There’s something miraculous about spring. The skies are bright, the sun is shining, everything is new and fresh and beginning to blossom. It’s as though the earth has given us a do-over button, and it’s the perfect time to bring that feeling to your home with a good spring-cleaning. Most of us love the results of a clean and shiny house but are less enthused about the process of getting our house to that point. Here are ten tips to make things easier for you.
Be strategic. You need a game plan. An op order, so to speak. You’re on a mission, after all, and prior planning ensures mission success. Create your cleaning strategy. Maybe you’ll clean one room or section of your home a day. Perhaps you’ll delegate tasks to children, partners, or roommates. Having a plan will help things go more smoothly and, if you’re like many people, being able to check things off as you complete them will be immensely satisfying. Gather your troops, collect your cleaning tools, and you’re ready to go.
Declutter first. It can be overwhelming enough to clean all of the things that require cleaning. Don’t add more work by having to maneuver around broken, unused, or unloved things in your home. Fewer things around means fewer things to move, clean, or maintain. Brownie points if you already did a sort and purge for your last PCS—you’re ahead of the game. If you didn’t, now’s the perfect time to reevaluate whether what you have is needed and/or loved. As you go through your belongings, you can create three categories of things. Things for the garbage (like the menus from the restaurants near the last base you lived on), things to be rehomed (like clothes that don’t fit or are no longer your taste), and things you’ll keep. For the things you are keeping, designate a home for each item if it doesn’t already have one. Make note of the things that need to be mended or repaired and prioritize that on your “to-do” list. And be honest with yourself about what you’re actually going to circle back and tend to. Like that shirt with the missing buttons you’ve been promising you’d get to for the past three springs.
Work from top to bottom. It’s your house and, yes, you can clean things in any order you’d like. But gravity is a real thing and dirt and dust falls. If you clean from top to bottom, you only have to sweep, vacuum, or mop that dust once as your final task in any given area. Start with ceilings and such and work your way down to the floors and you’re capturing whatever debris you’ve stirred up in the process of dusting.
Speaking of dust… This is the perfect time to check the filters on your air conditioning unit. You may be in that magical window where there’s neither heat nor air conditioning necessary (the perfect time of year), but soon enough you’ll want that A/C running. Clean filters mean your system will be running optimally. It also means the filters will catch the dust and pet dander that have better places to be than in your lungs. Once you’ve changed the filters, make note on your calendar to do so regularly—about every 90 days if you don’t have pets, 60 days if you do, and monthly if you’ve got multiple fur babies and/or someone in the home who suffers from allergies.
Look up. Unless you suffer from insomnia and spend countless hours staring at your ceiling at night, you likely haven’t noticed the dust bunnies hanging on precariously as your fan whirls over your head. It’s really only a matter of time before those dust bunnies take flight. Clean your ceiling fans and light fixtures. And do yourself a favor, if those fans and light fixtures are over beds – wash your bedding after and not before the ceiling dusting part.
Think vertically. Most of your cleaning is horizontal, right? You wipe counters and surfaces, vacuum floors, etc. But walls, baseboards, and cabinets catch and hold dirt too—even if it’s not as visible. This is the perfect time of year to wipe those surfaces clean of fingerprints, kitchen grease, and the like. Again, start at the top and work your way down.
Get moving. You’re a moving pro after all, right? The difference between regular cleaning and spring-cleaning is in the details, literally. Move the challenge coin display and assorted knick-knacks when you dust. Move the furniture when you vacuum. Plan to find things you’d given up hope of ever seeing again.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to pick up and relocate everything (unless that’s your thing). Move things to the side, clean the area, move things back, rinse and repeat.
Let there be light. Don’t forget the windows. Let all that gorgeous spring light in. (Plus, clean windows will help you see the accumulated dirt better.) Keep in mind that direct sun can cause streaks when cleaning. Opt for an overcast day to wash the windows. While you’re there, clean your window treatments. If your curtains are washable, toss those in a load. Blinds and vinyl shades can be dusted or vacuumed. Everything looks better through clean windows.
Remember the forsaken things, the places you either don’t tend to look at often or see so often, that you’re oblivious to their condition. Deal with the no-longer-identifiable leftovers in the dark recesses of your refrigerator. Clean your appliances. Hop on a stepladder and wipe down the grimy air vents. Walk from room to room with a critical eye for what you may have missed. And then, before you retire your cleaning tools for another season, clean the cleaners. Empty the vacuum bag or cup. Remove the hair trapped in the roller. Wash the broom and mop heads. Toss the rags in the washer. If they don’t have one already, find a home for all your cleaning tools where you can easily find and use them.
Bring the spring in. Sure, this one is more about aesthetics than cleaning, but your decor affects your mood. If springtime makes you happy, bring some of it indoors. Swap out darker, cold weather colors for spring tones around your home. You don’t have to break your budget to do this; a new shower curtain or some throw pillows will do just fine. Put some cut flowers around the house or a few potted plants—whatever evokes the season for you.
You’ve completed your mission. Your home is in tip-top shape and ready to pass inspection. Now comes the best part—opening those clean, shiny windows and enjoying this time of year!