Superwoman's Tips On Spring Cleaning

Shirley Conran's Superwoman was a best-seller that helped millions of people get their lives organised without becoming a slave to housework. Unsurprisingly, it's got some useful ideas which are a neat way to round out Spring Cleaning Week.

Conran's opus was first published way back in 1975, which means a lot of its specific household management tips are quaintly dated (there's a whole section in the Australian edition on getting to grips with metric measurement, for instance). However, there is a sub-section on spring cleaning, which has some useful (and still relevant) ideas to complement our existing master list of clutter-busting tips and the other techniques we've explored this week.

Conran approaches spring cleaning from the starting proposition that cleaning is an annoying task most people would rather avoid, but doing it effectively will actually work better than a half-hearted effort. As she writes in her characteristically brisk tone: "I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it. But you have to be efficient if you're going to be lazy."

From this vantage point, scheduling spring cleaning is a sensible and cathartic move:

I do [spring cleaning]when the weather doesn't inspire me to do anything else. The rest of the year I just make notes in the back of my diary of things to be mended or replaced, as the home inexorably disintegrates about my ears. Don't do anything that can be postponed until spring cleaning time.

When that time comes, you can further lighten the load by splitting the work with a friend:

Spring clean with a friend (who doesn't talk too much) to spur you on, cheer you up, patch you up or wipe you down and — ideally — complete the job for you when you get stuck or bored. Do the same for her. WARNING! Mutual help is best done on a time basis. Her home might be twice as large and take twice as long.

Having committed time, it can make sense to take on a slightly more ambitious project:

It's only a little more trouble to paint a wall than to scrub it. Paint costs more than water, but achieves more exciting results.

But even if you just settle for run-of-the-mill cleaning and chucking out, the key point (as we've been noting all week) is to have a plan:

Decide in what order the rooms will be cleaned. Clean one room at a time because you can stop right there if time runs out or you get bored. Stop half an hour before you had planned, because then you won't be too exhausted to clean up properly.

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