The urge to clean house when the days turn balmy springs as much from the soul as the dirt and clutter. Spring cleaning is cathartic. It frees you up from those jobs you've left undone that have been hanging over your head for months. After a long, dark winter, go through the house, take a look around and clean out the cobwebs. You'll feel great and be so glad you did.
Get Rid of Excess Stuff
Start spring cleaning by paring down belongings and giving what you don’t use to charity. We are a consumer society and we buy many things we don't really need. Give away the things you no longer use – it helps people less fortunate and helps you, too. We function better in a clean and orderly space.
Improve Air Quality
Having air-tight houses means we live with a lot of allergens. Open up the windows, ventilate the rooms, use exhaust fans in moist areas.
Environmental scientists at the University of Washington have found that spring cleaning reduces allergic triggers that cause asthma flare-ups and stuffy noses. Dust mites, mildew and other allergens can get trapped in the bedding and upholstery of well-insulated homes.
This is the time to pull appliances back from the walls and clean the floors and walls behind them. Use a vacuum to clear dust and debris away from air compressors and air vents. Put the contents of your fridge into a cooler and clean refrigerator walls, shelves and bins. Adding vinegar or baking soda to cleaning water is a great trick for reducing odors.
Empty kitchen cupboards and toss out foods and spices that are too old. Sponge down shelves and doors. If you're ambitious, this is a good time to reorganize the pots-and-pans drawer. Find something you haven't used in a while? Think about donating it to someone who might.
Move the beds from their accustomed spaces and thoroughly sweep or vacuum. Flip and rotate mattresses. Clean under box springs, a favorite haunt for dust bunnies. Wash winter bedding, like down comforters and wool blankets, or send them to the cleaners. Wash and dry cottons that have been stored through the winter, or hang them on the clothesline to air out.
Give a good deep clean to tiles, sinks and toilets. Rotate towels in the linen closet. This is a good time to go through the contents of your medicine chest and throw out expired products. Feel inspired? Clean the shelves before you put everything back.
Rugs and carpets last longer when they're clean. Wall-to-wall carpets can use a deep cleaning once a year. Beat the dust out of area rugs – it takes a long time until they come clean so be patient – or send them out for a professional cleaning.
Move furniture and mop and wax the areas that, through the dark and busy winter, haven't seen the light of day.
Dry clean or wash and iron curtains, depending on fabric care instructions. They collect surprising amounts of dust and mites and, when touched, can release their bounty and spark an allergic response.
Wash windows inside and out, and welcome in the clear, tender light of spring.
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
It is easy to make nontoxic cleaning products so you do not have to deal with health issues related to using harsh cleaning chemicals. Or you can buy environmentally friendly products. Some recipes for natural cleaners are given below.
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 pint warm water
a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to cut grease
Mix in a spray bottle.
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 quart warm water
Mix in a spray bottle.
Mix to make a paste. Dries quickly so make only what you need.
Sprinkle baking soda liberally on carpet. Wait 15 minutes, then vacuum. For musty rugs, leave the baking soda on overnight, then vacuum.
Wood Floor and Furniture Polish
1 part lemon juice
2 parts olive oil
Apply a thin coat and rub in well with a soft cloth.
Make Your Spring Cleaning Easier
- Walk through the house and make a reasonable checklist. It’s better to finish a few chores than start too much and give up.
- Turn on the stereo and put on some fun music that will get you motivated.
- Wear comfy clothes and include hand and eye protection if you are cleaning with caustic products.
- Use a caddy to tote your tools with you – no more running back and forth.
- Start dusting from the top and work your way down. Use a damp cloth to pick up the dust; using a duster will just move the dust around.
- Stick to a few basic cleaning products.
- Work in teams, if possible. The work goes exponentially faster and the time flies by.
- Use nontoxic cleaning products when possible.
- Read all cleaning product labels for hazard information and use chemical cleaners with care.
- Don't mix products – simple combinations like ammonia and bleach form a harmful gas.
- Keep cleaning products away from the kids.
- Work in a well-ventilated space. Open the windows and turn on a fan – it's part of the spring cleaning process.
- Wear protective glasses, rubber gloves and long sleeves to protect your eyes and skin if you are using caustic chemical cleaners.
Don't take on more than you can finish. Just start somewhere. Doing one or two jobs completely will give you a sense of accomplishment and well-being. Living with a dozen half-finished chores can be demoralizing.
When you're done – enjoy! Put up your feet, sip a cool drink, have a cup of tea and revel in the peace of it all.