Keep your cleaning supplies handy
On each floor of your home, keep a container stocked with an all-purpose cleaner, sponges, soft cloths, rubber gloves, paper towels and any other supplies you might need. Always keep these out of sight and reach of children.
Clean a little every day
Staying neat and organised is an ongoing process. Spend a few minutes every day tidying up the 'hot spots' in your home where mess happens often. Wipe up marks around the kitchen sink. Pick up clothes off the bedroom floor and put them away or into the laundry basket. Put away post, school bags and shoes that collect in the front hallway. Separate stacks of papers into smaller 'to-do' and 'to file away' piles.
Weekly cleaning plan
Make a weekly plan for bigger tasks. They're easier to tackle if you do them regularly. Vacuum rugs and under sofa cushions. Rinse items that get covered in sticky fingerprints, like booster seats and toys. Throw away old food before it goes mouldy.
Find little helpers
Get your children in the habit of being Mum and Dad's little helpers early on. At 3 or 4 years old they can start matching socks on laundry days or putting toys away. By 6, kids should be ready for bigger jobs, like laying the table or folding clean clothes.
Staying neat and organised should be easy for kids, too. Put storage bins for their books or toys on low shelves or the floor. Fit hooks for little hands to hang jackets and bags, and let them make some decisions themselves, such as choosing the next day's clothes the night before.
Chores that pay off
Make a chart of all your children's tasks. Let them choose a chore of the day. Tasks can include laying the table, making their bed or washing-up. Kids who get their jobs done on time can win a prize, like a trip to the cinema.
Once every 6 months, plan a day to declutter your house. Get rid of outgrown clothes, shoes, books, toys and household items you haven't used in more than a year. Give your kids a reason to join in by organising a car boot sale, or selling good quality items online, and letting them keep the profits. Or they can feel good about donating items to charity shops.
Don't forget these germ and dust magnets:
- Fridge walls and shelves
- Light fittings and shades
- Phone handsets
- Computer and laptop keyboards
You can make your own line of green products at home. Combine equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, or mix up a paste of baking soda and water to scrub stains off surfaces like worktops. Always test your cleaners first to make sure they don't scratch or damage surfaces.
Use unwanted items for cleaning
Old items can have a second life as cleaning supplies.
- Worn socks make handy mitts that wipe away dirt in tight corners.
- A pencil rubber can erase scuff marks from floors.
- Wrap an old T-shirt around a ruler, spray with cleaner, and use it to clean the inside of blinds.
- Wipe a soft used tumble dryer sheet over your TV screen to remove dust.