CLEANING has been “having a moment” – from Instagram feeds showing pristine homes and how to achieve them, to the “clean-fluencers” making rubber gloves trendy, we’ve all gone crazy for housework.
But while some of us worry whether lemon water is better at making surfaces shine than anti-bac wipes, one woman is resisting against this obsession with scrubbing and says there is no need to be constantly up to our elbows in Mr Muscle.
Gemma Bray, 37, from Manchester, creator of The Organised Mum Method, TOMM, says cleaning should not be all-consuming. The mum-of-three has devised a system promising a spotless home with just short, sharp cleans each weekday.
Gemma came up with it after juggling being a mum with running her own fish-and-chip shop – and now has 169,000 Instagram followers. She says: “My motto is: Get in, get it done, get outta there.
There’s a difference between a dirty home and a slightly messy one that looks lived in. TOMM enables me to do my job, play with my kids and have weekends free.”
Here, she explains TOMM, different cleaner personality types and three levels of cleaning her system is based on, while mum-of-two Natasha Harding, 43, of West Malling, Kent, tries it all for a week and gives her verdict.
How the organised mum method works
Gemma says: “I strongly believe that we all need to learn to balance the need for housework with actual living.
“We can’t abandon the dusting completely but neither should we let it rule us.
“My method requires on average just 30 minutes of cleaning each day, Monday to Friday.
“It operates on a system of three levels of cleaning and each of these plays a vital role in the success of the method. Miss out a level and the whole thing will come crashing down. Each day between Monday and Thursday, has its own focus room – living room on a Monday, bedrooms on a Tuesday, and so on – and these never change.
“Every Friday a room gets an additional deep clean – called the Friday Focus – and this rotates on a regular cycle.
“Weekends are purposefully kept housework-free so that you can enjoy your time off without having to do a mammoth clean.”
Spend no more than 15 minutes a day carrying out necessary jobs and spread them out, as and when needed. The idea is that they are super-quick and, if you follow TOMM, you will keep on top of everything else in your Level 2 clean – a daily 30 minutes.
Level 1 jobs include: Make the bed in the morning, do one load of laundry, wipe down kitchen surfaces after cooking, take out a full bin.
This is the 30-minute daily clean, Monday to Thursday, when each day you choose a different room to focus on.
Once decided, look around the room and establish a plan of action. Set a 30-minute timer and hit Start. Here is an example . . .
MONDAY: LIVING ROOM
Tidy away anything that doesn’t belong, wash throws and/or pet bedding, do a quick window clean, get rid of finger marks, vacuum under sofa cushions, dust.
Strip beds, tidy anything that doesn’t belong, sweep under beds, dust, vacuum.
WEDNESDAY: ENTRANCE HALL AND STAIRS
Tidy up anything that doesn’t belong, dust surfaces, vacuum/ mop if you have hard floors.
Empty crumbs out of toaster, clean the inside microwave, do a quick fridge clean and throw away anything that’s gone off, clean the hob top, give the sink a scrub, wipe down work surfaces, wipe down the cupboard fronts, vacuum, mop.
Every Friday you pick a different room and give it a deep clean. Here is how it might work . . .
WEEK 1: THE KIDS’ ROOMS
Cull toys and clothes that no longer fit, straighten shelves/bookcases, clean windows and mirrors, dust skirting boards, vacuum under furniture.
WEEK 2: LOUNGE
Shampoo rugs, clean cushion covers and sofa covers if removable, dust skirting boards, vacuum under furniture.
WEEK 3: KITCHEN
Choose two or three cupboards to declutter, clean extractor-fan filters, clean oven.
WEEK 4: BATHROOMS
Tackle limescale and grout, clean out bathroom cabinets, clean windows and deep-clean floors.
And so on, working through the master bedroom, landing, extra rooms and garden/outside space.
What type of cleaner personality are you?
FIRST, establish where you are going wrong with cleaning. You can then clean smarter, not harder.
So let’s get down to it. Which type of cleaner are you?
THE WEEKENDER: You spend all of Saturday trying to catch up on housework you missed in the week.
But it is demoralising to spend all day cleaning, only for it all to be undone in 30 minutes – and this is what happens if you do a big clean once a week. Better is to spread out the work over the week.
THE OSTRICH: If you bury your head in the sand and your home is like Primark in the sales, do not panic.
You can tackle one space at a time, so you soon have control of your home.
THE FIREFIGHTER: If you feel that you are constantly picking up after the kids/your partner/your dog, you are probably just chasing your tail and not achieving anything.
Firefighter types need structure in order to regain control over the housework. You need to know what you will be doing when you come down in the morning.
THE PERFECTIONIST: Obsessive cleaning can take over people’s lives and it’s time to take back control. Putting a time limit on the housework puts a full-stop on the cleaning day and eliminates guilt that you haven’t done enough.
What is more, having a clear structure means that everything gets covered and you won’t waste time repeating the same jobs unnecessarily.
Natasha says: “I’ve never been a domestic goddess and would usually rather do anything than clean.
I usually do the bare minimum during the week then find myself cleaning the bathrooms on a Sunday morning when I’d much rather be enjoying a cuppa in bed.
“So I was excited to take on the TOMM method to see if I could change my ways. I chose to do my daily cleaning at lunchtime, to break up my working day.
“On day one, I chose the living room. I set my timer and was away – I felt like I was on a gameshow, watching the clock tick away but was surprised how much I could achieve in half an hour when I put my mind to it with no distractions. First day down and so far so good.
“Next day, I put on a load of washing – something I’d usually leave for the weekend, resulting in a whole weekend of loading and unloading the machine.
“Then the next day, it was time to tackle the kitchen. Again, I set my timer – and I made my way around the room at lightning speed, cleaning everything that needed a bit of TLC.
“I’ll admit it’s quite thrilling, working so quickly, and it’s all over so quickly I barely feel I’ve started. By the weekend, my house has never looked cleaner. Having the timer on focused me.
“The bedrooms did take me much longer than the allotted time, as I spend at least 15 wrestling the bedsheets.
“By Friday afternoon – after choosing the bathroom as my focus and cleaning out the cabinet of old make-up and cleaning products, then giving the toilet a proper clean and polish – I’m ready for a glass of wine.
“The house now looks incredible – but the best bit is yet to come.
“When I wake up on Saturday morning, instead of dragging myself out of bed to put on some washing, and empty the dishwasher, I enjoy a lie-in, and spend the whole weekend with the kids without a chore in sight.
“Who knows how long I’ll keep this up for? Gemma does mention in the book about those niggling CBA (can’t be a***ed) days, but I’m really hoping this TOMM method sticks.”