Whether you have kids, pets or just a messy housemate or partner, your home can turn into a disaster area (like post-holidays!) before you know it. From dirty walls to unorganized closets to stained carpets and couches, every area of your abode is susceptible to disrepair. To keep things in check — and looking fresh — here are a few pre-emptive tips to make sure your place is at its best all year round.
1. Scotchgard your furniture
To protect fabric, furniture, and carpet from stains, Scotchgard is essential. You can purchase the treatment at virtually any store that sells cleaning products, and many furniture companies offer the protection for an additional fee before you take your new digs home. Scotchgarded furniture can be costly if you have the retailer do it for you (so if you’re pinching pennies, do it yourself), but it’s worth the fee to ward off having to replace or reupholster your couch and chairs before you need or want to.
2. Bust out the broom, duster, and mop
Nobody likes dusting, but it’s amazing how a good wipe down of electronics, art, and decorative items can restore a room to its original shine. Likewise, a sweep of the floor followed by a serious mopping can give the place an immediate aura of clean. The lemon-fresh scent doesn’t hurt either.
3. Use bleach in the bathroom
There’s nothing more powerful or potent than bleach. It gets your whites whiter, but it’s also a critical cleaning agent to remove mildew and prevent mold in the bathroom. Tile grout can get gross quickly, especially around the tub, which makes it essential to attack the problem areas with bleach once a month before too much gunk builds up. To protect yourself from the fumes, open windows and turn on the exhaust. To keep your clothes from getting stained, get naked and clean the shower while you’re taking one. Two birds, one stone.
4. Wipe down the walls
If you think dust, dirt, and grime are only on your floors, furniture, and appliances, you’re wrong. Inspect your walls and baseboards, and you’ll see stains that will make you scratch your head. How did they get there? Who knows, but a quick wipe down with a rag, soap, and water will restore your walls to pristine condition. Avoid chemical cleaners at all costs in this area careful because some of them can strip the paint right off — a preventable problem you don’t need.
5. Put things away habitually
Even if your home is “clean,” it won’t seem that way if you have odd items like clothing, newspapers and magazines, and dishes lying around everywhere. For some, this is a hard habit to break, but making it a point to put your stuff where it belongs will keep your place guest-ready at all times, prevent unwanted intrusions from pests, and free up your time since you won’t have to schedule time to do what you should have done throughout the week.
6. Windex your mirrors and glass
Fingerprints, toothpaste, and dust seemingly appear on your mirrors, windows and other glass out of nowhere. A paper towel and a few spritzes of glass cleaner go a long way to maintain their natural sparkle. And don’t forget about framed artwork when you’re in a glass-attacking mode, an often-overlooked necessity in making your home cultured, but also clean and comfortable.
7. Clean out your closets every six months
Yes, every six months. Get rid of old clothes; donate dust-collecting electronics and media, like CDs and DVDs; and sell any unwanted-but-still-valuable items on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, or local marketplace apps like Letgo. Fold your clothes and place them neatly in the closet. Buy organizers to hide shoes and accessories. Chaos only breeds more chaos; you’ll feel better about your space when everything is tidy and in its place.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.