I lived with my parents until I was 27, it just wasn’t affordable for me to move out before then, and luckily for me, there were never any arguments about me coming and going as I pleased, doing house chores (as long as my bedroom mess didn’t spill into the rest of the house), cooking, cleaning, washing etc.
I had a good situation, other than the fact that it can be a bit embarrassing to confess that at 27 your mum still does your washing, makes your lunch for work (cringey, but if she’s making a healthy salad as part of her diet and offers to make extra for you, why would you say no?), and you still live at home!
But enough of that – I’m now free, I rent with my boyfriend, and I can call myself an adult! The harsh reality of the matter is that now, aged 28 and for the first time not living with her; I have never felt more love and respect for my mother.
The trials and tribulations of not only looking after my own domestic situation, but somehow being responsible for a man as well, have on occasion been a little bit daunting. So for the first time I have been able to relate to what my mother has actually done for the rest of us over the years!
Having never had to do anything in particular at home other than hoover my room twice a year or occasionally wash up, I didn’t really know what would face me in my new role as ‘lady of the house’. Not to say that I’m not enjoying my new freedom and living with my boyfriend, and learning to cook, but it is very different to having no responsibility.
I have learned a couple of bathroom cleaning lessons so far which I’d like to share with anyone else who has found themselves for the first time in charge of cleaning a whole house.
Cleaning the Bath
Despite being a chamber maid for a decent hotel chain in my younger years, which required the ‘cleaning’ of the bathroom for each bedroom used, I would say that I haven’t properly cleaned a bath until this year. Previously I would have rinsed the bath and wiped up any mess from leaked toiletries etc, which seemed to do the job to make it ‘look’ clean.
Since moving out though and being the only person to clean this particular bath, I’ve noticed that if you merely rinse the bath tub, it starts to get a grimy feel to it. Ok for showering in I suppose, but if you’re going to have a bath you’d want to get rid of the grime first.
I sprayed all around the bath edges with a well known bathroom cleaning product and begin to wipe the surface. It amazed me to see the colour difference (now it wasn’t especially bad, just ‘noticeable’, don’t be disgusted!) between where the product had dribbled down the bath and the parts of the surface that hadn’t yet had the product on.
When you’ve just been rinsing the dirt off religiously for years, you won’t have seen that the bath surface is a bit grimy, until you clean a bit of it properly and see the comparison! I won’t name names of course, but I’ve been in some houses where the bath seems to have permanent discolouration, and I can only imagine that this is because it was either too long before the occupants first started to deep clean the bath rather than just rinsing, or that the grime is now so built up that they haven’t the strength/willpower to tackle it.
The moral of the story is this: don’t leave it too long between deep cleans! If you clean the bath with a decent product and spend five minutes properly wiping the surface, it’ll take a lot less elbow grease than if you leave it until the landlord’s inspection or worse still if you leave it until you’re trying to sell!
Cleaning the Tiles
I’ve got to confess that although I’ve wiped down the tiles around the bath every so often, it’s not until 10 months in that I’ve really seen the build up of rusty looking grime on the grouting between tiles and thought about tackling it. I had been gradually noticing the build up and (wrongly) thought that this was an unavoidable thing that happens in bathrooms which don’t have proper ventilation and there would be nothing I could do about it. I thought it’s just something for which I could be glad I was renting and not owner of the property, as the only solution would be re-tiling!
I was doing my regular wiping down of the tiles, with the aforementioned popular bathroom cleaning product, and thought I’d swap the cloth I was using for the scrubbing side of a sponge, more to ‘confirm’ my diagnosis that it wouldn’t come off than anything. Although it took a little bit of hard work, I was pleased to see that actually scrubbing specifically between the tiles did seem to largely reduce the orangeness of the grouting.
After I’d finished some 30 minutes later (there’s a lot of tiles!) I was really pleased at the result. I have read a lot of reviews on this topic now, and most people have recommended that for whiter results, using a toothbrush to apply a mixture of bicarb and bleach works the best, leaving the mixture on for 12 hours or so and then scrubbing it off with the toothbrush. I think that’s going to be my next step to improve the now ‘off white’ grouting and making it ‘gleaming white’.
Again, I’ve got to state the benefits of regular low-effort cleaning, in order to avoid the 30 minutes intense scrubbing which was required by me after having left the grouting for 10 months to get bad!
Shower Curtain and Bath Mat
The shower curtain has on occasion had little bits of orangey dirt on which I must assume comes from the same cause as the grouting ‘rust’ look, but I’m glad to say that our shower curtain (one of those plastic looking ones) when put in the washing machine not only survived but came out looking as good as new.
The problem with the bath mat isn’t the build up of grime, but more the ongoing subjection to my boyfriend’s thick dark body hair which seems to plague the whole bathroom. In order to not block the washing machine, I bashed the dirt and hair off of the bath mat into the bath (which can then be rinsed away before cleaning the bath anyway), and then put the mat into the washing machine with a stain remover washing capsule, which also seemed to work wonders and came out as bright white as new.
Tip for getting used to living with a man
If you’re living with a man, don’t expect him to see what needs doing. I am lucky enough with my boyfriend that although he’s oblivious to the mess he makes in the loo, or the amount of washing up there might be, or the piles of washing in the washing basket, that when he IS enlightened as to the situation, he is very willing to ‘pull his weight’ and will offer to help.
My TOP TIP, if you can gently point out all of the chores that need doing, offer to do all the other bits and bobs that need doing if he will agree to just do the one that you’d really rather not do (for me it’s hoovering, I can stand doing anything else but the addition of hoovering has the potential to tip me over the edge and make me think there’s too much and so not bother starting any of it!).
Then he feels he’s gotten off lightly whilst still being a good boyfriend and you can avoid a silent meltdown and achieve the bits that you need to do.
Final note would be to not be overwhelmed, don’t try and do everything in one go, work out which chores need thinking about most days like the washing and washing up, and save the less urgent chores for every week or two when you’ve got a bit more time.
Bio: In her free time Karen loves spending time with friends and family and taking her dogs for walks at the seaside. For any tips on cleaning, if her mother fails to advise her on a particular subject, Karen will search online for deep clean tips and testimonials.