Quick and easy ways to get your home clean and organised for the Lunar New Year.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel



Sweeping solutions

Believe it or not, there’s a right way to sweep. Hold the broom like a canoe paddle, with one hand on top of the handle and the other toward the middle. Push your hands in opposite directions to get the most out of every sweeping stroke. Sweep from the outside in and move the dirt to the centre of the room, where it will be easy to pick up. Better still, opt for an all-in-one cordless floor cleaner like the one by Hizero – it sweeps, mops and dries all in one pass!

If you’re sweeping outdoors, go for brooms with stronger, stiffer bristles, which work better to clear porous surfaces. Store brooms with the handle down. It makes them easier to find and protects the bristles.

Go corner to corner

When you’re vacuuming, begin in the farthest corner and work towards the door, using slow, front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence – until you don’t see any footprints.


Invest in double-duty furniture with hidden storage options. Think ottomans that can be used to store cushions and throws; coffee tables with slide-out drawers for magazines and others; bench seats with shelving underneath; or tall bookshelves with inbuilt cabinets for surplus vases and candles.

Limit yourself to one small “dumping tray” to keep odds and ends that don’t have an obvious place elsewhere. Choose something decorative, so that it looks good displayed.

Memory lane

Instead of hanging onto unnecessary or bulky items for nostalgic reasons – something your mum bought for you or reminds you of your childhood – take a photo of the keepsake and either put in an album or frame it.


1.  When you have walls of storage, store by category, or classify by colour.
2.  Stack books according to the colour of their spine to create uniformity.
3.  Buy a pack of shower curtain rings, loop onto a hanger or a dowel. Hang belts, scarves, ties, hand bags, hair elastics, baseball caps, necklaces and more.
4.  Ice and paint trays are the perfect size for sorting smaller items like earrings.
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"Maximise space in your kitchen with movable storage. Sunnersta Trolley, $39.90, from IKEA."



Sanitise the sink

It’s hard to believe, but your dirty kitchen sink has more bacteria than your toilet seat. Opt for an EPAregistered disinfectant.

Do dishwasher duty

A cloth dampened with baking soda will do the trick for cleaning the outside and edges. For the inside, run an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic ($33.20, from Qoo10) – the product is designed to kill bacteria like E.coli.

Love your oven

Line the bottom with a nonstick oven liner, available from Lazada or household department stores. They are easily wiped clean, dishwasher safe and reuseable.


1. Crumple paper towels… forever. Use microfiber cloths instead.

2. Free up counter space, attach a magnetic strip under overhead kitchen cabinets to hold spice jars with metallic lids.


1. Invest in lazy susans – so your pantry items can be on rotation for easy access.
2. Decant your staples, remove food from its packaging and store in glass jars that reveal their contents. Line the jars up for a stylish and easily identifiable row of cooking ingredients.
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"Try buildable wardrobe systems. PAX wardrobes, from $550, from IKEA."



Do temperature control

Most everything can be washed in cold water (better for your bills and the environment). But use the hottest water possible for sheets, towels and underwear. Take special care with undergarments, putting them in the dryer as soon as possible to stop bacteria growth. Opt for a detergent such as Dynamo Indoor Dry ($13.35, from supermarkets) that allows for indoor drying.


1. Cull your linen closet down to two sets of sheets, thin and thick ones (if necessary), per bed, plus two sets of towels for every person in the home. That’s all you'll need.

2. Try this Oprah-approved trick: Hang all the clothes in your wardrobe with the hangers facing inward. When you return one that you have worn, hang it the opposite way. Do an annual inventory of the items that haven’t been worn, and sell or donate them.


1. Store your clutches in a kitchen organiser rack, while, a spice rack works perfectly for nail polishes, lipsticks or essential oils.

2. If a built-in wardrobe is not an option, a Scandi-style clothes rack with storage space for footwear works well. Using matching timber hangers will coordinate the look.

3. Bundle sheet sets together and tie with a ribbon. Attach a luggage label to each specifying the size.


The Hizero Bionic All-InOne Floor Cleaner has patented technology to separate solid and liquid trash, so it can pick up and sort messy spills. It is available at leading electrical goods stores.
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Philips SpeedPro Max, $699.
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Kärcher Handheld Vacuum Cleaner VC 4i, $598.
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Leifheit The Comfort-Spray Mop Easy Spray XL, $98, from Lazada.
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"Don’t have an inbuilt bathroom cabinet? Repurpose a dresser or drawers to keep extra towels and products on hand or look for other storage solutions like a ladder."

"Add ¼ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle or throw two (new, clean) tennis balls in your dryer to get rid of static electricity and soften fabrics."


Make doors shine

Rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on glass shower doors twice a month causes water to bead up and roll off. Or, try a car-care product like Rain-X Original Glass Treatment ($12.95, from Redmart) that’s designed to help keep rainwater off your windshield. Use it twice a year.

Get a cleaner liner

Mold and mildew attacking your shower curtain liner? Throw it in the wash with a few towels, which will help scrub it clean. Then hang it back up to dry.

Tame the toilet

Drop a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix in the bowl. The citric acid acts like a scrubber… and it’s non-toxic, in case the dog takes a sip. Let it sit for a few minutes, then swish and flush.

Corral strays

Keep drains hair- and clog-free by dousing them with a product like Drano or Liquid-Plumr ($6.50, from NTUC FairPrice). Pouring boiling water down drains once a week will keep them problem-free.

5 steps to spring clean, declutter and organised bliss

Make a lost-and-found – use a cute vintage lunch box or lidded storage container to stash lost game pieces, stray screws and buttons, and similar small items. When you need the item, you’ll know where to look first.

Do quick rescues – a five-minute sweep through each room, taking a laundry basket with you. Place in it anything that doesn’t belong in that room, then put away the stuff that does belong there.

Stop clutter at the front door – mount a plastic or cloth shoe rack inside your front entry closet door, and use it to stash all kinds of living room and family room miscellany like toys, hats, gloves and magazines.

Before you start sorting your stuff, find out where you can donate items locally. Also consider joining buy, sell, swap groups.
Try the 5 Things a Day rule. Pick up five items that are bugging you every day and find a permanent home for them.


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Samsung Quickdrive, $1,299 - $1,599.

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Electrolux 9kg UltimateCare 500, $1,349.

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Brandt BT653HQA, $1,399.

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Bosch 10Kg XL Washer, $3,199.