgies have lost their own body weight in feathers, and they all float gently down behind the sideboard to lodge in very decorative cobwebs. Finally I can put everything back, scrub the table and wipe down the chairs. I will wait to mop all the living area floors at once in a few days when I clean the hallway. So we are done - just in time, as we have to visit the grannies to take them some shelves and eat afternoon tea. The Girl needs to get her millions of driving hours up before she heads off to university next year, which means lots of cups of tea with grandma.

Tonight while we are eating dinner I am gloating over the glorious cleanliness of my living areas, but tomorrow... well, tomorrow I tackle.. the kitchen..


Anonymous said…
This is Jo. See Jo clean. Jo is happy.

Well done. What a productive time you're having.

I so love living vicariously. Especially when it's to do with cleaning.
narf7 said…
SOOO with Lucindasans here. Got to say, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself having to work through the holidays and design a clients website and work on assessment tasks but I have never been more happy to study after reading how hard I could have worked cleaning the house as an alternative. Dick and Jane were a stalwart of our Aussie early childhood reading. Back then, you had to progress through a range of Dick and Jane before you could progress to reading "real" books. Dick and Jane, therefore, became the yardstick to your reading superiority. I am thinking that you have an incredible head start on the Dick and Jane cleaning front and I might just be staying in kindergarten for a bit longer ;).
Jo said…
Lucinda and Fran, I LOVED the Dick and Jane books! I read them while growing up in the New Guinea highlands, and I thought their lives were so exotic. When they had finished playing with Spot the dog, their mother brought them lemonade in the garden. I was very miffed because my mother never brought me lemonade in the garden. I thought that 'Dick and Jane' was the life every child must live in suburbia, and couldn't wait to sample it one day..

Drinking my morning cup of tea while I contemplating climbing the step ladder again. Ugh. Everything hurts. Those housemaids were TOUGH doing this all day, everyday..
Unknown said…
Would you like a trip to Melbourne. My house is much in need of a housemaid that is certainly thorough. Money cant buy such professional and dedicated service - or can it??????
gretchenjoanna said…
I am doing some Fall cleaning up here, nothing so thorough and freshening yet, as I have so. much. stuff. needing to be sorted, with twice-weekly trips to the thrift store to donate things I don't need. Maybe by springtime I will have cleared things out enough to be able to do that deep cleaning. I should bookmark your inspiring post to read in March!!
Jo said…
Lynda, let me think about that for a minute... hmmm, no you are right. I think one house is enough.. I can't imagine doing this on a permanent basis. Take my hat off to house cleaners..

Gretchen Joanna, really, the only reason I can deep-clean is that I threw out most of my stuff a few years ago. I can't imagine the effort to sort, declutter and clean at the same time. Hope your winter of pottering is cleansing in every way:)
Judy said…
Honestly Jo, how can you make spring cleaning so funny :-) I have to say that your home looked far cleaner and tidier than ours before you started. What a mammoth task if you have 14 rooms to do! We only have 10 and that is including the stairs and landing as a room. Plus the kids are responsible for their own rooms. At least you have found a good 'work' balance with dog walks and gardening to break up the cleaning.

We are just entering the muddy dog season, where a fine mist of dried mud settles daily on every surface and muddy paw prints cover every kitchen cabinet or white wall. Sigh!
Jo said…
Judy, actually only going to be cleaning over 10 days, as need the weekends to recover! And today have realised I need two days to do the kitchen. It's all a bit insane really..

I hear you on the muddy dog season, but it has been SO dry this winter. The dog has stayed dry, but it is a bit worrying in every other sense..
Anonymous said…
Are you all exhausted from your spring cleaning? Too tired and busy to blog?

I hope you're satisfied with one clean room and have turned to books and cups of tea s d gardening.
Cindy said…
I always feel at a loss when my girls are away. I find it therapeutic to keep busy. I have a housework playlist with upbeat tunes from my youth, it always gets me thinking about what my teenage self would make of my life. I round off the day with a treat that usually has more calories than I've burnt.

Cindy @ Magnetic Screens

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