Approach spring cleaning armed with the tools, the strategy and the attitude to get it done right! Spring is officially here and time is marching on toward summer. It’s nearly time to draw the curtains wide, open those windows, let the breeze flow through the house, and enjoy sunshine and fresh air. As I think about this, it makes me happy with the anticipation of enjoying friends at the house, while simultaneously making me physically cringe with anxiety of friends seeing my house. I say this because drawn curtains, sunlight and wind will draw attention to the grimy windows, dirty baseboards, and the dust clumps and fur balls blowing like tumbleweeds across my dull hardwood floors. It’s enough to make me feel overwhelmed with my spring cleaning to do list.
But I know if I break it down, I can spring clean like a boss. The key is to try to tackle it systematically and with a definitive plan. Prior to totally freaking out or even putting it off for another year, just sit down and come up with a strategy. It really helps to write it down so that you visualize your priorities, stay on task, and revel in your progress as you check each item off the list.
Prior to Spring Cleaning
To maximize the experience and set yourself up for success, here are a few things to consider doing:
- Identify some motivators and have them handy.
- For example, lighten the mood and make a fun music playlist to blast out and get your juices going.
- Wear a pedometer or fire up your Fitbit to try to ramp up your intensity, increase your hustle and feel like you are multitasking (exercise and cleaning).
- Or maybe it’s consumables that motivate you. Whether its cold beer and pizza, margaritas and tacos, or ice cream sundaes, whatever will motivate and reward you, plan to have it on hand and use it to motivate you not derail you!
- Consider your strategy and write down your action plan. Whether you are tackling your spring cleaning over the course of a day, two weeks, a weekend or even a month, you need to have a plan. Some find it helpful to have a clipboard that they move through the house with. Others find a white board or poster board is effective. Regardless, draft a strategy, then clearly outline it for easy reference. Below is one from: Simply Kierste.
- You will want a written To Do/Checklist per room
- Ask yourself if it makes sense to divide the house into sections
- Assign each task in writing if you have helpers
- Get into detail and break down larger tasks: Instead of saying "Dust furniture," you might break it down to "Remove items from shelves, dust each item, dust shelves before returning items, wipe down TV stand, clean all electronic components, wipe down lamp shades..." etc. Be specific. If you have visualized the process before you start, you will be ready to succeed.
For a sample of a Deep Spring Cleaning Checklist, check out Martha Stewart's checklist.
10. Purge obvious clutter before you get started cleaning. Stacks of mail, papers, and magazines should be sorted, filed, discarded, shredded or recycled.
11. Furthermore, plan to continue to declutter as you clean each room. Purchase boxes/bins and label them:
- Put Away (in another location)
- Keep (find a location)
Have extras on hand so that you can stay organized if a box or bin becomes full.
Need some inspiration and techniques for decluttering your house? Check out The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home.
12. Buy the necessary cleaning supplies. If you have ever used a maid service, or even if you’ve only watched (green with envy) as the cleaning team enters your neighbor’s house, you probably will recall that they usually have a very organized and easily transportable stash of supplies. Here are the basic cleaning supplies and the elements of an organized cleaning caddy:
- A cleaning apron or smock (I’m not kidding; keeps you clean, has pockets for storing things for easy access.)
- Rubber gloves (if you get lined ones, they are much more comfortable/less sweaty)
- Garbage bags
- Vacuum with attachments
- Dust pan and broom
- Wet mop with bucket/Swiffer with refills
- A cleaning caddy
- Small window squeegee
- Blind duster
- Microfiber cloths
- Regular cloths (old cut up towels work)
- Scrub brush
- No-scratch sponge
- Glass/mirror cleaning solution
- Multi-surface cleaner
- Disinfectant cleaner or wipes
- Tub and tile cleaner
Personally, I have a general household cleaning caddy and a separate bathroom cleaning caddy. I keep the bathroom caddy under the sink in my powder room. There are some duplicate items, but I think it's worth it so I don't need to obsess over the fact that I might accidentally use the same sponge in the kitchen that I did in the bathroom. In which case I would also need to add barf bags to my cleaning caddy. In any case, now you are ready for spring cleaning to commence!
For cleaning tips and spray bottle ideas, check out our post on Clean Bathroom Surfaces.
Cleaning Day (or Days)
13. Display or have handy your previously written To Do/Task List. The visual aid will keep you moving and show your progress.
14. Put on your apron and have your cleaning caddy ready.
15. Have paper ready to make a punch list. This will be a new To Do list of things you discover while cleaning. For example, as you are cleaning your dining room, you realize that the drawer pull on your buffet is loose. You would pause, write down “Tighten drawer pull on buffet” on your punch list. And then guess what you’ll do? Keep cleaning! This punch list will record things that need to be fixed, retouched, tightened, etc., as you discover them. But you first clean, then fix.
16. Have a designated staging area to put the trash, recycling, donations, etc., as your boxes and bins become full. You can lay a tarp or sheet down in the yard to contain this area and keep it organized.
17. A good rule of thumb is to start at one end and move systematically throughout the house. For me, priorities would be kitchen, powder room, 1st floor family room, then living room and dining room & office. Then upstairs to bathrooms, bedrooms, hall closets. Laundry room and pantry are last.
18. It might make sense to save a big-ticket item for it's own day or time frame. If your kitchen is in need of a major deep clean, as well as addressing some re-organizational tasks, such as organizing cook books, culling utensils and pots and pans and excess serving items, clearing out pantries and organizing spices, (not to mention the refrigerator!) etc., you could reserve a full day for that.
19. Start from top to bottom in each room. It doesn't make sense to vacuum the carpet before wiping the dust from the ceiling fans because then you have to vacuum again, right? So as you approach each room, start at the top and work your way down.
20. Don't forget to sanitize frequently touched areas such as door knobs, handles, light switches.
These tips will help prepare you to tackle your spring cleaning in a well-organized manner. Preparation and a strategy will help you knock it so you can start enjoying the fresh, clean rooms and the satisfaction you'll feel afterward!
As you can see from some of the checklists, there's a lot of ground to cover. Next blog post I will tell you how to clean your small appliances, electronic devices and gadgets including cleaning up your data! You might find that decluttering your devices might be as satisfying as spring cleaning your house ... and you don't even need a cleaning caddy.
By Bridget Gorman Wendling
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