The Clean Freaks’ Dilemma

There is little more disheartening than how quickly a house becomes dirty again after you have cleaned it. It seems like mere seconds between stepping back from a pristine surface and it’s suddenly covered once more in fingerprints and smears. It can feel like a thankless task – and one you’re never really going to win.

You are then faced with two choices if you’re a neat freak who wants their home to be looking as good as possible for as long as possible.

Option 1: You continue to go through the constant cleaning routine, feeling like you can never catch up, and that the cleanliness of your house will always revert to the laws of entropy. It will always return to chaos.

Option 2: You decide to make some changes that make the general upkeep of your home easier on you.

If you’re in any way thinking straight (and not already wondering about wiping down the kitchen surfaces for the eighth time), then the answer is pretty simple: option two. Life is just far too short to have to feel like you are in a perpetual cycle of cleaning, one that you will never truly be able to satisfy.

Of course, making the decision to update some areas of your home is not one that anyone with perfectionist tendencies takes lightly. The simple fact is that you will have to create more mess in the initial instant; there’s never been a home renovation yet that didn’t reduce some sections of a household to being coated with a thin layer of dust. However: you can knuckle through this. The change will be worth it.

With your mind set and the debate over short term discomfort versus long term benefits settled, the question then becomes: when changes are going to work?

Scratches: The Enemy of Cleanliness

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There are several areas of your home that can be prone to scratches, but none are so worrying as those you find in the kitchen. Work surfaces, the sink, even oven counter tops tend to be vulnerable from a stray knife or a knock with the frying pan. The reason these scratches are so much more problematic than the ones that occur in the rest of the house is simple: bacteria.

You may have heard that there’s thousands more bacteria living on the average kitchen sponge than there is on a toilet seat – it’s an oft-quoted fact. Even the most rigorous of sponge-cleaning techniques is not going to get rid of them all. You then use that sponge to wipe down the sink – and those bacteria immediately find a friendly hidey-hole in the depth of a scratch. One that standard cleaning might skip over due to its indentation.

So getting rid of scratches in the most prone areas of your kitchen is an essential. You can repair them if they are not too severe, but if your kitchen is more than five years old, you might find it simpler to just commit yourself to buying a kitchen sink and surfaces. At least that way you’re not relying on your at-home bodge to prevent nasty bugs setting up holiday homes in scratches.

Door Handles & Light Switches: Fingerprints Galore

Light switches and door handles are parts of your home that are designed to be touched. That’s their function. You can accept the necessity of that. What you can’t accept is how filthy they get in such a short period of time.

In fact, not only does the switch itself get dirty with the grime of a thousand flicks, but so does the surrounding paintwork. Even if you are always careful to touch the switch and only the switch, that doesn’t mean the rest of your household play ball!

Firstly, consider metal or plastic light switch surrounds. These are easy to clean – especially if you get them in dark colors – and are meant to protect paintwork from this exact issue. For the switch itself, consider switching from the standards of plastic, chrome, or gold plate, and instead go for a brushed nickel. There’s still plenty of style points to be won and the brushed effect on the metal won’t show up the same level of problems as the aforementioned options.

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The same applies for door handles: brushed metal is always the best material for these areas. It’s also generally easier to keep full handles rather than small knobs clean. It’s relatively easy to replace these, so make the switch to handles wherever possible.

Cleaning Products: Could They Be Making Things Worse?

Reading the above, for a clean freak, is akin to being told that one of your closest friends have betrayed you. However, if you’re finding cleaning maintenance tiresome, then you have to look at all suspects.

For the most part, cleaning products will do exactly as you intend them to do: make life better. However, overuse can lead to residue and buildup – especially if you don’t clean every single droplet of them away each time. You might think you’d never miss something so fundamental, but spray bottles disperse their contents over a wide area – some may be landing outside of your sight.

This residue then attracts dirt and dust, making everything ultimately worse than when you began. It’s worth a switch to a simpler cleaning regime for a week to see if this might be an issue for you. Use simple, traditional cleaning products with relatively few ingredients; we’re talking sugar soap, bicarb and vinegar here – really basic materials. Stay away from anything that has a long list of ingredients, most of which are chemical names you’d need an advanced PHD to understand.

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While the simple products might not be as effective in the cleaning itself, they won’t leave any residue behind thanks to their basic nature. They will get the job done, but it might take a bit more elbow grease.

If after your week of experimentation you notice that there’s less buildup and dirt isn’t gathering so quickly, then your problem might have been your products. You can continue to use them, but set aside a couple of days per month for a deep clean to remove any residue your usual sweep might miss.

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