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When Covid-19 hit last year, many of us suddenly became much more fastidious in keeping things clean around our homes. Remember wiping down every item after grocery shopping and stocking up on hand sanitizer? Same. And while some of these habits are falling off as we enter a post-Covid world, others are sticking with us for the better.
In order to keep your home spick-and-span, there are certain things that are no brainers: Dust regularly, clean the bathroom once a week, wash the kitchen countertops every day, etc. You know, the basics.
But, what if there are ways to clean smarter, not harder? Enter: Ingenious household swaps that can make cleaning easier, faster, and even more enjoyable (as if you don’t already enjoy the thrill of a freshly vacuumed room).
Whether you’ve always been a clean freak or you’re a Covid-19 convert, here are six item swaps you can try to make cleaning and staying clean a total breeze.
1. Opt for high gloss paint instead of satin finish
When it comes to choosing paint for a room in your home, your main considerations are usually attributed to presentation, like the color of the paint, the undertone, and the sheen. But, did you know that a paint’s finish can also be important in terms of how easily it cleans?
Perhaps contrary to what you’d think, high-gloss paint is great for areas in the home that need some extra protection (i.e. children’s rooms and high-traffic areas), because it’s the easiest paint finish to wipe clean. The gloss acts as a pseudo-protectant; dust can’t quite settle into it, and scuffs and stains remain on the surface without seeping into the paint itself.
The takeaway: The higher the gloss, the easier the clean-up. Of course, other paint finishes, like satin, can be cleaned as well, but it’s likely to lose its sheen and luster if scrubbed too much, leaving some areas of dullness interspersed around the room which will ultimately require a new paint job.
2. Switch over to cotton curtains (or shades) instead of embellished drapes
Because many curtains either graze the floor or pool there, they’re bound to get dirty pretty quick. It’s recommended that you clean curtains every 3 to 6 months, but if your curtains are dry-clean only, it’s likely you'll extend that 3- to 6-month timeframe, simply for convenience.
How will you know if your curtains are dry-clean only? Some may have a tag that designates proper cleaning instructions, but if not, drapes with a lining, beading, or pleating usually need to be dry cleaned along with crushed velvet, satin, and suede. You can eliminate the hassle of dry cleaning all together by switching to either cotton, or polyester curtains, which, drumroll, you can throw in the washing machine.
If you’re looking for an easier swap yet, honeycomb shades provide the privacy and light-blocking you want without frequent washing. Simply run a duster over the folds every week or so and you’re good to go.
3. Swap your carpeting for carpet tiles or hard flooring
The floor is probably the thing in your home that gets dirty the quickest. Guests, pets, and kids create a barrage of elements like outside dirt and sticky spills that can not only be annoying to clean, but also cause damage. If you have carpeted flooring, you're no doubt familiar with these issues.
Consider switching out your carpeting or large rug areas for carpet tiles, which come in a wide variety of patterns and textures just like wall-to-wall carpet, but their best feature is that each tile can be removed on its own to be cleaned. Say, for example, you spill red wine. You just have to remove the tile(s) where the spill occurred and literally wash it in the sink. After it’s dry, just place it back in its original spot. How easy is that?
In the event you’re looking to stray from carpet altogether, there are other great flooring options that keep cleaning to a minimum. Hardwood floors are typically the first thought that comes to mind, but due to cost they may not be feasible. As an alternative, laminate or vinyl tile can be made to look like hardwood and is significantly less expensive than the real thing. Even better, a broom or microfiber mob are all you need for cleaning hardwood floors.
4. Choose leather or modern vinyl over fabric furniture
Much of our family time happens in the living room—hence the name. Naturally, you have to account for messes and accidents when considering what kind of couch to purchase for such a well-used space. In terms of fabrics, leather is the best for durability and stain-resistant qualities. It’s also very easy to clean; a quick wipe is all you typically need. The only caveat here is that light-colored leather like white or taupe will possibly stain with dark substances like wine or mustard.
Not willing to splurge on leather? Instead, opt for faux leather or, even, vinyl which has come a long way in terms of its quality and appearance—gone are the days of cheap-looking plastic that you may remember from years ago. Plenty of designer brands offer vinyl furniture as a chic option, and they really, truly look like leather.
5. Change over to copper door handles (instead of nickel or plastic)
One object in the home that’s touched more than anything else is the door knob. If you’re not disinfecting them after every use, the likelihood of accumulating bacteria and germs is rather high. Unless, of course, all of your door handles are copper-based.
Copper-based materials, like brass, are known to prevent bacteria from spreading and even totally eliminate germs. On the other hand, nickel, plastic, and stainless steel handles have been found to allow bacteria to survive and spread when touched by people’s hands. And, since some viruses can survive on surfaces for 24 hours, that’s a big risk when trying to keep your home extra clean.
Studies have found that if touch surfaces are made with copper-based alloys, transmission of disease-causing bacteria is significantly reduced. Looks like copper is the color of the season!
6. A glass door for the shower trumps a curtain
This swap might be easier written than done, but if you’ve been thinking about installing glass doors for your shower you’re not alone. Shower curtains are quickly becoming a thing of the past with many folks opting for the ease and minimalist look of a sleek glass door instead.
Beside its aesthetic qualities, a glass door makes cleaning a total game-changer. With a shower curtain, the plastic liner and the curtain itself are constantly collecting and retaining mildew, even if you can’t see it. It’s recommended to wash the liner every month, which can be a frustrating task that many put off as cleaning thin plastic isn’t especially easy.
With a glass door, the maintenance may be more often (a squeegee after every shower is suggested), but it’s both quicker and simpler than wrangling a plastic liner.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.