Heal Your Home Clean

How deep cleaning can create a turnaround in the health of your home – and your enjoyment of it

Every now and then a story in the newspaper pops up about a sick building. The structure may be overgrown with mold or suffer from an abundance of radon gas. Fortunately most homes don’t have these kinds of afflictions, but many of them are sick. But, what they do suffer from is a lack of true, thorough cleaning and repair.

In the rush to get the next project done, ferry kids to soccer practice, or handle some household emergency, our homes suffer from attention deficit. That is, we don’t spend enough time with them simply making them clean and keeping them in good order. Sure, we pick up the big stuff, and the dishes get into the dishwasher, but when was the last time your home had your undivided attention? Can’t remember? If so, you might have a sick house on your hands.

A “sick house” can create all kinds of problems that range from actually making you sick, such as by the overabundance of dust that can irritate allergies, to making you sick of being there and wishing you were somewhere else. It can also be losing money, if repairs, such as water leaks, aren’t corrected. If you are sick of your house and looking for a change, consider healing your home with some transformative attention.

The metaphysics of clean Think about how wonderful your home felt as a child when you walked in the door after your mother had spent the day cleaning? Remember how all felt right with the world and how RELAXED it made you feel? This is the feeling to focus on. Yes, housework can be drudgery, but the act of doing it can give you a sense of accomplishment unlike any work project that never comes to completion can do.

What’s more, if you focus on the FEELING of how a well-attended house will affect you, the work becomes a pleasure. Then, when you attack your work happily, it’s amazing how fast and how well your progress comes along. And, afterwards, your family will be more relaxed, comfortable, and, yes, happy. Remember that? Your home needs you. You need it clean (and in good repair).

Still not convinced? Then take it from someone who has moved seven times in fourteen years. As a frequent mover, and a consultant to Realtors, I have seen terrible cases of Seller’s Remorse. This occurs when homeowners put their home for sale. They go to great lengths to get it in shape to sell with thorough cleanings, needed repairs, paint touch-ups, even landscaping. Then they see how with a little polish their chunk of coal turns into a real diamond, and they begin to regret that they didn’t put more attention into it all along. Some even take their house off the market.

But why put yourself through all the emotional highs and lows of putting your house on the market – or worse, not enjoying your home – when a little attention could make it into a place that you love. Make the time, and the effort, and your home will be healed, and you will be happy.

These tips can help you begin your home healing journey.

1.Play mind games and make deals with yourself if you have to. Sometimes motivation runs low and it’s hard to summon the energy to take on a big project. But don’t let that keep you from forging ahead. Set up rewards for yourself for milestones achieved (a take-out lunch for cleaning the garage, for example). Do whatever it takes to keep your focus on your tasks.

2.Pretend you are moving. If you aren’t sure what you need to do, just imagine that you are moving. Look at your house from the eyes of someone who might buy it. Then, proceed as if you were going to sell it in order to heal your home.

3.Involve everyone. Even a five-year-old can wipe baseboards and push a Swiffer around. Put your kids to work on picking up limbs and dead branches in the yard, emptying trash from each room (making sure to line the cans with plastic bags), and husbands can attack garages and make repairs. Or, tell your husband or son that vacuuming is indoor mowing.

4.Start outside. Pick up trash, limbs, dead plants, unused toys, etc. from the yard and around the house. Repair leaning shutters, dripping faucets, throw away leaking garden hoses and broken objects. Bleach or pressure wash sidewalks, driveways, and porches. Next, pressure wash the house and wash windows.

5.Make repairs. A house that leaks water not only loses money, it could also contribute to mold and mildew problems, attract termites, or all three. You can see how this seemingly small problem can create financial, health, and structural damage. Make small repairs and touch-ups so that your house not only looks good, it functions well, too. Don’t forget things such as burned out lightbulbs in outside fixtures, squeaking

6.Clean the seen. Yes, every surface should be wiped, dusted, and/or vacuumed (even mattresses!). Set pillows out in the sun to bleach and air out. Clean, clean, clean. Remember, before treating any wound, a doctor must clean it first before it can heal. It’s true of your home.

7.Clean the unseen. This means addressing the tops of cabinets, under beds, behind sofas, in closets, and behind headboards. One of the worst offenders is the bed. People don’t move the beds from the wall and vacuum behind them. This can create innumerable problems, including allergy and breathing difficulties that a simple vacuuming could eliminate.

Once a year, move sofas, beds, and furniture from the wall and clean behind here and underneath the furniture. At the very least, keep furniture a few inches from the wall so that you can get a vacuum extension in there regularly to keep the dust from accumulating. Move everything in every room – including the laundry room – to vacuum behind and under. Do you have any idea how much dust is lurking behind the DRYER?

8.Cook clean. The kitchen is the heart of every home and is the place where we can spread germs and dirt the easiest. Give the kitchen a thorough going over on a regular basis (at least quarterly). Wipe off shelves, throw away old food from the pantry and refrigerator, clean the oven, clean the coils of the refrigerator, and sweep and mop behind the stove and refrigerator.

Be sure to tackle the dark, mysterious regions under the kitchen sink. Once a week, be sure to clean out the utensil draw from the crumbs and assorted ick that accumulates with the cutlery. Last, tackle the refrigerator. Can you remember what it looks like? Is it the family bulletin board? Well, instead of the refrigerator, why not install a bulletin board?

9.Go to the top. Tops are another neglected area of the home. This can includes tops of doors, window sills, lighting fixtures, and pictures, all of which can attract a tremendous amount of dust. Dust can create problems for even the healthiest person.

10.Conduct a tchotchky-ectomy. Houses suffer from an over-abundance of STUFF. Some houses have too many plants and silk flowers. Others have a paper tumor that grows by the hour. Look around and determine what your house suffers from… too many bunny figurines? Sports schlock? If you have tons of tiny things on every conceivable surface, it’s time to clean house on all those dust magnets by donating them to a charity or your local garbage dumpster.

10. Climb the walls – and floors. Steam clean carpets, scrub tile, and give the wood floors some TLC. The walls should also be scrubbed. Get two buckets, one white, one blue or black. Fill the white one with water. Add cleaner to the white bucket. Dip your sponge or rag into the white bucket and wipe walls.

Then, squeeze out now dirty liquid in sponge into the black bucket. Dipping sponge into the white bucket, let the sponge absorb some liquid. Squeeze out again in the black bucket. Now you have a clean sponge. You don’t want to clean the walls with water that has dirt in it causing you to wipe the dirty water all over the walls. The black bucket is your dirty water bucket.

Lastly, don’t forget to wash or dry clean the bed and window coverings. These are also loaded with dust.

11. Let’s review, you’ve tackled……the outside of the house, windows, and yard…small repairs, paint touch-ups, and cleaned the garage…cleaned from out and under beds, furniture, and appliances…given the kitchen a thorough going-over…steamed carpets and wiped walls…corralled the out of control papers, knick-knacks, and assorted unused and underappreciated paraphernalia.

Now, enjoy your home and start planning the other thing you’ve put off: a vacation.