Queen of Clean Aggie MacKenzie rallies the nation to tick off their lockdown to-do lists.

 New research reveals that over two-thirds (68%) of Brits admit to putting off tedious household tasks until they can’t be ignored any longer

  • Nearly half claim that the tasks they had set themselves at the beginning of the latest lockdown have yet to be tackled as they ‘can’t be seen’.
  • Gas Safe Register (GSR) teams up with Queen of Clean Aggie MacKenzie to inspire the nation to tackle their outstanding household to-do lists before lockdown restrictions lift.

With two months to go until the expected lifting of lockdown measures in June, garden maintenance (29%), cleaning the windows (27%) and scrubbing the oven (24%) are ranked as the top three jobs that the nation is determined to tackle.

However, worryingly, when it comes to gas safety in our homes, only one in 10 (10%) are hoping to book in a safety check or service this spring for their gas appliances, with a third (33%) also admitting that gas safety checks often slip to the bottom of their to-do lists.

With a tendency to procrastinate on chores that we’re not excited about, when it comes to the reasoning as to why there are still outstanding household tasks on their to-do lists this year, almost half (47%) admit they’ve put them to the back of their minds as they ‘can’t see’ them, and more than two-fifths (42%) cite a lack of motivation.

 Aggie MacKenzie, (www.aggiestips.com) has been keeping us clean, organised and tidy for two decades since appearing on Channel 4’s How Clean is Your House?, says: “Personally, I love getting the less glamorous household tasks ticked off my to-do list! But if it brings you less enjoyment, now’s the time to get the sensible sorted and a gas safety check with a registered engineer should be top of that list. “Booking in your annual service now will reduce disruption in the long term. Get it booked while we’re still at home, so that your summer can be that bit more carefree!”

In fact, tackling the more tedious tasks can be good for us. Over two-thirds (68%) of Brits admit to getting a positive boost and a serotonin hit when they do tick these tasks off the admin list.

TV behavioural psychologist Emma Kenny, who is also supporting Safe Register’s campaigning efforts, shares her thoughts on why we get a buzz from being sensible. She says: “Life in lockdown has felt overwhelming and fatigue has well and truly set in. It’s easy to understand why many of us have found it difficult to tackle those tasks we had set out to do at the start of the year. “Getting on top of your life admin – including those tasks that we often ‘can’t see’ and put to the back of our minds – is great for positive mental health and wellbeing. Knowing that you’ve ticked off important tasks, such as having your gas appliances checked, so that you protect both yourself and your family, is a small win that makes a huge difference to all of our lives. “Getting organised this way helps you to feel in control of your world, while ensuring the safety of the people that mean the most to you. The science clearly shows that when you feel that you’re on top of your roles and responsibilities you feel happier and more content, which is something everyone needs after the challenging year we’ve faced.”

This spring, Gas Safe Register is encouraging Brits to ensure that the servicing of gas appliances in their homes (which should be booked annually) is at the top of their to-do lists. From cookers and boilers to gas fires, many faulty appliances left unchecked can pose life-threatening risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning, a gas leak and – in some instances – fires…or even an explosion.  This has proved to be as important as ever, with the research showing a lack of knowledge among Brits around the signs of an unsafe gas appliance. More than four in 10 (42%) wrongly thought that smoke was a sign of an unsafe gas appliance, a third (30%) claimed the smoke alarm going off was a signal, while 16% attributed mould and 10% a build-up of dust.

Bob Kerr from Gas Safe Register added: “As it starts to get warmer and the further easing of lockdown restrictions are now firmly in sight, you probably haven’t given your boiler a second thought! But after a heavy winter of use since we’ve all spent more time than usual in our homes, spring is the ideal time to book in your annual gas safety check with a Gas Safe registered engineer. “As today’s research shows, with a lack of awareness of the signs and symptoms of an unsafe gas appliance, it’s even more important to make sure that your appliances are fit for use. You can find and check a registered engineer local to you on our Gas Safe Register website. There’s never been a more apt time to be Better Gas Safe than Sorry.”

Aggie’s spring to-do list before lockdown ends: 

  1. Clean the windows

Let the sun shine in! Buy some microfibre cloths specially for glass and mirrors. Wash the dirt off with warm water plus a drop of washing up liquid using a cotton cloth then dry with the microfibre cloth. Your windows will be clear and streak-free.

  1. Tackle the dust on the tops of kitchen cupboards and high-up/out-of-reach surfaces

Get the ladder out, climb to the places you don’t normally reach and prepare to be horrified! For general dustiness, use warm soapy water wrung out in a clean terry cloth – old towels ripped up are ideal. Damp dusting is far better than dry – the dust sticks to the cloth rather than flies around the room to land on a different surface. While you’re up there, take down lampshades for cleaning.  You’ll need to change your water and cloths often (you can’t clean with a dirty cloth). Wipe down doors, walls and skirting boards.

If there’s a gap between the tops of your kitchen cupboards and the ceiling, the surface will be covered in greasy dust. Not that anyone sees it, but you know it’s there. Once you’ve cleaned it off (old-fashioned washing soda solution is the thing here), place a layer of newspaper over to catch any future grot. Remove and replace every few months and you’ll never have to clean it again.

  1. Book a gas safety check

Your boiler will have seen a lot of use over this past winter – in fact more than ever with us having spent so much more time at home. With the weather warming up, you might put your annual gas safety check to the back of your mind, but there’s no better time than now to get it done.

Spring is the ideal time to get a gas safety check booked in – Gas Safe Registered engineers are less busy so it’s easier to get an appointment, and it also means you can rest easy knowing that your gas appliances are safe for use once the weather turns cold again in the autumn.

It can also save you money in the long term – if your appliances are working more efficiently it means they’ll use less energy, meaning you can make savings on your bills.

  1. Cleaning the oven

We all know that the best way to keep an oven clean (if you don’t have a self-cleaning model) is to wipe it down after every use. But how many of us actually do that? If you’ve left it a long time, coat all interior surfaces (as long as they’re smooth enamel) with a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda and water; leave overnight. Scrub with warm water and a scourer.

If baked-on grease is covering the glass of the oven door, apply some soapy water then go at it with a scraper from the DIY shop (the sort used for removing splashes of paint from window glass after decorating). Easy-peasy and it won’t leave any scratches. For the cooker extractor filter, simply detach it from the base of the cooker hood and stick in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.

 Painting/decorating the house

From 17 May, we’ll finally be able to welcome people into our homes again. I’m sure everyone wants their place to look as good as possible for when we can have visitors over. Simply giving your living-room a lick of paint in a fresh colour can give it a new lease of life and a lovely transformation.

  1. Cleaning behind the fridge

While the fridge is pulled out, clean the cooling elements at the back with the upholstery attachment of your vacuum, then wipe with a soft cloth wrung out in warm soapy water. This’ll help your fridge to run more efficiently (and cheaply).

  1. The showerhead/curtain/taps/screen/

Unscrew the showerhead and soak overnight in a bowl filled with warm water and clear vinegar (half and half). In the morning, rinse under the tap and most (or all) of it will fall away. Rub away any scale left behind with a nylon scrubber. NB: only use this remedy on bog-standard chrome fixings – vinegar will strip away any special finishes.

If your shower curtain’s gone a little mouldy at the base, whip it off the rail and run on a shortish cycle in the washing machine using biological detergent. If spots of mould are still present at the end of the cycle, wear a pair of rubber gloves, apply a little neat bleach to the spots and rub with a cleaning pad. Rinse and rehang.

Chrome taps grotty with limescale? Douse paper towel in equal parts clear vinegar and water and wrap around the tap. Cover with a plastic bag held in place with an elastic band. Leave overnight, rinse off and buff to a shine with a dry microfibre cloth. (Don’t use on special-finish taps.)

Limescale on the shower screen? No need for harsh products. Remove the worst on glass shower enclosures with a DIY scraper for paint splatters then ‘wallpaper’ the glass with sheets of vinegar-drenched kitchen roll. Leave a few hours then remove paper and rinse down. Buff dry with a microfibre glass cloth. For chrome taps, envelop with vinegary kitchen paper, cover with a plastic bag and secure with a rubber band. Leave overnight and in the morning the scale will flake off.

  1. Pillows…

You can be sure that a fair proportion of a pillow’s weight is made up of skin scales, dandruff, sweat, saliva and goodness knows what else, so you need to clean them at least once a year. When the sun’s shining, wash them (two at a time) in the machine (check the care label first) and put them straight out on the line. Feather-filled pillows need to dry quickly: if they hang about damp for a few days the feathers will develop mould and they’ll be ruined. If the rain’s back on, stick them in the tumble dryer with a few white tennis balls to stop the filling clumping. And it’s a good idea to cover them with pillow protectors to protect from soiling. Manmade filling is much easier to maintain; follow the washing instructions on the label.

…and duvets Single duvets can go into the washing machine; check the label for instructions. Any duvets larger than single size normally need to be taken to the launderette but some of modern machines have a very large capacity, so check first. As long as the item goes into the machine easily and there’s a bit of space between the duvet and roof of the drum, you’ll be fine.

  1. Garden maintenance and cleaning your greenhouse

Those of us lucky enough to have a garden have found it to be a godsend over the past year. So make sure you take care of the outside space that’s taken care of you. Hydration is crucial as the temperature rises – water your plants regularly and pull out any weeds.

Whether glass or plastic, cleaning the greenhouse hugely improves the environment for growing plants, and Jeyes fluid is good for the job. Remove the algae, moss and grime to allow more light in (and you’ll cut down on pests and diseases too).

  1. Rescue the barbie

If your barbecue was put away last year without being cleaned, don’t just chuck it away in disgust. Take a handful of scrunched-up aluminium foil across the cooking area – this will quickly remove most of the grot, then finish cleaning in a sink of hot soapy water using a pot scrubber. Rinse, dry and light your coals!

Gas Safe Register’s six simple steps to help householders stay Better Gas Safe Than Sorry this spring, are:

  1. Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service your appliances. You can find and check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  2. Check both sides of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they’re qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.
  3. Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  4. Check gas appliances for warning signs that they’re not working properly: for example, lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and condensation in the room.
  5. Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there’s carbon monoxide in your home.
  6. Have all your gas appliances serviced and safety-checked every year. If you rent your home, ask for a copy of the landlord’s current gas safety record.

Research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of the Gas Safe Register. 3Gem surveyed 2,000 respondents within the UK (aged 18+) in March/April 2021.

About Gas Safe Register:

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances. By law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. To find a Gas Safe registered engineer visit gassaferegister.co.uk/find-an-engineer/or call 0800 408 5500. Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in 2009.

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