After the long cold winter, it is spring who comes knocking at your door, signaling the start of the loved, or rather dreaded spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is associated with despair, suicidal thoughts and sadness. Leaving jokes aside, almost 90% of us do it (this figure is not made up, it is based on my recent giveaway). Some spend 1 day doing it, some others spend as much as a week. The reasons behind this special chore? A thorough cleaning helps freshen your home, decluttering keeps your life organized and sanitizing everything keeps your loved ones healthy. But do you know how this activity actually started?
The history of Spring cleaning
You may be surprised to find out that the practice of spring cleaning is more global and historic than you can imagine! There are theories proving that the idea of cleaning and getting your home ready for spring started back in the Persian New Year, Iranian Nowruz. The entire house is cleaned in anticipation of their new year, the first day of spring (which is always around the 20th of March). Another theory is based on the ancient Jewish practice of cleansing the house before Passover. As the holiday forbids eating food or drinks fermented with yeast, followers thoroughly clean their houses to get rid of such foods and drinks. The date for Passover is not fixed; the holiday takes place somewhere in mid April. It’s also considered that the Chinese had started spring cleaning as they carefully sweep, dust and organize their homes for Chinese New Year. They believe that thoroughly cleaning your home helps remove the past year’s bad luck to make space for New Year’s good luck.
While there are varied origins for spring cleaning, the habit still follows through all cultures. However, many people today living in modern, centrally heated and cooled houses don’t think they need to clean their homes much as they did i.e. 100 years ago. Many believe their cribs don’t get as much oily, sooty or smoky as in traditional houses. Moreover, they assume that washing machines and vacuum cleaners prevent most of the dirt from sneaking in. Little do they know that there are some tradeoffs to this “laziness”. Today’s houses are airtight – it’s difficult to breathe fresh air in them. Present day houses are usually full of chemicals and gases emitted from floor waxes, furniture glues and artificially painted carpets which never existed before. So no matter if you are living in a modern or a traditional house, your house needs sunlight and fresh air, which is best achieved while doing a general cleaning.
8 Benefits of Spring cleaning
Most people Spring clean their houses out of habit, as it’s something their mothers and grandmothers did before them. While I agree that tradition matters,, there are many benefits associated with this activity you may not know about:
1. Fix unknown or forgotten problems
It’s not likely for most of you to move your furniture around very often. Without moving furniture, you will never know about any leakages causing mold and structural damage. It’s only when you give your house a good cleaning and move everything around can you nip minor problems in the bud before they grow into something major which can utterly cause serious damages.
2. Get more space
Going through your drawers and cupboards is a part of Spring cleaning. This is when you will most likely find items you no longer want, use or need. No matter if you throw, sell or donate them, you eventually end up with more space in your drawers, cupboards and home to store things you actually need and love!
3. Stress buster
While cleaning may seem stressful, it’s actually a stress buster, as it is difficult working and living in a dirty and cluttered environment. In fact, all the dirt and clutter around you induces stress, as they constantly remind you that you have to take care of things. Only after you organize everything will you feel relaxed.
4. Simplify everyday cleaning
You find it much easier keeping your home clean and decluttering after Spring cleaning. Things which are out of place can be easily spotted, and you’ll need only a few minutes to clean your home in the following weeks.
5. Find lost things
Practically everyone finds something they were looking for so long while cleaning their houses. These ‘lost’ things usually end up buried deep in a drawer or under a piece of furniture. It is only when you clean your home with a fine-tooth comb will you find the missing pieces. Make sure yo place them someplace safe, to avoid losing them again in the future.
6. Improve health
Have you noticed how much better you feel when the house is clean? This is because a clean home means improved air quality. Dust and dander are eliminated from the air you breathe. Allergens are also highly diminished, so your allergy symptoms will quickly fade away.
7. Increase productivity and focus
After cleaning and decluttering, many organize all their belongings by putting them in their rightful places. In the end, people spend less time looking for or replacing lost things and have more time for themselves, for more important things like their family or their work! Moreover, a thorough cleaning clears your mind of pending tasks around the house which makes it easier for you to focus on your work and other important things.
8. The feeling of satisfaction
While you may have to spend so much time and effort cleaning your home, it’s worth it. The act will eventually leave you with a sense of satisfaction, which in turn will make you happy and in a good mood.
Spring cleaning checklist
So now that you know when and why you need to clean your home, you need to gather the right supplies and products to start with it. Here is a checklist which makes it so much easier for you to start with your house cleaning this Spring:
- Obviously, you need a good vacuum cleaner. If you’re into quick pick ups, you might prefer a compact cordless, one which you can carry around with you as you clean your home. It can be easily used to clean all the hard-to-reach areas, including stairs, crevices, baseboards and tight corners. This type of vacuum is also great for reaching under furniture. However, if you if really want to do Spring cleaning, you might need a more powerful tool. A bagged vacuum cleaner is a better option. Check out Miele’s top of the line, or the water filtration Quantum Vac.
- A duster is a cool thing to have around for dusting under appliances without moving anything around. It conveniently reaches around the back of fridges and is also slim enough to clean under ovens.
- As there’s so much of scrubbing to do while you clean, it is important you wear arm length rubber gloves to keep your hands and clothes solution-free. Look for puncture-resistant gloves which reach over your elbow and have textured palms which prevent slippages.
- Microfiber gloves prove very helpful for dusting furniture, cleaning mirrors and more. Its thick chemille side helps clean fan blades while its blue side can be used for swiping electronic appliances.
- You definitely need a bucket while cleaning around your home – I prefer a 4 gallon bucket. It is best to use a bucket with channels at the bottom, as these trap dirt and prevent spreading grime as you clean.
- A microfiber combo-squeegee scrubber is ideal for cleaning windows and bathrooms. This is a dual-sided tool which can effectively remove water spots and soap scum. It’s scrubber portion disperses cleaning solution to lift off grime while the squeegee portion removes liquids to give a clean surface.
- You’ll also need an all-purpose cleaner for windows, tiles and doors. A bathroom cleaner will help disinfect the most important parts of the bathroom. Don’t forget to handle the shower heads and the bath curtains.
- Your kitchen is best cleaned using an antibacterial kitchen spray, specially designed for tiles, walls, ovens and even stoves. If you’re looking for alternative ways to clean these home appliances, don’t forget to read my guide on how to clean stainless steel.
- Keep a mop handy for handling floors and for clearing messes fast. Be sure to check out my special article on floor mops. Though you may use a vacuum to sweep your floors, you may also need a broom and a dustpan to remove all the dust and dirt. Don’t forget a scrub brush and a sponge to wash your tiles and walls along with trash bags to carry all your trash and a laundry basket for any clothes, bed sheets or pillow cases you need to wash.
Beginner’s guide to spring cleaning
Okay so you got the idea, have the necessary supplies but just don’t know how and where to start! Well, there’s nothing great about it as you just have to clean your house, but in a more thorough manner! Here are some tips to help you get started.
Get rid of things
The first thing you need to do is declutter your house to give space and make it easier for you to decide what needs to be cleaned, what has to be thrown away and what has to be kept. After segregating everything, you need to decide what you think is worth donating or giving away. Hang, fold and keep only the things which you actually need and will be using in the next period and store winter clothes and other accessories you won’t be using immediately under your bed or tucked away in the closet. A general rule of thumb worth following is that if you haven’t worn or used something for a year, it is better to get rid of it! Do remember to wipe the insides of your dresser drawers and closet shelves with a plain microfiber cloth before returning the things you plan to keep.
Tackle one room at a time
Once you are done decluttering, get all your cleaning supplies but don’t attempt to clean all the rooms at once. This will only set you back, and you won’t be able to clean your home as thoroughly as you want! Instead, tackle one room at a time – it keeps you focused. You can start with your bedroom, where you may need an entire afternoon to clean, and move on to your living room or kitchen the next morning. Spacing out helps you work better anyway! You can speedup things up once you get the hang of it. Just don’t be superficial.
Air your wares
Airing is important as it helps kill millions of dust mites! So start cleaning your bedroom by stripping down the beds and hanging quilts, blankets and comforters outside and place mattresses over lines. If possible, you can also spread and leave the mattresses on the hedges or lawns in the sun for a day. You can give your mattress a more thorough cleaning by generously sprinkling baking soda on it and letting it sit for 15 minutes or longer. Then vacuum the mattress, flip it over to the other side and repeat the process. Give the vacuum a thorough cleaning, especially in crevices between the mattress and bed frame to get a great smelling mattress. If you can’t get your mattresses outside, you can use a tool such as the Raycop RS2.
Open windows wide so that fresh air circulates in the room and start dusting, sweeping and vacuuming. You can use the vacuum’s spinning brush to deep clean your rug and carpet fibers. Don’t just vacuum the top of rugs; you also need to fold back its corners and edges to reach its undersides. Don’t rush while vacuuming your carpets, floors and upholstery. The slower you are the more thorough is your cleaning as you remove as much as 85% more dust and allergens.
Emphasize on the forgotten spaces
Besides your regular vacuuming, you need to concentrate on the pesky spots around your home which you tend to overlook during your everyday cleaning. You can next clean under your couch cushions with your vacuum’s crevice attachment, to suck up everything hidden there. Use a toothbrush and some vinegar to scrub tiny crevices like behind the toilet and window tracks. Don’t just dust around things; remove everything and clean the shelf surface too.
Windows and fans
You not only have to clean the window crevices, but also have to dust and vacuum all window blinds, drapes and shades. Don’t forget to wash the windows both inside and outside using a commercial cleaner or a solution made of warm water and vinegar. If you have any ceiling fans or chandeliers, it’s time to climb onto your stepladder and remove all the dust stuck there.
The main stalwarts needing cleaning in the kitchen are the fridge, the kitchen sink and the oven. No matter how particular you are about throwing away old food and drinks, there always will be something in the fridge you hadn’t touched for some time! So check and clear out the entire fridge and freezer after checking expiration dates. Now wipe all the bottoms and lids of containers you return to the fridge to remove all drip and gunk traces. Spray the inside of the fridge with water and vinegar and wipe it down; remove and wash the shelves with soap and water. Once all this is done, return everything to the fridge in an organized manner. Condiments are preferably placed on the door which is the least cold area and the bottom drawers are best for holding fruits and veggies as they have the highest humidity. All perishable items go onto the middle shelf as it’s the coldest.
While in the kitchen, move the stove and fridge and thoroughly scrub the floor underneath. While self-cleaning ovens don’t need much maintenance, microwaves do. So if you don’t have the habit of sponging your microwave every week, put two cups of water in a Pyrex bowl with two lemon halves, and switch on the oven at high setting for ten minutes. Then scrub the rack, walls and ceiling using a fresh washcloth. Scrub it a second time using a solution of half a cup each of plain white vinegar and warm water. Then add another cup of water to the bowl and turn on the oven for ten minutes to get that ‘new’ look back!
As much as you may despite it, your bathroom too needs a thorough cleaning once in a while! It’s better if you clean it regularly but if you don’t have the time, you can still restore it to its’ original sparkling glory with the following tips. First clean your toilet bowl with an all-purpose cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner having an angled sprout, a toilet bowl brush and some cloth and paper towels. Cover the entire toilet with the all—purpose cleaner and let it sit and break down the dirt. Then pour the toilet cleaner into the bowl, guiding its spout along the toilet’s inner side and squeezing around till it’s evenly spread out. Let it sit for a minute then wipe the outside of the toilet bowl clean. Now scrub the inner bowl with your toilet bowl brush, working from top to bottom in a circular motion till you reach the water. Leave the brush in the water and flush. The water cleans the brush off and any residue in the toilet bowl. Return the brush to its holder after it’s completely dry to avoid the growth of any mold or mildew.
Cleaning the sink is easy. Just use an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge scrub away all stains. You may need a scourer for more stubborn stains. Pour some white vinegar or baking soda down the drain and follow with hot water to get rid of any blocks and lingering bacteria. If there’s any rust on the faucet handle, use a commercial cleaner to remove it or pour some salt on lemon and rub it on the stain.
The bathtub is cleaned about the same way; just don’t use rough brushes or sponges as they scratch the surface. Avoid mixing cleaning products as different chemicals react differently when mixed. Wipe everything down once you are done cleaning the bathtub to remove any remaining soap or cleaner. Chemical residues can stain and discolor your tub and sink. Don’t forget to clean your toothbrush holder as this is one of the places where bacteria easily breed. Here’s a tip to easily clean the holder: fill it with water, drop an Alka Seltzer in it and watch what happens!
If you have a basement, you know how great a space it is for storing laundry and for general storage purposes. However as it’s usually the largest storage area in your house, you may end up having things there you hope to use one day. It’s better to shelve your things as floor storage is not advised in subterranean conditions where water is dangerous. Clearly label or use transparent storage bins as it’s easy identifying what’s in them. Keep all the things you don’t use often like holiday decorations and camping gear on higher shelves. Keep things you don’t want to get damp like photographs, books and clothes out of the basement.
If you have your laundry space in your basement, an area rug and lamp helps spruce up the area. Place all your detergents, dryer sheets and bags and anything else on reachable shelves and if you fold you clothes here, a small table proves helpful. If you keep your tools in the basement, use a pegboard and S-hooks available at any home improvement store to neatly organize and store them.
One part of the home most people purposely forget to spring clean is the attic, as it’s the least desirable place to clean! Attics are not used often and thus end up full of mold, dust and other allergens and irritants. All it needs is a bit of cleaning to return to normal. Start dusting with an electro statically charged duster which removes twice as more dust than regular clothes. Next vacuum the attic thoroughly and after this, clean up any mold on moist areas like window frames and any leaks with a damp rag with an ammonia-free household cleaner. Not only should you clean the mold, you also have to address it’s cause like rotted wood and leaks to prevent it from coming back. As there’s so much mold and dust in the attic, it’s better you do your cleaning wearing a mask.
With the attic done, you’re done cleaning your home. While the first attempt at spring cleaning may take two or three days to complete, once you get into the habit of cleaning your home, you’ll be able to complete it in a day or maximum two.
Spring cleaning is actually much easier if you maintain daily, weekly and monthly cleaning chores throughout the year. Instead of letting dust and dirt accumulate in rooms and places like shelves, windows and under beds, it’s better to practice some discipline and time management to devote some time to cleaning your home on a regular basis. Your spring cleaning sessions then end up much shorter as you don’t have much cleaning to do.