Tuesday, September 29, 2015
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..