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Spring clean your house in an afternoon (yes, really!)

If you've been dreading the annual spring clean, fear not! TV presenter and busy mum Jenni Falconer's tips will make light work of it.

Jenni Falconer

Few of us really look forward to spending our Sunday afternoon scrubbing, sorting and sneezing through the layers of dust that have built up through the house. But believe it or not, there are ways of making a spring-clean seem like fun. And if your house looks like it's weighed down by the winter blues, there's no time to lose! We'll guide you through your essential cleaning kit, help you organise an order in which to tackle those chores, plus provide some handy hints on easing the workload (this may include an element of bribery). So, dusters at the ready - we're going in…

It's a date!

First things first, set aside a clear afternoon when you can spring-clean from start to finish. It sounds obvious, but if you have to leave cleaning because you run out of time or forgot Aunt Mildred was popping by, then the likelihood is these last vital chores will fall by the wayside until next year. Mums might want to take advantage of their children's nap time to roll up their sleeves and get spring cleaning.

Cleaning products (© Getty Images)

You know how you work best, so either make sure everyone else is out of the house that day, especially if you're short of space, or purposefully plan it so the kids (or even some kind friends) can pitch in too. You may have to draw them in with the promise of a trip to the swimming pool the following weekend, or even paying them small pocket-money sums for completing certain chores. But it could be well worth it.

What will you need?

Some items are essential spring-cleaning kit, while others, such as a can of Brasso or hiring a professional steam cleaner for the carpets, depend on what jobs you're hoping to tick off the list. Here's our guide to the essentials - anything else you'll have to add to your list. Be prepared, or prepare to fail, as the saying goes!

  • Dusters/old soft cloths
  • Household bleach
  • Mop and bucket
  • Hoover
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • White wine vinegar
  • Sponges and rubber gloves
  • Furniture polish
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Feather duster
  • Bin liners
  • CDs on the stereo - for keeping you up-beat and on the move!

Starting orders
If you can't see the dust for all the clutter around you, your best bet is to spend the first 15 minutes doing a general tidy-up around the house. Put toys back where they belong, pick up any dirty laundry and do the washing-up. You'll now be in a much better place mentally to start the sprucing up.

Another essential piece of prep work is to find a space to lay out some bin liners - you want one to put in anything you come across that deserves a trip to the local charity shop, one for stuff destined for the attic, and perhaps another for any items you reckon you could see on eBay or at a car boot sale. Organising these drop-off points beforehand will reduce the amount of random clutter you end up clambering over at the end. Just be sure to visit them regularly during the afternoon rather than piling things up in each room.

Love a list

The key to a calm, quick and admirable spring-clean is order. So, sorry if it sounds pinickety, but a list of, first, the cleaning chores you want to achieve, and second, a list of the order you'll work through them is almost as essential as your kit list. According to professional cleaners, Merry Maids, the most common mistake us mortals make is that one minute we're cleaning out a cupboard downstairs, and the next minute we're bundling up our winter knits in the bedroom.

To do list (© Getty Images)

All that to-ing and fro-ing, while great for your calves, isn't so great for energy levels. It means you're more likely to cut cleaning corners and miss jobs off your list. The answer? Be methodical.

Work round the house room by room, starting in the bathroom. This will give you a chance to apply any cleaning products that need time to work their magic - squirt the toilet bowl with bleach, wipe more over the tiling and around the bath, but leave the floors until the end of the afternoon as they'll be getting a lot of traffic in the meantime.

Next, move on to the kitchen, where your first job is probably cleaning the oven. After all those winter roasts, it's looking a little congested, right? Mix up some bicarbonate of soda and water until it forms a thick paste, then smear it inside your oven, including the door, before leaving for the afternoon. By then a simple wipe down with a damp sponge will remove all that nasty grease and grime.

Once the oven has been treated, turn your attention to defrosting the freezer, degreasing the microwave, wiping down the kitchen cupboards inside and out, binning any best-before dates that need to be, and giving the worktops and basin a thorough clean.

Next up, the living room/dining room. Jobs here include: dusting all surfaces including pictures on the wall, tackling cobwebs on the ceiling, finally committing to sending any VHS tapes to the charity shop, laundering curtains, plumping cushions and hoovering the sofa (you never know what you could find!).

Now it's time to break up the general monotony of a spring-clean by brightening your day - and the windows while you're at it. Now the sun's finally put in an appearance, make the most of the natural light by ensuring all windows are sparkling clean. For a top tip, mix 1tsp washing-up liquid, half a cup of white vinegar and 2 teacups of warm water.

Decant into a spray bottle and spritz your glass with it, wiping over with a clean, soft cloth after. It's half time and you deserve a five-minute rest with a nice cuppa and some biscuits or a banana to boost your energy levels. Enjoy!

Ready for more? Head upstairs and into the bedrooms where the first job is to strip the bed linen and let the mattresses air, before turning them over.

After a good dusting, fling open the wardrobes and drawers and start sorting out items (including any toys your kids no longer play with) for the charity shop (remember the bin liner drop-off point), and pile up your winter woollies ready to be packaged away for a few months.

It's always best to dry-clean your knits before packaging them away, as moths will feed on any food particles, skin and hair lurking on your loveliest jumpers. Store them in breathable bags in your attic or somewhere dry and out of the way.

Steam carpet cleaner (© Getty Images)

With all the dirty work done and dusted, your final job should be floor work. Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors with detergent, getting right in any nooks and crannies, leaving to dry.

Then give the carpets a good going over with the vacuum cleaner. Now's not the time to cut corners, so be sure to hoover under furniture, too. And if you've any stubborn stains you've been meaning to sort, hiring a steam cleaner for the day could work out well - prices start from £20.

Spring is in the air

Et voila! You may feel a bit achey, but hopefully all that manual labour has been worthwhile. Just wait for the compliments to flood in and revel in feeling house proud.

But be warned, the key to a happy home is maintenance, so regular cleaning here and there will make next year's spring spruce-up a little less painful. Now, treat yourself and the rest f the family to a well-deserved takeaway. After all, with the house this clean, washing-up would look so out of place!

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