Spring Cleaning is that time of year we use as an excuse to go through our closets and purge everything we don't need anymore. We'll storm the garage making piles of things to donate, sell or throw away. We'll dig through our closet unearthing forgotten clothes like an archeologist. Spring cleaning can oftentimes feel daunting. But if you follow our guide below, you'll have a roadmap to get from overwhelmed, to under control. You'll fall in love with your home all over again because you'll have space, clarity, and cleanliness!
We've teamed up with professional home organizer Amanda Scott to bring you the ultimate guide to Spring cleaning.
What Is Spring Cleaning?
Spring cleaning is that time of year when people decide they want to get their homes back in order. The sun has finally started coming out and so have people's energy levels again, which makes this perfect for refreshing the home! But why did we start doing it?
Spring cleaning in the US dates back to the mid-1800s. If you imagine what life was like back then, you'd think of things like carriages moving people and cargo across dirt roads, irrigation systems that don't keep the streets nearly as dry as they do today, lamps lit by oil or gas, etc. That adds up to a lot of dust, debris, and moisture being carried from town into a home.
During the winter seasons, people would close up their windows to keep heat inside and the harsh elements outside where they belonged. The mess people bring in from outside is only made worse by the snow and rain. Homes are kept closed tight for a few months which means a lot of mess accumulates indoors during this time.
The cleaning tools during this time weren't like what we have today. The typical cleaning kit included dusters, brooms, brushes, and mops. Today we can make use of a vacuum to keep things clean, but back then everything needed to be swept outside. Rugs were hung up and beaten to get the dirt out. It's not easy to do something like this during the winter season. So people waited.
As soon as the weather got warm enough to open the home again, that's the time they cleaned all that crud that has built up over the cold season. This time was usually around April/May otherwise known as Spring.
What's The Right Way To Spring Clean?
Everyone does Spring cleaning differently. A lot of what you'll do depends on your lifestyle. Are you a minimalist or do you hoard? Do you clean regularly or put it off? Do you have pets, kids, or roommates? Do you work from home?
We recommend having a goal in mind when you do your Spring cleaning. This goal will help you focus your time and keep you motivated. Do you want to find things to donate? Will this be an excuse for you to get rid of things via a garage sale? Is this the year you finally put together an organizational system? Maybe you have someone new moving in soon. All of these things will affect the type of Spring cleaning you'll do.
3 Phases of Spring Cleaning
If you're just looking for a quick and easy way to give your home a refresh, try our 5 simple tips on how to get your home Spring clean and how to keep it that way all year long!
Phase 1: Take Out The Trash
The first thing to do is pick up the trash. Make sure every room has a trash can or trash bag and assign one person to that room to clear it. Or make it a contest with the family and see who can round up the most trash throughout the house. Kids love prizes, even if it's just a gold star. Food is a great motivator for kids. So have a few little rewards ready to go for everyone - even the ones who don't win. The goal is to keep everyone engaged with the activity.
Pro tip: Leave a few extra trash bags at the bottom of your cans, then put a fresh liner in. This way you don't have to hunt for them the next time you take out the trash.
While you're picking up trash, be on the lookout for dishes and other things that need to be taken to the kitchen to be cleaned.
Phase 2: Get Organized
Now that the trash is picked up, it's time to organize the home. That starts with identifying what things you use most often and putting those in easy-to-access places. Make it easy to get them and easy to put them back. This will help keep your home tidy for longer because people will be more likely to put it back if it's easy to do so. Here are a few other tricks for keeping organized:
Use baskets to put toys, blankets, extra pillows, and dirty clothes in. Baskets are great because they can be decorative as well as functional. Use baskets without lids for the kid's areas. This makes it easier for them to see what goes in the basket, and easy for them to put items away.
Use clear bins for storage. Clear bins make it easy to see what is inside. Use space under the bed, in closets, the garage, or the shed for this. If you decide to label the bins, place a piece of painter's tape over the lid and write on that instead of writing directly on the lid. Using white painter's tape or masking tape will make it easier to read your writing. If you want to give your bins a professional touch, use a label maker.
Organize tabletops and desks. These areas tend to get cluttered very quickly. The dining room table tends to be the place in our home where we throw everything when we come home. Coats, groceries, mail, etc. But make this a no-fly zone and it will force people to put those items away. For your office desk, find organizing tools to hold the little things like pens, paper, mail, or anything else that is loose. These items will quickly take up lots of space on your desk. But if you have a place to put them, you'll stay tidy all year.
Lastly, the kitchen. When was the last time you went through the cupboards and made sure everything was in its place? Go through the cabinets and the countertop and put things in an order that allows you to use the kitchen the way you want it. Spices near the stovetop, coffee cups near the coffee machine, plates, bowls, and glassware on the first shelf, etc. Think about your daily routines and make it easy to get what you need each time.
Pro Tip! A Quick Fix For The Fridge
Amanda Scott is a professional organizer and this is her process for organizing the fridge.
It can be tough to unload groceries or face the perpetual question, What’s for dinner?, when your fridge is so full that you can’t find anything in it. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix:
Pull out your trash can, compost, and recycling bins.
Take everything out of the fridge. Yes, everything! Ten minutes on the counter won’t be enough time for anything to spoil.
Check expiration dates. Is it past its prime? Compost, toss, or recycle! Visible mold? Same.
Do you use it? If not, throw opened and perishable items away. That bottle of ketchup with half a squeeze left in it? Rinse, recycle and let it go.
While your fridge is empty, wipe down all the shelves with a clean sponge and soapy water or vinegar.
Put the items you want to keep back into the fridge, keeping like items together—meat in the meat drawer, vegetables in the vegetable drawer. Consider a clear plastic bin or Lazy Susan for salad dressings or condiments to make them easier to organize and access.
Repeat this process for the freezer. If that means having to eat the last spoonful of mint chip in the carton, well, somebody has to do it.
Looking for other kitchen cleaning tips? We were selected by Redfin as a top cleaning expert! See the article we were featured in:: Kitchen Cleaning 101: Experts Share Their Favorite Tips.
Phase 3: Clean!
Below is a more comprehensive guide to Spring cleaning for those who want to go the extra mile and really deep clean a home. We recommend tackling these cleaning tasks a little at a time. Pushing yourself too hard leads to overlooked areas of the home and injury.
Now that the home is in order and you know what needs to be cleaned, get to cleaning! Work your way from top to bottom so that you're not re-cleaning anything as you go. We recommend tackling things in this order:
A Shorter Cleaning Shortcut
If you want an even shorter shortcut to a clean feeling home, focus on dusting the horizontal surfaces you can reach and the baseboards you can see. Then vacuum and mop the floor. Dusting and mopping the floors will make the largest impact on a home because these horizontal surfaces are the most visible part of a home, aside from the walls. But unless your walls are stained or have paneling that holds lots of dust, your floors are what people will notice most. Doing these two things will make the house feel a lot cleaner and are usually two of the easier cleaning tasks to tackle.