Cleaning the house is a big part of desi festivals, and it is daunting and time-consuming. Juggling responsibilities at home and at work can make festive cleaning a boring and stressful chore, but planning your way through it can make it less overwhelming and more productive. Three weeks are all it will take for you to get your home neat, clean, and decorated for the big day – here’s how you can go about it!
Your bedroom is your happy space – conquer that first! Cleaning your bedrooms in the first week will cut down your work considerably – completing the tedious tasks initially will leave the last few days before the big day open for other things, like preparing festival food and setting up your puja room. Here’s a step-by-step approach to getting your bedrooms festive-ready.
1. Identify key areas you want to clean.
Each of your bedrooms will have areas that you’ll want to clean in particular, and they will most likely be common across all of them – the bed, cupboard, dressing table, mirrors, windows, ceiling fan, and curtains. Keeping a note of these areas will help you decide where you want to start first, and you can follow this route with the other rooms too!
2. Clear out all the surfaces, and dust first.
Before you get to cleaning each individual element, take a dusting cloth or a feather duster and start with brushing off the dirt that has already accumulated on various surfaces and in different parts of the room. Dust all around the room, over each and every surface you can see – make sure to leave your windows open so the dust gets out! Also, remember to keep all the items that are out in the open inside a cupboard, before you begin dusting. You can put them back in their places once the surfaces are squeaky clean. Take your curtains down before dusting too.
Tip: Take the bedsheet off the bed and dust your mattress thoroughly. If you’re not looking to dust your mattress, cover your bed with an old bedsheet or a large plastic cover so the dust doesn’t settle on it.
3. Memorise the process: soapy water + clean water + dry cloth.
Remember to keep two buckets of water ready before you start off with your dusting: one with soapy water to clean the dirt, grime and marks off, and one with clean water to wipe off the soap.
Start by using a good quality sponge brush (dipped in the soapy water) to help clean the dirt off different surfaces – do not go for metal scrubbers as they can leave marks! When cleaning off the soapy water, dip the cleaning cloth in clean water after each wipe so that the soap comes off completely. To be safe, repeat the dip-and-clean method at least three times to thoroughly get the soap off. The last step in this process is to clean the surface with a dry cloth. A good cotton cloth is ideal – this will make sure no water stains remain on the surface after it is dry. To make sure all the soap is gone, run your finger across the surface for a squeaky sound. If you hear it, the surface is clean!
Use this cleaning method for your floor, cupboards, ceiling fan blades, dressing tables and bookshelves, mirrors and windows, and pretty much any non-electronic surface. Remember to turn off the electrical supply before cleaning your appliances.
Tip: To get squeaky clean windows and mirrors, dry them off with newspapers instead of cotton cloth. It works miraculously!
4. Use this process to declutter.
You can easily declutter your space while cleaning your bedrooms! Since you are going to empty most surfaces while cleaning, simply toss the items you don’t need into one box and keep it aside. You can give those items away later.
You can clean one room at a time throughout the week. If you want to break this process down further, leave the mirrors and windows for the weekend and finish the rest of the cleaning during the weekdays! Also, use this opportunity to set up any lights you want in the room before the festival.
A great way you can go about cleaning your bedroom (or any room, for that matter) is by starting from top to bottom – for example, clean your ceiling fan blades first so that the dust falls to the ground, which you will clean last – that way, you won’t have to clean one surface over and over!
It’s time to get your new sheets out! Change your curtains, bedsheets, bed covers and pillow covers once you’re done cleaning the bedroom. This will enhance the look of your now-clean room!
Don’t forget to clean out the smallest corners of your room – the windowsill, for example, gathers a great amount of dust which usually settles in the sliders and other crevices. You can use a small brush to get the dirt out. An old, hard-bristled toothbrush can do the trick too!
Get your kids to help out by handing them items and letting them put them back in their places when setting up. Encourage them by giving them extra TV time or some pocket money for each task – that will take some of the load off your back!
If possible, finish the dusting and cleaning before your domestic help comes in for the day. That way, all the dirt and dust collected on the floor from your cleaning can be taken care of by them!
Bathrooms are not very time-consuming to clean, but they need care too – dirty bathrooms can cause health issues. Here’s how you can go about getting them festive-ready.
1. Empty the bathroom beforehand.
Before you start cleaning your bathroom, make sure you empty the cabinets, drawers, and shelves so you can freely wash each and every surface well. To make sure you don’t end up wasting too much time reorganising, keep all the products that belong on one shelf together. That way, you can put them back in their place without a second thought.
2. Do not mix different chemicals together.
We cannot stress this enough – don’t mix different products together! A lot of these chemicals, on coming together, can react and let out poisonous fumes that can have dangerous consequences. Remember to read instructions of use carefully, and only use the recommended amount!
Tip: Use warm water to clean out the soap/chemicals from your bathroom floors and tiles.
3. Go for homemade cleaning products.
In homes with toddlers running around, there’s always a fear that they might accidentally ingest harmful substances if it gets within their reach somehow. To rid yourself of this fear, go for DIY cleaning products. They are natural, homemade, and get the job done with minimal consequences. Here’s a simple DIY bathroom tile cleaner you can make:
Mix these ingredients together and transfer the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray this on your tiles, toilet or sink, and scrub. Your bathroom will be clean in no time!
Another simple homemade cleaning product is a mixture you can make with lemon and coarse salt. Rub some lemon and coarse salt on dirty faucets to get rid of hard water stains and rust.
4. Remember this simple organising hack.
You can organise your bathroom cabinet while you’re cleaning it! Just remember this one hack that will save you a little time – on the back label of your product, you may be able to see a small logo of a tin that says ‘6M’, ‘12M’ or ‘24M’. This means that your product is good for use up until those many months from the date on which you open it. The number stands for the number of months, and the M stands for ‘months’. This tip is just in case you can’t find the expiry date on your product!
5. Beautify your bathroom.
Your bathroom is low-maintenance, so the decorating aspect will also be simple! If you have a basin that is attached to a counter, beautify the counter with some potpourri and scented candles; but if that sounds like a lot of work, plug in an essential oil diffuser! For another fun change, you can simply change the light bulb from your usual white to a diffused yellow. Yellow lighting might match the multi-coloured lights you will have on during the festival! To make your bathroom look super organised for any guests you may have on the big day, fold your towels and put them on towel racks instead of bars. They will be easily accessible when needed.
Ditch the plastic toothbrush stands and containers and go for metal and wicker baskets instead. They have a more rustic, homely vibe.
Stocking up your bathroom with some organic soaps, body washes and shampoos instead of chemically-laden ones will not only make it look aesthetically pleasing, but using them can be great for your skin and hair as well!
If you have guests staying over at your house during the time of festivities, make sure you have a small hamper in the bathroom where they can dump their used clothes.
Get your bathroom a good-looking bath mat – make the entrance to the bathroom attractive!
You can get your kids involved in bathroom cleaning duties as well – turn it into a fun water fight! Just make sure your children are old enough to not play around with chemicals, if you are using any, and that they don’t get hurt accidentally.
Your kitchen and living room will be the stars of the show – one is where you cook, and the other, entertain. These spaces need to be spick and span right up until the days of the festivities, which is why attending to them last is a great idea. Here’s how you can dazzle your guests with a beautiful kitchen and living room.
1. Start with the tough stains.
Whether it’s your gas stove, your kitchen counter, or your chimney, grime and dirt are hell to clean off – especially if you’re doing it after a long time! These stubborn stains require quite a bit of attention, so that’s exactly what you should do. Take your regular grime/stain solution and apply it liberally all over the areas you want clean, scrub them well and leave the solution on for a good 20 minutes. While the solution works its magic, you can focus on other aspects of your kitchen. Once done, you can wash everything off in one go!
Tip: Clean your microwave in no time. In a bowl of warm water, squeeze a lemon and put it in the microwave and heat it for one minute. The stains will loosen up – clean them off with a cloth!
2. Clear out all your utensils.
While the grime solution is doing its job, take out all your utensils and keep them out of the kitchen area. You could keep them out on your dining table and cover them with a large plastic cover or cloth, or in the living room till you’re done! To make life easier, keep all the utensils that belong in one drawer together. This is a great time to rid your kitchen of old plastic containers and bottles you don’t need anymore – this will clear up some space!
3. Go from top to bottom.
Always remember, when you’re cleaning out your kitchen, start from the top! First, clean the top shelves and cabinets, dust and scrub the walls, and then move to the kitchen counter and go down to the drawers and floor. This will make sure no dirt falls on to a surface after you’ve cleaned it.
4. Scrub, scrub, scrub.
The only way to make your kitchen shine bright is by scrubbing every nook and corner. Kitchens are a sensitive zone – there’s always a fear of rodents and pests sneaking around, so it’s best to clean everything well. Use the soapy water + clean water + dry cloth system we mentioned earlier to clean your messy kitchen.
Tip: Use the rough part of your sponge to scrub the grimy kitchen tiles to avoid marks, and use metal scrubbers for your stove, chimney and counters!
5. Declutter your refrigerator.
When cleaning out your fridge (use the top-to-bottom method here too!), note the expiry dates of all the packaged goods and throw the expired ones away! Then, keep all the products that are nearing expiry at eye level or in the front so that you can use those first and then move on to the newer, fresher ones. Make sure that you switch off your gas and electricity supply before you start cleaning your kitchen.
Tip: Collect all the old plastic containers, cups and bottles you get while cleaning and take them to your local raddi wala. You’ll end up making a bit of money!
6. Organise your utensils according to when you will need them.
Since festive cooking is around the corner, you will need some utensils you don’t usually use during the rest of the year – large pots and pans, large ladles, kadais and so on. When you’re setting up after cleaning the kitchen, keep these utensils in a dedicated drawer. That way, you won’t have to search far and wide to find that one big, specific kadai you need to make halwa in. Do the same thing for your regular utensils if you’re looking for a complete change!
To get your cleaning process organised in the living room, scroll back up to Week 1 – that’s what you’ll follow here too! Here are other things to keep in mind:
1. Cover your electronics with plastic.
Your TV, stereo, and speakers will need protection when you’re doing a round of dusting, so make sure you have some thick plastic covers that you can use to cover them. Make sure to disconnect and switch off everything you need to – electricity supply included!
2. Clean your living room at the very end.
Your living room area can be an extra space where you keep all your kitchen material when you’re cleaning it – after all, kitchens always have a lot of stuff! Once you’ve restored all your kitchen items in their place, you can move on and start with the living room.
With this comprehensive cleaning guide, you will be a hundred per cent ready to welcome your favourite festival. Diwali is meant to be spent with your loved ones – you don’t want to be stuck cleaning the house at the last minute while everyone is having fun! So, why wait? It’s not as daunting as you believe, especially now that you have this list! Set your dates and get cleaning – trust us, it’ll be a breeze!
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