We’re now only a matter of days away from the new school year. Around the world, parents are preparing to send their children back into full time education. They’re also now thinking about cleaning up after several weeks of summertime chaos in the home.
For many families, deep cleaning and any semblance of organisation in the home goes out the window the moment the schools break up for summer. But by the end of the holiday, the dirt and chaos left can be a little overwhelming.
As long as you have a plan of action, back to school cleaning in the home doesn’t have to be too stressful or time-consuming. Approach the issue in two stages, and you can look forward to getting your family home back to normal.
Back to school cleaning tips
Set aside quality time for cleaning
Back to school cleaning is just as taxing and time-consuming as spring cleaning. After several weeks of having your kids at home, the dirt and mess you’re left with needs your undivided attention. But that’s easier said than done when you have home and work-based commitments to think about.
Try to set aside two clear and consecutive days for back to school cleaning. You’ll be performing some detailed cleaning tasks which can’t be done properly in several 15-minute sessions.
Create a checklist
Walk around your home the day before your children return to school. Make a list of every job — no matter how big or small. Once you have every chore on the list, create sub-lists of jobs that can either be delegated or completed at the same time.
Back to school cleaning is always a big task. It’s only right that those responsible for contributing to the situation should help to rectify it. Everyone in your home should do their bit, including your children. Give them safe, relatively simple jobs of their own. If you’re struggling to motivate your kids, provide incentives and rewards wherever possible.
Declutter and organise
The very first thing on your back to school cleaning schedule should be decluttering and organising. You won’t be able to perform detailed cleaning tasks if you’re negotiating clutter and possessions everywhere you go.
Systematically walk through your home, picking up litter and clutter wherever you find it. Make sure everything goes to its proper home. And if there isn’t a home for certain items, make one. Once your home is tidy and organised, cleaning will become a much easier and faster process.
Start with the dirtiest jobs
Cleaning the dirtiest areas and items in your home can actually make other areas even dirtier. This is why these big cleaning tasks should be performed first. Leaving them until last risks dirtying areas of your home you’ve already cleaned.
Among the dirty jobs you should make a priority are:
- Cleaning your oven and hood
- Cleaning your hob
- Cleaning your fridge and freezer
- Steam cleaning carpets
- Deep cleaning and descaling taps, baths, sinks and showers
- Cleaning toilets
- Cleaning cupboards
- Cleaning behind appliances and furniture
- Cleaning windows
- Cleaning and organising gardens and outdoor areas
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. Identify the dirtiest jobs in your home first. Get them done and out of the way before you start on the smaller, detailed jobs.
Work from the top to the bottom of your home
Once all of the big stuff is out of the way, you’re on the final straight. You can now clean and prepare each room for the weeks and months ahead. But don’t forget about gravity. Dirt and dust travels downwards, so start at the top of your home and slowly work your way down.
Dust and clean light fittings, cornices, coving, curtains, and anything at height first. But leave the vacuuming and floor cleaning until the very end of your cleaning schedule.
If you have upholstered furniture in your home, chances are it has taken quite a battering during the school holidays. It might be covered in stains, crumbs and dirt — in which case some detailed cleaning is essential.
Clean your upholstery with the relevant fabric cleaning agents. But always check the manufacturer’s guidelines first. There are also some natural cleaning agents that work brilliantly on fabrics, including bicarbonate of soda and biological soaps.
Clean the floors
Cleaning all your floors should be the very last job in your back to school cleaning schedule. Again, work from the top of your home. Use a powerful vacuum and all the necessary attachments to ensure all your carpets are thoroughly cleaned. If you notice stains or discoloured areas, it might be a good idea to steam clean them first.
A steam cleaner could be just as important as a powerful vacuum cleaner? That’s because it can be used to steam clean carpet and hard flooring. If you have the right attachments, there’s very little in your home you can’t clean with superheated steam.
Keeping your home clean
Once you’ve done all the hard work, you’ll be keen to keep things looking clean and organised in your home. This won’t be easy, however. But by keeping on top of the situation from day one, you can minimise the cleaning you need to do after the kids have returned to school.
For example, you should impose a strict no-shoes rule in your home. Place a shoe rack at the front door, and insist that your children remove their shoes before they enter. Similarly, dedicate an area for bags and coats. Keeping the entrance to your home clean will be a lot easier if its free of clutter.
In fact, there are several simple rules and rituals you can adopt that should help to keep your home clean and tidy once the kids are back at school:
- Regular hand washing — including after eating
- Assigned cleaning duties — with deadlines and consequences for those who don’t comply
- Weekly bedroom cleaning. Make your children responsible and accountable for the state of their own bedroom. Dedicate an hour every Saturday morning to cleaning and tidying bedrooms
- Wipe surfaces daily with wipes or microfibre cloths
- Keep your fridge organised and free of clutter
- Do a little laundry every day
- Wash dishes immediately after meals
- Incentivise cleaning to keep your children involved
- Implement a “one toy at a time” rule
- Dedicate specific areas of your home to play and arts and crafts
In many ways, back to school cleaning is easy. Do it when the kids are at school, and you’ll have the freedom and space to do a great job. The real challenge is keeping your home looking clean and tidy during those first few weeks of the new school term. Stay organised and resolute in your approach and your home will reap the rewards.