Updated 4/5/18 from an article originally published 3/19/15.
Melting snow, chirping birds and increasing daylight can only mean one thing: spring is finally upon us. While we can’t wait to get outside, we probably can wait for the dreaded process of spring cleaning. Like it or not, it’s time to get rid of those winter blues, open those windows and follow some spring cleaning tips to give your home the makeover it’s been waiting for.
The bathroom needs scrubbing, the closet needs reorganizing and the garage needs an overhaul. But where to begin?! Whether you’re part of the 75% of Americans that make this an annual ritual or you’re attempting to tackle the process for the first time, here is a helpful spring cleaning checklist to get you started.
A 6 Step Process With Tips to Simplify Spring Cleaning
1. Get rid of clutter first.
Sure, we all want to get right down to the nitty-gritty of cleaning. But first, we need to get rid of the things we no longer need. Before you begin your spring cleaning, get rid of items that are needlessly filling up your home to help you stay organized.
Tip: Put away winter.
Over the winter months, garages and basements become popular storage areas for grills, lawn mowers, sports equipment and patio furniture. With nice weather around the corner, it’s time to place your spring items where they belong. Items such as heavy outerwear, winter boots, snow blowers, shovels and winter sports gear should be placed into a basement, attic or storage unit near you – especially if it’s something you won’t need for another eight months.
Tip: Go for lighter linens and colors.
Since spring is all about letting the sunlight back in and trying new things, why not pack up the heavy materials and dark tones for new colors that scream “spring?” Put away the heavy bedding, fuzzy throws and velvet pillows to help rid your home of the winter feel. Change up your curtains in favor of a lighter, sheer material to let in more light. Add some plants, mirrors and lighter wall decor to create an open airy feel for your family and your guests. You’ll immediately feel less cluttered.
Tip: Love it or lose it.
Getting rid of clothes you no longer wear is an important component of spring cleaning. The average person only wears 20% of the clothes in their closet on a regular basis, according to the chief design officer for California Closets, interviewed in The Wall Street Journal. If you come across clothing that you haven’t worn in the last 6-12 months, it’s time to get rid of it! Consider donating these clothes to a local Goodwill.
Read Also: How to Store Clothes for Future Use
Tip: Skip the sentimentals.
After surveying 2,000 American on the stuff they store and why, we learned that sentimental connections to our belongings make the decluttering process much more difficult. If time is limited for your spring cleaning process, we recommend skipping sentimental items until you can dedicate time to really go through them. When you’re ready to sit down with that box of photos or baby clothes, these articles may help:
2. Next, give everything a deep, thorough clean.
You’ve rid your home of winter and decluttered your spaces. Next up: cleaning!
Americans spend around 90 percent of their lives inside, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So why not take the time to rid your home of dirt, dust and other allergens to turn your home into a refreshing atmosphere? There are even plenty of natural, DIY cleaning products to make your home smell as fresh as spring. Here’s everything you need to check off your spring cleaning to-do list:
Tip: Dust is the first thing to go.
Fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dirt and germs will need a deep cleaning to prepare them for another year of wear. Start with a thorough dusting before you move into vacuuming. Dust your shelves, counters and baseboards—and, if you have hardwood floors, beneath and behind any furniture. For hard-to-reach surfaces like ceiling fans, try an extendable duster that can bend to 90-degree angles. They’re great for bookcases and shelves, too.
Tip: Don’t forget the windows.
Over the long winter months, debris like pollen, dirt and dust can build up along your window sills. Cleaning the interior and exterior on a routine basis will not only let more light into your home but ensure that your windows easily open and close. Fresh air will also reduce allergens and germs in mattresses, even if you can’t haul them outside.
DIY cleaning agent: ¼ cup white vinegar mixed with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle.
Tip: Even furniture can use a spring refresh.
Just because you don’t see stains doesn’t mean your couch is free of dust, crumbs, dirt, animal fur or allergens. Many hardware stores, including major chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot, rent upholstery cleaning machines, which can help clean your favorite room in a matter of minutes. At the very least, be sure to vacuum upholstered surfaces.
Tip: Tend to your mattress.
Despite linens and mattress pads, mattresses are still popular places for dead skin cells, sweat and dust. First, take a vacuum over both sides of your mattress to collect any dust or debris. If it’s nice enough outside, the best remedy for your mattress is some fresh air and sunlight. To spot clean, make a natural paste of lemon juice and salt. Apply the mixture to the area, and let it sit for 30-60 minutes before wiping it off with a clean towel.
While you’re flipping your mattress, do yourself a favor and leave it on the opposite side. Over time, pressure leads to irregular wear. Flipping it twice a year can help keep it in tip-top shape while also making sure it’s clean.
Tip: Wash everything coming out of storage.
Before you fill your closet and dresser drawers with your spring and summer wardrobe, wash it all! Those clothes are going to need some freshening up after sitting in a basement, garage, attic or storage unit all winter. Don’t forget to also wash sheets, blankets, pillowcases, shams and mattress pads. Spring is the perfect time to let these air dry outside in the sun!
DIY cleaning agent: 1 bar of grated soap, 1 cup of washing soda, 1 cup of borax, 20 drops of essential oils of your choice.
Tip: Let there be light.
Dirty light bulbs emit 20 percent less light than clean ones. Why waste the energy and the money?! Give your lightbulbs a wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, open the blinds and let that sunshine in.
3. Make your home smell like spring.
The two rooms to address when it comes to foul odors are the bathroom and the kitchen. Let’s get into a few spring cleaning tips for each area.
Bathroom Spring Cleaning Tips
Between hair products, teeth brushing and hampers full of dirty clothes, bathrooms are places that need some serious attention:
✔Tackle the tub. It’s as easy as salt and a grapefruit. Rubbing this on your tub and shower walls can remove grime and give your bathroom that extra boost of freshness that is usually only obtained with heavily scented candles and not-so-friendly cleaning products.
✔Own the throne. The porcelain throne (and porcelain sink, for that matter) need to be scrubbed down. Baking soda and white vinegar are popular homemade cleaning solutions. Make sure you scrub beneath the rim and make sure you wear rubber gloves!
✔Shine that mirror! The mirror is something we use so often, but rarely notice the dirt, water spots and smudges. Create a cleaning solution by mixing one part white vinegar and four parts water and clean until it shines. The most important part of this process is to use a light microfiber cloth to avoid leaving behind streaks.
Spring Cleaning Tips For Your Kitchen
✔Empty your refrigerator. You can’t avoid it any longer! Empty and unplug the fridge and freezer for a thorough clean. Most of this process will involve throwing out items far past their expiration dates, but you’ll also want to make sure your fridge is organized. Take advantage of adjustable shelving and shelf liners, which will make the cleanup process ten times easier next time around.
DIY cleaning agent: 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a quart of hot water to effectively remove grime and crumbs.
Read Also: Complete Guide to Storing Food in the Fridge
✔Fight the grease. Tackle the tough stove, oven and microwave grease with steel wool pads. Baking soda does an excellent job of dissolving grease. And because it’s mild, it destroys grease without destroying your hands or the surfaces you’re cleaning.
DIY cleaning agent: 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of warm water.
✔Shine those floors. After dusting, vacuuming and tackling your kitchen counters, you’€re going to need one final cleaning of your floor. After all, it sees the most traffic. With a damp mop, give your floor a clean shine. Mix a solution and rub gently into your floors.
DIY cleaning agent: ½ cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 cup of hot water. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil for a clean, fresh scent.
Add Some Natural Air Fresheners
There are plenty of easy (and fun) DIY air fresheners that are perfect for the spring season. Once you’re done with your deep cleaning, try one of these:
- Fresh flowers. Buy (or pick) a bouquet of fresh-scented flowers and place them in a vase right in front of your window. The breeze will blow the scent all around your home.
- Stovetop freshener. While you’re beginning your cleaning, place fresh orange and lemon peels in a pot on the stove and bring the water to a light simmer. Here are some more recipes to try. The fresh spring scent will travel through every room of your house!
- Essential oils. Create a mix of essential oils (distilled water and 5-10 drops of lemon or lavender) and place in a diffuser or a spray bottle. Spritz around your home as you wish.
- Rosemary cotton balls. Soak a cotton ball in rosemary oil and place it in a small trash can in your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. Every time the lid opens and closes, it will fill the room with a natural, fresh scent.
4. Update furniture arrangements to maximize space in your home.
After you check off the items from your spring cleaning checklist, it’s time to adopt some organization hacks that stick. Consider the space you already have in your home that you may not be currently taking advantage of. This will allow you to create (and keep) an organized space.
Tip: Maximize existing space.
As you declutter your kitchen, bathroom, office spaces and more, rethink your existing storage space and how you can maximize it. Open wall shelves can create a light, refreshing look (especially while spring is in the air) without taking up floor space like dressers or file cabinets would. They’ll help you keep your home organized, functional and bright – all while saving space. Don’t forget about the space above your cabinets, which can provide four to five inches of extra storage!
“Transform dead space into usable storage with shelves and baskets that can house everyday essentials,” notes Lorrie Marrero, bestselling author of The Clutter Diet. “If you have small items, corral them into a bin or basket like tea boxes, DVDs or slippers – and maximize use of the entire space.”
Tip: Think vertical.
If you do have heavier pieces on the ground, organizing vertically (instead of horizontally) can help save tons of space in every room of your home. Stackable units and modular components are key for maximizing space in areas like bedrooms, living rooms and closet spaces.
Tip: Boost closet storage.
As you take out the old, make room for the new – in an organized way, of course! If you need some extra closet space for your spring clothes and accessories, shelving can help expand your already-existing space. Salvage the hidden space in your closet by adding in double-decker closet rods and wire shelving units.
Tip: Assign areas.
Whether it’s your living room, bedroom, kitchen space or garage, dedicating specific areas for your belongings will help you and your family stay organized in the long run. For example, buy a rotating rack for all of your spices instead of sprawling them all over a cabinet shelf. Dedicate an empty wall to hang your pans instead of stacking them in a drawer.
Even your garage can use some TLC, too. A garage pegboard is a perfect example of how something so simple can be utilized to assign specific areas and organize tools. A metal cart can also serve as a mobile workbench. Adjustable shelves can display an assortment of containers, including wooden boxes and glass jars containing small hardware.
5. Consider self-storage.
For seasonal belongings, oversized items, or accessories you haven’t yet found a home for, renting a storage unit can be a space-saving and accessible way to store your things. For fragile items like wood, antiques or furniture, climate controlled storage can protect from humidity, temperature and the elements. As you tackle your spring cleaning checklist, consider renting a storage unit to get things out of your way and prolong the life of your belongings.
6. Use these spring cleaning tips year round.
You might be surprised to find that we should be dusting and vacuuming every few days. Marcia Prentice of Apartment Therapy suggests staying on a cleaning schedule to help this spring cleaning process become a routine. “We find ourselves more relaxed, happy, and balanced when we are living and working in a clean space,” she notes. “As we do in every part of life, we create a checklist for household tasks to keep the home looking beautiful and clean every day.”
The more often you tackle chores like laundry, dusting and vacuuming, the less often you’ll have to do a thorough, tough clean.
Spring cleaning may be a lot of work, but that’s why it only comes once a year. Now that you have a fresh and clutter-free home, keep it that way! Have any other spring cleaning tips and tricks? Share them in the comments below or tweet us @LifeStorage!