Oh, Spring Cleaning, you have such a bad reputation! The very phrase conjures up long weekends of hard work and it’s tempting to just plop on the sofa, watch back-to-back Chef and eat a sleeve of Oreo’s instead.
It’s all about the mindset. I like to think about Spring Cleaning (or any cleaning, for that matter) as grooming. Whereas “cleaning” is boring and difficult, grooming is like a bikini wax: painful, but necessary (with a genuine benefit at the end)!
I have set up and maintained homes on three continents and I can say with a certain amount of confidence that the rules for a good Spring Clean sesh are universal.
1. Get your kit together. I am a firm believer in having the right tools for every job and cleaning house is no exception! The right surface cleaner for each job is essential and will make it so much easier to get through. I also like to have at least a dozen clean, lint-free towels to work with. A few good brushes and sponges are good too. Try and keep everything together in an organized cleaning caddy. I make it easy on myself by keeping a small one under every sink, so I can easily maintain it and I don’t have to lug one around all the time.
2. Now. Let’s set the mood. I highly recommend cleaning to music. It just makes everything more fun! This season, I am into a Samba/Disco/Folksy vibe. If you don’t have one of your own, please feel free to download mine!:
3. Give yourself a hand. My friend, Rita Konig also recommends hiding little “treats” in various parts of the house to be consumed at the completion of each task. Her favorites are Violet Creams, but I like to buy a stack of new magazines and some fresh flowers for the bathroom. Even a 10-minute break to do your nails will do. Whatever keeps you going. The main thing is not to cheat until you’re done!
4. (Un) Dress the part. Proper House Cleaning is hot work. Dress for a cardio workout, or even better, undress and do it in your underwear and an apron! Rita suggests that if there’s even the remotest possibility that your man could walk in, put some high heels on and he’ll think you are a Goddess. If not, slap on face-mask and you are seriously multi-tasking!
5. Tackle the big jobs first. For me, that means windows. You may want to put some clothes back on for this bit. The thing about windows is that you don’t really see them…you feel them. Once they are done, everything looks brighter, more cheerful and just…better. If possible, choose a cloudy day (or early morning) to tackle the windows, as a hot sun can dry them faster than you can, leaving those nasty streaks.
Once you are inside (clothes off again, please) you can take it room by room.
6. Work from top to bottom. Start with a general tidy up. Open the windows. Even if it’s chilly outside, all rooms benefit from a blast of fresh air! Bang cushions together and drag them outside if it’s sunny. Vacuum under the sofas and move things around. It’s amazing where dust can accumulate, isn’t it? You should be good and warm by now.
7. Dusting down: Once the cushions have had a good vacuum and airing, I like to spritz all the surfaces with our Furniture & Upholstery Cleaner and wipe them down with a clean, lint-free towel.
After dusting, it’s time to strip the beds completely bare and let the mattresses and pillows breathe a bit. I use our furniture cleaner on that, too and let it air dry before making them again. I like to have at least two of everything for each bed (including mattress & pillow protectors) so there is always one ready for service while the other is being laundered.
8. Surfaces: The Kitchen and Bathrooms will be your biggest challenge (but also your biggest pay-off area). Start by removing all of the towels and throwing them in the laundry. Carefully remove everything off the counters and give them all a good scrub.
9. De-Clutter: I have zero patience for trying to find something I need, so my favorite seasonal activity is re-organizing the drawers & cupboards. Throw out all the half-empty shampoo bottles and out of date medications. Check the junk and utility drawers and toss out dried up pens, used batteries and all of the assorted stuff that’s clogging your life. Finish with the mirrors and stainless surfaces. Once your reflective surfaces are good and gleaming, you are nearly done. How’s that face mask drying? Time for another treat!
10. Do the floors last. Dirty floors, like dirty windows aren’t immediately obvious, but you really do feel the difference when they are clean! For the best results, you’ll want to sweep or vacuum first before mopping. Please don’t make the rookie mistake of boxing yourself into a corner. Clear the floor as much as possible by removing small furniture, trashcans, and rugs before you start. Work from the farthest corner to your exit.
I don’t even bother with a traditional sponge mop anymore. A good floor cleaner with a trigger and a Swiffer mop are much easier and faster than traditional mopping. Make yourself a hot cup of tea and leave it just outside the room you are working in. You’ll be done before it cools.
11. Stand back and admire your handiwork. Reward yourself with a nice hot bath or shower and your skin will be glowing from your exertions! Now that you’re done, the house will be clean and fresh and so much more comfortable. Now’s the time to plop down and watch your favorite show. Scoot over and pass the Oreos.