Of course, before this all begins, having a strategy will be tantamount to success. Formulating a plan will help ease the stress and create a more efficient cleaning system. For any first-time spring cleaner, it’s certainly a daunting task, but with the seven tips below, you’ll be spic-and-span before you know it.
Make sure you de-clutter right out of the gate. This will clear the space and make it easier for you to actually see what needs sweeping, dusting, or to be taken to the dry cleaners. Use Post-its to label “keep,” “store,” and “trash” piles. Remember when Carrie and the girls cleaned out her closet to ’80s music in the Sex and the City movie? It’s like that. After you’ve marked everything, make piles and either bag or box the giveaways, rehang (maybe on new, color-coordinated hangers) and fold the items you want to keep, and store your winter clothes in plastic bins, either tucked away in the closet or under the bed.
The first step to starting and keeping a home or apartment clean is buying the right supplies. Basic checklist: an all-purpose cleaner, disinfecting wipes, rubber gloves, glass cleaner for showers and windows, carpet spot cleaner, microfiber cloths, a sponge, and a small duster. Then store all of your most-used supplies together in a container like a shower caddy or basket, so it’s easy to carry them around with you to any room in the house.
Trying to do everything all at once will set you back, or you’ll end up not cleaning as much as you thought you’d cleaned. Tackling one room at a time will help keep you focused. Maybe you begin with the bedroom, spend an afternoon there, then the next morning take on the living room or kitchen. Space things out if this is your very first spring clean. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
Now that you’re really getting into the spring-cleaning swing, you’re going to need more than that small DustBuster left over from college. Invest in a slim, bagless vacuum—models with disposable bags can be harder to clean and stop suction and airflow as they get full. Any vacuum over 200 air watts will have ample suction, and look for one with a spinning brush to give rug and carpet fibers a deeper clean. Once you finish vacuuming the top of your rugs, be sure to fold back the corners and edges to get the undersides. Lastly, don’t rush it. Moving the vacuum very slowly will result in the removal of up to 85 percent more dust and allergens.
We (should) all be vacuuming and dusting on a regular basis, but there are lots of pesky little spots around the house that tend to be overlooked when it comes time to clean. For tiny crevices that need a scrub, like the tracks of your windows and behind the toilet, use an old toothbrush and some vinegar. Once you’ve vacuumed the floors, use the nozzle attachment to get under your couch cushions and suck up everything hiding there. And when you’re dusting, don’t just dust around things—remove all of the items so you can clean the actual surface of the shelf. Extra points for those who wipe their remotes down with antibacterial solution and remember to clean their toothbrush holder—one of the places in the home where bacteria can spread very easily. A great trick here is to fill the holder up with water and drop an Alka-Seltzer in.
Even if you’re pretty diligent about throwing away expired food or drinks in your refrigerator, there are bound to be condiments in there that haven’t been used since you moved in. Clear out the entire fridge, check expiration dates, and toss. The same goes for the piles of forgotten leftovers in the freezer. Before putting everything back in, wipe the bottoms and lids of the containers you’re keeping to get rid of any drips or gunk, then spray the inside of the fridge with some vinegar and water and wipe it down. If you really want to go all out, take the shelves completely out and wash them down with soap and water. Once everything is ready to go back in, organize the contents: The door—the least cold area—should hold condiments; the bottom drawers—with higher humidity—should hold the veggies and fruits; and the middle shelf—the coldest—is best for perishable items.
By now, you’ve completed your very first spring clean, and it’s time to reward yourself! Buying some fresh flowers or a beautiful new plant will add a nice finishing touch to your refreshed space. Not only will they look lovely, they will also improve your general well-being—plants can improve indoor air quality, brighten your mood, and (some believe) boost your creative energy. Not a bad way to start the new season.