While there’s nothing more satisfying than organising a house in springtime, health experts suggest it’s a job that should actually be done twice a year.
“Our focus should be on autumn cleaning, not spring cleaning,’ says Dr Lisa Ackerley, health expert and visiting professor of environmental health at the University of Salford.
A “perfect indoor storm” of falling night-time temperatures, central heating being turned up and closed windows having inadequate vacuuming means that autumn is “the perfect time for carpets to house potentially harmful microbes and dust mite allergens,” warns Ackerley.
With a nip in the air and cooler temperatures, the natural thing is to switch on the central heating and shut the windows. However, reducing ventilation and creating an increasingly moist environment – the domestic equivalent of bonsai tropical rainforests – creates the perfect conditions for bacteria and dust mites to flourish.
“Skin flakes, dust, dirt, food crumbs and anything that has come in the house from pets and shoes gets trapped in the carpet and other soft furnishings. With that in mind, thorough vacuuming is essential to minimise health risks,” advises Ackerley.
She recommends using well-maintained vacuum cleaners with strong suction that can remove debris from the ‘forest floor’ – and that we don’t forget to hoover under sofas and tables.
“In my view, doing this at this time of the year is far more important that the traditional spring clean, which has far less importance from a health perspective,” adds Ackerley.
Here are 5 cleaning tips to create an autumn glow in your home...
Wash the windows. With shorter days, it’s important to make the most of the light flooding in. Brush away dust and cobwebs before using a sponge with a solution of vinegar and water for best results – and wipe dry with a clean, dry cloth.
Dust and polish. Get rid of the summer build-up of dust and pollen by using a quality furniture polish and cloth. Rearrange the furniture, dust down book shelves and make sure your mirrors and silver are gleaming.
Put away your summer clothes and linens. Replace them with cool-season items like your woollies and coats. To keep moths at bay, use moth balls or lavender moth repelling scents in the wardrobe to reduce the chances of them going near clothes.
Bring winter warmers and bedroom throws out of storage. Making the bed warm and inviting, and replacing your summer duvet with a heavier, winter-weight one, will create a cosy feeling.
De-clutter your kitchen cupboard. Throw away any foods that are out of date, and spices that are more than six months old or have lost their scent. Clear out the fridge, defrost the freezer and throw out all your old food.
What are you tips for autumn cleaning? Share your advice in our Comments section below.