What does winter mean to you? In much of the western world, it means white Christmas, thick muffs, snowmen, street sleds, and blizzards. So naturally, when the ice melts away, everyone is in a far more cheerful mood, but there’s also a lot more mess. From muddy floors to endless puddles, spring can be a dirty time. Springtime showers don’t help either. That’s probably where the concept of spring cleaning comes from.
Australia is a little different. We don’t have a lot of snow, except in the mountainous regions of New South Wales. (Victoria actually has world famous ski slopes.) But for the rest of us, winter is just a dreary period where we cover up more and see less of the sun. Also, it happens in the middle of the year, from June through August. Still, even without the snow, it’s the chilliest time of year and the weather is miserable, especially for sun-loving Aussies.
And just like winters around the world, it makes people huddle indoors. Winter seems to have an unusually high volume of sniffles. It’s not because of the lowered temperatures, although certain germs do survive longer when it’s chilly. Tropical winters offer the perfect bacterial climate. It’s cold enough that they’re not exposed to UV rays, but not so cold that they’re frozen into inertia. But here’s the real reason why people get sicker in the winter. It’s people. They’re in closer quarters so they spread germs faster.
Kill it with fire!
Many homes and offices keep the AC on longer during winter, so airborne germs get into the ventilation system and are spread further. Also, the sneezing and sniffling deposits germs on surfaces. When other people touch these infected door handles, windows, walls, and floors, they get sick too. In warmer months, we spend more time outdoors and less time breathing germs into already-infested scarves and gloves.
So when the winter is finally over, you may be tempted to burn everything down. That’s not really practical though, especially because our winter wardrobes aren’t as distinct as they are in snow-blessed countries, so you’re still going to need those socks and that fluffy hoodie. Put the matches down and do a thorough clean instead. Aside from the winter pathogens, there are areas of the house that haven’t seen soap or water since May. After all, who wants to touch soap and cold water when it’s freezing outside?
And with your power bill already suffering the effects of increased AC and endless hot showers, who wants to heat washing water? Now that decent weather is restored, you can finally evacuate months’ worth of dirt and dust. But since you’re fully aware of the last time you did a proper clean, the idea of top-to-bottom housework can be daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own. For cleaning companies, September is boom season.
Make list and check it twice
Think about the specific areas you’d like cleaned. Yes, there are walls and floors, but do you want your cushions, curtains, or rugs cleaned? What’s the state of the kitchen? Do you need your BBQ scrubbed out before your next pool party? Are the bathrooms icky with accumulated grout? What about the carpets? Do your outer walls need a fresh coat of paint or will soap and elbow grease do the job? Once you have a comprehensive to-clean list, look around for commercial cleaners. Ask your friends and neighbours who they use.
Compile a shortlist and call around. Your basic questions are how much they cost and when they’re available, this being such a busy time for them. Find out if you have to buy cleaning supplies, or whether it costs more to get to your location. Some less obvious but equally important queries concern insurance. If a cleaner gets hurt in your house, you could incur expensive hospital bills, and possibly a law suit, so ask whether your window washers come with workers’ comp.
It’s also permissible to ask whether their cleaners have background checks. After all, you’re letting these (spotlessly clean) strangers into your home. It’s good to know they don’t have any spotty histories to be concerned about. If you have particular instructions, clarify them during your initial call. You don’t want the cleaners to arrive and realise your kids live in a tree house that can only be accessed by zip-line. Your cleaner might be afraid of heights, so fair warning. On the upside, all your winter dirt will leave with them when they go.