Historically, spring-cleaning came out of a necessity, when homes heated with wood and coal saw a build-up of soot and ash on walls, furniture and fabrics.
Spring also marked the end of the hunting season so the entire house would be scrubbed clean of the dim, smoky film accumulated over the winter. While this is no longer a factor in the majority of today’s homes, springtime still offers a great time of year to get that sparkle back into our homes.
Whether you realize it or not, our home environment has a direct impact on our attitude, our productivity, energy and even our overall health. Spring-cleaning cleanses our mind and spirit with a fresh start and 58 percent of Americans still say they spring clean their homes each year. Do you?
There are ways to break down the big job into manageable mini-tasks that shouldn’t overwhelm you. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Dust the undusted! After a long cold winter indoors, you need to open windows and breathe in the fresh air. Carve out a small block of time one morning to do just that. Dust off all surfaces such as your window blinds, windowsills, pleated lamp shades, ceiling fans, and the back sides of televisions, computers and stereo units.
Make a clean sweep. Plan some time, perhaps this weekend, to give attention to your floors. Not only sweeping the floors in your home, but also your garage floors, the back deck, the front walkway and front steps. It’s time to throw out the old doormats and purchase new ones. Did you know that 80 percent of all household dirt tracked through your home can be prevented by simply using a doormat at every entrance?
Wash the windows. Don’t put it off anymore. Get them sparkling clean and let the sun shine in. Light enhances our mood by lifting our spirits. Time to put in the window screens or rinse them off if you’ve left them in all winter. And as a bonus, 30 minutes of washing windows burns about 160 calories! My absolute favorite recipe for sparkling clean windows: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup ammonia, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1 gallon warm water and a roll of cheap paper towels (they have less lint). Clean all the mirrors in your house too.
Organize your clothes closets. If you don’t like it, don’t wear it. Throw away or give away all clothes you haven’t worn in more than a year. If you cannot bear to part with clothes, then pack them up and store them in another place for now. Get your closets clear right now, holding only those essential items you love and wear.
Make time for kitchen and bathroom. Plan another day (so you don’t get burnt out from spring cleaning) to concentrate on the kitchen and/or bathrooms. Scrub down the inside of the refrigerator, the cabinet doors, tables, countertops and counter appliances. Then wash the floor thoroughly. Treat yourself to a brand new throw carpet or kitchen mat to stand on when you are on sink duty. In the bathroom, clean your shower curtain, scrub the grout and tile, scrub the floor, launder the throw rugs. Try throwing two Alka-Seltzer tablets into the toilet and brush 20 minutes later for a clean shine. Keep bowl cleaner in the bottom of your scrub brush holder next to the toilet for follow-up daily cleaning.
Vacuum and flip. For the other living areas of your home, don’t forget to do a thorough vacuuming. Lift up big pieces of furniture and vacuum or mop underneath. Flip your bed mattress and launder the mattress pad and dust ruffle.
More tips: To keep things easier to handle, I suggest keeping a complete second set of cleaning supplies in a bucket upstairs near the bedroom and baths, as well as down in the kitchen. Some people I know, even keep a third set of cleaning supplies in the garage or basement. Keep a wastebasket in every room. On the next rainy day, plan on emptying, cleaning and organizing your pantry, kitchen cupboards and medicine cabinet. And finally, keep things looking and feeling clean and spacious by containerizing your ‘stuff’. Place pretty baskets on all open shelving and inside cabinets and label it’s contents. One of the best gifts I ever received was a label maker (OK, people know me too well). I label everything, from my desk files to pantry shelves.
So, get busy, gain energy and feel great. Remember that when you spring clean your home you are also cleansing your life!