Today was day 2 of the "deep clean". As a result of exams and end of year tiredness, the housework has been rather neglected, resulting in a shamefully untidy and rather unclean flat. Since exams are now over and a friend is coming to stay, it is now necessary to deal with the mess! As usual, the old adage of "little and often" would have been a better idea, but since that is no longer possible, the "all at once and really thorough" has begun. For those of you (like me) who tend to save up all the cleaning into one bout, here are some things I've realised (most efficient people will have realised these things already).
1) Open *all* the windows. In my flat this requires the removal of Bob (the spider plant who remains alive in spite of my efforts, rather than because of them) from the window ledge, as he is prone to jump off at the slightest breeze, making more mess rather than less. The opening of windows has two-fold benefits, firstly, that all the chemicals you're probably going to have to use to get rid of the dirt aren't going to asphyxiate you, secondly, it gives that nice "freshly aired" smell to the flat. Unfortunately in London it tends to also bring in lots of black London dust, and the smell of traffic, but the idea is nice in theory.
2) Put on old clothes or an overall, this could get messy. If you have long hair, tie it back, and consider the use of a protective scarf - blotchily accidentally bleached hair, or dusty hair - not a good look! A good pair of well-fitting rubber gloves are invaluable - if you ever read the ingredients of some household cleaners, you will not want them on your skin, even the "Eco-friendly" ones can be quite potent (think how much plain lemon juice stings when it goes in a cut), they will also protect against occasional abrasions from over-enthusiastic scrubbing (I prefer the ones *without* cotton flock lining, since they seem to give me a rash, but they tend to be harder to find). Also, you don't have to touch the icky dirt if you're wearing gloves!
3) Remove all clutter first - bin the rubbish, and remove all removable items to another room so that they will not get in the way of the deep cleaning. This can be an good time for hoarders to realise how much stuff they have and recycle lots of unnecessary bits of paper. Since today was the living room, and because "living" is literally what I do in there, this required shuffling piles of ironing that haven't quite been done into neat piles on the bed, and resolving to do them once the flat is tidy! If any of these items need cleaning or polishing, now is a good time to do them, so they don't bring dirt back in when returned.
4) Hoover... everything - sofas, tabletops (to prepare the way for dusting and polishing), the floor. Don't forget skirting boards and that 2 inches of carpet that no hoover seems to be able to reach with the ordinary floor hoovering head on.
5) Dust and polish furniture and other objects not previously removed, sweeping along with spray polish and a cloth, making sure that all remnants of polish are removed (they tend to accumulate at corners)
6) Remove fingerprints and dirty marks from walls, door handles, light switches, around light switches, anywhere else that they might appear. (I find spray polish and a cloth is the best way to tackle these marks!)
I like to combine 4)+5)+6) using a "divide and conquer" technique - dividing the room up into quadrants or thirds (depending on the size of the room), hoovering, dusting, polishing everything in that quadrant before moving on to the next.
7) Replace all previously removed items.
8) Admire the lovely clean room.
9)Realise you smell terrible, make a cup of tea and draw a lovely hot bath, retire to bath with tea and a good book.
If it all gets too much at any point, take a break, put your feet up, do something else for a few minutes and come back to it... No cleaning is worth that much stress!
Now this post has made me sound delightfully middle-aged, but there we go!