These days cleaning and organizing have become an obsession, with hordes of Hinchers houses all looking pristine, immaculate, and as if they’ve not been lived in. Kid’s toys are hidden away, and spaces are filled with plastic flowers and production-line vases and trays.
We are now judged on the contents of our cleaning cupboards. We are encouraged to call our cleaning cloths by different names and spray our carpets with a ridiculous amount of carpet fresheners.
We pour more stuff down our loos than we should, instead of cleaning them.
We are encouraged to spray copious amounts of chemicals into our homes to get that freshly cleaned home smell.
There are tips, tricks, and hacks to help you cut corners instead of doing the hard graft.
Facebook groups have popped up everywhere, and it a place for scores of mothers and women to judge each other for what they do or don’t do. It truly is sole destroying. I created a Facebook group where people feel safe to share the worst of their homes without being judged, and it’s a place where they can seek help and support without any snarky comments or jibes. You can join our friendly little Facebook group here.
My post today is not to scorn or slag off this way of cleaning, but to try to bring some perspective to the art of cleaning.
Think of it like seeing those influencers on the TV, whose perfect bodies are filtered and airbrushed until they do not resemble the person in real life at all.
Well, it’s the same with these cleaning accounts. I’m sure their home is tidy a lot of the time, but I highly doubt it’s like that all of the time. Do they show photos of real life? Probably not.
We get encouraged to buy the products that promise to change our lives and arrange them into little baskets for the morning, afternoon, and before bedtime refresh. The stark reality of it all is, that most of these products don’t clean your home. They mask the problem and leave you with a bigger problem in the long run.
1. Carpet fresheners
Let’s take these carpet fresheners, for instance. Rather than the good old shake and vac that used to get vacuumed up straight away, we are encouraged to spray these on our carpets and leave them to sit on the surface. We then allow our family to tread them into the carpet for a while, perhaps even for a day before vacuuming it back up again. So, the moisture, chemicals, and dirt are getting ground into the carpet’s fibers and sticking together. Surely the less you can add to your carpet, the better? If you want to freshen up your room, open some windows, wash some throws, launder the pet bedding and dust your surfaces. Stop adding sticky crap to your carpets to create a fresh smell. You’re storing up trouble for yourself in the long run.
2. Buying hundreds of products.
In the 50’s we didn’t need hundreds of products to clean our homes. We got by with the bare minimum. Most of todays products come with a big promise but don’t deliver. Take bleach, for instance. Yes, it kills germs but does it clean? No, you have to do that by scrubbing. If you don’t, it will just bleach the dirt in your loo but will not remove it. So, your toilet ring will keep coming back. If you’re wondering how to clean a toilet without using bleach, I run through it here with you.
Check out this post to see what basic cleaning products you can use to clean your whole home without having a Narnia-like bottomless pit of products that become a collection. If you’re a sucker for cleaning products, stick with a few items that you love and that you know work. Don’t be fooled by the hype you’ll save yourself a fortune!
3. Surface cleaning.
A lot of these cleaning hacks are only surface cleaning and making things shiny. That’s easy with today’s high gloss work surfaces, but what about cleaning the skirting boards and behind the loo? As an ex-professional cleaner, if I cleaned the way they do on these Instagram accounts I’d have been fired within a week! Cutting corners is no replacement for good old-fashioned scrubbing and cleaning. To keep a home clean, you need to get down on your hands and knees and clean!
While these homes look perfect, I’d like to see a shot after they’ve been working all week and the husband and kids have been running riot in the house. I’d like to see the spot where they kick off their shoes and drop their coat on the floor. I want to see their real life. Because unless you live on your own, every room will not be perfect all of the time. We have a real home that we live in with other messy people who drop shit everywhere. That is our reality. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to an over-edited snapshot of a corner of someone else’s non-reality.
I’ll give you an example: The headshot I use in all my blog pages, and my social media, was taken in a hurry. I’m not great at selfies, but I knew it had to be done and didn’t have the money to pay to get it done professionally. My hair was greasy, and I was dressed in a pair of baggy joggers and a sloppy t-shirt. What did I do? I pulled a dress over the top and joggers, stuck a clip in my hair, and put some bright red lippy on. The result? I don’t look great, but it was better than the reality! I faked it, and I made it seem like I was something that I wasn’t, and that’s probably what the majority of these cleaning accounts are doing too. These homes look immaculate and not lived in, but I bet they are not, not all of the time!
5. False smells.
We keep getting advised to spray stuff into the air to make our homes smell good. Meanwhile, our kids and pets are breathing in all that crap. It’s a waste of money, and it’s dreadful for the environment. If you want your home to smell clean, open the windows, and change the air! A clean home shouldn’t smell of cleaning products, it should smell of fresh air!
6. A multitude of cloths
Hinchers are encouraged to buy different cloths and sponges for everything. Use color-coded cloths to prevent cross-contamination. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a different cloth to use on the kitchen sink than you would on the kitchen surfaces. All you need is some color-coded surface cloths and glass cloth to clean your whole house! Using wipes is dreadful for the environment and should be avoided at all costs. A microfiber cloth soaked in disinfectant or soapy water will work better than any pre-packed wipe! Keep a green scrubby and a non-scratch scrubby for tougher jobs and, of course, a scrubbing brush to tackle floors. To read how to speed up your cleaning without spending a fortune on products; read this post.
7. Spending a fortune on stuff we don’t need.
We are encouraged to spend a fortune to have the same replica of these accounts in our own homes. The jar of false flowers in the glitzy vase to balance on the cooker. Who has time to remove that each time they cook? The tray with a candle and a book balanced on the side of the footstool (my kids would cause a fire every time they walked into a room.) These things aren’t practical in the midst of our chaotic lives. Yes, they are great for singletons and show homes but not the rest of us! What happens when fashion changes? It all goes to the landfill, and people just by more. Keep your style classic and timeless, and you’ll save a ton of money!
8. Writing lists about lists!
Write one list and laminate it. Tick it off as you go, and this will save you time. You don’t need to spend hours creating the perfect checklist every day. Most jobs stay the same each day and week. You just need some space at the bottom to add the extra jobs like buying a birthday card or your shopping list.
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So, there we have it, that’s what I find unhelpful about all these influencers and their perfect homes. It’s the lack of transparency that can be damaging to those who are struggling to keep their homes decluttered and clean. It can be soul-destroying to compare yourself to the airbrushed and filtered pictures of the perfect home. Take a step back and remember that your priority should be a clean, comfortable space for your family. Somewhere for them to play and to relax, to have friends around and entertain. As long as you can provide that for your family you’re doing ok.
There’s nothing wrong with being house proud but comparing yourself to others can be very unhealthy and you can find yourself trying to keep up with unrealistic goals. You can end up feeling like you’re not good enough and defeated. Try to remember that most people do not have a home like that or Instagram would be teaming with them. Most of us have homes like yours, sometimes they are tidy, sometimes they are not, but that’s ok! Stop comparing yourself to the Hinchers!