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Top tips for spring cleaning your home

Staff member cleaning a chandelier at Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Staff member cleaning a chandelier at Lanhydrock, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Faye Rason

This spring, why not try cleaning your home the National Trust way? We’ve raided our cleaning experts’ toolkit to bring you top tips for keeping your house spick and span.

Cleaning at the National Trust

With over 300 historic properties to look after, we know a thing or two about cleaning. Our biggest houses can need as much as 240 hours of cleaning every week – as well as a small army of staff and volunteers.

With so much space to cover, our experts draw on an array of tips and techniques which have stood the test of time. Where possible we opt for natural cleaning products and old-fashioned methods that are good for the environment.

Among the items famously banned from our cleaning toolkits are yellow dusters, which leave a trail of lint fluff behind. We also have tricks for polishing wooden floors, shining priceless ceramics and dusting century-old books.

Expert tips for cleaning your home

National Trust cleaning experts reveal their top tips on how to keep your floors, furniture and ornaments looking their best.

  1. For routine cleaning, start nearest the door – where the dirt comes in – and for areas furthest away, clean less often.
  2. For a spring clean, start on the upper floors and work down. In each room, clean from the top down – let gravity be your friend.
  3. Dust smooth surfaces like tables or glass using a lint-free cotton cloth folded into a pad, instead of a yellow duster.
  4. For carved or textured surfaces – including grills on your ‘surround sound’ speakers – use a natural bristle brush and collect the dislodged dust with a handheld vacuum cleaner.
  5. To dust the tops of books, use a softer natural bristle brush and flick the dust into a handheld vacuum cleaner.
  6. To give wax-polished wooden floors a dust, use a woollen cloth soaked in 50 per cent vinegar and 50 per cent liquid paraffin wrapped around a mop.
  7. Wash precious ceramics with cotton-wool balls dipped in a mild detergent solution (e.g. sensitive skin washing-up liquid or baby shampoo), rinse by dipping new cotton wool in clean water. Avoid holding fragile ceramic or glass by its handle or rim - this may be a weak point.
  8. Put glass mats under vases on polished and decorated furniture to prevent water spills from staining the wood.
  9. Always seek specialist advice before attempting to clean or repair any valuable heirlooms or fragile items, whether pictures, furniture, textiles or other historic materials.
Volunteer sweeping the floor at Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
Volunteer sweeping the floor at Little Moreton Hall | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Conservation in action

On a visit to a National Trust place in spring you’ll likely see our conservation cleaning in action. Not only does cleaning keep the places we care for looking good, it also gives us the chance to examine the items in the collections for signs of damage or pests.

But we don’t clean everything all the time. And you don’t need to either. Why not devise your own green routine for simple regular tasks and then plan a bigger annual spring clean?

Volunteer tips on caring for your treasures

Across the country, teams of conservation volunteers help us keep our collections in tip-top condition. Here are some helpful bits of advice to help you look after your own special possessions.

Cleaning precious objects

Use the right cleaning material for the object you're cleaning. Use soft pony hair brushes for metals, glass and porcelain, and hog's hair brushes for plain wood. Glass can also be cleaned with white vinegar.

Handle with care

To avoid damage, always handle things very carefully – they may be more fragile than they look. Ensure your hands are clean and that you're not wearing any rings or bracelets that could snag.

Keep a record

Always note events, names, places and dates (in pencil) on the back of your photographs and record the history of objects you have at home for those who follow.

Wide shot of two volunteers walking up a hillside from left to right with blue sky behind

Donate to make a difference

Your support is essential to help us look after nature, beauty and history. Make a donation today, and together we can protect precious places for everyone, forever.

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