Housekeeping – love it / hate it? If you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s just something you have to deal with, so you had better at least like it!
I get great job satisfaction turning a messy room into a tidy, clean room. But I have worked with lots of people who just don’t get it, and have not lasted too long in the business.
Cleaning is perhaps the least favourite part of the job for everyone. But I have to say that working as a stewardess on yachts (and yes, cleaning them) allowed me the privilege to get paid to travel to the getaways of the rich and famous, to swim with manta rays in the South Pacific, to dance until the wee hours in Sardinia, to watch the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix from a yacht at the track edge and so many more adventures, that I can actually say that I really like my job.
And anyway, housekeeping today is trendy. Yes, you heard me – trendy? With the design and interiors craze, people everywhere are taking more interest in how their home looks and feels. There are even tv shows about cleaning now!
The globalization of feng shui and it’s philosophy of de-cluttering and cleaning to promote a more creative / loving / welcoming space has encouraged us to dust away the cobwebs and clean behind the couch.
Heck, there are even Apps about it!
The move now is away from cleaning with chemicals to actually cleaning with more natural and traditional products, to make a healthier environment. On the yachts we used a minimal kit for general cleaning and kept specialist products for deep cleaning (or the odd crisis!). But even then, the simple methods work best – I saw a bottle of balsamic vinegar dropped on a beige carpet in the salon, we poured water on it immediately and blotted it up with white paper towels, the stain vanished completely! The (very meticulous) owner walked by while we were on the floor and said “I don’t want to know!”, luckily he never needed to know!
So with all of this in mind, here are some of my favourite books on the subject:
Cabbages and Roses ‘Guide to Natural Housekeeping’ by Christina Strutt.
What she says: ‘Live a calmer, healthier life, Recycle and Reuse, Clean Naturally, Garden Organically’
What I say: Do you know how to make your own sticky fly paper? Did you know how to clean the impossible to reach areas of a glass decanter with bicarbonate of soda, crushed eggshells and warm water? Make plant pots for your seedlings out of newspaper and when they emerge, plant them out intact! This book is laden with invaluable information that will bring you back to it time and time again. Beautiful photographs of vintage linen and homewares enhance the pleasure. Added to that, Christina Strutt agrees with me “There is little in life more satisfying than tackling a really untidy, unclean room”. A real gem of a book.
‘From Mother to Daughter’ by Viviene Bolton
What she says: ” Traditional housekeeping for the modern home: steam puddings, smoke fish, dry tomatoes, soak in a milk bath, harvest lavender, launder silk, knit a flannel, perfume linen, plant a pumpkin, grow a salad, pickle onions, compost waste, coddle an egg, soothe sore throats, bake bread, make jam, boil a cordial, whip up hand cream, take cuttings, clean bamboo, make pancakes, steam mussels, mull wine, bottle figs, care for your skin, decorate a Christmas tree … “
What I say: Cleverly the chapters of this book are the seasons, so helps you to use it throughout the year. It is not purely housekeeping, as you have read from the list above, but more a book of homemaking. It makes you yearn for an English cottage and garden! She teaches you from her experiences, and those passed down to her from older generations, how to grow and use produce with recipes to eat / drink / put on your skin / clean your furniture ….. full of tips and useful advice, and modern pictures reminiscent of bygone years, spurring you on to create your own memories and treasures to hand down to your children. Lavender, roses and happiness!
‘The Feng Shui Bible’ by Simon Brown
What he says: “The definitive guide to improving your life, home, health and finances……..From understanding basic principles of feng shi to mastering floor plans and using remedies to cure real-life problems …. It includes advice on moving house, tailoring feng shui to your personal requirements, choosing furnishings and deciding when to decorate.”
What I say: I love how this book is laid out, and it’s size – just a little bigger than pocket-sized! It starts out with the basics of feng shui, the numbers and directions and teaches you how to find the best place to sit in your home. The next short section talks about the ‘building blocks’ – mirrors, candles, plants, colours, etc that define how the chi flows. Finally the largest part of the book examines areas of your life and how to improve them – from home to career, family and relationships. Can it bring family closer and reduce arguments? I am a believer, and feel the changes in atmosphere in our home, simply by removing clutter and deep cleaning. For bigger shifts I have changed the directions that my babies have slept for more restfulness and the place that I sit to work for more creativity. This is a great no-nonsense book and a source of continuous reference.
‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’ by Kirstie Allsopp
What she says: “This book is full of achievable ways to transform your house into a home that reflects you and the things you value, plus lots of gorgeous craft projects to try yourself.”
What I say: As an ideas book to dip into and scour the pictures, this book is fun. Following the television series of the same name, Kirstie has some good ideas and walks you through the basics of lots of different crafts. But if you want to go in-depth to anything in particular then this is not the book for you. I have enjoyed popping in from time to time as a source of inspiration!
Here are some more great references on the subject:
Be Happier in your Home / from the blog ‘Headed Somewhere’
1001 uses for white distilled vinegar
The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking
The best housekeeping book you’ve never heard of / from the blog ‘The Modern Mrs Darcy’
Top 10 cleaning and organizing books / from about.com