As we step into the new year, it is time for a proper clean up: a belt-and-braces, chuck-away-everything-and-start-from-scratch blitzkrieg to make you feel back in control. Because who hasn’t experienced the life-affirming satisfaction of transforming a domestic bombsite into a pristine haven of good intentions? Tidy home, tidy mind and all that.
Well, let’s face it, it’s time to tidy both. The New You you’re planning to roll out for this year won’t thrive for long if they’re surrounded by mounds of shrivelled chocolate wrappers.
But if the prospect still feels too daunting — especially after days of over-indulging — you may need to ascertain what type of cleaner you are.
Because it’s no longer enough just to waft a feather duster and hope for the best: cleaning has now become “a thing”, in the sense that people don’t just get on with it behind closed doors — they discuss it online, and post endless pictures and videos.
Netflix has even made a show about it: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo — which, despite its less-than promising title, has become a major hit and is the sort of series we will find ourselves inexplicably glued to (despite resolving to get off the sofa).
Watching a stranger’s house being tidied is perhaps the obvious next step in small-screen iterations of our home lives, given the popularity of cooking and interiors shows.
But which of the cleaning tribes do you truly belong to?
The Kondo fans
Every so often, a non-fiction book sparks a minor revolution, bringing us a newfangled (read: impossible) diet or a self-help method that will make us feel euphoric — for a few days at least.
In 2014, this spread to the unlikely territory of tidying. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by the Japanese author Marie Kondo has sold more than five million copies worldwide and, as the new Netflix series suggests, her popularity is yet to wane.
Kondo’s stated mission — to “spark joy in the world through cleaning” — may sound as reasonable as a plan to end wars by unblocking bathroom sinks, but you’d be surprised.
So how does it work? According to the KonMari philosophy, anything that doesn’t make you happy or isn’t absolutely necessary should be jettisoned — but not before you’ve touched and thanked it, naturally. There’s also a lot of folding things into small parcels and aligning them neatly in drawers.
You may doubt how much joy all this can realistically deliver. But you should also know this: “The KonMari Method will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change,” the book blurb promises.
“You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want.
“You will also have the courage to move on from the negative aspects of your life: you can recognise and finish a bad relationship; you can stop feeling anxious; you can finally lose weight.”
In other words, take that ugly cardigan you keep in the back of the wardrobe “just in case” to the charity shop, and world domination will soon be yours.
The Hinch army
In less than 12 months, Sophie Hinchliffe has gone from Essex hairdresser to uber-influencer, racking up 1.4 million followers on her “Mrs Hinch” Instagram account and a lucrative book deal.
Hinch Yourself Happy: All the Best Cleaning Tips to Shine Your Sink and Soothe Your Soul promises to offer readers “clever cleaning tips” for “a calmer you”. Note once again the correlation of cleaning with mental well-being — because few of us can honestly say we don’t feel Zen when spraying the bleach cleanser down the loo.
To be fair, the 28-year-old’s tips go far beyond this. They involve advanced-level techniques such as removing scuff marks from white doors by sticking a scourer into a mixture of fabric conditioner and water and rubbing in a circular motion. Or pouring soda crystals and vinegar down the kitchen sink to both unblock it and make everything smell delightful.
It’s like having a young, glamorous-looking version of your grandmother giving you life lessons through the internet. Strangely compelling stuff.
Hard to believe it, but there are some people in this world who don’t have time to fold everything into microscopic parcels or mess about with soda crystals in their down time. Fortunately for these people, there is a third way.
Debora Robertson’s book Declutter provides a “get-real guide to creating calm from chaos.” As Robertson accurately observes, “It’s the nature of modern life that new possessions flood into our homes all the time.”
So what can you do about it? You are going to be realistic about what you can achieve in a particular space of time, set quick and attainable tidying tasks, and give them your full attention. And you’re going to reward yourself for all your hard work.
We like the sound of this one. Especially the bit about rewards.
The fun polishers
Also known as television’s Lynsey Crombie, this self-styled cleaning guru, with 95,300 Instagram followers, wants to bring the fun back into cleaning.
We’re not sure when the fun was ever there in the first place but, wait — polishing your cutlery with a potato? Now that does sound like a laugh. See also: using half a lemon to tackle limescale.
We say: Are you sure you want to fritter a beverage on removing stains from the carpet?
She says: “Let’s make your palace shine.”
Of course, if you have small children, most of the above will be futile. The second you’ve decluttered the life out of your house and rubbed everything with a potato, they’re guaranteed to trample mud through the kitchen and upend a box of Lego down the stairs. Whoever launches a service to fix that will surely land themselves upon a gold mine.
The Daily Telegraph