It’s time for Spring Cleaning again, time to get excited! No, really, get excited! This is the time when you declutter, rearrange, and give your home a fresh start for the rest of the year. I’ve been a big Spring Cleaning fan ever since I was eight. It all started when I was watching an episode of Carol Duvall on HGTV and she was sharing her own Spring Cleaning tips. [Yeah, I was the weird kid that watched decorating and craft shows instead of cartoons.] I was so inspired that I spent an entire weekend hanging bed linens out on the back porch, dusting and vacuuming everything, and organizing every spot I could get my hands on, all while singing [too loudly] the words “Spriiing Cleeeeeaning” over and over again. Sorry, Mom.
Ever since then, I’ve always gotten a little giddy when Spring Cleaning time rolls around. I completely understand that not everyone feels the same way, but whether you like it or not, it needs to be done. I’ve gathered up twelve of my best spring cleaning tips and I’m dishing out all my secrets on how to crush your whole cleaning session in just one weekend. Singing optional.
1. Make A Plan
This is first on the list because it’s the most important of all. Without a plan, you’ll be standing in the middle of the living room with your hands on your hips, spinning around aimlessly, only to give up because you have no idea where to start. By writing out a plan on paper, you’re so much more likely to follow through with it. You’ll want to do this room by room, and I like to start in my master bedroom. Make sure you list every room, closet, and storage area in your home. I usually leave out the outdoor areas like decks, patios, garage, and storage buildings, and save those for another weekend.
2. Set The Mood
No, I’m not talking about lighting candles and laying out snacks. (Although snacks are perfectly appropriate.) In order to stay focused and actually pull off your whole Spring Cleaning in one weekend, you’ve got to get rid of distractions. Don’t turn on the TV, make sure your phone is turned off and put away in a drawer, send the kids to stay with Grandma, and don’t schedule any plans or appointments. You do, however, want to have a little fun, so stock the fridge with your favorite beverages, crank up some old nostalgic music from your childhood, and throw on your comfiest outfit.
3. Clear The Room
This is where things get real. And it’s also my biggest tip for effective Spring Cleaning. You’ve got to clear out the room. Take out everything possible. Box up all the decor, take the art off the walls, remove small pieces of furniture, take the rugs outside, and make the room as empty as you possibly can. This is how you can be sure the whole room is clean and no spots are missed. I usually just push everything into another room, or if I’m feeling really ambitious I move it to the garage. This is so helpful when you’re clearing things out because you may realize you might not actually need all the stuff you own to come back into your house at the moment. *More on that in tip #11.
4. Start From The Top
In order to get the whole room clean and save time by not having to go back over a spot more than once, you should work from the top of the room down to the bottom. That means cleaning your ceiling, fans, and vents first, then the windows and walls, then the baseboards, then the floor. Dust, dirt, and allergens fall downward, thanks to gravity, so by starting from the top, you’re ensuring everything gets super clean the first time.
5. Use The Right Tools
This is not the time to break out all those fancy cleaning tools you’ve been hoarding in the garage. Actually, there’s never really a time for those, so you can free up some space by donating them. Spring Cleaning is a pretty big process, and you’ll be going all over the house with your tools and cleaners. You don’t want to have to drag out all those things, then lug them all around from room to room. To make your cleaning sessions quicker, easier, and smoother, opt for multi-purpose tools and natural all-purpose cleaners. I love using my Swiffer Dry+Wet mop, because I can use it to dust ceilings, fans, vents, walls, and floors, all without changing tools at all.
And when it comes to cleaning solutions, I prefer using natural household cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, hot water, lemon juice. They’re non-toxic and so much better for your lungs than those harsh chemicals in your spray bottles.
6. Open The Windows
Here’s another secret I’ve been using ever since I was that goofy eight year old kid that counted down to March so I could refresh our house. Open the windows. It’s so incredibly simple, but also so effective. By opening the windows, you’re letting fresh air in, stale air out, and as an added bonus, you’re subconsciously reminding yourself to clean your windows, too.
7. Complete One Room At A Time
You may be tempted to wipe down all the bathroom counters at one time, or sweep all the floors in the house at once, but I’d highly recommend you don’t do that. By completing one room at a time, and seeing that huge change, you’ll be more motivated to keep going. This is another reason I suggest moving everything out of the room when you’re cleaning it. By clearing it out completely, you’ll be forced to finish the space because, well, the furniture has to go back in there before you can use the room again. It’s a great incentive to keep yourself from procrastinating. Can’t sleep in a room that has no bed, right?
8. Schedule Breaks
Eventually, you’re going to get in the zone and you’ll become a cleaning machine, plowing through the house at record speed and feeling the high of accomplishment. But “the zone” only lasts for so long, and then you hit that brick wall and check out. To save yourself from losing focus and motivation, you should schedule yourself short breaks. I like to set an alarm on my Amazon Alexa to remind me to take a time-out.
During these breaks, take a quick walk down the street, flip through a magazine, or have a cup of tea on the porch. These things help clear your mind without distraction. Do not turn on the TV or phone, though. You can get caught up so easily in these time-wasters, and before you know it, you’ve spent an hour doing absolutely nothing and you’re no longer interested in getting back to your cleaning tasks.
9. Bring In The Essentials
Once you’ve cleaned all rooms from top to bottom, it’s time to bring your stuff back in. Don’t go grabbing everything you removed earlier though. Just start with the essentials. If you were a good student, you cleared out everything you possibly could from every room in the house. And at this point, all your small movable furniture is collected in your garage, driveway, or basement. As you bring in the essentials, don’t just look at what you had in the room before, but look at all your furniture as a whole. You have the ability to “shop” your stuff, so you might decide the table from the living room actually looks better as a bedside table.
Again, only bring in the essentials. What you absolutely need for the room to be functional. Leave everything else where it is for now. I promise, it will be okay. You don’t have to have everything perfectly decorated in order to move on. Just focus on putting essential belongings in each room. By bringing things back in carefully and thoughtfully, you may realize a lot of what you own are things you don’t really need at all.
Another benefit to this method is it gets you out of a design rut. You’re so used to seeing the same things on your shelves every single day. The same pillows on the same beds. The same plants in the same places. Since all your decor is grouped together in one place, you’re forced to pick and choose what you think would look best in a certain area, and not be confined by the way it has always been. It’s like going shopping all over again for new things. You’d be surprised how fresh a room can look just by changing up the decor.
Start with your main living area and add pieces you love and find to be beautiful or functional. You may realize the lamp from the bedroom looks better in the dining room. Or you may decide that you actually prefer less clutter on the shelves and walls than you had before. Don’t worry about finding a home for all the decor pieces you have. This step just focuses on decorating the rooms the way you want them to look. I guarantee you’re going to have extra things leftover. And that’s good.
11. Store Away What’s Left
After you’ve brought in your essentials, and decorated with pieces you absolutely love and find to be useful, you’re going to have a lot of homeless stuff. What you’ll instinctively do is grab it all and find random places to put it, or worse, shove it all in closets and cabinets. Totally defeats the purpose of cleaning and decluttering, right?
Pack up everything you have left and don’t give them a second glance, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. You’ve obviously got more things than you need and they’ve been taking over your home for too long. Store all the stragglers for three months. During that timeframe, if you need something that’s in storage, you can get it out, but try to avoid looking at anything else in that box. If after three months, you still have pieces in storage (You will. You definitely will.) it’s time to donate those pieces. Don’t look at them again, or you’ll suddenly want them back. Remember that items don’t have feelings and memories will always be with you even without the memento.
I do this with my son’s toys once a year. We go through his room, remove toys that aren’t his favorites, and put them in storage. We call it his Library. He can check items out of his library whenever he wants, but he can’t look in it. He can only ask for things from memory. After three months, the remaining items (usually 95% of them) are donated.
12. Develop A Weekly Cleaning Schedule
Now that your home is clean, organized, and feeling fresh, you’ve got to keep it that way. Create a weekly schedule with basic tasks, broken up by day. Then add in a slot for tasks that should be done once weekly, and another for monthly tasks. You can take it a step further by adding in quarterly responsibilities as well. By sticking with your schedule, your next Spring Cleaning session will be done twice as fast.
The hardest part of Spring Cleaning is just getting started. By using the twelve tips above, you’ll be fully equipped to give your house the extra love it really needs, and provide a healthy environment for your family. And I bet you’ll find a lot of your stored items heading to a donation center rather than back in your house during the process. Make this your year to get organized, decluttered, and take back your home from all that stuff.