Shaking the house down

Have a look outside right now and you'll be forgiven for thinking that warmer weather is never going to grace our planet again.

Two highly efficient storms have done their job with such clinical precision recently that the country is beginning to feel like it's gone 12 rounds with Tyson Fury. Except the fight was in a blizzard and also underwater.

But fear not. Spring is most certainly on the way (about three weeks to be exact) and despite that it may feel like we are living in Superman's Fortress of Solitude, this time of year is a great chance to get your home and yourself ready for the year ahead.

According to research, the practice of 'Spring Cleaning' can be traced back to the Iranian 'Nowruz', or the Persian New Year. Today, many Iranians still practice 'khaneh tekani' or 'shaking the house' where everything in the home is thoroughly cleaned. Floors, cupboards, furniture, curtains. Everything.

Here, in the UK, its origins come from the days when our homes were mainly heated by fireplaces, and efforts were made to prevent heat from escaping. The coming of spring and warm weather was an opportunity to air the house and clean it of soot and all the dirt that built up over the winter months.

However, as homes became more modern and central heating became the norm, our cleaning habits changed and the need for 'shaking the house' fell down the pecking order of priorities.

According to a recent BT survey, 85% of us now believe that the annual spring clean could be a thing of the past, with less than half of 2,000 respondents admitting that they still do a yearly deep clean of their homes. 37% revealed that they do it every few years and 20% said that they never bother at all.

Mess and clutter are proven to have a direct impact on your mood and can be very stressful. Another poll on found that less than 10% of respondents live in a clutter-free home, and over a third live in surroundings so cluttered that they don’t even know where to begin cleaning.

Aside from the obvious benefits, having a bloody good declutter does wonders for your own well-being. There have been countless studies that suggest that the actual process of cleaning your house helps you to feel more positive, alleviating stress, with some of the benefits coming from the process of cleaning and some from the end results of your efforts.

This year, National Spring Cleaning Week (yes, it's a thing) runs from 2nd-8th of March and is a brilliant opportunity to give you and your home a little TLC.

So, if you're one of the 20% who has never bothered to give your home a thorough shake-down and feel like you're missing out, here are a few basic top tips to get you started.

1: Clean room-by-room

Seems obvious, but breaking ANY problem into bite-sized pieces is always the best method. Not only room by room, but make sure you start from the top of the room and work downwards, leaving the hoovering until last.

2: Declutter

Sometimes you just have to be ruthless in your approach to decluttering and reorganising your home. A handy tip is to put every item into four basic categories. Rubbish, give away, store or put away.

Rubbish: Speaks for itself really. Anything you don’t want to keep that is unsuitable for selling or passing on. Anything broken. Rubbish. Come on, you all know what rubbish is.

Give Away (or even better – sell): Anything you haven't used for a while that still works but you no longer want. A perfect opportunity to make a few quid in the process.

Store: Any items that you cannot part with but don't need on a regular basis. Making an inventory of the items as you box them up is a great idea. Group similar items together.

Put Away: Your smallest category. Any items that you need on a regular basis should be here. Try to determine if everything has a home without cluttering the place back up. If it does cause clutter, do you really need it?

3: Go back to basics

There are a dizzying amount of cleaning products, potions and specialist equipment on the market today. It can be overwhelming and also counter-productive because if you start to buy everything in the shop to clean your house you will end up causing more clutter. Don't get sucked in by clever marketing and celebrity endorsements here – stick to the basics. A good all-purpose cleaner, microfibre cloths and elbow grease will serve you well.

There is even a plethora of information online if you wish to go down the homemade cleaner route (a bowl of water and a few drops of fresh lemon juice to clean your microwave is my top pick).

4: Don't be a hero

Unless you live on your own, the mess in your home is probably not all your fault. Most of it maybe, but certainly not all. Get everyone involved in making your home a less messy and cleaner place to live. Hand out the feather dusters, assign a room to everyone and meet in your newly cleaned kitchen at half-time for a cuppa. Don't try and tackle a spring clean on your own if you don't have to.

5: Form new habits (good ones)

Once your home has been given the luxury of a proper spring clean, you will want to keep it that way. Rather than wait until you need to do another mammoth shake-down of your house, basic15-minute cleaning practices every couple of days, including a series of one or two-minute jobs, can make a massive difference and keep your home clean and tidy all year long.

So there you have it. Spring cleaning is both good for your home and good for your general wellbeing. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a mop with my name on it.

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