If time permits, my home gets through cleaning twice a year – spring and fall. However, if I were to do any of these chores only once a year, I prefer spring because I feel like I am shaking away winter doldrums and cobwebs as I am doing them. In winter, we often spend more time inside so we create more mess, and our homes often feel like they need a refresh. Doing a thorough cleaning in the spring means that I can also enjoy my summertime more, knowing that the inside of my home is in its best possible condition. Or maybe it’s just because the sun seems to shine more that I feel more motivated to tackle these tasks at this time of the year.
My Spring Cleaning To-Do List:
Windows and Window Coverings
When I clean the windows I am always reminded of the song “I can see clearly now” (by Johnny Nash). I love the song any time, but especially when I really can “see clearly now”. I find the cleaning of windows so very satisfying. Do you get that same sense of joy as the light sparkles through the clean glass?
My favorite window cleaner is a splash of ammonia in a bucket of warm water. Wash the windows with a terry cloth, squeegee, and dry with paper towel. No smudges, and the results are crystal clean.
If you don’t want to use ammonia, try a solution of half vinegar and half water. I have heard that it also gives you a streak-free finish without rinsing.
While you are doing the windows, take down the window coverings to make your work easier. While they are down, give them a thorough cleaning or send them out if they require professional attention.
During the window cleaning, check the caulking and screens for any damage. Repair these early to prevent further wear and tear.
Floors and Carpets
Twice a year I like to move furniture and clean all of the floors and baseboards. No special attention is required, just a good cleaning using the usual products. It’s always surprising how many dust bunnies have been hibernating under the dressers and beds. While the furniture is in the middle of the room, I sometimes discover new ways to put it back – for a whole new perspective. Do you like to move your furniture to a different location in summer and than in winter?
This is also the ideal time to shampoo the carpets. For small or medium size rugs, apply rug shampoo, and rinse them outside, where you can let them dry in the warm sunshine. If your home is carpeted, rent a shampooer or hire professional carpet cleaners. If you do this early, you will be ahead of the heavy demand for these services.
Furniture and Mattresses
The leather sofa needs nourishing and what better time to give it a polish. I use commercial cleaners and polishes on all of the leather surfaces in my home.
In order to pull the furniture away from the walls to clean the floors, I usually empty or partially empty them. So before I put everything back, I wipe all of the furniture surfaces – inside and out – with a damp cloth. This is also the perfect time to give the wood finishes an oiling or waxing (dependent on the type of wood).
Mattresses should be turned or flipped every three months. In addition they should be cleaned once or twice a year using the handheld tool on your vacuum. If there are any spots, use a mild detergent diluted in water. For tough spots, sprinkle some baking soda on the spot. Blot the spots, without soaking the mattress. It is surprising how many dead skin cells our bodies shed. I am convinced that as we get older, we shed more. Certainly, we shed more dry skin during the drier, winter months. While the mattress is drying, wash the mattress protector and bedding.
I like a lighter look and feel for the summer so my duvet gets aired and put away in the closet and the lighter cotton covers are put on the bed. This gives the bedroom a lighter feel. Do you change bedding according to the seasons, or do you prefer the same comfortable feel all year round?
This is the job that I like least – moving and cleaning the stove because it is guaranteed to be greasy and require some ‘elbow grease’. (Be careful to pull all appliances straight forward to avoid scratching the floors.) The stove gets washed inside and out using a strong detergent solution and lots of baking soda to remove clumped on grease. Never use a ‘scratchy’ pad (such as the green scrubbers) on any stove surface. There are some scrubbers that are “scratch-free” but use them lightly. Give the glass and shiny surfaces a final rinse with a vinegar and water solution to remove streaks.
Behind the fridge seems to be where the most dust bunnies live. Given that they are usually sighted all over the back of the fridge I suspect they are actually climbing dust squirrels rather than burrowing dust bunnies. It’s time to get the vacuum cleaner and “blow them away”. Well, actually suck them away. Then wipe the surfaces down with a mild detergent solution and a final wipe of vinegar and water to return the sparkle to the surfaces. I spot-clean and reorganize the inside of my fridge on a regular basis (it is part of my personality – I cannot stand messy fridges). However, in spring, everything comes out and the entire inside is wiped down with baking soda and water. Old food is discarded, making way for fresh barbecue condiments and refreshing summer salad dressings. Now it is ready to be filled with summer drinks: lemonade, iced tea, beer, and lots of tonic (for my favorite summer patio drinks: cranberry with tonic or G&T).
Of course the floors need to be cleaned before you push the appliances back in place. As they may be greasier than the rest of your floors, you may want to use a slightly stronger solution of your normal floor cleaning products. Did you find anything interesting behind the appliances? Maybe the missing lid from a spice bottle or the kids’ Lego people (who must have gone hunting for dust bunnies)?
If you were bored earlier in February like I was, you may have already done the closet clean-outs. But if you haven’t done them yet, you will want to tackle them now. Take all of the items and pile them on the bed. Wipe the shelves and rails of the closet. Then sort the clothes into piles of similar items. Sort each pile, removing what: does not fit; is stained or torn; or you haven’t worn in the last twelve months. Put the rest back in place and admire how neat and tidy it looks. Consider discarding the other pile, rather than putting the items back in the closet. Do the same with shoes.
I find this job to be another source of satisfaction. Don’t you feel better when you open the closet doors to see everything that you truly love – all organized and ready for the seasonal changeover?
Basement and Garage
This should be a family event, with everyone helping. That is unless you have a family who cannot “let go” of anything and you need to do the discarding for them. It makes a great weekend project as the weather warms. Remove stuff from shelves in sections, so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Clean the shelves and return them in an organized fashion. Dust the items as you return them. Use bins (clear or labelled) to store like-things (e.g. kids’ toys, tools, scrap wood, seasonal decorations, etc.). Keep only what you need or want for future use. Discard or re-purpose everything left on the floor. Then sweep, or vacuum, and wash (if possible) the floors. If your garage or basement floor has oil-based stains, wash the spots with a solution of TSP (available at the hardware store).
I live in an apartment, so thankfully I no longer have this task to look forward to, or avoid, as the case may be. However, I apply the same rules (above) to my storage locker. I love shelves with clear-plastic bins (another part of my personality) for keeping everything organized. Sometimes, stackable bins (without shelves) provide more flexibility. Which do you prefer?
Not to be confused with the gardening chores that will occupy your time all summer (like planting and weeding), I am talking about a clean-up of the yard. Remove all old equipment, misplaced bricks, broken fence boards, and trash. Rake to get rid of the leaves and check for any repairs you need to do in the lawn surface, tool shed, walkways and fences. If you are a list-maker (like me), this will form the start of your summer to-do file. If your yard is uneven or you have had real rodents (not the dust-type) digging around during the winter, this is the ideal time to buy and spread some additional soil – before you and the kids want to start kicking a soccer ball around on the lawn.
Hidden Dirt – Filters, books, mold and mildew
If you ask my kids – I am an expert at finding “hidden dirt”, especially mold. Unfortunately I have a mold allergy. Unfortunately, this makes me the perfect sniffer-dog to locate it in places where you cannot see it. Sadly, mold can be bad for our respiratory systems. So if you do find it hiding in the corners of your bathroom or basement, attack it quickly. I use chlorine bleach because I know that it kills the mold and will not harm me. If the mold is in small amounts, I use a spray bottle with laundry chlorine (e.g. Javex or Clorox) and water or a commercial cleaning spray that (contains Cl) such as Lysol. Once the mold has died you can wash the surface down. Try not to spread the spores in the air while they are still alive. That’s why I prefer to spray first, wait and then clean. If the mold is thick, you may prefer to use undiluted laundry bleach. However, watch that you don’t get any on yourself or other surfaces, because it will remove the color. And wait until it dries (so the spores are dead) to do the washing up.
If the mold has moved onto fabrics that can be washed (such as clothing or furniture coverings), wash these in a solution of Dettol and water. I learned this trick on a cycling trip when, after two weeks of rain, I had a bagful of clothes that were covered with mold and mildew. A few tablespoons of Dettol in a bucket performed magic. If the first wash doesn’t do the trick, re-wash the items before they dry. If possible, hang outside so the sunshine can continue the work of killing the mold spores.
There are many other places where dirt or dust likes to hide that could use a little extra attention during your spring clean, such as:
- Behind the toilet;
- The pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sinks;
- Light fixtures;
- Filters – in furnaces, air conditioners, water dispensers, range hoods, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers; and
- Behind the books in your library.
At least once a year, I also take everything out of the kitchen cupboards, wipe all the surfaces, wash all the glasses (that do not get used very often) and then put everything back. This task always reminds me that I have stuff that I rarely or never use. When you find these things, do you promise yourself to use them more often in the coming year? Or, do you discard them to give you more room?
My Spring Cleaning is Done
Our homes are closed up for most of the winter, so the nicest thing to do in spring is open the windows. After I have finished all of these tasks, I open the windows wide, breathe in some fresh air, and pour myself a G&T to celebrate that I have finished my spring cleaning and that summer is almost here.
What chores are on your spring-cleaning list? What tips do you have for making them easier or more enjoyable?