Despite the chill that still lingers in the air, spring is here. Whenever I hear the word spring I almost always associate it with cleaning. And as much as I really despise cleaning, dusting off the dirt and polishing things up puts a smile on my face. For many, it means it’s time for a fresh start.
Spring cleaning is no small task, though. In fact, it can often turn into a huge beast of a project that some of us may give up on. To make your spring cleaning adventure a little less painful, I’ll share a few tips that always help me tackle my dirty house.
Make a list of what needs to be cleaned in each room
Lists help me stay organized – especially if I have a huge project, like spring cleaning, on my plate. Before I even get started, I walk through each room and write down what needs to get done. Writing a list out also helps me make sure I have all the cleaning materials I need before I get started, saving me tons of time later. It’s a pain in the butt when you have to stop everything to run out and buy more carpet cleaning solution.
Make your playlist
I have a cleaning playlist that includes the Black Keys, Boston and the Rolling Stones. Listening to music while I clean just seems to make things go by faster. Of course, you don’t have to make a playlist; you could always just turn the radio on to your favorite station.
Get a trash and donate box/bag
As you go through each room, make sure to de-clutter. Throw away old magazines and papers from the previous year. Put items you no longer use or need, like that book you bought 10 years ago but never read, in the donate box. Once you’re done cleaning your whole house, itemize your donate pile because you may be able to deduct those donations on your taxes.
Work on one room at a time
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to clean your entire home all at once. Try writing down all the rooms in your home on a piece of paper and checking each one off as you go. If you can work on at least two or three rooms each weekend, you’ll get a lot more done and still have free time on the side.
Set an amount of time to work on each room
I know I can get easily distracted, looking at items I’d forgotten or old photographs, and before I know it I’ve spent the entire day cleaning just one single room. Set a timer so you don’t fall into this trap. You can also use the timer to give yourself a little break here and there. Much like a list, it helps keep me on track. Trust me, I get easily distracted.
Get some help
Don’t do all the cleaning yourself. Recruit your kids, significant other or roommates to help you out. I know that when my roommates and I pitch in together to clean the kitchen, it takes about half the amount of time that it takes when I do it myself. To be honest, if those who live there make the mess, they should also help clean it.
Start from the top and work your way down
This is just the law of gravity – clean from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Knock all the dusty cobwebs from the corner, wash the curtains, clean the windows, dust the furniture, vacuum the furniture and finally vacuum the floor.
Use natural cleaners
Many chemical-based cleaners emit hazardous fumes. Some cleaners when mixed together can even emit toxic fumes that can seriously hurt you. Vinegar is a great substitute to use in your bathroom or kitchen and as a general household cleaning solution. Although it sounds crazy, vodka can also substitute for chemical cleaners.
My grandmother had sworn off “newfangled” chemical cleaners some years ago. She only cleans with vodka and vinegar. It makes sense, though, because the acidity of vinegar is extremely high at a pH level of 2. A study in the Journal of Environmental Health found that vinegar is comparable to bleach when killing harmful bacteria like E. coli.
My dad always told me to work smarter, not harder. Take your time and let grimy surfaces, like the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, soak in your cleaning solution. Work on something else on your list while your cleaner does the hard work.
Reward yourself at the end
For me, having something to look forward to at the end of a long day of cleaning sure makes things go a lot faster. Plus, you worked hard and deserve it. Treat yourself.
OK, so these ideas won’t make all the dirt magically disappear, but the tips above can make the process a little less agonizing. Just remember to pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything in one day.
Want more spring cleaning inspiration for your home? Check out these helpful tips for cleaning up the outside of your home.
Written by Krissy Schwab, a writer at Quicken Loans, focusing on sustainable living, home, money and life for the Quicken Loans Zing Blog.