Spring sunshine gives us longer, warmer days. It just so happens to also illuminate all the dust and cobwebs that accumulated over winter. That means it’s spring cleaning time once again, and while sweeping, mopping, and dusting are self-explanatory, these tips can help you achieve a more thorough deep clean.
Scrub Your Cleaning Machines
Dishwashers and washing machines get cleaned every time you use them, right? Wrong. The cleaning appliances you rely on all year need some upkeep to beat back buildup and mildew. You can purchase appliance cleaners, but two products you likely already have on hand can do the trick just as well. Spritz bleach inside your clothes washer to kill off bacteria, and run vinegar through your dishwasher to remove hard-water deposits. (Note: Never mix bleach and vinegar together, as the combination releases a potentially lethal gas.) Both machines also have gaskets and filters that require regular wipe-downs to prevent mold. (Refer to your owner’s manual to see the best way to clean those and how often.)
Replace Worn-Out Cleaning Gear
It’s time to let go of stained sponges and dirty mop heads. Cleaning tools have a lifespan that impacts how well they work; sponges have the shortest use of only a week (though a dip in bleach can extend that time), with mopheads following at just a few months. Brooms and vacuums, on the other hand, can be used for years with regular cleaning to keep them in tip-top shape. As for sprays and disinfectants, check the label for an expiration date, which can range from six months to two years.
Don’t Splurge On Occasional-Use Tools
Carpet cleaners and pressure washers are two enticing cleaning appliances that can reinvigorate your home’s appearance, but they’re costly and not frequently used. Skip the impulse to buy these bulky machines and instead rent one from a home improvement store. DIY carpet cleaning can be done for under $100, less than half of what you might pay for a professional service or machine. You’ll also save on storage space, and you won’t have to worry about maintenance or repairs.
Follow Someone Else’s Cleaning Schedule
Planning to clean your entire home is a monumental task that can fizzle out the moment you start feeling overwhelmed. Reduce your decluttering stress by snagging a pre-planned checklist (plenty are provided online) that breaks down your spring cleaning strategy with a daily chore or room-by-room guide. Sure, you’ll still have to do all the work yourself, but having a solid plan is one less speed bump on the road to tackling those dust bunnies.
Delete Digital Clutter
Photos, bank statements, junk emails — there’s a ton of digital clutter taking up space on your computer or phone. The act of holding onto every file even has its own name — digital hoarding — and psychologists say it causes stress and makes it difficult to focus. Deleting old emails and downloads has the same positive effects on mental health as organizing and cleaning your home. While you’re at it, update important passwords and review account privacy settings to help protect your personal information.
Sanitize Your Desk
Spring cleaning isn’t just for clearing out under-bed cobwebs — your office (especially a shared workspace) needs a deep clean, too. Desks are easy catchalls for paper clutter, so it’s a no-brainer to file away documents for a clear workspace. The end goal is to create a work area that’s easy to sanitize at least weekly. (Office phones and computers harbor more bacteria than toilet seats, according to University of Arizona researchers.) Shared common areas such as kitchens are also germ sanctuaries, so if and when you're in an office or workspace with other people, you may want to bypass community dishware for a personal set you wash daily at home.
Eat Through Your Pantry Backlog
Boxed meals are notorious for hiding in the darkest back corner of your pantry. This spring, push pause on grocery shopping to eat through your backlog of non-perishables. Organize food by expiration date, but know the “best by” stamp isn’t a hard rule on when to pitch old boxes of mac and cheese — dates are suggestions for when a food is at its highest quality. Instead, inspect each item for signs of freshness, tossing any bloated cans, as well as foods that have molded, gone stale, or have an odd odor. You’ll cut down on food waste while clearing space for your new favorite treats.
Responsibly Recycle Old Electronics
Technology makes our lives easier, but once a phone or tablet is outdated, it usually just takes up junk drawer space. Many cities host springtime electronic recycling events; if yours does, use it as a decluttering deadline to clear out old headphones, phones, and computers. (Retailers such as Best Buy and Staples are also EPA-approved electronic recyclers.) Recycling your electronics is easy — just delete any personal information from your old device and remove the battery for separate processing.
Give Houseplants a Refresh
Spring is the perfect time to spruce up indoor houseplants that are leaving behind months of dormancy. Transplant overgrown greenery into larger containers, check for and treat for pests, and remove dead foliage. Even plants that look great can benefit from dusting, which helps leaves better absorb sunlight. Simply use a wet cloth to gently wipe leaves or pop plants in the shower for a quick rinse and watering that won’t leave a puddle on the floor.
Outsource What You Can’t Do
If you can’t get through your spring clean task list, consider hiring help. Professional cleaners offer a handful of services, including basic cleaning, deep cleaning, organization, and exterior cleaning. While a cleaning service can seem costly, you can often lower the price by booking discounted regular visits or only cleaning the most-used rooms in your home. Outsourcing work can save you time and frustration — after all, spring cleaning is meant to make the rest of your year dust- and stress-free.