Spring will soon be here. If you are like many folks around the world, you may be biding your time until you can begin spring cleaning in earnest. What is the history of spring cleaning? Why do families choose to follow this age-old ritual?
Read on for my spring cleaning tips and checklist..
What I will cover here:
* Why spring cleaning is important
* Cleaning on a budget
* Things you might easily overlook when cleaning
* Speed cleaning tips
* How to clean specific problem areas
* Enlisting the help of others
* Cleaning tips from the Pros
* What you can clean yourself and what you may want to hire out
* Must have cleaners and stain busters for cleaning at any time
Once you have read this blog post you will understand why people spring clean, how to get the most out of the time you spend and how to keep your home cleaner when you are done.
Why Spring Clean?
People have been spring cleaning for centuries. After a long winter of closed windows and fresh air that is a faint memory, people want to open the windows and let light into the home. Manufacturers of cleaning products have capitalized on the desire that seems to be in-bred in women.
Part of the reason we do spring cleaning is because at least three different cultures have this custom. In addition, since so much of American heritage comes from other cultures, the traditions are passed along from family to family to the present.
Spring also brings with it newness that makes us want to create the same feeling in our homes. Fresh air, blooming flowers, budding trees and longer days encourage us to seek the outdoors. Besides, after the doors and windows have remained closed all winter, it is important to let the fresh air in to help clear away any sickness that may be lingering.
Stuffy air is not good for your health, neither is the dust that tends to accumulate during the winter months. Spring weather tends to get you out of the doldrums and energize you in a way you may only remember from the spring and summer months. This is a great time to let go of the clutter as well as shedding some personal weight.
Do you have to wait until the first day of spring to begin spring cleaning? Of course not. You can do ‘spring’ cleaning whenever you have the time and energy for it. However, the change of season seems to be the perfect time to dig into the mess in your home, let go of things you no longer want or need and create a fresh look inside your home.
If you have not determined good reasons to do spring cleaning this year, consider these benefits:
Do it for your health – Spring cleaning helps eliminate mold and mildew that may have accumulated during the winter. It allows you to clean your home and gets rid of many allergens.
Do it to get rid of bugs and other unwanted winter guests – No matter where you live, chances are you have been living with bugs or mice. Spring cleaning allows you to clear out any nests or food sources that encourage these pests to remain.
Do it for your home’s appearance – Everything looks better when it is freshly cleaned. When you wash your windows, you will notice things around the home that could look better. Before you know it, you will be busy cleaning until everything looks fresh.
Do it to be more productive – You may be surprised how much more productive you feel when your home is clean and uncluttered. You may not actually lose weight during this time, but clearing your home will make you feel as if you had.
Do it for your mental state – People who are depressed during the winter will find they ‘come alive’ again in the springtime. Clearing the clutter in your home may also help improve your mental state.
Do it to find out what repairs are needed – Quite often during spring cleaning you will notice that something needs to be repaired. Keep a notebook with you as you clean so you can jot down those items that need further work.
Cleaning on a Budget
No matter how much economists try to tell you the economy is improving, most people have not seen much evidence of it in their own finances. They are still pinching pennies and making them scream to try to get a little more out of them. Doing the simple things such as deep cleaning may cost more than you want to spend. Luckily, there are ways to thoroughly clean your home on a budget this spring.
Make your own natural cleaners. Store-bought cleaners are expensive. You can get the same quality of clean by making your own with a few natural ingredients. For instance, baking soda, white vinegar, bleach and lemon juice can be combined to create several types of cleaners.
Use the supplies you already have. There is no need to go out and buy new cleaning supplies if you already have a ready supply of sponges, mops and cloths you can use, wash and reuse. Using what you have will keep your money in your pocket.
Share with a friend. Perhaps you really need to clean the cobwebs from a vaulted ceiling but your vacuum will not reach. Your friend has a vacuum that will extend to reach those cobwebs. You may have something she needs, as well. Sharing the cleaning can also make the task less stressful and much more fun.
Make your own disinfectant. Combine hot water, bleach and a bit of dish soap to clean and disinfect your floors. Be careful to clean in an inconspicuous spot to be sure the combination will not damage or lighten your floors. As an alternative to bleach, you may use a cleaner you already have like a pine cleaner.
Soften hard food particles. Clean your microwave by adding hot water and baking soda in a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for 30 second to 1 minute and then allow it to sit for a while. This will soften any hard food particles and make them easier to clean.
Clean hard water stains. In the kitchen and bathroom combine, hot water, baking soda and lemon juice. Spray the stain thoroughly and then let it sit for 15 or so minutes. If the stain is still difficult to remove, you can spray it again and allow it to sit for 10 more minutes. Then simply wipe it clean. Use this mixture on every surface in your kitchen and bathroom.
Clean and deodorize carpet. Sprinkle baking soda evenly over your carpet, allow it to sit on the carpet for an hour or so and then vacuum it up. This will help clean the carpet as well as deodorize it. If you would like to freshen the air as you vacuum, you can add a few drops of essential oils in the baking soda, mix them well and then use as described.
Plan your cleaning strategy. Rather than blindly going from one room to another, it helps to have a plan when cleaning on a budget. Go through each room and decide what it is you want to accomplish. Make a list of each task and mark down how long you expect the task to take you. Once you know the tasks ahead of you, you will want to prioritize the rooms to ensure you get the most important rooms clean first.
Clean one room at a time. Clean everything in one room before moving to the next. It may help to carry a bucket with your cleaning supplies with you, but you may find it equally easy to keep a basic cleaning supply in each room. Get rid of items you no longer want or need while you are cleaning. Put a box for giveaway items in a central location so you can deposit them as you move from room to room. It would also help to have a basket or box for items that you should put in other rooms of the home. This will ensure everything goes back where it started.
When you begin cleaning your home, be prepared for it to take a while. You may find it helps to have a friend or family members help you. Remember, cleaning does not have to break your budget. By having a plan and using homemade natural cleaners, you can have a clean that is also healthy for your family.
Things that Are Easily Overlooked
Unless you have a master list of everything that might possibly need to clean in your home, it is possible you will overlook some items. For instance, people with pets often overlook their pet’s bedding. Rather than leaving the bedding alone, it will need to be removed from its area, the area vacuumed and the bedding either washed or replaced. What other things might you overlook?
Air ducts are often overlooked when cleaning. When you sweep or vacuum, you may be pushing dust and other items into your air duct system. If the ductwork has gotten wet, it may also begin developing mold, which it then spreads throughout the home when air is forced through them. Each year it is good to have the air ducts cleaned. This is one task to get someone else to do to keep the system intact. If your heating and air conditioning unit has a filter, springtime is the perfect time to change it out before you switch over from heat to air.
Wipe down the walls in your home, especially if someone in your family has allergies. Vacuuming the beds will also reduce allergens as well as tossing stuffed animals in the washing machine. It may also be helpful to take down and clean mini-blinds and curtains.
The front of the home is the first thing people see, yet many people overlook it. You may want to give the front door a fresh coat of paint. Power washing the steps would also be a good idea. Look around and see if there are algae or other dirt on the front of the house. If there is, you can use a power washer to clean it, as well.
The mailbox is used almost daily, however people do not think about it very often. If your mailbox is still in good shape, but looking a little drab, you may want to add a fresh coat of paint. If it is beat up or does not work properly, it may be time to replace it. Be sure to replace any numbers or lettering so mail delivery is not postponed. Check with your local post office to see if there are regulations about placing plants around the base of the post.
Gutters may be full of leaves or other debris. Place a ladder against the house and put a drop cloth under it. Put on some gloves and then scoop the leaves out. Not only will removing the leaves keep water from going over the side of the gutter and possibly ruining the fascia boards, you will avoid mold around your home.
Fascia and soffits are not easy to see from the ground. While you are up on the ladder, look for wood rot or insect infestation.
While you are up on the ladder, examine the condition of your roof. Do you see missing shingles, buckling, water damage or other problems? Call a professional roofer to come look. They will be able to tell you if the damage is something to worry about or if it is minimal and can wait. If the roofer tells you that you need work, be sure to get a second opinion.
This list of items you may overlook when spring cleaning is not exhaustive. You may be able to think of other things, as well. If you do think of something else, be sure to write it down so you do not forget again.
Speed Cleaning Tips
Anyone who has ever cleaned a home knows it takes time and energy. You can greatly reduce how long it takes to clean by following these speed cleaning tips.
Play upbeat music. Music can do so much to give you the energy you need to clean. The music should be upbeat, full of energy and songs that you enjoy. The faster the beat, the quicker you will move. Before you know it, you will be finished cleaning in one room and moving onto the next.
Keep your supplies within easy reach. Gather your cleaning supplies before you begin cleaning. Create a basket or caddy to hold everything and carry it from room to room. You can also keep a caddy or basket with cleaning supplies in each room. This way you will have what you need when you need them, and you will not have to go looking for them.
Start with the room that you like least. Many people have a tendency to clean their least favorite room last. Unfortunately, this could lead you to procrastinate so you never have to clean it. If you clean your least favorite room first, you will have the dreaded task completed and will be encouraged to move forward.
You don’t have to clean everything. If something truly does not need to be cleaned, do not spend the time to clean it. You may not use every room in your home; so if your guest room looks clean, do not clean it again. Focus on the things that truly need to be cleaned.
Clean messes as you see them. Even if it is not a scheduled cleaning day, clean up any mess you may see. Encourage your family to help in this regard. If there are dishes in the living room, ask someone to take them with them on their trip to the kitchen. If something was splattered while cooking, grab the sponge and clean it up before it hardens and makes it more difficult to clean in the future.
Clean from top to bottom. Start at the top of the room and work downward. Clean the upper cabinet doors, then the countertop and finally the front of the lower cabinet doors. When cleaning the refrigerator doors, start at the top and move down. When you are finished cleaning the front of the appliances, you can easily mop up any water that may have dripped.
When you are finished cleaning, be sure to put your cleaning supplies away. If you have a basket or caddy for each room, you will want to place it in the closet or out of the way. By putting things where they belong, you know where to find them the next time you need them.
Cleaning Problem Areas
Sometimes you find scuffs on your floor, stains on the upholstery and mildew that you may not know how to clean. Avoid using chemical cleaning supplies. Instead, use homemade cleaners that are healthier for you and the environment. Quite often, you can get the same results with products that are not hazardous.
You can clean scuff marks off the floor by using common household items rather than buying speciality cleaners. For small scuff marks use a pencil eraser. Rub the eraser into the scuff mark until it is no longer visible. Be sure to sweep up the shavings. Larger scuff marks can be cleaned by using a rubber tennis shoe sole. With your hand in the shoe, rub the spot with the heel. You can also rub your heel on the mark with your foot in the shoe. Finally, you can remove a very large scuff mark by cutting an “X” in a tennis ball. Place the tennis ball on the end of a broom and then rub the mark with the ball. It will quickly disappear.
There is a yellow stain on the arm of your couch. How do you get the stain out without ruining the fabric? Quite likely, the stain is the skin and oils of the family. Create home-made upholstery cleaner using 1/4 cup of natural dish washing liquid and 1 cup of warm water. Place the two ingredients in a bowl and then mix with an electric mixer until it becomes thick. Using a soft-bristle brush, scrub the stain. Remove any excess cleaner and discard it. Rinse the spot with a clean cloth dipped in water. Allow the area to dry completely. This same mixture will clean other stains on your upholstery, as well.
Clean Away Mildew
Mildew can be dangerous whether you have an allergy to it or not. When left unchecked, mildew becomes mold and mold needs to be removed from your home for everyone in your family’s health. Here is how you can clean mildew naturally.
Combine 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1/2 cup of warm water in a spray bottle. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and wait until the mixture stops bubbling. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil and shake. Spray the mixture on the mildew and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. Rinse the area with warm water and allow it to dry thoroughly. You can make a paste of this same mixture and use it for stubborn mildew stains. Place this on the stain for 10-15 minutes and then remove it with a scouring brush or sponge.
If you have other tough stuff to clean around your home and are not sure how to clean them, check out a book from the library about how to clean things or do a search on the internet. You are sure to find conventional and natural methods for cleaning nearly anything.
Getting Others to Help
Even though women sometimes take responsibility for spring cleaning more so than men, that does not mean that they should have to do everything on your own. It is both mentally and physically draining for one person to clean a house by himself or herself. When you have an entire family making the messes around the home, it only makes sense that everyone should pitch in and help clean it so one person is not cleaning alone.
If you have not already begun teaching your children how to do household chores, now is the perfect time to start. Children as young as two are able to help with simple chores like cleaning non-breakable dishes from the table after meals. They can also help you put dirty clothes into baskets or help you fold after the clothes after you have washed them.
As the child gets older, you can add other skills to his or her housecleaning repertoire. Before becoming a teenager, your child will know how to clean a house from top to bottom. Actually getting them to do it, however, is another story.
Laundry is one household chore that most people dislike. It is so easy to leave clothing at the end of the bed, on the floor after a shower or in piles in the floor. Get a number of colored baskets and assign each person a color. Tell them they are responsible for making sure their clothing is placed in the basket or it is not washed. Better yet, teach them to wash their own clothes and that will be one less task on your list.
Having to do dishes is another sticky point in many families. Mom should wash dishes, right? Wrong! If everyone in the family uses the dishes, it is only fair that everyone should help clean them. Some families still have to wash dishes by hand. If that is the case, help your family keep on top of them or you may have dishes stacked for weeks needing to be washed. For those with a dishwasher, make sure everyone in the family is able to load and unload it.
Taller family members may have to help shorter ones put things away. Create a chart that clearly shows whose night it is to do dishes and come up with consequences the entire family agrees to in case they do not get done. Having the family help with dishes will mean you have more time to spend with your family.
Determine what needs to be done for your spring cleaning. Depending upon how many people you have in the family, you may want to split the group into teams of two. Designate at least one room for each team as well as at least one outdoor activity. Prepare a list of what they should do in each room and explain how the room will look when finished. For outside cleaning, let them know what you expect so they will know when they are done. Let each team choose the room and outdoor cleaning they will do.
Does your family need encouragement to help you? Plan a fun activity you know everyone will enjoy. Explain that if the house is cleaned to a specific degree, you will take them to see the movie everyone wants to see. However, if everyone does not help with the work and there is complaining, you will not go see the movie. This may be just enough of a ‘push’ to get even the fussiest to help.
Pro Cleaning Tips & Checklist
Now that everyone has agreed to pitch in to get the house cleaned, these cleaning tips from the pros will help get the house in shape.
1. Do not make cleaning an all-day, every weekend type of event. Set aside a specific time each day for household tasks to be done. Create a schedule of tasks that can be accomplished during this time and get everyone to help. Let the family know that if everyone helps keep the house clean, there will be more time for fun activities as a family. Having a chart of what needs to be done and who is responsible to do it will let the family know what is expected of them and when.
2. Wear comfortable clothes you will not mind if they get dirty or stained. Obviously, you do not want to clean in your best clothing. It may help to have a specific pair of jeans, sweatpants and tops to go with it as your cleaning uniform.
3. Stay focused on the task at hand. When you get started, do not stop to check your email or watch television. Instead, ignore distractions until you are finished with what you want to accomplish.
4. Use a specific order when cleaning. Start at the top and move to the bottom. Start from one side and move to the other. Clean everything in the path that you have chosen and then out the door of the room.
5. Close the blinds when you clean them. Start from the top using an old dryer sheet and wipe in down. Not only will this clean the blinds, it will add an antistatic barrier that will keep the dust from settling back onto them.
6. Leave paper towels on the holder when it comes time to clean your windows and mirrors. You can use crumpled up newspaper but what do you do when you do not have newspaper available? If you drink coffee, you can use coffee filters. They will not streak and will not leave lint on either surface.
7. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has saved many professionals. This tool can reduce your cleaning time for various surfaces. Whether you are cleaning the sink, countertop, handprints off the walls or the bathtub, this eraser will do the trick. You can often find a coupon for these in the weekly newspaper. When you use a coupon, the cost is minimal for a tool that does so much.
8. Do you have musty odors in your bathroom? Rather than using a perfume-y air freshener, combine vinegar with water. It will deodorize the room when you spray it in the shower after you are finished.
9. Another product you may want to invest in is Bar Keeper’s Friend. Professionals use this product on many surfaces. Use it for counters, porcelain, stove tops and more.
What You Can Do Yourself and What to Hire Out
Obviously, some house cleaning tasks you can do on your own. For instance, washing your curtains is something you can do. You take the draperies down and, unless they are an unusual fabric, toss them into the washing machine to clean them. Pressure washing your home, on the other hand, may be something you want to leave to the professionals.
Carpets – Vacuuming your carpet will go a long way to cut down on dust and dirt in your home. You can also rent a carpet cleaner and do that job on your own, however it may be more than you may want to tackle. Since professional carpet cleaners already have the knowledge and equipment, this may be a task to let them do.
Hardwood flooring – Mopping the floor is an easy enough task, but when the floor looks worse for the wear, it may be time to have the hardwood flooring refinished. Refinishing a floor is time consuming and can cause back injuries from all the bending over. You can have a professional refinish the floor to ensure the floor looks great and know that your floor is safe.
Windows – It is relatively easy to clean the insides of the windows because you can reach them. What do you do about the outside of the windows? Clean those with a hose and cleaner but it may damage the windows in the process. A professional cleaning service will clean the windows without damaging them. You do not have to use a window washer often, but it can help when you want an extra sparkle to your windows.
Upholstery – Do you have children or pets? If you do, chances are you have dirt and stains on your upholstered furniture. You can do spot cleaning to take care of small spills, but what do you do when the soil is deep? How do you handle the stains on the arms of the chair or across the headrest? A professional cleaner will get the upholstered furniture clean in much less time than you might imagine.
Air ducts – Air quality may or may not be a health issue, but having clean ducts may help reduce allergies. An air filter will remove most dust and allergens, however having the air ducts cleaned by a professional will ensure the ducts are clean and there is no damage to the duct system.
Chimneys – If you have a fireplace or wood stove, it is possible there is a creosote build-up in the chimney. This is one household task you will want to leave to the professionals. A chimney sweep can ensure the chimney is clean and your home safe.
Pests – Ants or other social insects can also be a problem in your home. You may be able to get rid of the ants, but what about bees or wasps. You may be tempted to try to resolve the issue on your own with store-bought chemicals, however these insects can be dangerous if they swarm and you or a family member get stung. A professional beekeeper will have the correct equipment that will protect them. They will also know how to get rid of wasps from around your home.
Mold – If there is any moisture in your home, you may also have a problem with mold. Household mold can be dangerous to your entire family’s health. You may be able to remove the moisture on a mirror or shower stall, but mold can develop up to 10 square feet away from the moisture.
Black or greenish-black mold is especially dangerous. If you find this type of mold, call a professional mold cleaner as soon as you can. The professional will come into the home, examine the area where you found the mold, inspect the rest of the home to ensure the mold has not spread to other areas, clean it up and then ensure it will not come back.
Now you know which household tasks are safe for you to do, you also know which ones are better to leave to professionals. It is best to have your spring cleaning planned out so you can be at home when the professionals you hire are present.
To make spring cleaning easier, make a cleaning plan when you get the itch to open your windows. Once your plan is made, follow the tips offered in thispost. You will find spring cleaner is better organized and you are able to accomplish more in a shorter period of time.
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