13 Amazing Spring Cleaning Hacks
Plus 5 Quick Tricks to Declutter
Written by Darla Palmer-Ellingson in Residential
As those first days of warmer air and sunshine arrive, it is a great time to not only blow off the dust and grime that built up over winter, but to dig a little deeper and give the house a good once-over cleaning. I’m not talking about your everyday cleaning chores throughout the year, but some once-a-year tasks that will keep smells and dust at bay while preserving materials and appliances.
Follow this simple spring cleaning checklist as well as the best tips for decluttering and be ready for the carefree days of summer.
First, gather supplies. A good list includes: a gallon of white vinegar, a box of baking soda, a large box of table salt, vacuum cleaner bags, cotton towel rags, a lint-free cloth for windows, dish soap and a bucket. Have on hand mineral oil and wood cleaner. Start with the dirtiest jobs.
- Clean the vacuum. Rip threads caught in the brush with a seam ripper, wash filters and replace the bag. This might seem counter intuitive before you start cleaning, but taking this step will make the vacuum more productive.
- Dryer check. Once a year, pull out the clothes dryer and check the vent hose in the back to make sure it is not accumulating lint. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 10,000 home fires begin in the laundry room. Vacuum the vent hose and behind the appliances, then remove the lint filter and vacuum that receptacle.
- Clean the broom. Vacuum the broom then wash it in warm soapy water and let dry.
- Refrigerator/Freezer deep clean. Pull out bins to wash in the sink, wipe trays and seals around doors with warm soapy water. Vacuum vent and crevices and wipe down with a damp rag.
- Prevent washing machine smells. Start the washer on hot (with no clothes), adding three cups white vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda (no soap).
- Shower and sink drain cleaning. Heat white vinegar in a microwave-safe measuring cup. For each drain, place 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup salt, then pour in one cup heated vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing drain with water.
- Attack grimy cabinets. Wood laminate floor cleaner is also great to clean cabinets, especially around handles and furniture pieces made of wood.
- Bed refresh. Remove all bedding and vacuum the mattress. Wash pillows (if tag says washable), bed skirt and comforter.
- Look up. Hanging pendant lights and ceiling fans often get missed in daily cleaning. Use a towel rag and warm soapy water (rung out). Lint rollers work well on lamp shades. Finish with a wipe down with a dry towel rag.
- Window tips. Wash windows on a cloudy day. On sunny days, cleaners will dry and leave streaks. Windex makes an attachment for your garden hose that makes outdoor cleaning a snap. After attaching Windex to the hose, spritz the window and clean with a soft scrub brush attachment on an extension pole in an overlapping pattern, then rinse with the garden hose (without the Windex attachment). A squeegee on a pole works well for lower windows. Working as a team of two, with one person spritzing, followed by another person scrubbing, the job goes really fast. Just don’t let too much time pass before rinsing.
- Indoor windows. You can make your own window cleaner for inside with one part white vinegar to one part warm water. A squeegee, finished off with a lint-free cloth will give the best results.
- Stainless sparkle. Soapy water is fine for basic cleaning of counters, sinks, the fridge and microwave. After cleaning, to make stainless appliances and sink faucets shine, use a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and gently polish.
- Shower trick. Run a dingy shower curtain liner through the washer with a load of only towels to scrub the liner clean.
Clutter and Organization
The reason we have clutter is usually because things don’t have an organized place to go. If space is an issue, get creative. Use the backs of doors, under the bed and high shelves. Sort out “junk” drawers every once in a while and toss unneeded items. Go through dresser drawers and donate items you haven’t worn in a year. If organization is not your strong suit, keep projects simple and try to establish a decluttering pattern for a greater chance of ongoing success.
The great paperwork reduction act. If mail and other paperwork tends to gather on kitchen counters, the dining room table or entry hall, here’s an easy solution to clear the clutter:
Sort mail every day and immediately toss solicitations you don’t want. Keep two cardboard file boxes in a spare room or office closet—one to toss in receipts that might be useful for tax purposes and one for important papers that need to be kept and filed. What is left is a manageable pile of things to take care of within the next two weeks such as offers or coupons you want to use, bills or similar urgent documents, which can be kept in a small tray.
Once a month, catch up on filing. Bill paying day is a great time to do this. With each filing item, evaluate if it could go paperless. Is the document available online? Most people keep copies of legal and insurance documents, warranties, receipts and recent bank statements, but many other replaceable items don’t need to be kept in paper form.
More Organization Quick Tips
- Make the most of small spaces—hang a shelf on top of the bathroom door to stash extra towels.
- Under-the-bed storage bins are a great way to keep out-of-season clothes from cluttering your closet.
- Find cheap containers for organizing bathroom drawers at the dollar store—try mini loaf pans for larger tubes and jars or an ice cube tray for smaller items such as bracelets and earrings.
- Roll t-shirts in your drawer rather than stacking them. Different tops will be visible without digging through them. Rolling clothes is also a great way to save space in a suitcase.
- Use behind-the-door shoe storage with clear pockets to store craft or cleaning supplies.
Adopt the tips and techniques that work for your home, create a realistic schedule and enlist family members if available. The reward will be a clean home, ready for warm-weather fun.