Sunday, 19 October 2014

Autumn Spring-Cleaning

Autumn Spring- Cleaning

On the island the ladies sort out their houses, ready for summer, as soon as the weather improved after Easter. I often arrive on the island to see carpets hanging over balconies. For me this cleaning and putting away happens in reverse. I get out our carpets in spring. I can see that you would not want carpets over the hot summer months, but for us the carpets add some colour to the house, and cover the uneven floors.


Most Lemnians Hang out Carpets in Spring, I clean them in Autumn

My spring cleaning happens in autumn. We, and our guests, have been living in the house for at least six months and so before I leave to return to Australia I take down all the curtains and clean and roll up the carpets for the winter. Then I get them out again when we return in spring.

Washing my Curtains in Autumn

My Cleaning Program

Simple and Cheap.

Simple Cleaning Methods

Because I’m not someone who likes strong disinfectants or strong scents with my cleaning fluids I use bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, unscented soap whenever possible.

 (Takis won’t even let me use any personal scent as he hates strong smells and says it give him asthma.)

 (I don’t mind Maria using something stronger when she does her monthly clean, chlorine is something that might be useful on an island where rubbish is still often piled at street corners, and sewerage is still not connected.)


Maria Cleaning the bathroom with Chlorine!

Our house has been empty over European winter and Maria and Anestis come and tidy up, dust and use the ‘electric scooper’ (vacuum) before we arrive, so the house is pretty clean and ready to use. Then I hang up the curtains and unroll the carpets that were put away for winter.

(Many are the stories we could tell of our Lemnian electric scoopers. They have been used by the men to vacuum up stones of cement and block and break. They have to be lugged up three flights of stairs. When they break they fill the room that has just been clean with a cloud of dust. And Takis always insists on mending them himself, with mixed success, though I still have my fingers crossed for the success of this latest find – a scooper brought found in a roadside dump by Anestis and superbly mended by Takis! This is a story, like that of the mice, that I’m sure will continue next year.)

Some Useful Hints.


Wash Day

I try to avoid dry cleaning. Many things labeled dry-clean only can be washed at home. Not all things though I once tried washing Takis wool dressing gown and it shrunk three sizes. However most wool can be hand washed, but carefully!

I always hang my clothes outside, I love the idea that they are being cleaned by the sun and wind.  In mid summer when the heat is so strong I sometimes hang things out at night, especially delicate things I don’t want to bleach too much.

And believe it or not I still iron some things. This summer one of our guests passed through the kitchen and said with amazement, watching me iron, ‘I’ve not seen one of those in use for years.’ It reminded me of my past memories of wash day, and the passing of the old clothes ringers!


Marble is porous and will stain. I got some bad stains on some marble in the kitchen from tomatoes left to stand on it too long. One way to remove these stains I found was to use mineral turpentine.

Two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with three or four of vinegar poured down your sink outlet with help to keep it from smelling. Leave the mix of 39 minutes, and then flush out with some very hot water.

Autumn Spring Cleaning

Curtains on our |Australian Hills Hoist

Before I roll up my carpets for winter I sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on them to deodorize them, use a light brush to brush it into the fabric, leave of a few hours then vacuum.

I always clean windows with warm water which has a few spoons of vinegar added. Then dry the surface with crumpled newspaper.


You can remove plant stains from vases by filling them with warm water a drop of detergent plus vinegar.

 I put tea leaves and coffee ground on my pot plants. It might give them some nutrients but it definitely acts as mulch.

 And I find one of the best sprays for bugs is grated non-scented soap, which I dissolve in warm water, put in a spray bottle with a little cooking oil. The soap deters and the oil makes sure it sticks on the plant leave, though this application is better done in the evening as it can burn the leaves if applied mid-day.


  1. Hi Julia. Another journey begins. Kind regards Elizabeth

  2. Hello Julia,

    I am like you, strong smells get right into me. Had to smile about your husbands dressing gown! Your curtains look lovely on the line. There is something special about washing hanging out in the breeze.
    Have a lovely week.

  3. For me, spring cleaning is the best. Hahaha! I mean, it can be very exhausting, but the complete feeling of having achieved a huge amount of cleaning done is just heavenly. I like what you do with the carpets. You're very gentle on the fabric, and I think that's very smart, considering how long a carpet really stays with us. Anyway, thanks for sharing that with us, Julia. All the best to you! :)

    Lucy Andrews @ Safeclean