By Nancy Schiller, a freelance writer and certified floral designer experienced in staging homes for sale & home organization
Spring is upon us and it’s time for the traditional spring clean, when we’re supposed to clean everything we can think of in our homes. It’s a ritual that has its roots in every culture that uses the phrase, “back in the day.” Anything and everything that can be washed, polished or tidied is fair game.
No One Cleans Like Grandma Did
Let’s face it. Standards were just higher “back in the day,” right? We had a lot more stay-at-home moms and things got cleaned more often. My grandma, bless her, dusted and vacuumed – every morning. Starched curtains fluttered at her gleaming windows. My mom tells people that I always move before the windows have to be cleaned, but that’s another story . . .
Cleaning v. Liking it Clean
So, I asked myself what it is about cleaning that bogs me down. First, anyone who knows me knows that I would rather pull weeds than clean house. Second, there’s too much stuff everywhere. Then I thought about my grandma’s house. She never hurried her work and was really happy when the doilies were starched and the silver gleamed. And to this day, I can tell you where to find anything you need – in her house. Hmmm . . .
A Spring-Cleaning State of Mind
When I opened the first window of the season my winter blues sailed out and a breath of spring took their place. I was invigorated and I thought back to grandma’s kitchen. There she was, rolling up her sleeves, and I knew what to do.
Gather laundry and trash.
Strip beds and turn mattresses.
Take curtains off windows and air-fluff (no heat) 20 minutes, machine wash or dry clean.
Air-fluff children’s stuffed animals.
Wash clothes and sheets in a fresh-scented detergent.
Place heavy items like comforters, bedspreads and pillows in a hot dryer for 20 minutes, or wash in a heavy-duty machine.
Put away everything that has a place. Box unwanted items and take out.
Wash all dishes and put away.
Get out your vacuum (fresh bag), dust cloths or duster, spot remover, multi-surface spray cleaner, sanitizing cleaner, mop, water and bucket.
Once you can see your floor, furniture and countertops, you are ready to spring clean!
The Main Event
1. Air Out
Pollens aren’t heavy yet, so open some windows and let the staleness of winter out.
Work from top to bottom. Use your duster, damp cloth or multi-surface spray cleaner. Dust the ceilings, light fixtures, ceiling fans and walls. Then do the wood trim, doors and windows. Wipe the furniture and every decorative and functional item in the room. (The clutter is gone, remember?)
Vacuum to remove dust. For wood, vinyl and tile, raise the roller beater bar to avoid scratching. Spot clean carpet as needed (shampoo if necessary). Mop vinyl and tile floors with water/sanitizer. Sealed wood can be damp mopped, otherwise consider waxing and buffing. Lampshades and sofa cushions can be vacuumed.
Tubs, toilets, sinks, dish drainers and countertops need to be sanitized. Put toothbrushes and cups in dishwasher (top rack), wash combs with soap/ water and refresh hairbrushes in 1 tsp. baking soda and 8 oz. water. Wipe out medicine cabinet and discard outdated products.
Take contents out of drawers and wipe insides with sanitizer. Let dry and line with shelf paper if desired. Discard unwanted items.
6. Wash Holiday Dishes
If you have special china that you only use once or twice a year, give it a rinse to help keep it from cracking.
Clean stove/oven according to manufacturer instructions and wipe out fridge with sanitizer. Throw away outdated items. Fill dishwasher dispenser with baking soda and run it empty on the short wash cycle.
Wipe insides with sanitizer or clean according to manufacturer instructions. Leave washer open to air.
Clean sleeping and feeding areas. Vacuum/wash/replace bedding, bowls and toys as needed.
Clean insides (and outsides if possible) of windows with all-purpose sanitizing cleaner. Re-hang curtains. Blinds and shades can be vacuumed or wiped with a damp cloth.
11. Make Beds
12. Miscellaneous Maintenance
Change smoke alarm batteries and heating/AC filters
Well, it’s been a couple of weeks and Grandma would be proud. I’ve worked my way through the de-clutter phase, and I feel pretty good. I’ve bought some flowered shelf liner, but it’s really warming up and it’s just amazing how fast the weeds can take over a flowerbed . . .