The University Clean Off

7 min read

The University Clean Off: Five Household Chores All Students Should Complete Before Heading Home For Christmas

As university students pack their bags and prepare to say goodbye to their mates before heading home for Christmas, there’s one chore many will be dreading – the end of semester clean. 

In a bid to make this unwanted task that little bit easier, we’ve put together a handy guide outlining the five chores all student houses should complete to ensure they return to a clean and well-maintained property in January.

Student cleaning habits 

In order to fully understand the chores people needed the most help with and to build up a picture of their cleaning habits, we surveyed 100 students from across the UK. We found:

The kitchen is the dirtiest place in student houses

When asked ‘what the dirtiest part of their house was’, 47% of students said it was the kitchen, 20% believed it was their bathroom, with another 20% saying it was their housemates bedroom.  13% of students said it was the lounge. Unsurprisingly none of them confessed to it being their own bedroom…..how convenient. 

A pie chart titled "what is the dirtiest part of your house?" Kitchen is at 47%, Bathroom is at 20%, Housemates room is at 20%, and Lounge is 13%.

Students clean the communal areas in their house once a week

When asked ‘how often they clean the communal areas in their houses’, 54% of students said every week, with 33% saying they cleaned every few days. Rather alarmingly, 13% said they never cleaned the communal areas in their house – yuck! 

Bleach is the most common cleaning product found in student houses

All 100 students surveyed said they had bleach or a toilet cleaning alternative in their house. The second most common item was a mop, followed by a vacuum and washing up liquid. Just 27% of students have a duster in their house – better mind them cobwebs.

A graph titled "Which of the following do you have in your house?" The cleaning products listed are - Vacuum, Mop, Brush/dustpan, Hand Soap, Toilet Brush, Duster, Bleach, Surface cleaner, and Washing up liquid. Bleach is the most popular with 100 responses.

Every student plans to clean their house before heading home for Christmas

There’s nothing like having great intentions and students are the best at talking a great game. All 100 people surveyed said they would clean their house before they go home. Post-Christmas house inspections anyone?

Parents will be kept busy washing dirty clothes

We all know as Christmas edges closer the size of students’ washing piles also grows. Predictably, 67% of students said they would be taking dirty washing home with them – lucky parents!

The five chores all students should complete before leaving for Christmas 

It’s almost the end of the first semester and having spent the majority of your time stuck indoors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic your house is likely to be a bit of a mess. As it can be daunting deciding which areas of your house you need to focus on the most, we’ve identified five chores all students should complete before going home for Christmas. While many of the jobs aren’t glamorous, you’ll thank yourself when you return in January with a head full of revision. Not to mention, it’ll save you a lot of time come the summer if you’ve kept on top of your essential chores. 

1. Defrost your freezer 

Having a freezer really is a godsend for those days when you simply can’t be bothered to cook. Whether it’s reheating an old meal or simply whacking some frozen chips into the oven, sometimes we just want a dinner which requires little effort. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for ice to start building up in your freezer and if you’re not careful before long it’s lost half of its storage capacity. Although it’s a messy and time-consuming job, now is a great time for you to defrost your freezer ready for next semester. 

The safest way to do this is by letting your freezer defrost on its own once you’ve turned it off. You should take all of your items out before you do this and put them in a cool bag with ice packs. Then, lay newspaper down around the freezer to stop any puddles of water building up on the floor as the ice melts. You should also put dry towels down inside of your freezer to soak up any water. Once all of the ice has melted, dry the freezer and give it a clean as this is the best chance you’ll get to do this. Switch the freezer back on and give it a couple of hours to cool down again. You should then return your frozen food to the freezer making sure any food that has started to defrost is thrown away. 

2. Protect your water pipes from freezing 

Plummeting temperatures and empty houses are a recipe for disaster as far as frozen pipes are concerned. In order to avoid returning to frozen taps or worse even, a burst water pipe, you should take the time to protect your pipes before you head home for Christmas. Here are two quick and easy ways you can do this.

  1. Invest in insulation – While it might sound obvious, insulating your pipes with sponge covers works an absolute treat and it can be done at very little cost. Insulation is widely available at all of the major homeware stores and can be easily wrapped around your pipes. You should pay particular attention to the pipes in unheated spaces of your house such as the attic.
  2. Open bathroom and kitchen cupboards – Giving your pipes access to heated air is vital in helping to prevent ice blockages and pressure buildups. Just make sure the last person to leave doesn’t forget to do it!

3. Clear kitchen/bathroom sinks 

Having to unblock a sink is many people’s worst nightmare and if you’ve ever had to do it you’ll certainly understand why. The great news is you can stop it getting to this stage by keeping on top of any small clogs. After a whole semester of use it is likely both your kitchen and bathroom sinks will need clearing out. 

There are two really effective ways of doing this. The first is to use baking soda and vinegar. You should start by pouring a couple of tablespoons of baking soda down your plughole followed by vinegar. You’ll then hear some fizzing and froth may even come back up the plughole. Once the reaction settles down, tip some hot water down to flush the pipe through. 

While the second method is far more hands-on and much less glamorous it is sure to make a big difference. You’ll simply need a small bucket, wire coat hanger and a strong mind. Look under your sink and find the U-bend, it’ll be the first bend in the pipe immediately below the plughole. Put your bucket beneath the U-bend and gently unscrew that section of the pipe. As you loosen the pipe, water will pour out, so take your time. Once water has stopped coming out, remove the U-bend and use the coat hanger to clean out the inside of the pipe. After you’ve cleaned it, put the U-bend back into place and turn the tap on to make sure everything is back in the right position. 

4. Disinfect your bins 

It’s hard enough getting your housemates to take the bins out so it’s almost nailed on that none of you have given your bin a proper clean since you moved in. Let’s be honest it’s a grim job! While you might have become accustomed to the slightly off-putting odor which might be coming from your bin, when you return to your house after Christmas the smell will only be all the more unbearable. It is therefore a good idea to disinfect your bin before you leave for Christmas not only so you don’t return to a horrid smell but also to prevent any unwelcome visitors from turning up while you’re away. 

After you’ve removed your bin bag, take the bin outside and fill it with warm water and liquid disinfectant. Using rubber gloves and a cloth, give the whole bin a good scrub, making sure you’ve reached into all of the corners. While a bin is never going to stay sparkling clean for long, it saves you having to get your hands dirty when you’re in the middle of revising for your exams in January. You’ll thank yourself for it…honest.

5. Turn off appliances 

It’s a very simple tip but it’s unbelievable how many students forget to do this. If your house is going to be empty then you should make sure you don’t waste unnecessary electricity and turn off all of the appliances which don’t need to be on. We all know students don’t have money to throw away, so switch them plugs off and save those pennies for your next night at the pub.

Find out more about how a water softener could reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning