Spring means a lot of things: more sunshine, warmer weather, and of course, spring cleaning. Giving your space a deep scrubbing will make it feel more comfortable all year long.
Flip through the slideshow for 20 essential spring cleaning tips, from how to get started to how to keep the momentum going once the big clean is complete.
Before you even drag out the cleaning supplies, get rid of any junk that's cluttering up your bedrooms and living spaces. Set out bins in the hallway and toss clothing, toys, and other clutter into bins labeled "organize," "donate," and "trash."
Raid your cabinets for all the cleaning supplies you'll need so that you don't have to make multiple trips back to the pantry. Glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaning spray, degreaser, and an abrasive cleaner like The Pink Stuff are all good to have on hand, as are microfiber cloths for dusting. Store all your supplies in a caddy for easy transport around the house.
Once you're in the thick of cleaning, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Sit down and make a list of the tasks you want to get done, organized by each room. As a bonus, it's totally satisfying to check those items off the list once you've scrubbed the floors and organized the pantry.
It might be a little too ambitious to expect to finish your spring cleaning in a weekend, much less a day. Create a schedule over, say, the course of a week, and stick to it — by completing a few tasks each day, you can break a massive project down into something much more manageable.
Even kids can get involved with the spring cleaning process, and teaching these skills early is always a good idea. Assign age-appropriate chores to your kids, and plan something fun for once the big cleaning marathon is over, like family game night or a trip to the movies.
Instead of doing one task at a time, consider completing your spring cleaning in room-sized chunks. Start in the kitchen, then work your way to the bathroom and bedrooms so that you're not overlooking small tasks and running around all over the house.
In bedrooms and common areas, closets often serve as repositories for clutter. Once you've cleared space in a room, empty out the closet and reorganize the items as you put them back inside. You may also find that you don't need some of these things any longer, which makes them perfect fodder for the donate bin.
If you've got an overflowing junk drawer or seriously packed closets, it might be time to employ more organizational tools. Consider investing in a shoe rack or spice organizer that can keep your spaces more organized all year long.
Every home has hidden spaces that harbor dirt. Make a list of your home's weird nooks and crannies, and add them to the checklist. Don't forget spots like outdoor closets, basements, and storage sheds.
Any professional cleaner will tell you that cleaning top to bottom is definitely the best strategy. Plan to dust first, then wipe down surfaces, then vacuum away all the debris and dust.
Ugh, baseboards. These decorative elements look nice, but are absolute magnets for dirt and grime. Set aside some time in your schedule to give your baseboards a good scrubbing, then use leftover dryer sheets to wipe away anything that's left over.
Many of us have objects in our homes that require replaceable filters, like air conditioners, water filtration pitchers, and vacuum cleaners. Give all the filters in your home a check, and replace any that look gunky as part of the spring cleaning process.
Extend your spring cleaning spree into the great outdoors by tackling the patio. You can spruce up this space by pressure-washing your patio floors, giving tables and chairs a deep cleaning, and adding new decorative elements. Don't forget to scrub the grill, either.
While you're cleaning, take inventory of any small repairs around the home, and consider making them. With just a few supplies, you can take on tasks like repairing fraying appliance cords, re-caulking the bathtub, or replacing dinged-up floor tiles.
It's a real pain, but giving your windows a deep clean gives any home a seriously clean gleam. Use newspaper and your favorite ammonia-based glass cleaner to wipe away even the most stubborn grime and streaks.
It sounds a little weird, but occasionally your mattress needs to be vacuumed. Mattresses absorb all sorts of stuff from the air and our bodies and could use the occasional refresh. Sprinkle your mattress with a little baking soda, then use the hand-held attachment to suction away all that yuck.
Once the cleaning is complete, reward yourself with a fresh, clean scent. Linen candles are a great option, with their fresh laundry vibe, as are essential oils like lemon and lavender in an oil diffuser.
Dryer vents can be some of the dirtiest places in a home, which makes sense considering all the lint they deal with on a daily basis. Depending on your living situation, you may need a professional to come out and clean your dryer vents, but it's worth looking into — clogged dryer vents are frequently implicated as the cause of house fires.
If you've had your tile floors for a while, you might not even remember what the grout looks like. Even if yours is relatively new, it's likely that it needs a cleaning. Using a tough scrub brush and an abrasive powder, scrub away caked-on grime and your floors will look better than they have in years.
There's nothing more calming than being surrounded by a clean home, and that feeling shouldn't come around just once a year. Once the spring cleaning is complete, make a plan to stay on top of stubborn cleaning tasks, even if it's just adding one more chore a day into your schedule.
Amy McCarthy is a Texas-based journalist. Follow her on twitter at @aemccarthy.
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