How to Get the Most out of This Year's Spring Cleaning
Now that we're almost halfway through April and winter is fading away in most areas of the country, the glorious, long-awaited spring sunshine is starting to find its way into the corners of our homes.
While the light certainly adds a "spring" to our step, it also has a knack for highlighting the dust and grime that winter was hiding. Suddenly, windows look streaky. Floors look dirty. And that stain on the carpet is whole lot easier to see (we still love you, Fido).
The transition from winter to spring is a perfect time to take care of this grime that has built up or gone unnoticed during the winter months. And many people like to do not just a surface clean, but a deep, thorough clean.
The thought can be overwhelming, but it is doable and will leave you feeling fresh and ready to take on the year. If you're someone who wants to experience a more effective spring clean, check out our tips and get closer to your cleaning goals.
Why Should I Spring Clean?
The European tradition of a spring deep clean comes from the end of winter—warmer weather allowed people to open windows and doors and clean out their homes.
But it's not just a European thing. There are many cultures that have some kind of yearly tradition which includes deep cleaning, from the burning of junk piles (sometimes with an effigy of the devil atop the heap) in Guatemala's Quema del Diablo to cleaning statues of Buddha (and also a modern water-throwing festival) in Thailand's Songkran.
Whatever your background, a good clean brings peace of mind for the freeing summer months ahead. Come summer, you don't want to be applying tanning lotion or hosting a family barbeque in a home that still hasn't shed its winter grime.
First, Focus on the Stuff
A good first rule of a deep clean is to clear away the top layer of what is junking up your home: things.
One way to do this is suggested in Marie Condo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Instead of looking at decluttering as the process of getting rid of certain things, look at it as though you are picking things you really want to keep. Assume everything is going to go except for those few things that "spark joy" (Condo's words) when you touch them.
While Condo looks at decluttering as a spiritual practice, others suggest focusing on fun while decluttering. Becoming Minimalist suggests 10 creative ways to declutter, like taking the 12-12-12 challenge or using the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment.
However you do it, whittling your possessions down to include mostly just the things you need and use is a very freeing process. And whether you choose to live a minimalist lifestyle or just get rid of some of your excess things, decluttering will help make the cleaning process a lot easier.
Then, Plan for Harder-to-Clean Areas
An important part of a good spring cleaning is to focus on the areas that you don't normally clean. Think outside-the-box (or inside-the-box, depending on what it is you're thinking about). Do you have high light fixtures that need some attention? Has the floor beneath your refrigerator seen the light of day recently? What about the inside of your oven? The windows?
Make a list of things that could benefit from a good clean. Then get prepared with the tools you'll need ahead of time so you don't have to run to the store multiple times throughout your clean.
Also, don't worry if you're starting to feel overwhelmed—we'll address that later.
...Yes, Even the Spots You've Been Avoiding
Don't forget about the areas that seem overwhelming or gross. This could be things like a clogged shower drain you pretend isn't there, or maybe that bright red wine stain you've covered with a plant. Maybe it's something that seems like too big a project, like cleaning the walls or the oven.
You may be hoping these projects will go away on their own, but if you use this year's spring cleaning to tackle them, you'll be able to mentally prepare yourself and feel lighter for the rest of the year.
If you have the resources, you could even treat yourself to hiring help for some of the projects you most dislike. Or you could enlist the your family and friends and make a party of it.
Spring Cleaning Planning Tips for the Overwhelmed
Since there are seemingly infinite things to clean, you can quickly go down a cleaning rabbit-hole. You might start with trying to just clean your bedroom, but end up on the floor for hours in a pile of old letters and bank statements.
One way to steer clear of the rabbits' dreaded living quarters is to make a couple lists to organize things based on priority:
- Top-Priority List – This list could include bigger projects, which are things you can get done on your major spring-cleaning day or weekend.
- Secondary List – On this list, write down those smaller projects that you've been wanting to get to, but could space out over a few weeks or months to avoid burnout.
And as you're knocking out the high-priority list, don't let yourself become distracted with side projects. As they come up, add them to the lower-priority list for peace of mind and move on.
For example, if you're wiping down your walls and notice holes that need filling, instead of running to get the spackling for a two-hour project that takes you away from finishing the walls, write it down on your list for things to do later.
You can even organize your tasks under the umbrella of a spring cleaning month, starting with one major day for the large projects and breaking down other weeks into times for smaller follow-up projects.
If that idea only adds to your stress, just pick a few big things, set aside a Saturday, and get them done.
General Spring Cleaning Tips
What would a spring cleaning article be without a few hacks and tips? The following is in no way comprehensive, but it can get you inspired:
- Make Sure to Plan – Planning will help you stay focused so you can avoid getting lost in the details of it all.
- Use Household Items as Cleaners – Spring cleaning doesn't need to involve a bunch of expensive, toxic chemicals. You can use a lot of natural, non-chemical, household items that clean just as well as the pricey store-bought products.
- Get Your Countertops Sealed – Some stone countertops can be stained by different types of liquid spills. Most countertops are sealed when they're installed, but they'll need to be re-sealed periodically to avoid stains.
- Focus on Furniture – This can easily be forgotten, but furniture can collect a lot of stuff we'd all probably rather not think about. Vacuum your furniture and wash covers that can be machine-washed. Spot clean other areas. You can even use an upholstery cleaner and add a furniture spray protectant.
- Add a Car Product to Shower Doors – Windshield water repellents will make water bead on the glass rather than staying there and building up minerals and scum. This simple treatment can help minimize the time you spend cleaning your glass shower doors. If you can't afford the treatment, you can also minimize cleaning time by buying a squeegee to wipe the glass down after you shower.
- Remember to Clean the Tops of Things – A good spring cleaning is the perfect time to get all those hard-to-reach places that have been gathering dust. Think fans, the tops of your kitchen cupboards, and high ceilings.
- Don't Forget Your Devices – Phones and computers can become places for digital clutter, which can make you feel just as—well, cluttered—as the real thing. Though this may not make it to your priority spring cleaning list, make it a point to periodically go through old files, folders, and photos to clean things up.
When It's Done
One of the most important parts of cleaning is the upkeep. Take some time just after your spring cleaning to create a maintenance plan, as well as maybe a quick cleaning kit, so things will be easier to keep clean. Determine daily or weekly chores that will keep your house as dreamy as it is now.
And, just as important, enjoy it! Order pizza, have a movie night, or make a nice dinner with your significant other or a friend. Whatever you do, take time to bask in the fresh, de-wintered vibe of your home.
If you have any spring cleaning hacks for us and other readers, please leave them in the comments section below!