The words "spring cleaning" might strike fear deep into your heart, but I'm here to tell you that it is totally doable, and that you will love the difference it makes in your home. As soon as March hits, I start thinking about spring cleaning. I like to take a couple of months (March & April) to get it all done, rather than all it once--otherwise it just seems to overwhelming, or I kill myself (and my family, lol) in a week to finish. I've learned a lot about what works for me, and I'm going to share my tips with you.
1. Make a list!
This probably comes as no surprise, since I love lists so much, but it's the number one thing you can do to get your spring cleaning done. If you know what you need to do, and have a place to check it off, you will be much more successful. It's wonderful to see yourself making progress, and staying organized in the process. I've created a printable of my own spring cleaning list, along with boxes to check as you finish each task. Print it out, and keep it in a binder, or even place in a frame and use a Sharpie to check items off. (Sharpie comes right off with a paper towel and water, but not easily with a hand.)
2. Have a plan!
Once you have your list in place, decide which tasks are going to be done when--make a schedule. Like I said earlier, I schedule tasks out through March and April. Some I plan to do during the day, when my kids are home, and they love to help me dust, use the lint roller, and clean glass. Others I know need to be saved for a Saturday, when I have more time, and when my husband is home to help tackle some of the bigger and heavier jobs. Spreading it out makes it so much more doable and approachable, and you won't feel like it's going to consume your whole life. Part of your plan can be to enlist help--kids can be great helpers, and you may even want to offer some of the jobs as possible ways to earn extra money!
3. Get prepared!
Make sure you have everything you need ahead of time, and then once you start, you won't have to stop or put it off. I like using a cleaning caddy, and I keep all necessary cleaners and supplies in it. It's so handy to store, and then to carry from room to room. I suggest creating something similar for yourself--it really helps, and I use it for all my regular cleaning as well. If you need to purchase new batteries, air filters, or cleaning supplies, get it done first! If you know you'll need to rent a carpet cleaner to do it yourself, or if you're hiring someone to do it, schedule it in advance.
Once everything has been checked off on your spring cleaning list, plan to maintain it through the year. If you do, next year's cleaning will be so much easier! For example--I regularly do some of these tasks, like washing mattress pads/bedskirts, cleaning the oven, washing down cupboards, dusting ceiling fans, vacuuming out couches, etc. These are things that need to be done more often at my house, and it may differ at yours. I'm a BIG believer in maintenance cleaning, I know it saves a lot of time and energy in the long run.
Now let's take a look at the list itself! In order to fit everything on the printable, I couldn't go into as much explanation as I would otherwise. I'm just going to touch on a few things here...
* Mop on hands and knees? What? I personally believe it doesn't matter what kind of mop or steamer you own, nothing beats a really good scrubbing on your hands and knees, if you're able. It's the best way to get into corners, crooks, and crannies, and the only way to clean the space between the floor and up under where your cupboards end. If it's a wood floor, I use vinegar and water. If it's tile, I use a good cleaner intended for tile.
* This is the perfect time to clean out all your drawers and cupboards, and discard anything you don't use, and haven't used in the past year. Are there any small appliances that don't work? Or that need to be cleaned? Old spices? Use a hose attachment on your vacuum to suck out all those crumbs that magically make their way into your drawers! I like to use a solution of vinegar and water to clean the exterior surfaces of my cabinets--it's great to get rid of all the fingerprints and griminess!
* If you can move your fridge/freezer, I highly recommend it. It's amazing what you'll find behind there!
* You probably wipe down and clean your stove after you finish eating or cooking, but spring cleaning is the time to take off the knobs, remove burners (if you can),
* I replace my pillows every year. It's just my thing--I love clean pillows. I do buy synthetic pillows--they're cheaper, and my kids tend to go through them sometimes even faster than a year. Both synthetic and down pillows can also be washed, but it's important to follow specific instructions so they aren't ruined--either the batting getting mushed up, or down getting moldy. Here's a link to washing/drying care...
* Washing a mattress pad is good to do once a month, but this is a great time to do both the pad and the bedskirt. I'm able to fit my quilt/comforter in my washer, so I do it at home, but yours may require either dry cleaning or a large capacity washer/dryer at a local laundromat.
*Newer mattresses no longer require being flipped or rotated (they probably told you when you bought it), but older mattresses still do. We still have an older mattress, and spring cleaning is a great time to go ahead and do it!
* Changing out seasonal clothing is something I actually do twice a year, but towards the end of spring is the time to take out sweaters, coats, and other heavy winter items and put them into summer storage.
*We all know to clean out the lint when you throw a load of laundry into the dryer. However, there can be a build-up of lint that you can't see, and doesn't come out when you remove the lint screen. Depending on your dryer, there should be a front panel of the dryer that you can remove with a screwdriver, and be able to remove any excess lint. A friend recently did this after her friend had a house fire due to her dryer, and it was amazing how much extra lint was in there! PLEASE MAKE SURE to read your owner's manual before doing this--and make sure you know where to look and follow all safety instructions.
I put these all under the label "general", because they are applicable for every room in the house. For me, figuring out how I wanted to go about it was the hardest part, i.e. room by room, or task by task? The answer will probably be different for everyone, and depend on your time and schedule.
*A long, extendable duster is perfect for all the high dusting--ceiling fans, vents, fans, etc. I use one by Swiffer that works really well, and it goes pretty quickly.
*Most draperies/curtains won't get so dirty that you have to wash them, but you'll just need to check them one-by one for stains that need to be removed. If you do need to launder them, make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions, as it will greatly depend on the material as to how they need to be cared for. If they don't need to be washed, you can just use a hose attachment on your vacuum and gently remove the dust that's accumulated. Sheer curtains can be placed in the dryer on a low setting to remove dust.
* Windows. Ugh. Admittedly, this is my least favorite chore, but will make one of the biggest differences. Washing windows inside and out, vacuuming out all windowsills, and removing screens to rinse them before replacing are a big job, but the end result is fabulous. I usually vacuum the windowsills on a different day than I wash, just to break it all up.
* Spring cleaning is the perfect time for any and all safety inspections that need to happen in your home. Smoke and carbon detectors should be tested to make sure they work, and batteries replaced if needed. Fire extinguishers can be checked, and any expired prescriptions or other medications should be safely discarded.
* Washing walls used to be so easy for me. *sigh* In our new house, it's all flat paint, which makes me CRAZY. I can't wait to paint over it with satin paint! I actually have a whole post coming up about how to clean flat paint, so if you have it too, stay tuned. If you have flat paint, you can't wash the walls, but you can spot clean them using a sponge--DON'T use a cleaning cloth or rag! Or...you just have to touch-up with paint.
So...are you READY???
Remember, you can totally do this, and your home will thank you for it. If you have any questions, please let me know!
Disclaimer: PLEASE read all your specific owner's manuals for all appliances, and directions for all supplies, materials and cleaners that you use. Read labels on bedding, curtains, and anything you attempt to wash or clean. Safety is a priority, and information will vary from product to product. This list is MY list, and is my opinion only. REMEMBER: It's important to gather your own information, and make final decisions based on what you find out.