Spring Cleaning

The words, Spring Cleaning, conjure up different images for us all. For some, it means drudgery: cleaning out the dreaded cellar and removing muck from the garage. For others it is no different than every other week: casually drifting a dust rag through the house and that’s that. For still others, spring cleaning is a time of opening up the house, refreshment and the satisfaction found in a job well done.

Let’s face it, cleaning is not on most of our lists of fun things to do. If we were given only a day to live, we probably wouldn’t spend it cleaning the house. But the fact is, we don’t know how long we have and our homes have to be cleaned. With a bit of planning and organization, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a drudgery that we dread. It can be a time of cleaning out and starting fresh; and after we spend time outside enjoying the spring sunshine, we’ll love coming back home to a sparkling clean house.

The most important part of spring cleaning is planning and preparation. Sure, the work itself is what takes up time, but the planning phase can eliminate a huge chunk of that time and the added frustration of being ill prepared. The first part of planning is deciding what needs to be done and making a detailed list with open boxes next to each item, for checking off later. Nothing gives us an endorphin rush like checking off boxes on a to-do list. List the chores by rooms, including even obscure rooms like the basement, laundry room or mud room. Put everything on the list, down to the smallest lampshade. The more items there are, the more boxes you can check off, more often!

Once the actual chore list is compiled, look at the items and consider your stash of cleaning products. Be sure to collect rubber gloves, furniture polish, glass cleaner, toilet and tub cleanser, all-purpose cleaner for counters and such, and plenty of dust rags, paper towels, sponges or scrubbers, and a toothbrush. Also gather a few plastic garbage bags as well. Put all these items in a bucket to be conveniently carried around the house.

The next thing to do is block off some time on your daily calendar. Spring cleaning can be done an hour here or there throughout the week, but a full weekend dedicated to the task will be much more efficient and you’ll see the results all at once. Often, the entire job can be done in one day, but if you’re working alone, it won’t hurt to give yourself two days in which you’ve sprinkled plenty of short breaks.

You’ll be hungry as you work, so prepare the meals for that day or weekend ahead of time; perhaps dinner in the crock-pot or the phone number of the local pizza delivery. Have your lunch already made and several healthy snacks including fruit and granola, for energy. Avoid sugary snacks that will give you a quick pick-me-up and then have you crashing with a sugar-low. Drink lots of water; in fact, add a water bottle or two to your cleaning bucket, for easy access.

The last thing to plan is your entertainment. Cleaning is much more fun when you can listen to upbeat music or your favorite talk radio. Arrange radios strategically around the house and set them all to the same station; that way, when you move about the house, you won’t have to take up precious time changing the station. Keep the TV turned off, and consider turning off your phone. Distractions will make you lose your momentum and you might not get it back.

Once you have your bucket full of cleaning supplies, your one or two days blocked out, your food and music planned and any family members nearby that you’ve recruited to help, it’s time to begin. Here are some suggested spring cleaning tasks, by room, that every home needs:

•Begin inside: inside the oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer. Spray your oven with oven cleaner the night before, and then on cleaning day, just wipe it clean. Defrost the freezer and wipe inside the refrigerator and microwave with your all-purpose cleaner. Be sure to get rid of all the old jars or boxes of food that have overextended their freezer life.
•Clean all counters and the outsides of appliances with the all purpose cleaner and make your sink shine with the glass cleaner. Use the toothbrush around the chrome on the sink to get out any excess grime.
•Wash all china, crystal, or dishes on display.
•Vacuum and wipe around baseboards.
•Sweep and mop floors

•Let the chemicals do the hard work for you. First spray the shower with a strong cleanser and allow it to sit while you clean other items.
•With the toilet, do the same thing. Begin by putting a cleanser into the toilet bowl and scrub it around gently to get it working. Then spray the outside of the bowl, close the lid and spray it, too. Then spray the tank. Once the whole thing is wet, begin working your way back in, wiping as you go. The whole toilet will be clean by the time you get back to the inside of the bowl, and then the bowl will be ready to be scrubbed. Use the toothbrush around the knobs and hard-to-reach places.
•Vacuum and wipe floors and baseboards.
•Clean counter top and sink, and wipe down cabinets with the all purpose cleaner.
•Clean the mirror, faucets, and light fixtures with glass cleaner.
•Before you leave the bathroom, wipe down the shower. Use the toothbrush around the faucet and chrome parts for hard-to-reach grime.

•Wash all blankets, linens, comforters, quilts, shams and dust ruffles, or have them cleaned professionally.
•Turn your mattress over.
•Wash all curtains or have them cleaned professionally.
•Wash mini-blinds in the bathtub or outside.
•Vacuum under beds and behind dressers.
•Dust every inch of furniture.
•Clean mirrors with glass cleaner.
•Wipe down light fixtures and/or ceiling fans.

Living Room
•Take off sofa and chair cushions and vacuum thoroughly on both sides.
•Vacuum under all furniture.
•Dust hard surfaced furniture and all other surfaces.
•Vacuum and wipe all baseboards.
•Vacuum carpet or sweep and mop floors.
•Wash all curtains or have them cleaned professionally.
•Vacuum and/or wipe all lampshades and books.

Often times the majority of work to be done in these rooms is purging the clutter that gets put there when we don’t know what else to do with it. This is where the garbage bags will come in handy.
•Wipe all surfaces with all purpose cleaner.
•Sweep and mop floors.
•Get rid of anything you don’t remotely need.

As you go, don’t forget to check off the boxes on your list to get that endorphin rush! Drink your water, snack often, and take breaks when you need them. In the end, your house will look, smell and feel cleaner and fresher. What a great way to start the new season!

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