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By Helen Bowman

For many of us, the enforced lockdown comes with multiple challenges. Keeping the kids entertained, keeping ourselves sane, keeping up our healthy eating and exercise regimes.

But what about your home? Currently, it’s a fortress, keeping us safe (hopefully) from the war being fought in the outside world. But it could also feel a bit like a prison, getting messier than usual, raising our stress levels and compounding our feelings of frustration.

In the words of Marie Kondo “when we reduce what we own and essentially ‘detox’ our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well” – doesn’t that sound great? Ok, so not many of us have the time to roll up our underwear and get a feel for everything that ‘sparks joy’. But doesn’t a bit of a sort out sound great?

So, for the next four weeks, the High Life North team is inviting you to join us on a decluttering and spring-cleaning challenge.

Each week we’ll be breaking down the average home into bite-sized chunks and we encourage you to get brutal with your hoarding. Get rid of items and products that you don’t use on a regular basis. Clear out drawers and thin out cupboards. Your family and your home will feel better for it.

Let’s go.

This week we’ll concentrate on the bathroom and toilet areas. They’re always heavy with traffic and are probably the areas most in danger of harbouring germs. First step? Declutter

Shower/bath areas – recycle product containers and dispose of any old razors, bath toys and ornaments that don’t add to the area.

Bathroom cabinets – we’ve all got cabinets that house out of date medicine, blunt nail clippers and rusty scissors. Remove everything from the cabinets and only replace what’s useful, clean and in date.

Medicine cabinets – check the dates on all medicines and safely dispose of all bottles, boxes and packets that are past their best or unused.

Deep clean

Bath/shower 

Now is the time to really clean out all the nooks and crannies. Tackle the mouldy corners and eliminate watermarks and limescale build-up. Shower screens can also collect watermarks through use which can be easily removed with minimal scrubbing required.

We recommend:

White vinegar spray from Stardrops is ideal for spraying shower screens. Simply spray all over the screen, leave to work for five minutes and rinse off using the showerhead. For extra shine, finish off with a slightly damp Marigold squeaky clean cloth.

Viakal is ideal for taps, showerheads and chrome fixings, removing limescale and preventing build-up as you go. Always open the window when using this and leave to work for a maximum of five minutes.

Astonish mould and mildew remover is fantastic on bathroom tiles and around the shower or bath. Spray on all problem areas and leave to work for five minutes before rinsing off with a showerhead or damp cloth. For problematic areas, soak cotton wool pads with the product and place the pads over the mould. Leave for 30-60 minutes and rinse off.

Toilet 

We should all be cleaning our toilets on a regular basis, but deep cleaning can involve removing the toilet seat to clean behind all the fixings and getting right down onto ground level and cleaning the workings of the loo too.

Stick your rubber gloves on, leave the toilet brush in its container and get right under the toilet rim with a decent sponge. It’s amazing what gets left behind during regular cleaning.

We recommend:

Harpic Power Plus Toilet Cleaning tablets. Simply unwrap and place in the toilet bowl for 10-15 minutes. It fizzes away, tackling stains and germs while reaching around the u-bend too.

Toilet Duck dissolves limescale while the tablet does its work and a soft sponge sprayed with diluted Zoflora will leave the rest of your toilet sparkling clean and smelling gorgeous. (Remember to throw all your toilet cloths straight in the wash after use to avoid any nasty germ transfer.)

Sink 

As with the bath and shower areas of your bathroom, get right in behind the taps and into the tile grout in this area. Check the underneath of the sink and any pedestals you might have. Then target mould or potential risk spot. Don’t forget to clean any handwash containers, toothbrush holders or ornaments around here too.

We recommend:

Viakal for clearing limescale.

Flash bathroom leaves a lovely, shiny sink, and it smells divine too.

Give loose objects such as plugs, handwash containers and beakers a Milton bath to sterilise them, and why not soak your toothbrushes in some Steradent to give them a spring clean too?

Bathroom cupboards 

Often forgotten about and seldom cleared out, cupboards in the bathroom might be full of old towels, cleaning products and various unwanted paraphernalia from elsewhere in the house. Empty each cupboard, recycle what you can, donate anything decent and throw the rest away. If you haven’t seen or used it for the past six months, the chances are its surplus to requirements.

We recommend:

Getting in there with your hoover and clear the whole place.

Use diluted Zoflora and a soft cloth to wipe down any shelves and replace useful items carefully.

Other bathroom storage 

Such as drawers, boxes or shower caddies can be neglected and gather dust, limescale marks and general grime. Once they’ve been decluttered, wipe them over with a soft cloth and cleaning product to remove dust and dirt before restocking.

Toilet brush 

Love them or hate them, most bathrooms have some kind of toilet brush. By definition, they harbour germs and bad smells so regular cleaning is essential. Placing your brush in the toilet bowl just after you’ve used a toilet cleaning tablet helps to keep the bristles clean on a regular basis. In addition, place a capful of neat disinfectant into the brush holder to keep smells and germs at bay.

We recommend:

Fabulosa disinfectants clean and sterilise while banishing unpleasant smells into the bargain. If you’d rather just have a generic clean smell, thick bleach in the toilet brush holder will do the same job.

Floor 

Depending on the finish there are several ways to clean and disinfect your bathroom floor. Hoovering or sweeping the floor will ensure loose matter is removed before cleaning begins. Make sure to remove all free-standing furniture from the room before tackling this. A spray mop is ideal for cleaning the floor and should be used with a suitable floor cleaner to remove germs and marks.

We recommend:

The Vileda 1-2 spray mop with a ready-made floor cleaner such as Method’s Squirt and Mop. They smell incredible and leave a lovely shine too.

Mirrors

Mirrors suffer from constant dampness and splashes in bathrooms and toilets. Remove heavy watermarks with a vinegar spray and then polish with glass cloth for a streak-free finish.

We recommend:

Stardrops white vinegar spray used with a Minky M Cloth, Glass and Window. For mirrors that aren’t heavily watermarked, Dettol All in One Disinfectant Spray leaves a lovely shine and a gorgeous scent too.

Next week we’ll look at the kitchen and utility areas. 

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