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Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house

28th February 2023
Redrow - Inspiration - Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house

Keeping on top of clutter is a battle all busy families face. And cleaning a cluttered house is so much harder than one where everything has a place. We’ve scoured around for the best decluttering and spring cleaning tips, so dust yourself down, and get ready to graft – we promise it will be worth it.

What exactly is clutter? 

Clutter is everything you no longer need, want or use in your home. It can also include essential items that find themselves without a designated storage place, and simply take up space on your surfaces or floors.

Decluttering involves clearing out all the belongings you can easily live without – or, as Marie Kondo advises, that don’t “spark joy”. Once they are removed, the aim is to give everything else a place of its own, saving you time and stress when you need to find it later.

Redrow - Inspiration - Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house - Home office

What is the fastest way to clean up a cluttered house?

If you’ve ever asked ‘how do you clean your house when you are overwhelmed?’ first, know that you’re not alone in feeling like this. It’s normal to feel swamped by work and family commitments, which can make an untidy house feel like a mountain to climb.

While calling in the experts and removing the entire contents of your home to a large warehouse would be ideal – as they do in TV shows like Stacey Solomon’s ‘Sort Your Life Out’ and Nick Knowles’ ‘Big House Clear Out’ – the reality is, most of us will need to handle our mess ourselves, and on a more manageable scale.

Our top decluttering tips are:

  • Make a list of all the rooms in your home then…
  • Take things one step (or room) at a time. Declutter the room first and spring clean second, ticking each room off your list as you go.
  • If you have very limited time, break each room down into even more manageable tasks. For example, you could tackle one wardrobe, cupboard or desk area in just half an hour.
  • If you’re planning to move home, start this process as early as possible, ideally before you put your house on the market, as a clean and clutter-free property should sell much faster.
Redrow - Inspiration - Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house - Wardobe with clothes

What should I remove first when decluttering?

Making a start is often the hardest step, but once you’ve begun letting go of the first few items, you will find it gets easier.

  • Start with the obvious things, like clothes you haven’t worn for a year, broken items, duplicates, and toys that are no longer played with.
  • Just like Stacey Solomon advises the families in her hit BBC One show; make separate piles (or fill bags or boxes) with things you want to keep, sell, donate or recycle.
  • Invest in storage units, filing systems and drawer organisers, that will help you return the things you do decide to keep to an appropriate place and help keep your home clutter-free long-term.
  • Sentimental items are among the most difficult to let go of, but keeping a smaller number of special possessions in a memory box is better than bags of old clothes, keepsakes and toys you or your children outgrew long ago. If they no longer serve a purpose, they may be stopping you from enjoying your present time in your home.
  • Our guide to simple storage hacks has more advice.

Dilly Carter, a professional declutterer, who appears alongside Stacey on ‘Sort Your Life Out’, provides tips on the BBC website. She said: “Pick one room at a time to focus on decluttering: Each room needs function, purpose and identity and it’s impossible to know what needs to be taken away if you are just looking at an overflowing space. So, before you tackle any area that you want to declutter, make sure you clear the space completely. Take everything away and look at the space itself as a blank canvas that can be whatever you want it to be.”

Redrow - Inspiration - Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house - Utility room

What you should not do when decluttering

Don’t assume everything is going to go back where you found it. Decluttering is not just about letting go of unnecessary items – it’s about reorganising the stuff you need to create a system that works for you. Once you’ve decided what to keep, think about the best place for it, which may be in a different room.

Dilly added: “Make sure that your daily use items are in prime and easy to reach locations: whilst storing the things you don’t use so often in more discreet, hidden away areas you can designate for overspill.”

How to spring clean your house? 

Once your house is clutter free, cleaning it should be so much easier. Again, it’s best to approach your cleaning spree one room at a time.

Natural products like white vinegar and baking soda can cut through grime as well as most expensive cleaning products and are kinder to the environment, so don’t feel you have to spend a fortune to spruce up your home. For example, baking soda is great for freshening up carpets and rugs – just cover any stains with the powder, spritz with a little water, leave overnight, and then vacuum the area well.

If you’re looking at how to spring clean your kitchen – lemon and vinegar can work well on glass and are also great for shiny surfaces like the inside of your fridge or the top of your hob. Add a little baking soda if you need to remove any tough marks. To loosen dirt and reduce odours in your microwave, heat a half-bowl of water, with a couple of slices of lemon or teaspoons of white vinegar until steaming. Then wipe with a damp cloth.

Another of Stacey’s co-presenters, cleaning expert Iwan Carrington, advises you to “Use your time wisely”. He said: “Most cleaning products only work effectively if they are given enough time, so consider allowing things to soak and leaving enough time for a product to work its magic. When I’m removing mould from bath sealant, I leave the bleach on overnight and prevent it from evaporating with cotton wool balls.”

Redrow - Inspiration - Top tips for cleaning a cluttered house - Living room with bay window

What is considered a deep clean for a house?

For most of us, full house spring cleaning is a once-a-year job. A deep clean includes all those places that are not on your daily, weekly or monthly list – things like insides and tops of cupboards, behind cabinets, underneath sofas and all those dark corners that are usually out of sight. It can also include the grimier and more time-consuming jobs like the inside of your oven. If it’s been a very long time since your last oven clean, it may be wise to invest in a specialist oven cleaning product, which usually comes with handy bags to soak your wire racks. For a moderately dirty oven, a paste made from baking soda and white vinegar should lift any stubborn grime. Leave it on for as long as you can – at least two hours – then remove the residue with a damp cloth.

Discover more with our storage hacks and cleaning tips by room.

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