Mastering the art of spring cleaning

The general consensus seems to be that spring cleaning is a necessary evil. We need it to get rid of the winter dust and to brighten up the home in preparation of spring (and summer), but everyone knows it takes a long time and a lot of effort. This is a chance to reframe the activity from another dreaded-avoid-at-all-costs checkmark on your to-do list, into an opportunity to revitalise and resuscitate your home, refreshing your mood and getting you excited for the coming months. This notion feels particularly important given how much time we’re spending in our homes as they have become our offices (and schools).

The point of spring cleaning is to refresh those areas that might not be part of your regular cleaning routine. It doesn’t have to drain your energy or take days to complete. Here’s how to make the cleaning easy, and dare we say it, fun:

Pick your poison first

Put on your favourite tracks and have a good time cleaning

Before you start cleaning at all, you need to find something to entertain yourself with. Cleaning can be a monotonous task when all you can hear is the squeaking of your cloth across a surface. Luckily for us though, we don’t have to listen to that in 2020.

Prepare for your clean by choosing a solid audio medium. For some, this may mean queuing the entirety of AC/DC’s albums in Spotify, while others might prefer catching up on a podcast. You could also choose to listen to an audiobook or to listen (and watch) some YouTube videos. Cleaning is as fun as you make it, so choose something that you’ve been dying to have a listen to but might not ordinarily be able to.

Prepare your tools

spring clean (Image from The Honest Company on Unsplash)
Get everything you need for your spring clean ready (Image from The Honest Company on Unsplash)

You wouldn’t go to work without checking whether you had your phone, wallet, keys, etc with you – and so you shouldn’t start a spring clean until you’re sure you’ve got the right tools on hand. This is as simple as ensuring you have enough rags, and that your cupboards are stocked with your normal array of surface cleaners. Don’t forget to also ensure that your mop, bucket and broom (or vacuum) are within easy reach.

If you’re looking to do a really thorough job, here’s the extra equipment we recommend:

  • A ladder to reach the hard-to-get-to places like the tops of cupboards, roof corners, etc.;
  • A bucket/caddy to keep your cleaning supplies in one space while you carry them around your home;
  • Dusters are helpful for ensuring curtains, cupboards and light fittings can be easily cleaned;
  • A room mist/spray to freshen cupboard spaces are cleaning (and to help repel insects between cleans);
  • Storage bags/containers to pack away anything you might not need until next winter; and
  • Rubbish bags for anything that needs to leave the house pronto.

Stop procrastinating and start cleaning

This is the therapeutic and fun part of what we’ve been discussing: actually getting down and doing the nitty gritty of the process. Many professional cleaners recommend starting early in the morning while motivation and energy are still high.

Here’s the quickest way to motivate yourself to start the clean. Begin by airing out the room you’re in. Open every window and door to increase airflow (helping you rid any musty smells from rooms being closed throughout winter). Then turn on your podcast/music/audiobook/etc and take a look around you. Do you have trouble remembering when you last cleaned something in the room? Start there.

Spring cleaning can feel horribly overwhelming but breaking up the clean is important. Like we’ve mentioned, going room by room will help make tasks feel more achievable, as will breaking up each room into smaller jobs. The easiest way to compartmentalise each little job without turning the whole house upside down all at once, which has the added benefit of meaning you don’t need to complete the whole house and one day – you can go room by room.

And do not forget that under no circumstances should this task fall only on your shoulders if there’s a whole family occupying space in your home. Get your children to help sort pens, pencils, draws and books, while older kids can help by completing “finishing tasks” such as vacuuming and mopping.

Don’t forget the small stuff

Keep your space clean and organised: at the end of every work day, pack everything away
Keep your space clean and organised: at the end of every work day, pack everything away (photo by Nathan Riley on Unsplash)

You’ve started your clean: great! Don’t forget about the details of a good clean though: specifically, areas you’re not always looking at. As we mentioned above, assessing a room as you enter it for “recently uncleaned areas” will help you catch most aspects, but don’t forget about:

  • Skirting boards;
  • Door handles;
  • On top of fans (try to do this first if you haven’t cleaned it in a while!);
  • Light fixtures;
  • Under hard-to-reach corners of desks and cupboards; and
  • Photo frames (especially if grubby hands have been holding them recently).

It’s also worth spending a little more time on hard-wear areas such as pantries which gather small scruffs or marks.

Store it

bedside table
It might be time to store your normal bedside book collection away

An important part of spring cleaning successfully comes down to storage. Finding the right storage solutions not only saves you time and energy in the long run (you’ll never have to search for that necklace again if you store it correctly) but it also allows you to put away winter furnishings, leaving more space for spring and summer finishes.

If you don’t have a dedicated closet, find somewhere dark and dry to store your linen. Keep your table linen protected from the dust by storing them in fabric bags and your bedding in pillowcases. If you are switching up linens and soft furnishings, it’s also best to get everything out in the morning and give your pieces a “breath of fresh air” by hanging them in the sun to kill any dampness. This will also give you time to clear out cupboards and clean them before you restock.

Fix it, Edit it, Purge it

Make a list and then get cleaning
Keep a list of anything that needs to be fixed (Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

Use your spring clean as not simply just a chance to just down your home, but an opportunity to have a long look at what needs fixing, editing or must go. You don’t have to pull a Marie Kondo and go through your whole home to see what “sparks joy”, but using the clean to go through cupboards and boxes is simply smart.

Keep in mind a small mantra as you do your clean “fix it, edit it, purge it”. Use your phone or a piece of paper to keep note of anything that needs fixing such as broken door handles, leaky tap wear or squeaky doors. You can use this list over the coming weeks and complete 1-3 small fixes as needed until everything’s looking its best. You might also look at ‘editing’ some pieces or areas, updating them with new finishes or colours to keep them on-trend. If you think that something just isn’t worth the time and effort to fix it or edit it, or it’s simply time for it to go, purge it.

If your pantry has gotten away from you, consider what food items, if still within their use by date, might be worth donating to a food bank. Likewise, some retailers accept old clothing and linens that cannot be donated for their textile recycling programmes, including Sheridan who accept any brand of pre-love sheets and towels. Local veterinarian practices also love to receive second-hand towels and bedding too. Details on where to donate everything from appliances to lightbulbs and furniture can be found on Planet Ark’s website.

Making the clean last

Open cupboards are stylish and incentivise you to keep the kitchen clean – a win-win situation

You put in all of that effort to clean your home…and now it’s starting to look messy again. Don’t let that happen: instead, future-proof your clean. Be regular about wiping down surfaces and freshening up a space. If possible, encourage yourself to clean more regularly by hosting a dinner party or your book club. This way you’ll stay on top of the clean and won’t be scrubbing months of grime off your floors come spring.

Written: 24 September 2020

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