It’s coming up on that time of year again. The time to do a thorough spring cleaning of your home.
Where did the idea of spring cleaning come from anyway? It’s believed that the custom dates back to the 19th century. Before vacuum cleaners and dust filtration systems, springtime was the right time to do a deep cleaning because it was warm enough to open the windows and doors to let the winds carry away dust, but still early enough in the year that insects wouldn’t come in.
Even with today’s modern conveniences, it makes good sense to do a systematic cleaning of the entire house at least once a year. But such a task needs good planning.
We recommend diving the house into sections. This way, the task can either be divided amongst family members or can be broken up to be done in several days or over a couple of weekends.
As the kitchen is the most-used room in your home, it makes sense to start here. First, put away any dishes that may be out. Then clear off your kitchen counters of items and wipe them down.
Next, give the floor a good sweeping followed by thorough mopping. Yes, this means actually moving tables and chairs to get underneath them! If you’ve got wood floors, Kelly Ragalie of Treadline Hardwood says to stay away from water. Instead, she recommends using a special hardwood flooring cleaner, such as Swedish Summit Rena Cleaner. If you’ve got throw rugs, now is a good time to wash them.
Next, clean the kitchen faucet and sink. If you need to, soak a paper towel with vinegar and place it around the faucet to remove lime deposits.
Now move to the microwave, wiping it out thoroughly and washing the glass turntable.
Set your oven to self-cleaning mode and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Wipe down the stove top and burners. If you’ve got a stainless steel top, make sure you’re not using an abrasive pad to scrub out stains. This will scratch the surface. Instead, heat up water and pour it on paper towels placed on stubborn stains.
Mix a spray bottle with a 50/50 combination of water and rubbing alcohol and use this to clean the exteriors of stainless steel appliances.
Next, comes the fridge. This is a bigger task, so see if you can pawn it off on one of your family members! We recommend completely emptying the refrigerator first. Then take out shelves and drawers, which can be cleaned in the sink. Now use a sponge, soap and water to completely wipe out the inside of the refrigerator.
Finally, if you’ve got a pantry, spring cleaning time is a perfect time to go through the contents and re-organize. Throw out past-dated items and sort others into groups for easier discovery.
Cleaning the bathroom is best done by breaking it into steps. Before you clean the shower, fill a plastic grocery bag with white vinegar and tape this around your shower head, making sure the head is immersed. Leave this overnight to dissolve built-up mineral deposits.
If you’ve got a shower curtain and plastic liner, put them into the washing machine along with a few towels and a small amount of detergent. When finished, hang to dry.
If you’ve got a glass shower door with calcium build-up, mix a white vinegar with baking soda to create a paste. Apply this to the door and let sit for an hour prior to rinsing.
For the shower, tub and walls, Consumer Reports recommends good ol’ Pine Sol Original for removing soap scum and leaving streak-free mirrors.
For cleaning other surfaces, Real Simple suggests Lysol Bathroom Cleaner, which works great for disinfecting counters and faucets.
Closets & Bedrooms
Spring is the best time to put away Winter clothing and pull out Spring/Summer apparel. While you’re at it, go through these items and separate out items for donation. This is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. The old adage of, “if you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away” definitely applies here. If you can’t be that bold, think about renting a storage unit. You may surprise yourself with the decluttering you can do by storing items rather than keeping them in your home. Take some time to organize the closet and drawers so that everyday items are within reach. Hang items whenever possible to minimize future folding marathons.
For bedding, wash not only your sheets, blankets and pillows, but the mattress pad as well. As for the mattress itself, according to Cleanmyspace.com, deodorizing is a good first step. Sprinkle baking soda over the surface, wait 30 minutes then vacuum using upholstery attachment. Then, if possible, flip the mattress over. Experts recommend this be done quarterly, but once a year is better than none.
The Rest of the House
Now focus on the common areas and details of your house. Dust every surface in your home including tables, bookshelves, mantels, pianos, pictures, and the like. Don’t forget the blades of your ceiling fans either. If you’re feeling particularly adventuresome, dust the top of your kitchen cabinets. At least you’ll know it’s clean!
Next vacuum all floor surfaces thoroughly. As we said earlier, this means actually moving furniture to get underneath and in corners. Use all the attachments you’ve got including the crevice tool along baseboards and vents, the dusting brush to vacuum lampshades, frames, and bookcases, and the upholstery tool for furniture. Check out Good Housekeeping’s “Every Vacuum Attachment, Demystified” for a good explanation of what all these attachments are for.
Next, wash your windows, both inside and out. Vacuum out the sills to remove debris, then use sponge soap and water to remove buildup. Again, not the greatest job but it needs to be done. Kids with good knees and backs are perfect for this task. You’ll also want to remove the screens and wash them. Bob Vila recommends scrubbing them with a solution of three parts water to one part ammonia.
Blinds and curtains come next. For blinds, remove them if possible. Then wipe them with a damp cloth or sponge. You may have to do a little scrubbing. For curtains, it depends on the kind. For fabric curtains, first take them outside and give them a good shake. Then put them in the washing machine on delicate/cold. Dry them on low and hang immediately. For lace or sheer curtains, hand washing them is best due to their delicate nature. Use 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent in a sink filled with cold water. Swirl one panel at a time, then drain the sink and refill it with cold water to rinse the panel.
Keep an Eye Out
As you do this deep cleaning, it’s wise to look for repairs that need to be made. Rather than do them on the spot, make a list and return to it after your cleaning is all done. Repairs could include peeling or chipped paint, caulking, tightening and/or oiling hinges, and other manageable repairs.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be limited to the inside. Take this time to sweep and power wash your patio, clean outdoor furniture, and scour the grill or fire pit.
Divide and Conquer
This list seems long, but if you divide it up, it can all be accomplished in a weekend. Be sure to reward your helpers with a nice dinner or dessert afterwards!