If you're a little late getting started on your New Year's resolution to deep clean your home, there's no time like the present. We've rounded up advice from the Which? experts on the main areas to tackle plus the products you'll need to get your home looking its best.
Let's face it - the first two weeks of January can be tough, with dark days and post-holiday blues making it hard to find the motivation to be productive around the home. But now that we've made it past the doldrums of Blue Monday and days are finally starting to get longer and lighter, it could be time to finally tackle the trail of evidence from Christmas and New Year festivities.
From new stains on your carpet to smelly bins, follow our tips to get started.
Top tips to get started
Decluttering, deep cleaning and generally refreshing your home will make it a more pleasant place to be and set a good vibe for the rest of the year. But if your home hasn't had more than a cursory surface clean for a few weeks (or months), the sheer scale of the task may seem overwhelming. If so, the key thing is to break it down into manageable chunks.
Rather than flitting from room to room wafting a duster at random areas, experts say that it's best to start a single task and finish it properly, giving you a satisfying sense of achievement.
A good first step is to tidy and declutter all your rooms. Rather than just moving items around, put away clothes, toys and unused items.
Next, get out your duster and vacuum cleaner to tackle the worst of the accumulated dust and any stray pine needles. Make sure you choose the right vacuum setting for the surface, and go over surfaces more than once to suck up every last speck. Check our advice on how to vacuum your floors effectively to reap maximum rewards for your efforts.
Once your surfaces are clutter and dust-free, it'll be easier to identify what's in need of further attention. Here are some key areas to tackle that can often be overlooked.
Cooking up and indulging in a series of Christmas feasts can result in the accumulation of grease, and areas in need of a proper scrub, including.
The kitchen sink: a clogged pipe can make water slow to drain, make it harder to clean the rest of your sink, and can eventually start to smell. Make it one of the first things you tackle, using the best drain blockers and home remedies.
Cooking appliances: the hob and oven are obvious cleaning targets, but your cooker hood and surrounding area can also build up grease and grime that a casual wipe won't shift. Don't be put off if you don't know how to address it - our tips on how to clean your cooker hood will make it easy.
Your rubbish and food waste bins:these are areas it can be tempting to ignore, especially if they're tucked away in a drawer or cupboard. But even with regular surface cleaning they can get smelly, so give them a thorough wash and scrub once in a while. After cleaning your bin, try placing bicarbonate soda or cat litter at the bottom to minimise bad smells in the future. Don't neglect your outdoor bins either; check our tips for deep cleaning your wheelie bin.
Fridge: address unnoticed spills, clean out drawers and get rid of all the food leftovers. This will avoid bad smells and prevent bacteria from spreading. Check our video for more ideas.
Freezer: you've probably been opening and shutting your freezer more than usual in recent weeks, and unless you've got a frost-free model, it could have grown an extra layer of ice. Defrosting it doesn't have to be a major chore, and you can be more efficient about it by planning in advance and getting all the tools you need together.
Dishwasher: its easy to forget that appliances that are designed to clean sometimes need cleaning themselves, especially after periods of intense use. With a dishwasher, small amounts of food can get trapped in areas such as the filter. Find out how how to clean the filter, door seals and other tips.
De-grime your bathroom
Unblock your shower drain: the culprit may be different but, just like the kitchen, this is an area where pipes can get clogged. If your shower tray is slow to drain, try a shower drain unblocker. Remember to wear gloves and old clothes.
Tackle limescale and mould: grime, limescale and mould can easily build up in grouting and other wet areas. You can buy specialist products from supermarkets and DIY stores to shift tough dirt and limescale, or even anti-mould grout-reviving pens.
Deal with early signs of condensation or damp: this is as much about prevention as cure. The more that condensation builds up, the likelier the chance of it causing mould or other damage, so clear it regularly with an old towel or squeegee. Check our guide for more tips on how to manage damp in your home, in and out of the bathroom.
Wash your shower curtain: these can be hard to clean in-situ, so consider taking yours down for a proper wash (check the care labels for how to do so).
If, despite your best cleaning efforts, your bathroom still looks a little worse for wear, some parts may need a bit more TLC. Making your bathroom look good doesn't have to mean replacing the whole suite, though: check our helpful tips on how to update your bathroom on a budget.
Give your living room some love
With working from home back on the cards for the time being, many of us will be spending plenty of time in our living rooms. Giving yours a proper refresh can make it a more pleasant place to work. Key areas to tackle include:
Your carpet: a good carpet cleaner, which washes rather than just vacuuming your carpet, can help to restore it to its former glory. You can rent carpet cleaners from some high street retailers or dry cleaners or, if you've got lots of carpets in your home, you may want to buy your own. Read our carpet cleaner reviews to help decide what works best.
Your sofa:Christmas nibbles on the sofa will inevitably lead to post-Christmas crumbs under the cushions. If your sofa's inneed of a general clean, see our tips on how to clean your sofa, to get the best results.
Stains on fabrics: during Christmas celebrations, the odd spill is inevitable. The sooner you tackle them, the better, but even dried in stains don't have to be a disaster. We've tested a selection of fabric stain removers, including branded stain removers and home remedies, to recommend the best for removing different types of stain. Find out if lemon juice or baking soda are a match for shop-bought stain removers.
Your chimney: if you have a chimney, getting it sweptregularly is vital for ensuring it doesn't get overloaded with sooty deposits. Any obstructions could become a fire hazard and will prevent smoke escaping from your home properly. You should also have your stove serviced annually to make sure it's working efficiently and safely, so if you haven't already now would be a good time to do it.
Need a bit of help getting your home ship-shape? For professional cleaning services, including carpet cleaners, search for a Which?-endorsed Trusted Trader near you.
Don't forget your bedroom
Your bedroom may not have suffered as much as other areas from the impact of the holidays, but that doesn't mean it should be entirely ignored.
A particular area for attention should be your mattress. This is easy to forget about as it's covered by bedding most of the time, but cleaning your mattress is key to avoid dust mites, which can trigger or cause allergies, and remove stains. Check our guide on how to clean a mattress.
If you've had your mattress for more than eight years, it could be time to consider replacing it. Take a look at our best buy mattresses to find one that give you the right support now and for years to come. Alternatively, if you're looking for better sleep on a budget, a new mattress topper might be a good option.
The start of the year is also an ideal time to declutter your wardrobe. Sort through your clothes, and send any that are old or don't fit you to charity. They'll be happy to resell anything in good nick. Some charities or clothes recycling banks will even be able to make use of worn out, holey items - even socks and underwear. Alternatively you can recycle your oldest clothes as cleaning rags; old t-shirts make particularly good kitchen rags.
Beyond cleaning: nailing down minor DIY jobs
If you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, January can also be a good time sort out minor DIY jobs that can help you make the most of your space.
Whether it's finally putting up that picture that's been propped against a wall for months, putting together a new flat pack unit to tidy away your books, or fixing a wonky shelf, our reviews of the best screwdriver sets and hammers can help make light work of these small but important home improvements.