I’m a cleaning expert – all the things you should NEVER buy for your home, it looks tacky and they harbour filth | The Sun

WHILE decorating a home is an exciting venture to take on, many people don’t consider how large items or little accessories will be cleaned. 

That’s where Kate Croukamp comes in, a cleaning expert who knows a thing or two about keeping a home looking sparkling new. 

Kate, 44, from Australia, has been in the industry for over 15 years after having taken over her parents’ business Mates Rates Bond-Carpets-Pest with her husband Jack, 48, from South Africa. 

The pair’s story starts in Dubai, where they had both been living while working for an airline. 

They met on a flight and quickly hit it off. Before they knew it, they were engaged and wanted to take the plunge into starting a family together. 

They moved to the Gold Coast in Australia, where they continued to work in the travel industry for a number of years while helping out the Mates Rates business on the side. 


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Eventually, they took it on full time and built an empire for themselves and their two children, Eloise, 12, and nine-year-old Evelyn. 

That being said, Kate has observed some frustrating trends that people have adopted into the decor of their homes, making it impossible to clean properly. 

“I find when it comes to designed houses, there's not much thought that's gone into how something is going to be cleaned,” she explained to The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine.

I know exactly what I don’t want in a house if I were to ever build or design a home

Kate told us that most people tend to look at their homes from a design perspective, often drawing inspiration from a showroom or online sites like Pinterest. 

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But they don’t consider what it’ll look like once it’s been cleaned and, as a result, could be in for a shock just a few weeks in. 

“I know exactly what I don’t want in a house if I were to ever build or design a home,” she continued. 

High Gloss Floor Tiles & Mirror Splash Backs

One such thing she definitely wouldn’t want is high gloss floor tiles, “because they will show every single mark or streak. Or, if the sun shines a certain way you can see footprints…” 

Another design mistake she sees often is having a mirror splash back. People think they “look pretty” but when you’re constantly using the kitchen, the tiniest little splash from the tap or stove will leave the glass looking grotty. 

“You’d have to meticulously clean it constantly,” she warned. 

Dark Cupboards

Kate said another thing she finds irritating to clean is black or really dark cupboard fronts. 

“Whether it may be matte or gloss, they show every grease mark, every fingerprint, every streak… They are just impossible to clean,” she shared.

“You will wipe them 10 times and it will still show some kind of mark. And the same would go with even just high gloss kitchen cabinets, whether it be dark or white or light coloured. Again, they will show streak marks and fingerprints on them as well.” 

Ovens With Gas Stove Tops Attached

Ovens with a gas stove top attached to it also drive Kate crazy – a design choice she sees often Down Under. 

“Unless you're cleaning them after every single use, then they quickly start to look really dirty and worn,” she explained. 

And the hot plates on top will “go black very quickly, so you constantly have to clean them”. 

Black Sinks

Much like the UK, black taps and sinks have become a popular trend in Australia, too. But Kate warned that this is not a practical option from a cleaning perspective as hard water can cause a calcium build-up. 

Kate’s top tips

  1. Clean the shower screen once a day
  2. Wipe down high-touch areas like light switches
  3. Stay away from high gloss tiles or cabinets
  4. Built-in bins are a no
  5. Design your home with cleaning in mind

It means you’ll be spending every day scrubbing them down to get them looking new again instead of the tacky mess they might end up being. And, honestly, who has the time? 

Built-In Bins & Turntables

And don’t get Kate started on built-in bins either. While many people feel they’re good to attach to the back of a cupboard to save space, they appear impossible to clean properly. 

“They’ve got food stuck under all the screws,” she said. “If you want to give it a proper cleaning, you have to unscrew the whole mechanism of the bin that’s built into the cabinetry. 

“I see so many disgustingly dirty built-in bins because people just can’t seem to get to all the little corner cabinetries in a kitchen.” 

Turntables inside cupboards are also a big culprit in the cleaning process. What happens if you store onions in there, but one falls to the back of the cupboard and begins rotting? 

Not only are there designs that are hard to clean properly, but there are also some that look very tacky, according to Kate. 

Carpets in Bathrooms & Glass Everywhere

Carpets in the bathroom, for one. They not only harbour a lot of filth without you knowinh but they also look misplaced. 

“I know, for me, anything that has a lot of glass – glass dining tables, glass coffee tables – it adds a whole other element of cleaning,” she went on, explaining that this falls into the tacky category. 

With her many years in the industry, Kate has some serious horror stories as well. 

Many of the jobs she works include end of tenancy cleans that are extra thorough. 

Explaining that she and her team are not there to judge, but to make the client’s life easier, she launched into a story about one particular bedroom she cleaned that left her with heart palpitations. 

“When people remove their furniture from a house, they don't realise what perhaps has been hiding under their furniture until it's fully vacated,” she said. 

“We recently cleaned a house where the carpet was so heavily soiled from pet urine that it squelched under your feet.

Once it goes into the pores of the glass, it's what's known as glass cancer and you can't get rid of it

“You could actually smell it before you entered the house. And this stench was so horrendous that myself and our cleaners actually started to feel queasy and lightheaded. It was almost an acetone type smell. 

“And it was almost impossible to actually clean in those carpeted rooms. I actually got heart palpitations. I've never had this. We were wearing masks, but it just wasn't enough.” 

The urine had gone into the underlay of the carpets and into the sub floor, too. Kate said that they would need to have a “ful acid wash” to remove the bacteria from the urine. 

Kate also spoke to us about common cleaning problems people have difficulties with. 

The shower screen is a big one, according to the cleaning expert. 

“If you can clean or dry your glass shower screen after every use, it will avoid getting what you call a calcium buildup.

“Once it goes into the pores of the glass, it's what's known as glass cancer and you can't get rid of it. It is permanent damage. 

“It's basically etched into the glass, and no amount of chemical or scrubbing or any chemical will get rid of it once it's gone to that point, and it almost looks like it's got water droplets inside the glass.” 

To avoid this, Kate said people should clean the glass once a day and dry it down. 

And when painting the house, she advised people to specifically choose ones that are for wash and wear. 

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“We often see flat ceiling paint used on the walls, but they’re impossible to clean.” 

Need more tips? Visit www.mates-rates.com.au and check out Kate’s TikTok page, here. 

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