Spring cleaning tips: doing it the not-overwhelming way

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By: megan ann - CC BY 2.0
By: megan annCC BY 2.0

March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb, and its arrival means we’ve finally made it through winter. People emerge from hibernation, grass will start greening, and those of us who live in a temperate zone feel like life is worth living again. Those of you in better climates who don’t know what it’s like to shovel yourself out every morning can suck it.

Sorry. I’ve still got a touch of the winter blues, apparently.

Anyway, let’s talk spring cleaning. It’s a great way to clear the figurative cobwebs still left in your head after the long nights have taken their toll. It sounds like a big undertaking though, right? It sounds kind of high pressure. But it’s okay. We can handle this.

1. Think around the edges. Hypothetically, we’ve been cleaning at least a little all winter. This isn’t a Hoarders intervention, this is spring cleaning. You don’t have to clean the whole house, top to bottom; you can prime the new season by making time for the projects that don’t need attention as often or that fall by the wayside. I’m talking:

  • Washing windows
  • Washing blinds
  • Clean out the fridge and wipe down shelves
  • Give love to your floors – wipe down hardwood, add a protectant if it’s appropriate for your flooring
  • Clean rugs
  • Putting away that pile of books that’s sprouted up near the chair. You’re not going to finish Meditation: A Complete Guide now that it’s warm outside, anyway.
  • Sort clothing. Toss the stuff that’s overly worn, donate the pieces you’re done with.
  • Launder winter clothing and outerwear so it’s ready come fall.

2. Identify problem areas. Think hard about parts of your routine which could be improved or simplified. My two goals are: find a new solution for our recycling bins, since they look open and messy in our kitchen and get full quickly, and create a filing system for our personal papers. What have you been making do with? Would your entry work better with seating, storage or hooks? How’s your mail sorting situation? Do you always find yourself loathe to put away your yoga mat because it’s a pain in the ass to get to its nook?

3. Set your project goals for the season. Based on the time, budget and space you’ve got, make realistic plans about what you’ll get done around the house. You might start planning on giving your house a new coat of paint or creating a built-in piece for your space. Maybe this is the season you’ll tackle turning your living room into a gamer’s paradise — without an electrical cord in sight.

Use spring cleaning to focus your attention briefly on the upkeep of your household. Maintenance often falls by the wayside when more important tasks come up, so being able to give it attention now can help us be less stressed down the road.

I’m pretty new at this running a household thing and don’t have all the bases covered yet, so I’d love to hear your spring cleaning philosophies. What do you make a point of doing in the spring to save you stress down the road?

Comments on Spring cleaning tips: doing it the not-overwhelming way

  1. Every spring I try to go through my pantry and look at expiration dates to make sure there isnt anything I need to use right then (or that needs to be thrown away). I also try to take a quick look at my crafting situation, see how many unfinished projects i have and evaluate whether i am ever going to finish them.

  2. I’m so lazy about cleaning blinds and curtains, but I bet it would help out a lot with allergies.

  3. My favorite seasonal cleaning tradition is the bi-annual switching of clothes (from warm weather to cold weather and back) between my dresser drawers/closet and a storage bin in the basement. However, this is also an ideal time to refold everything in my dresser – it tends to get pretty rumply in there.

    It’s also the time prep for gardening (even if you’re only gardening in pots on the patio). Plants that have been packed with straw or dead leaves to winter over are eager to get unpacked and get growing!

  4. My place is such a train wreck right now I don’t even know where to start 🙁 I think we just need to pick one room each weekend and focus on that rather than getting overwhelmed by the overall task.

  5. Sadly, we’re a long way off from spring up here in MN, but I do have a suggestion to improve your spring cleaning experience- balance annoying chores with fun ones. That way you feel like your improving your home in ways that are functional AND fun. For example, when we purged some old clothing and sorted the closets (boring) we then got to re-paint the dressing room and install cute new handles on the closet doors. Knowing I got to add color and bling kept me moving during the tedium of organizing bins. My wife is happier cleaning out her den if we then plan to hang some art in there, once we can find the floor space to position the ladder. This works especially well if the tedious task makes it easier to do the fun one.

  6. After three years of moaning that the storage doesn’t work we are finally getting it sorted and slowly swapping over found and second hand furniture for sensible Ikea stuff that actually does the job. I hate to have to do this but it is making the space feel better and more usable… I also found out that one of the old shelves is only held up by the stuff in it so probably a good job too!
    I also need to sort out our suprisingly big kitchen cupboards that just seem to swallow stuff.
    I also need to clean the curtains that have small spider familys living in the tops of them but its still far to cold to go without curtains for a night or two.

    Feels better even just writing the jobs down 🙂

    • You know that you can just hang up wet curtains to let them dry, right? Thats what I always do and it saves you having to iron them.

      • I can’t hang them back up over the windows as they touch the wall and the paint work so I have to wait till they are dry. They also take about a day or so to dry outside as they have quite a heavy lining. So its saved for when we have proper nice weather and we don’t need them for keeping the heat in.

  7. Well considering the only way our house gets clean is if my boyfriend and I invite people over…

    I would like to clean out our overhead light fixtures and mop our hardwood floors throughout the house (right now only the kitchen and bathroom ever get done) and clean baseboards and windowsills and get our bedroom FINALLY organized (still have boxes from moving last July) and organize my craft room. And let’s not even talk about the unfinished basement (which has at least 5 years of overhead cobwebs from the previous tenant and is currently leaking in water from the very wet ground outside).

    Of course, I’d need a week off to complete that all! Oh well… Maybe a little at a time…

    • “Well considering the only way our house gets clean is if my boyfriend and I invite people over…”

      That’s how it is with us, too. Our last apartment was really small, so we rarely had company, which let the mess get out of hand. We just moved, so I’m looking forward to having company regularly to give myself motivation to clean. 🙂

  8. We’re totally getting our furnace cleaned. Vents and all. It can get pretty dusty in there with such dry weather that allergies can flare up and it’s a nice feeling knowing your heating vents aren’t blowing dust and dog/cat hair around the house.

      • I’ve lived in my home for 6 years, and just had it done in the fall for the first time – but yeah, we’ll probably do it every couple of years from now on. My only caution is DO IT WHEN IT’S WARM OUT!!! Your door has to stay open for a couple hours, and it was -30 (celsius) when we had it done. That was bad. Also, they’ll need access to ALL vents (including cold air returns). We had to shuffle around a lot of furniture. Not that vents should be covered anyway. We now have holes drilled in bookeshelves to allow for proper airflow.

      • Look for special deals for this, too. We got a full vent/duct cleaning deal on Amazon Local for I think $75 at the end of the A/C season last year. For our heat (which is still radiators, even though A/C is through a central duct system), our heating oil company provides a free furnace cleaning every year, included in our scheduled delivery plan. So, make sure to check that you don’t have this covered somewhere already, or that there’s not a good deal out there, before you even bother to pay $200 for it!

  9. I would like to take everything out of each kitchen cabinet and vacum each one out. It probably won’t happen but it is a great sring cleaning canidate.

  10. This might be dorky, but put in a new filter on your vaccuum cleaner. For *years* I didn’t realize that the filter on ours was supposed to be changed every few months.

    This spring I was feeling ambitious and I actually steam cleaned the carpets. They look a lot better!

  11. I use spring cleaning to clean out our hurricane box. I go through it and pull out all the food packages, put the soon to expire items in the pantry to be used and replace them with newer. I usually do the same thing with the box of trash bags and paper plate type items as they can break down over time with moisture. The generator gets a once-over to make sure parts and seals look good and that it hasn’t grown any surface rust. Last check I do is to make sure all of our important paperwork is in the filing cabinet where it can be easily retrieved during evac. Which usually means I have to find where I put the most recent forms for insurance and titles as much of ours is updated over the winter. I know this isn’t the usual type of spring cleaning but as someone who lives in a hurricane area, February marks the end of any realistic chance of disaster for the year until fall.

  12. Can I just say that I love these how to clean/how to take care of a home posts? I’m not sure where we’re all supposed to learn this type of stuff, in a day and age where there’s (often) such a gap between the time you move out of your parents’ home and the time that you become a homeowner, and where many of us live far from our families who would advise on this kind of thing. I’ve seen some friends and younger family members go through some amazingly costly incidents related to lack of proper home up-keep (think:squirrels build next in furnace dust, furnace implodes soot into the whole house, luckily not burning it down, but causing evac and thousands of dollars of damage!), simply because they had no ide what they were *supposed* to be doing as homeowners. While I’d like to think that some maintenance things are no-brainers and I’m not likely to let a pack of rogue squirrels drain my savings, I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder what other home-owning responsibilities I’m unknowingly neglecting, and a sense of impending doom sets in…

    So, my point? Keep up the good work with the cleaning posts (and, OK, sometimes cleaning isn’t as life-or-death as furnace maintenance, but it’s still helpful to get tips on once-a-year type things to keep things from getting out of control!), and it would be great to see more content on some of the more serious/technical aspects of home ownership, if any offbeat home inspectors or electricians/plumbers/etc want to enlighten us on other little-known upkeep we should keep in mind!

  13. We have everything on a rotating schedule so that indoor cleaning gets done over the winter, outdoor over the summer. Our “quarterly” tasks usually end up skipped over the summer but it means spring and fall feel more important. Monthly tasks are tacked onto a weekly deep cleaning list do that curtains get washed the first week of every month (keeps the allergies in check), trash cans week two, and the fridge gets scrubbed the third week. Those are just examples, each room has a deep clean item every week. They get skipped occasionally but it means it’s not once a year thank goodness and it also means we know exactly when we last did them!

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