19 cleaning jobs to do during twixmas

Santa might be on his bike, but there’s still work to be done (Picture: Getty)

The time between Christmas and New Year is always a bit strange. The excitement for the presents and dinner is over, but you’re off work and have New Year on the way.

It’s easy to get lost in a haze of leftovers, chocolates, and a few too many tipples – although this can only last so long before you feel very full and very sick.

Instead, why not blow away the cobwebs with some cleaning, so when the bells ring for the end of 2021 you’ve ticked off all the jobs you’ve been avoiding.

We’ve put together 19 ideas for oft-forgotten cleaning tasks, all of which are easy to do on their own or get through over the next few days.

1. Dust above your cupboards

Even those who dust religiously might forget the tops of cupboards and units.

Normally you don’t need much of a cleaner to dust, but these areas could be harbouring more grime than your standard shelves.

Using a ladder or step, get into a position where you can see the tops of your units, and first go over with a dry cloth (or try Pledge Dry Dusting Cloths, which are single use but pick up absolutely everything).

Once you’ve got rid of the dust, spray with an all-purpose cleaner or furniture polish and go over again with a fresh cloth. This will cut through any grease and dirt that may be lingering (particularly in kitchens).

2. Clean your washing machine

You’ll get the best out of your machine when it’s free from mould and standing water.

Pull out the drawers and use an old toothbrush and some warm water and washing up liquid to get that spick and span.

Next, open the filter at the bottom, ensuring you have a tray and some towels to catch any water that comes out. Give with a weipe with some all purpose cleaner and remove any fluff or mould that remains.

Once the drawer is dried off, put that back in. Finally, do an empty cycle with either a dishwasher tablet or some soda crystals in the drum. Good as new.

3. Strip your towels

Even freshly-washed towels can harbour build-up of dirt and fabric softener.

One way to ensure they’re still absorbent and back to their fluffy and clean best is to do something called a strip wash.

In the bath, put your towels and cover with warm water. Then, pour in borax substitute (you can’t buy borax here in the UK) as instructed on the box and use a stick to stir everything together.

Leave to cool, and prepare to be shocked by the dirt in the water. Drain, squeeze, and put on a wash (remembering to avoid fabric softener this time).

4. Freshen up rugs

Rugs are walked on all year round, and aren’t always cleaned apart from when you run the vacuum round.

Give it a deep clean by first shaking out – or hanging it on the washing line and bashing with a tennis racquet – to loosen dust and debris.

Use a carpet shampoo specific to the type of rug you have, working in with a brush until all stains are removed. Then, leave to dry and you’re good to go.

If your rug has a very deep pile or is shaggy, dry shampoo might do the job better.

5. Streamline your cupboards

With 2021 on its way, take the opportunity to go through your food cupboards and check all the use-by dates.

Once you’ve chucked everything that’s past its best, section everything into groups. Tins, jars, packets, and bottles is a good place to start.

You can also buy pantry organising tubs, extendable shelves, and turntables so everything is within easy reach.

6. Clear out kids’ toy boxes

If you have little ones, they’ll have probably been gifted a fair few new bits over Christmas.

Make a point to think about things they no longer play with (and aren’t mega attached to) and give items away to charity or to friends that are still in good condition.

While decluttering is good, keep hold of anything that ‘sparks joy’ and they might like to have as a keepsake as they get older – even if it’s not on the standard play rotation.

7. Organise your fridge and freezer

Do you really need that bag of frozen beetroot that’s been in the back of your freezer for eight years? Probably not.

Anything you know you’ll use but don’t have much left of, ensure you put it on your meal plan for the week or two ahead.

Any unlabelled items or things past their best are for the bin. Then, anything that’s still in good condition but you don’t think you’ll get through, use a tool like Olio to see if anyone in your area wants to pick it up.

8. Sweep outdoors

The indoor areas of our houses get plenty of attention, but rarely do we think to remove cobwebs or debris left outside.

Using a sturdy brush, sweep deckings or balconies. Give any railings or metalwork a quick wipe with some diluted disinfectant, and have a look to see how your plants are doing.

9. Vacuum behind furniture

Rather than sticking the long hose of your vacuum behind the sofa and hoping it picks up what lies beneath, pull stuff out if you can and give it a proper once-over.

Sprinkle over some carpet powder (like Shake ‘n’ Vac) before you get to work to freshen if you fancy.

10. Sort out your underwear drawer

Pants and socks are Christmas staples, but if you’re forcing them into an already full drawer it doesn’t have the same effect.

Throw away all underwear that doesn’t get worn (yes, even that really nice bra that’s been missing an underwire and you promise you’ll get fixed).

Use the Marie Kondo method to fold everything, which will leave you feeling like the most organised person who’s ever lived.

11. Clean the oven

After all the shelf-stacking and fat-warming madness of the Christmas dinner, your oven is likely to need a spruce-up.

You can buy a number of powerful oven cleaners, or simply make a paste with baking soda and water and scrub away.

Soak the racks in hot water (add some vinegar to loosen baked on grime) and leave to cool. This should help avoid too much elbow grease.

Alternatively, Elbow Grease cleaner will also get rid of any stains or dirt you have lurking.

12. Freshen up drains

Even if your drains run freely, prevention is better than cure when it comes to clogs.

Pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain, but don’t run any water.

Next, pour about the same amount of white vinegar down the drain and leave to sit for at least 15 minutes (you’ll see and hear it bubbling away at this point).

Finally, pour boiling water down, with a capful of scented disinfectant like Zoflora if you want to add a nice smell.

13. Repurpose your Christmas boxes

If you have loads of boxes and packaging lying around post-Christmas, you don’t necessarily need to put it all in the recycling.

You can wrap these old boxes in fabric or rope, turning it into storage for toys or pet supplies.

Alternatively, cut the plain cardboard into tag shapes to use on your gifts next year, create magazine racks out of cereal-box sized containers, or cut down for crafts you might do later on.

14. Organise your ‘junk drawer’

Old batteries, screwdriver heads, lighters, and spare parts for items you chucked long ago – these are the staple items in the ubiquitous ‘junk drawer’.

Use boxes and plastic tubs to sort out the items you want to keep, and bin off the rest. It’s an insanely freeing experience.

15. Wash your blinds

The type of blinds you have will factor in to how you clean them.

So will how bothered you are about the task, as you can either give them a wipe with a feather duster or go all-in and take them down for a deep clean.

Many fabric blinds can be soaked in the tub, but check online beforehand so you don’t get them tangled or loosen the dye.

16. Dust behind radiators

A good fluffy duster that gets into small areas is an invaluable tool. Get behind radiators and inside any nooks and crannies (while it’s turned off).

Do this before you run the vacuum round, picking up any residue left in the air. Some people also like to spray diluted fabric softener on their rads after cleaning, as this will dissipate a lovely scent round the house when warm.

17. Colour-code your book shelf

This is partly a cleaning exercise and partly organisational.

Pull out all your books, and starting from white, organise them in colour groups until you get to black.

Give them – and the shelves – a dust with some light polish as you go.

18. Empty and wash the vacuum

After all that dusting, your vacuum might look a bit worse for wear.

Give it some TLC by emptying it out, using a dry microfibre cloth to clean out the canister, and removing and washing it if your manufacturer’s instructions say you can (always check this, and make sure it’s totally dry before putting back).

Use a stitch picking tool – you might have got one in a cracker – to free any hair trapped in the brush of the vacuum head, and change or wipe out any filters.

Soon, your cleaning helper is ready to go once again.

19. Clean out the cleaning cupboard

Always the cleaner, never the cleaned, is the old adage of the cupboard or drawer where you store your cleaning products.

Put nearly-empty sprays and tubs at the front so they can be prioritised, and think about using storage containers to separate the products you use for each room. This will save you time in future.

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