It’s officially spring! (According to the calendar, that is – the snow on the ground begs to differ.) While the weather may not be all that springy in many parts of the world, many of us are starting to feel the itch to spring clean. What is it about spring that awakens the organizing bug within us?
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten tips to ease your spring cleaning. After all, the easier it is, the more likely it is to get done, right?
1. Make a list.
Figure out what you need to do, and how long each task should take. Then divide up your tasks and spread them across your calendar in manageable chunks, deciding what you’re going to clean and when. Be realistic! Find a website, like FlyLady or Apartment Therapy (check out the January Cure), that will help you figure out how to clean various parts of your home.
And of course, cross off items when you’ve completed them – there’s nothing like those feelings of satisfaction when you’ve accomplished something, even if the task that you’ve accomplished is “make list.”
2. Set a deadline.
If you don’t have a set timeline, you’ll be procrastinating until next spring. With a goal date, you’ll be more motivated to finish your tasks without getting sidetracked. If you know that you are only able to clean on the weekends, you may want to aim to finish by the first day of summer. If you can clean a bit every day, you can be done in a week or a month, depending on the size (and dirtiness!) of your house.
3. Stock up before you start.
You don’t want to get to heavy-duty furniture-polishing day and find out that you’re out of Pledge. Take inventory of your cleaning supplies – rags or paper towels, brooms and mops, glass cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, baking soda, vinegar, whatever you may use – and make a complete list of what you’re running low on or what’s getting worn out.
Make sure to consult with your list and calendar before your big shopping, then round everything up and put it in a designated “cleaning supply spot.”
4. Do repairs/book professionals first.
That loose hinge you’ve been meaning to tighten since December? Do it now. Spray WD-40 on the squeaky door now rather than later, so that you don’t have to worry about getting residue on your freshly cleaned wall. If you need jobs done by others, like professional carpet cleaning, book it now; make sure to factor it into your schedule for an appropriate day (i.e. after you’ve organized and dusted all carpeted rooms).
5. Sort your stuff properly.
Go through your closets, your desks, your kitchen cabinets, your storage spaces. Make three piles: keep, throw out/donate/give away, and not sure. Put the “keep” pile away neatly and immediately (anything that’s dirty should go in the hamper or to the cleaners), bundle the throwaway pile into bags for the garbage, the neighbor, or Goodwill, and consult with relevant family members about the destination of the “not sure” pile.
A rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in the last year, it doesn’t have any sentimental value, and you can’t see yourself using it again (old baby clothes with spit-up stains when your youngest is 10, clothes that you’re waiting to come back into fashion…), throw it out. If you’re still on the fence about something, pack it away; if you haven’t opened the “not sure” box or bag within three months, get rid of it.
6. Scrub thoroughly.
Now that everything’s prepared, it’s time to break out the elbow grease! Now is not the time to scrimp on cleaning power. Go through your checklist to see what needs to be done. Clean the walls, dust the ceiling fans, vacuum the corners of the closets, wipe down the outlet plates and light switches, shine the windows, scour baseboards – whatever your house needs.
7. Play music.
Or talk on the phone. Or sing to yourself. Whatever keeps you upbeat and enjoying yourself, so that you don’t view cleaning as a dreaded chore. Find something that you can do at the same time without slowing yourself down or getting distracted (watching TV, for example, is probably not a good idea).
8. Take breaks.
Burnout will get you nowhere. Make sure to take a breather from cleaning, even if you feel like you can keep going and going and going à la Energizer bunny. Sit down with a cup of coffee, surf the Net, or go for a walk. Getting away from the cleaning for a short time will give you renewed energy and motivation.
9. Open the windows.
Fresh spring air will energize you (hey, maybe that’s why we clean in the spring!). Just make sure that it’s not too windy or dusty, or you’ll undo your hard work or hamper your progress.
10. Reward yourself!
You’ve worked hard and your house is sparkling. Now treat yourself to the chocolate bar (good for smaller task rewards)/pair of shoes/mini vacation/whatever it is you’ve been lusting after – you deserve it! (Now’s a good time to get the new piece of furniture/throw pillows/light fixture that will look great in your freshly cleaned home.)
What have we overlooked? Share your tips in the comment section.