Say hello to 2023 with a new year clean

Banish those January blues with a sparkling clean and clutter-free home

The gifts have been opened, the last mince pie’s been eaten, and the visitors have packed their bags and returned home – yes, Christmas is over for another year.

And while most of us have enjoyed the festivities and relished spending time with loved ones, now that the new year has kicked in, it’s time to pack away the decorations and get the house back in shape. A little bit of early spring cleaning may be just what we need to banish the January blues.

But some people find the task quite daunting, putting everything on the long finger as they are loathe to say goodbye to the party season.

“I really love the whole Christmas period, decorating the house and having people to stay,” says Angela Hickey. “I put so much energy into making the place look great, and usually have my tree and decorations up by early November – so I absolutely dread taking them down and getting the house back to normal. It also means returning to work after a few weeks off, and this can be quite depressing.”


The Dublin woman, who works as a secondary school teacher, says that she knows a spring clean will help her to combat her low mood, but she finds it “difficult to get motivated”.

When the decorations have to be taken down, and the bed clothes washed, I have no motivation for it at all as there doesn’t seem any point

“We usually have a lot of people staying over the few weeks of Christmas, between my family and my husband’s,” she says. “I do a big clean up before they arrive but, as the whole house is full, it gets very untidy over the holidays – but I don’t mind at all, as long as everyone is relaxed. But when they’ve all gone, and the decorations have to be taken down, and the bed clothes washed, I have no motivation for it at all as there doesn’t seem any point.

“I often find myself taking down the baubles down but leaving them in a box in the hall or even in the sitting room for weeks on end – one year, there was a box of lights and figurines waiting to go up to the attic for four months. The same goes for the bedrooms; if I don’t strip the beds in the spare room straight away and clean the en-suite, it just won’t get done until the next time we have visitors staying over, which might not be until the summer, and then I find myself in a panic trying to get the place clean.”

This year will be different, says Hickey.

“I’m determined to do something about it and get the place looking ship shape before I go back to school – to start the year as I mean to go on.”

Get started

This is the right attitude to have according to Luke Joyce, director of The cleaning specialist, whose firm is based in south Dublin but also covers the whole of the city and county as well as parts of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, says getting the house back in order after the Christmas break can be a great way to begin a new year – and it is good to have some sort of format to ensure a really thorough job.

“I always advise people to start cleaning upstairs and work their way down,” he says. “Begin by gathering up clothes that need to be washed, put them into a washing basket and put a wash on. Next, make the beds as once this is done, the bedrooms will instantly look cleaner.

“Then remove any items on desks, side lockers and window ledges, and both clean and polish the surfaces. Then, after placing the removed items back in their original position, vacuum and mop the floors in the bedrooms and spray some natural room-freshener across each room.

“Next, I would tackle the bathrooms, and I always suggest hoovering them before you begin cleaning to prevent water (used while cleaning surfaces), mixing with any debris on the bathroom floors. Then remove any items and shower bottles from the surfaces and place them in a box or container outside the bathroom – it’s important that you don’t just clean around them. Always make sure to remove them from the bathroom first.

“Also, spray limescale remover on the taps and any area impacted by limescale. If you don’t have limescale remover, you can use a cut lemon on the area which needs attention. Leave the exposed lemon there for at least 30 minutes, then remove and scrub the area with an old tooth brush. Don’t forget to clean tiles on the wall of the shower and around the bathroom, with a simple 20:80 mixture of dishwashing soap and warm water.

“Then mop the floor and let the floor and other surfaces dry. Once the floor is dry, you can re-hoover the bathroom and replace all the removed items.

Dust the skirting boards as this makes a huge difference – you can finish the living areas with a spray of natural room freshener

It’s now time to make your way downstairs, while hoovering the landing and stairs. “You can use natural carpet freshener for extra fresh scent and don’t forget to polish any railings along the stairs,” says Joyce.

Then it’s time to fluff up the cushions, tidy children’s toys away, fold blankets and remove any items on the counters, fireplace and window ledges of the sitting room.

“Polish these surfaces and items and also make sure to check behind your TV as many people overlook cleaning the dust which builds up there. Depending on the floor surface in the living area, whether it is carpet, wood or tiles, you will hoover and mop. Also, dust the skirting boards as this makes a huge difference – you can finish the living areas with a spray of natural room freshener and open a window slightly,” advises Joyce.

Next, move on to the kitchen and while cleaning, Joyce suggests you put on a pot of water with oranges, lemons and cinnamon.

“Bring the water to the boil and let it simmer, which will naturally scent your kitchen – without the need for nasty chemicals.”

Think natural

And you don’t always need nasty chemicals; often the old-fashioned methods work just as well.

“When there is limescale on glass, we use a very basic limescale remover and non-scratch scour pad to clean the limescale off,” says Joyce. “We then finish the glass with a squeegee to leave it looking spotless and streak free.

And when you’ve finished reading this newspaper, crumple it up and use with vinegar to clean your windows.

“A mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water is what my granny used, and for dirtier windows, just add more vinegar,” advises Joyce.

Some jobs, though, will need to be left to the professionals.

“Anywhere that working at height is apparent, we would recommend using a professional company,” Joyce says. “These days, to use a ladder you must be correctly trained to work at height, have ladder-specific training, and also ensure that the ladder has had the correct pre-checks by a competent person.

“Upstairs windows and gutter cleaning are where working at height can be an issue, and this is where a professional company would be better and safer to use. We have equipment with extension poles that we can use from the safety of the ground to clean both gutters and windows – the days of seeing your 90-year-old neighbour up a ladder cleaning gutters are gone.”

Arlene Harris

Arlene Harris

Arlene Harris is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in health, lifestyle, parenting, travel and human interest stories