Friday, 17 July 2015

The OCD guide to moving house

Very much not my kitchen
Or, more specifically, to packing up your kitchen.

Moving house is a difficult proposition for anyone.  There are so many things to think about, from changing your address with everyone you've ever met or had business with to packing up everything you've ever owned.  It is stressful, frustrating, and pretty dull with it.  Moving out of a rental property has the added stress that the deposit depends on it being in a good state when you leave.  If you want that money back, you're gonna have to work for it.

As usual, suffering from OCD makes this experience one thousand times worse, as everything feels cluttered and dirty for weeks before and after the move.  The good news is that the compulsion to make lists and clean until your hands bleed is actually useful in this situation.  Let the inner obsessive take the lead and you'll find that the jobs get completed quickly and to a high standard.  Consider it your superpower for the duration of the move.

Today, I discovered that the kitchen is the hardest part of the whole house to pack up and clean.  You would think that The OCD Cook would have a spotless kitchen to begin with, making this a painless task that I could execute with style and grace.

Nope.

If you're soon embarking on a move and the very thought of tackling the kitchen is stressing you out, here are a few top tips*:

1) Start using up the food in your cupboards, fridge and freezer as soon as you know you're moving. There will always be some food left over –  it's your choice as to what you take, what you throw, and what you give to the foodbanks – but take the pressure off by using up what you can beforehand.  Be warned: you might end up with some less-than-inspiring dishes, such as having to eat your weight in tinned tuna in the space of a fortnight.  A big freezer food blowout with friends is maybe a more palatable alternative.

2) Don't bother obsessively cleaning all the pots and pans before you pack them.  You don't want them crusted in food but, in the end, you're probably going to want to clean them once they're unpacked anyway.  Don't create more work for yourself; there will be enough to do anyway.

3) If you're not gonna use it, chuck it.  The same goes for the rest of the house, but kitchens have a habit of accumulating tech and junk in a way that defies belief.  You don't need three kettles; you've not used that smoothie maker yet; the grilled sandwich doodad is caked in crusty cheese: these are all things that can go.  I have an entire cupboard devoted to ice cream cartons that have been cleaned out for leftovers: these are non-essential.  After all, there is always more ice cream to be eaten.

4) Use the patented two-clean method.  This is my favourite way to clean.  Once you've packed up your kitchen stuff, use washing-up liquid to clean out the cupboards, the fridge, the work surfaces: pretty much everything, in fact.  This is great because it gives a good surface clean, lifting all the grime, dirt and stains.  Then, after the move, when you're doing the final go-over of the building, you just have to go over everything one more time, perhaps with kitchen wipes this time (washing-up liquid doesn't always get the grease spots).  The first clean will mean that this is little more than a wipe-around in most places, and you can focus on getting those awkward areas spotless instead. It might sound like twice the work, but the results make it worth it.

5) Get someone else to clean the oven.  My OCD cannot take the mixture of hardcore grime and abrasive chemicals.  This is what your housemate/partner/obliging parent is for.

6) Clean the kitchen in the new place before trying to move anything into it.  A good clean foundation will save stress in the long run.  Ideally, you'll keep the place tip-top for the duration of your stay there, but we're only human.  Start as you mean to go on, and give yourself a fighting chance.

It's a bit late for me this time, but if you have any Kim and Aggie style advice on moving, I'd love to know.  

*Disclaimer: I can only speak for myself.  I take no responsibility for your messy kitchen, lost deposit, or weird-smelling freezer.

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