Wednesday, 11 April 2012

spring cleaning part 1 - book review

I'm a self confessed neat freak and one of those people who actually likes cleaning. This might seem odd to some people, but I'm happiest when my home is clean and tidy and looking its best. It should be no surprise therefore that I'm a fan of Spring cleaning. I like to give the flat a through deep clean in the Spring (and Autumn) Not only do I know everything's super clean, but it also makes the day to day upkeep easier and less time consuming for the rest of the year.
This is really a two part post, in this one I'm reviewing a re-issue of a book whose subtitle is 'Quick and Easy Ways to Keep Your Home Tidy, Clean and Beautiful' and the next post will have Spring cleaning tips and recommended products.

Image source: Amazon

Rachel Simhons book was originally branded 'The Housewife's Handbook' but thankfully it's had a name change because that sounded awful and lets face it, even if you are female and at home all day, does anyone really describe themselves as a housewife these days? The Home Handbook is far more encompassing and a much better description of what is is, a reference guide in the lost art of housekeeping and how to run the modern home. I think that housekeeping, and Spring cleaning is a bit of a lost art, a notion the author shares:

"Spring cleaning is an ancient and noble tradition"

I also agree with the back cover blurb lamenting how we have lost the knack of looking after our own homes and in the introduction she rightfully asserts that are homes are, or contain, the most expensive things in our lives and having worked hard to acquire them, why ruin them by improper care? Excuse me while I get on my high horse for a minute, but I believe basic home economics should be mandatory in schools, why educate pupils in pure sciences if they can't grasp the science of every day life? Anyway, I digress...

Some of us were born tidy (my mother will attest, that despite her best efforts, I was not) some come to tidiness later in life, and some never at all. Whatever your opinion of housework though, it's one of life's necessities and as with most things, if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right. This book is for both the super messy looking to break the habit and the super tidy looking for specific advice.

The author herself asserts in the introduction that this is not a book to be sat and read from start to finish, instead it's broken down into useful sections, by room, and you can use it as a reference, dipping in and out as the need arises. She's also careful to point out that the book is:

"An attempt to help people create a sensible, positive way of running a home that will enable them to get on with what matters to them"

I think this sums the book up nicely, because although she is preaching a clean life (and if you've bought or thinking of buying the book you're obviously at least partly on board) what it's really about is gaining control of your home, so it's a pleasant, healthy place to be, where you can relax, find the things you're looking for and get on with the rest of your life.

Although not a huge tome, the book manages to cover just about every cleaning eventuality, every stain you might ever encounter and I can't think of any household item that isn't covered here.  I found the practical advice to be very useful and clearly explained, it's a very easy book to use. It contains lots of tricks that even I didn't know and most importantly, lots of tips on preventative measures, saving you even more time later on.

Simhon stresses that you don't need a huge arsenal of cleaning products and instead promotes green cleaning, not only as a better option for the environment, but also for the occupants of the house. You come in to direct contact with all those cleaning chemicals on the surfaces of your home after all, not to mention breathing them in as you clean.

If you find keeping on top of the chores a bit of a struggle, chapter 10 gives advice on how to schedule the housework in order to keep on top of it, noting daily chores, a weekly schedule based on how many people live in your house, less frequent monthly tasks and a couple of pages on Spring cleaning. It also advises on how to clean, which might seem a bit of a no-brainer, except so many people make more work for themselves by doing it the wrong way, that this chapter is well worth reading from start to finish to save you time when you get around to cleaning.

Aside from expected tips like how to deal with limescale and the correct way to store bedlinen, there is also advice on storing and cleaning clothes and personal items as well. Even the appendices are useful, especially section A which has an a to z of stain removal, essential if you spill something on your (landlords) carpet! Following the advice in this book will not only save you time, but potentially money, money on cleaning products, money on replacing items that could otherwise have been saved and money from your deposit come moving day.

In short, buy this book and keep somewhere close at hand, you never know when you might need to refer to it!

The Home Handbook by Rachel Simhon is available now priced £12.99 from Bloomsbury. Click here to purchase through Amazon.

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