By Mimi Mason
After months of closed windows and doors, our family loves the ritual of spring cleaning. Billows of fresh air, the crisp scent of my homemade lemon-infused, all-purpose cleaner, and a plan of attack are all we need to keep us focused on renewing our home. Perhaps the most important component of our spring cleaning is our plan of attack. The night before we begin, I like to sit down and make a list of each task to accomplish on each floor of our house, beginning with the upstairs, moving to the main floor, the basement, and finally the outdoor spaces. I then break each floor down by room, and detail each task for that room. This way I don’t forget any small task while I’m in the trenches. Such as dusting away cobwebs from the ceilings. My most notorious forgotten task every year.
My Plan for Spring Cleaning
Perhaps the most important component of our spring cleaning is our plan of attack. Working from top to bottom is especially important during spring cleaning, so the dust floats to the floor to be swept or vacuumed away. Every space in our home gets dusted for cobwebs (hopefully); the walls, furniture, and doors wiped down; any linens (such as curtains or towels) removed and laundered; floors swept and mopped.
For bedrooms, I also do the following: remove all bedding and launder; sprinkle mattresses with baking soda and vacuum them; take inventory of dressers and closets while removing/discarding and reorganizing as necessary. I take the chance to grab shirts with stubborn stains and clothing that needs mending, placing them either in the laundry for extra treatment or into my sewing basket.
For our home office, I follow the same basic formula with a few changes: take inventory of drawers by removing/discarding and reorganizing as necessary; review paperwork and mail; clean out household document files. We like to keep two billing statements per biller on hand in our paper file, along with tax documents and other important paperwork. Sometimes this file becomes overrun with excess, making it difficult to locate important documents. With a half hour of concentration and my handy trash bag, the file is restored to its tidy glory.
Kitchen Spring Cleaning
The kitchen gets a bit of special attention, as it is easily one of the move heavily used rooms in our home: wipe down walls/cabinet doors/appliance fronts; clean out the refrigerator (removing shelves, washing them, wiping out the fridge walls); clean the interior of the dishwasher (remove racks and scrub walls with baking soda paste); wipe out the cabinet interiors; clean the inside of the oven; take inventory of the pantry, removing/discarding and reorganizing as necessary. The reorganization and taking inventory steps in the kitchen are vital to helping our home stay food-waste free.
How to Clean and Organize Bathrooms
Bathrooms get the same top-to-bottom routine, along with cleaning every last inch of the toilet, sink, vanity, and bathtub. The shower curtain is removed and laundered, and the vanity and bathroom closet are reorganized. Here’s a handy bathroom cleaning checklist. A great deal of my couponing efforts are for bath and health-related items, so reorganizing and tracking expiration dates are an essential part of spring cleaning for us.
- Eliminating Clutter Catchers in Your Home
- The Benefits of a Brain Dump
- 5 Ways to Organize Your Home for Summer
Our basement is finished and gets the same treatment as the rest of the house, however, it also houses our laundry room. In the laundry room, I wipe down the washer and dryer, and vacuum out the lint trap and dryer hose. I wipe the drums of both machines with my all-purpose cleaner, leaving them open to air-dry thoroughly. I also take the time to throw away any clothing tags, scraps, detergent lids or cotton swabs (so great for spot bleaching!) that may have been left out in my haste.
Cleaning Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor spaces are hit or miss for us. Sometimes spring is still snow-covered, which means no cleaning. A gift or a curse, you be the judge. Other springs we are gifted with sunny days, and those sunny days give us a jump on getting our outdoor spaces ready for the season to come. When possible, we like to sweep and power wash the front porch and back deck. We also get the exterior of the house power washed, wash the windows and French doors, and sweep out the garage floor.
The day of outdoor cleaning, I gather my cleaning supplies: a broom, mop, my homemade all-purpose cleaner, four damp rags, a laundry basket, two trash bags, and two Magic Eraser® sponges. Remember, when you are overhauling your house, less is more! I throw open every window, turn on some music, and get down to business. Keeping my supplies centrally located makes it easy to grab what I need, and also makes it easy for my little one to help! Her favorite chores are sweeping and mopping, and I’m happy to hand them off to her. She also loves wiping down walls, something easily done with the eraser sponges or rags.
For some, tackling spring cleaning task by task works best, such as sweeping and mopping all the floors at once. My preferred method is to tackle the cleaning room by room. This way, I have a sense of completion as I leave a room behind. Once clean, I close the door behind me so that the room stays clean, at least until bedtime. Or, so I hope! Spring cleaning is not a job accomplished in a day. In our house, it lasts about a week. More of a marathon than a sprint as they say.
How to Declutter Your Home
This year, our family added a new dimension to our spring cleaning efforts. We have decided to include a year-long challenge for decluttering. Every day, each member of our family chooses one item to sell, donate, or discard. We found ourselves tempted by bargains, coupons, and this-might-come-in-handy splurges. As the purchases piled up, finding what we needed became more difficult. We found ourselves talking about buying organizers for the excess, and at that point we just stopped. We recognized we had fallen into a cycle of consumption that would only worsen.
Our daily decluttering began in early December, and has amazingly been a hit with the entire family. My husband discovered extra tools that were hampering his ability to find the tools he needed. I cleared out some bake ware, and now have a beautifully neat cabinet. Even our 6-year-old happily picks out small toys to give to others. She enjoys being able to share her toys in a meaningful way, and is excited to make room for the toys she uses most often.
We deliberately chose not to make this a punitive measure, but rather a measure in appreciating what we have, and only keeping those things we truly treasure and that are useful in our daily lives. This is a small step that we hope will reap a cumulative reward by the end of next year.
Decluttering and cleaning are the most frugal ways to make your home shine. I love exploring all the nooks and corner of my home, repurposing what I have, and bringing a renewed sense of cleanliness and comfort to our daily lives. Have a happy spring!
Mimi Mason is a homemaker, homeschooler, and micro homesteader. She chronicles her family’s experiences with sustainable living on her blog, The Simple Survivalist. When she’s not elbow deep in garden soil and bread dough, she can be found hidden behind the pages of a good book.