This Two-Step Routine Will Change the Way You Clean (and Reward You For It, Too!)

published Jan 6, 2023
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Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is a free 20-day program that’ll help you reset your home for the year ahead. Sign up here and get all assignments delivered to your inbox. Joining us today is guest cure-ator Rachel Cho, a New York-based floral designer renowned for her dexterity, innate artistry, and impeccable design sense.

As significant as it is to put in the hard work, it’s equally important to stop and smell the roses — literally. It’s easy to get carried away with the busyness of life, but taking the time to appreciate the moment you’re in gives you a much-needed pause (and boost). That’s why today, we’re going to be intentional in this balance: It’s time to clean your space and treat yourself. 

Every Friday of this month, we’re going to dive into cleaning one specific zone in our homes and reward ourselves with a treat. I’ve been looking forward to this decades-long tradition of the January Cure (hello, Friday Flowers!) and believe that it should be considered a regular habit for your cleaning routine. 

Another great thing about this task is that you can choose to do it all on Friday or spread it out over the weekend, whatever works best for your schedule. And you can remix it too, by treating yourself first, then cleaning later, and getting a different kind of treat each week. If flowers aren’t your thing, think about your other senses. Maybe you’ll get yourself some sweets from a local bakery, a new scented candle, or that record you’ve been meaning to buy. You’ve had a busy first week of January getting your home in order, so you deserve a little celebration and downtime. 

Day 5: Clean the floors and treat yourself to flowers

To kick off our first “clean and treat day,” we’re going to lay a nice foundation by tackling our floors. Go ahead and remove dirt and debris by vacuuming and sweeping your floors and rugs. Move things out of the way, if you can, to get under furniture and the rugs too. Then, take the time to mop, spot clean rugs, and get down to business to remove any trouble areas. 

Finally, let’s treat ourselves to some flowers, and today’s guest cure-ator will help you pick out the best blooms — without the big price tag. Rachel Cho, a New York-based floral designer, shares that you can find some really great floral finds at your nearby grocery store. Shops like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a huge floral department, says Cho, which means they are getting a lot of fresh flowers from all over.

In the winter months, flowers such as tulips, amaryllis, flowering quince, anemone, and hyacinths will be in season. When it comes to picking the best flowers at the grocery store, you’re going to want to look for freshness. “You don’t want to grab the thing that came in last week that’s at its last leg,” says Cho. She recommends feeling and looking at the flowers. Is it too open? Is it a bit soft and soggy? You’ll want to skip it. It also helps to do some research on the type of flower too, she adds.

Once you get home, don’t just stick the flowers in a vase. Cho suggests that you inspect each stem, clearing off leaves that’ll touch the water (they promote bacteria growth) and cutting at least an inch off at the bottom — or more, depending on the height of your vase. You want it to be proportional to the vase, says Cho. If any of the stems look soggy, cut off that entire part.

While you can certainly play around with different colors, textures, and types of flowers, Cho recommended starting simple with a single type and then growing from there each week. You can also try to grab the pre-made bouquets at the store and try rearranging them yourselves, says Cho. Just be sure to remove leaves, study each stem, and put it together thoughtfully. 

Finally, admire your work. Place the vase in an area where you’ll be able to see it throughout the weekend as a sweet reminder of your hard work. See you Monday!

CHO’S PRO TIP: To extend the life of your flowers, fill your vase with cold water and put in a drop or two of bleach as well as a teaspoon of sugar, a little bit of flower food, or even Sprite (yes, soda)!

Share what bouquet you put together, as well as photos of your Friday Flowers in the comments below!

More ways to participate in the January Cure:

The Cure Program is a tradition here at Apartment Therapy — it happens every January, April, and September. Click here to learn more about the year-round program and when to sign up.