Spring is officially here! When it comes to getting organized, Spring Cleaning is only second to New Year’s Resolutions as a source of excitement and anxiety for homeowners everywhere. Before it gets too warm, now is the perfect time for a deep cleaning before you’ll be spending the bulk of your time outside.
Here are my suggestions to make the process fun, fast and almost effortless.
1) Get Help
More than anything else you can do, many hands really lighten the load so form a team — either within your family or hook up with a friend or two or three, and over two weekends, take turns cleaning each other’s homes.
If it’s a family affair and you want to avoid grumbling, suggest a family-sized reward in exchange for a whine-free day, like a day trip to a nature preserve, zip line or other outdoor adventure, amusement park, or fairground. Just be sure to deliver or you’ll get serious pushback the next time you ask for help.
If you’d rather send the family packing while you and some friends dig in — put on some favorite tunes, throw back the blinds, and start cranking. The work will fly by and you’ll get to spend some time with people you’re fond of and probably get to see less often than you’d like.
There are plenty of ways to clean your home without toxic chemicals. Rather than repeat them here, visit eco-cycle’s site for recipes, pre-packaged supplies and other ways to clean deep with zero impact.
Spring Cleaning happens both inside and outside of your home so I’ve broken the tasks down here accordingly. It may be useful to mention that clutter=deferred decisions, so keep that in mind when negotiating to put off any of these tasks. The longer you wait, the more work it will be when you finally get around to it!
Outside the House:
Take on auxiliary spaces outside — garages and sheds. Sort like with like and put all your sporting goods, camping equipment, garden tools and furniture together. Clean and repair outdoor furniture, grills and other large items.
Take a walk around the outside of your house and any other outbuildings. Climb on the roof, inspect gutters, trim, downspouts, windows, shutters, etc. and make a list of any required maintenance … then schedule those repairs for the coming weeks!
Gather organic debris like leaves, branches and other dead foliage from planting beds and lawn.
Plan and begin any major Spring landscaping projects. Now is the time to plant shrubs and trees — just make sure your plans line up with recommendations for your planting zone. Your local extension office is a great resource for native plants, timing suggestions and other information on everything from wells and sewers to composting.
Swap cold winter clothes for warm-weather clothing. Before storing winter clothing, sort through them for discards and donations, then load them into the car or by the door to leave the house on the next errand run.
Wipe down all the walls and ceilings.
Wash windows inside and out.
Wash window screens with warm water and mild soap, scrubbing each screen with a brush, then rinsing thoroughly.
Clean drapes and window treatments. Swap out heavier drapes for lighter drapes. Read labels for cleaning instructions. Dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth. Metal and vinyl blinds can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap. Vacuum any dust.
Dust thoroughly, including hard-to-reach places, such as ceiling fans, window casings and crown moldings. Always work from the top of a room down.
Clean upholstered furnishings. Take cushions outside and gently beat them. Clean stains according to any care labels. Use the vacuum’s upholstery or crevice tools to clean inside all furniture seams.
Move furniture and vacuum beneath it.
Vacuum and clean any rugs. Send valuable or antique rugs to a reputable cleaner if needed.
Flip and rotate mattresses. Wash pillows.
Change out bedding. Swap autumn or winter colors for colors or bright whites, neutrals or natural linens.
Discard expired medicines, cosmetics and beauty products.
Clean and reseal grout lines.
Clean and polish metal hardware on doors and windows.
Dust refrigerator coils. Be sure to turn off power at the circuit breaker first.
Defrost the freezer.
Review your files and update any household inventories. Discard owners manuals and other instructions for anything you no longer own.
Clean computers outside and in. Wipe cases down and dust keyboards. Clean monitors and organize your files on the computer, clearing off the desktop.
Contact an air conditioning service company for an annual inspection of your cooling system.
Deactivate any heat system humidifiers once the weather stabilizes.
Drain sediment from hot water heaters.
Change batteries in smoke detectors (twice a year) and remove any dust around sensors.
Check the status of all fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms.
Make sure everyone knows how to operate a fire extinguisher, and review all escape plans.
Review emergency and first aid kits, replacing any outdated supplies with fresh ones. Make sure the kit includes a list of emergency numbers, especially the nearest poison-control center.
While this list is comprehensive, it doesn’t include livestock or other particularly rural chores. Feel free to let us know if we’ve overlooked anything, big or small.
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And what are some clever ways you’ve found to make Spring Cleaning more fun? We’d love to hear from you.
I’m definitely printing out this list and getting to work! The house can definitely use a good Spring Cleaning. Thank you for this Andrew! My one tip that always works for me is to break up the cleaning into 10 minute increments. If I tell myself I only have to clean for 10 minutes I find it’s much easier to get started and before I know it, I’ve been cleaning for half an hour! LOL 🙂 Somehow giving myself an “out” makes it seem more doable. That, or tackling only one project at a time. Otherwise, it’s very overwhelming.
Wow! Thanks for all these helpful tips! I’m going to attempt to implement some of these. Better yet, how about you come over and help us organize our home? For me, at the first hint of Spring every year, I go into total Spring Cleaning mode. Only, it actually feels like Spring Purging. *sigh* I really want my home to be all Zen. If I could get rid of a lot of our “stuff”, I know I’d feel a lot better. My problem is I have a hard time knowing where to begin and getting started. Once I’m in the throes of things, I’m all good.
I love your tip about breaking up the cleaning into 10 min increments 🙂
Thanks, Janine — great workaround to limit most tasks to 10 minute increments. I suggest using a timer for all projects although I usually suggest setting it in 15 minute increments. Timer goes off, you’re done.
and Christine — check out my calendar and Unstuff U at my website — I may be coming to your town and if not, at Unstuff U you may find just what you’re looking for to get started — monthly classes and lots of free resources!
WOW this list is amazing! I am exhausted thinking about it but if I could convince the family to join in for a weekend it would be amazing. Plan to print this and give it a go!
This reminds me of how much I need to do – wow, it seems overwhelming! Thanks for the list – I think I’ll print it out too and do it bit by bit. I like the timer idea especially with kids around, it’s hard to get all that done at once! Looking forward to more articles from The Most Organized Man in America! Hopefully you’ll have some closet organizing tips next! 🙂
Thanks, Kathryn and Sarah — I wanted the list to be comprehensive, not overwhelming!
So feel free to take your time and move through the list in a humane and compassionate way 🙂
And Sarah, I’ll be sure to post some closet tips soon!
Thanks for this I just finished my living room windows and blinds today! With kids, work and social life doing all this seems overwhelming so I do one or two things a day of spring cleaning like wash all indoor windows then next day blinds etc. It seems more doable that way. PS. Your link to eco site doesn’t work.
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