Spring cleaning has very little to do with normal everyday cleaning. After all, most of your house probably gets cleaned pretty routinely. Spring cleaning is for those things that don’t need to be cleaned as often (and are easy to overlook during routine cleaning), or little problems that sneakily build up over the course of the year. Whatever your normal cleaning habits – whether you’re meticulously clean or a little more laid back in your housekeeping – there are a few rules to follow to make sure your big spring clean hits all those important once-a-year items so they don’t build up and become a problem later.
During the year, it’s easy to clean around things, whether it’s books on a shelf or a heavy sofa. We think, if the thing is there, dirt probably isn’t getting under it anyway, so it isn’t worth the hassle. Spring cleaning is the one time of the year where that excuse won’t work: if you haven’t moved it, or particularly cleaned underneath it, in at least a month, now’s the time. That means taking every book off the shelf, every can out of the pantry, every sock out of the drawer, everything. Empty it out, clean the shelf/drawer/cabinet/closet, clean off whatever you took out of it, and put back everything you plan to keep more neatly than you found it. This goes for your furniture, too, even the pieces you kinda sorta vacuum around: move them and vacuum (or even steam clean) your floors before putting them back. In the kitchen, move all your appliances, too: you’ll be amazed at the nightmares you find under your refrigerator and range.
Now, while you’ve got everything pulled out of your closet/refrigerator/junk drawer/bookshelf/bathroom vanity, take a minute to go through it. Throw out any expired food, medicine, or cosmetics, shred outdated or unneeded paperwork, and donate old clothing, toys, books, DVDs, CDs, or anything else you’ve been keeping around but don’t really use anymore. Not only will this make it easier to get organized and give you more space to work with, it’ll also make your home feel less crowded and cluttered. Especially if you’re like me and tend to hang on to things “just in case” (old appliance manuals, almost-empty cans of paint or detergent, that one nice-sized box, you know what I’m talking about), now’s the time to liberate yourself of it. You’ll be amazed at how much more space you have to spare when you’re done.
This is the big one. You probably wash your floors and surfaces pretty often, but you probably don’t wash your walls or ceilings. Spring cleaning is the time to get out the cobwebs and scrub down all the things you gloss over during the year. That means vacuuming and cleaning your walls and ceiling, popping the screens out of your windows and washing both, cleaning light bulbs and light shades, and cleaning out drains. You should also give all your linens a thorough going over, from your window treatments (including blinds) to your comforter, couches, pillows, and rugs. Don’t forget hard to reach items like the blades on a ceiling fan or the filter on your range hood, easy to overlook items like TV screens, or seasonal things like sweeping off your porch or deck or cleaning out your fireplace.This can be dirty business (and more so the longer you put it off), but also very rewarding, as this is what will make your house really feel cleaner.
Your big spring cleaning push is a good time to do anything that requires annual maintenance. That means everything from replacing the batteries in your fire detector and swapping out your air filters to work that requires a little more elbow grease, like cleaning your refrigerator and air conditioning coils and waxing wood furniture and flooring. If you have natural stone floors or counters, re-seal them, and if you have tile, re-seal the grout. Pull your outdoor furniture out of storage and give it a good clean, polish, and seal, and do the same for your deck. And don’t forget to clear out your gutters! As a general rule, if anything needs to be sealed, polished, deep cleaned, or replaced, now is the time to do it.
Spring cleaning isn’t just about the cleaning, it’s also about the spring. That means that it’s also a good time to change out seasonal clothing and linens – put heavy coats, boots, scarves, and gloves in storage, pack up the thick down comforter and flannel sheets, and maybe change out your curtains. Rugs, throw pillows, and decorative blankets can all be cleaned and swapped out for lighter, springier versions which will not only make your space feel cleaner, but also brighter and more seasonally appropriate.
But you tell me – what’s your favorite part about spring cleaning? And what job are you dreading the most? Let me know in the comments below!