Use tennis balls to plump pillows and more secret tips from a five star Dublin hotel
Head housekeeper the Merrion Hotel Tracy Glassett shares her super-cleaning tips
Don’t forget to wash your duvets and pillows. Photograph: Getty Images
A lot of people get very stressed around cleaning and the thought of cleaning, but if you keep your home tidy it can reduce stress. People think it takes hours and hours, but it need not. It’s about making a healthy habit of it.
We have a huge cleaning operation daily in the hotel, with up to 50 house keepers turning over 140 rooms, but a lot of what we do here can be copied at home.
Set yourself up with the right tools for the job and make sure your equipment is right. You can do a lot with a good vacuum cleaner, a small number of cleaning products and a some microfibre cloths.
Microfibre is the way to go. The cloths are excellent for cleaning when damp and bacteria will stick to them. You can buy them anywhere but you will need different ones for different jobs. Colour code them to the kitchen, bathroom, dusting, etc and don’t expect them to last forever.
You don't need a lot of different chemical cleaners. I like to use white vinegar - the type you put on chips - bicarbonate of soda, bleach and washing up liquid. If you mix vinegar, water and bicarbonate of soda you will have a very effective multi-cleaner that will sanitise your surfaces. Vinegar diluted with water will shine up mirrors beautifully. Washing up liquid with bleach is a really excellent cheap sanitiser.
A good vacuum cleaner is essential and do use the differant attachments for different surfaces. You can vacuum curtains, headboards, mattresses - you can even vacuum your fake grass.
Get yourself a caddy with all the cleaners and cloths that you need.
Clean as you go, rather than let them go for weeks on end. For instance, I clean the shower when I am in it rather than let dirt build up.
Identify what jobs need to be done daily, weekly, monthly or less frequently and stick to the cleaning calendar. For instance, one day a week we move all the beds out, vacuum the mattresses and freshen them.
Wash bed linen once a week and air the mattress. You can sprinkle bicarbonate of soda and lavender oil over the mattress, leave it for a while and then vacuum off. It leaves a lovely fresh smell.
Wash your duvets and pillows regularly. You can put them in the machine on a 30 degree wash - feather or foam. Then dry them in the dryer with a couple of tennis balls that will plump them up.
Years ago we had to wash everything at high temperatures but detergents have evolved so that you can get things clean at 30 degrees.
Let chemicals do the work for you. Don’t spray bathroom surfaces immediately for instance. Spray on the cleaner and let it absorb the dirt, leave it for 10 minutes or so and then come back and clean gently and rinse off. There’s no need to scrub - it should just lift off.
Air your home. It’s essential to release stagnant air. Fresh air will remove cooking smells, smoking smells and help with mould and fungus. People don’t do it enough and there is nothing better to freshen a space. Air fresheners are just like perfume - they don’t last.
Damp dust your soft furnishings - sofas, armchairs, headboards, curtains. Just over them with a damp, not wet, cloth. Damp is best for removing dust.
Damp dust your table lamps and attend to ceiling light fittings. Some people like a feather duster but I don’t think they’re practical as they just disperse the dust. You can get a microfibre duster on a long handle that will do the job.
When it comes to chandeliers - well that is a bigger job. You will need hot sudsy water, a drop of vinegar, a ladder and some help. Don’t use a microfibre cloth for glass, it’s too abrasive. You can get glass cloths, like the ones you would use for cleaning your glasses, that are more gentle and effective. If you are going to clean ceiling light fittings in a room, do it first, before any other cleaning. In other words, start from the highest point in a room and clean downwards, leaving the floor until last.
Treat any stain as soon as you can. Cold water, not hot, will loosen a stain, so soak in cold first before putting fabric through a hot wash. Sudsy water is good for carpet stains but agitate gently rather than rubbing hard. Mud? If it's tracked into the carpet simply let it dry and then vacuum off.
There is nothing that will remove the stain of Red Bull or other energy drinks. Avoid them.
The number one bugbear that our guests have is stray hair. People hate hairs. They are not pretty to look at but sometimes they do get stuck in the cleaning process and appear in bed linen. We use old fashion lint rollers to go over each freshly-made bed to make sure they are spotless. We are the hair police.
Tracy Glassett is executive house keeper of the Merrion Hotel in Dublin which will reopen for business on Monday, June 29th.