Home is where the heart is, but home can also become a receptacle for the many items we accumulate over time. Even the best of us can get swept up in a life of grime. Spring is the perfect time to get rid of grime, dismiss dirt and clear away clutter. Make your home appealing from floor to ceiling with our spring-cleaning tips.
1. Make A Game out of Grime.
The right mindset is essential for tackling the task of spring cleaning, so make a game out of it. The same way you hit the refresh button when a webpage is slow to load, refresh your attitude toward cleaning. Utilize your creativity to change your perspective and make cleaning more interesting and fun. Create a new character of cleanliness for yourself. You can be the Destroyer or Dirt or the Captain of Clean. If you are alone, invent a story to coincide with your character. If you are lucky enough to have helpers, include them in on the game and encourage them to collaborate by creating their own characters and details to add to the scenario.
2. Understand the Plan.
Once you have figured out your characters and scenarios, it helps to develop a plan. Make a map of your home. If you are artsy, decorate the map with fun drawings or sketches. If you are cleaning with help, let everyone contribute to the planning stage. Are there monsters in your closets made of old clothes and shoes? Defeat dragons and save the day by tossing any unneeded items into a garbage bag, so they can be donated. It feels good to give, and it feels even better to get back to basics by getting rid of what you no longer want or need.
Your plan should be your own and should focus on whatever maneuvers or strategies will make cleaning more agreeable. The most important consideration is that the plan is easy to follow and will keep you on track when it comes to tidying up. Whether you start in closets and work your way out or if you tackle the task by going room to room, you want to be methodical, logical and efficient, the way a detective might work toward solving a case. In this case, the crime is dirt and clutter, and there are multiple crime scenes and perpetrators.
3. Take it From the Top.
A spring-cleaning plan is important because it is easy to get side-tracked or led astray while cleaning. In some cases, cleaning sporadically without direction can lead to more work than necessary. It can help to gather everything that needs to be washed and start loads of laundry prior to beginning the rest of the cleaning tasks. You can even set a timer to let you know when to go and switch loads in the washer and dryer while you are cleaning.
A good rule to follow for a top to bottom clean is a take-it-from-the-top approach. In each room, start at the ceilings with a long-handled microfiber duster, and pay attention as you dust corners, ceiling fans and blinds.
Dusting moves to table tops, televisions, pictures and frames, bookshelves and any knickknacks all the way to baseboards. As you move to each new area to dust, remove any clutter, papers or other objects that you don’t need. Don’t forget to clean and organize tables with drawers and clean under beds. Toss any trash and bag or box items that you can donate. After gathering and removing any nonessential items and dusting from the ceiling down to the baseboards, move to the next room. Don’t worry about the floor yet. The floors will be done last.
After dusting each room, clean windows to let in more light. While you do so, look outside and take a moment to reflect on this moment in time. This work that you are doing is worthwhile, and even in the middle of your task, you can already begin to see a change in your surroundings and perhaps even in your mood. Work for the work’s sake, without thought of the result. The work is your game, and each task completed is a win.
If the room you are cleaning has a closet, don’t neglect it. Even though clutter may be hidden away, it is still there, and it is an unnecessary burden for you. Organize the contents and discard whatever you don’t want or need. If you find that many of your clothes or shoes no longer fit, whether literally or figuratively, get rid of them in favor of finding items that you love, items that speak to you and allow you to display your unique form of self-expression.
In the kitchen and bathrooms, the same top-to-bottom rule applies, but instead of dusting, you will be cleaning and disinfecting. Once again, start from the ceiling and work your way down for an effective clean.
In the bathroom, clean the mirror before moving to the sink area. Clear out the medicine cabinets and under the sink. If there are products that you haven’t used recently, toss them out. Chances are, makeup, hair and skin products may have expired. When in doubt, it is best to be on the side of caution as some of these products can harbor bacteria. Toss them in the trash and keep things simple. Don’t forget to clean the toilet and tub and/or shower. If you make your bathroom sparkle, you will appreciate it later.
For the kitchen, dust along the ceiling then clean the cabinets, counter tops and sink. Before you go any further, wash any dirty dishes. When cleaning the kitchen, don’t forget to clear out and clean the cabinets. Just like cleaning the closet, get rid of anything old or expired. If there are items you don’t really want yet are still good for consumption, box them up and set aside for donations.
Clear out the refrigerator and really clean it. Many of us habitually accumulate leftovers that remain uneaten. Now is the time to get rid of anything that you aren’t going to eat.
Clean the stove, the microwave and any other kitchen appliances. After all, the kitchen is the place where we prepare food and gather with family, but it is also one of the places that harbor the most bacteria. A kitchen is meant to be enjoyed- clean and organized.
Once you are finished cleaning the rooms, the last task is the floors. It can help to sweep up larger debris before vacuuming as larger leaves or sticks may cause your vacuum to sputter, and in some cases, go on strike.
After sweeping/vacuuming, the last task is mopping. Mop your way out of each room, but before you do, look at the result of your effort. Doesn’t your home look clean and inviting?
4. Let Nature Take Its Course.
Spring is about nature and renewal, so instead of cleaning your home with smelly chemicals that can be unhealthy for you, children and pets, we wanted to share some green alternatives that will be great additions to your cleaning arsenal, and many of these items are things you may already have on hand.
When it comes to dusting, you can make the most of old, clean socks by wearing them on your hands to trap dust. Another common item that can be used for dusting is a coffee filter. If you don’t wipe too hard or press down too forcefully, coffee filters are gentle enough to clean computer monitors and television screens.
In the kitchen, a wet dryer sheet placed on a stove top for at least fifteen minutes will loosen the grime and make it much easier to remove. As for the rest of the oven, oven self-cleaning functions are smelly and harmful to inhale and so are the chemicals sold for the purpose of cleaning stuck on grease.
A much safer alternative for cleaning inside the oven is to use ½ cup of baking soda mixed with a few tablespoons of water until it becomes a paste you can spread over the entire oven. Allow the mixture to sit in there overnight. The next day, wipe it out, and if any stubborn residue remains, spray some white vinegar on it to show it who is boss and make it disintegrate.
Baking soda can be used to clean your sink. Wet the sink and faucet, sprinkle the baking soda and scrub the grime away. You can take that container of baking soda and use it to clean the toilet, too. Dump a cup of baking soda in the toilet and let it sit for at least an hour. Add a cup of white vinegar to the mix and let it marinate for 5 minutes, and when the time is up, flush. Unless the toilet has been neglected for quite some time, this should clean it without you having to get up close and personal scrubbing the porcelain throne.
When life gives you lemons, consider yourself lucky as lemons are a great, natural way to clean. Cut a lemon and rub half of it across your faucets to remove the hard water marks. If your microwave is covered in layers of different food particles from past nukes, take ½ of a lemon and squeeze the juice in ½ cup of water and toss in the rind. Place the mixture in the microwave, nuke it for three minutes and let it sit in there for a few minutes. The steam will loosen the old bits of food, so it will easily wipe away like it never happened.
A half a cup of vinegar mixed with a ½ gallon of warm water is an effective cleaner for wood floors. With a 1:1 ratio of diluted vinegar and water, you can disinfect your sink, counters and any other spots that you want to be food-safe and clean.
Vinegar and water can also make those mirrors shine. Newspapers are the best way to clean mirrors as the ink is an abrasive that helps to prevent streaks. The same mixture can get the glass on those windows and sliding glass doors so sparkly that you might end up walking into them – so be careful!
5. No Risk for a Big Reward.
Ostensibly, your spring-cleaning adventure has led you to a clean, spacious abode that inspires relaxation and involved very little risk on your end, other than a bit of creativity. Did you know that these same principles can be extended to other aspects of your life?
Think of it this way, you worked from top to bottom, clearing away what you do not need. Some items were thrown away and others were donated. Once these things were sorted, you dusted and cleaned from the visible to the darkest recesses of closets, cabinets and under beds and furniture.
You can do the same for yourself. Start in the deepest part of your mind. Try to remove the clutter. The past is gone. Fond memories can be cherished, while unhappy memories can be tossed. Breathe deeply.
Look around your home and enjoy the clean space and fresh air. Since you have removed items that you didn’t want or need, reward yourself with something that can make you happy, inspire your creativity and lift your mood.
Consider breathing life into your space by bringing living, breathing plants inside. The air is now clean and free of chemicals, so what better way to take that a step further than by bringing in beautiful plants to cleanse the air and remove toxins? A plant will also benefit your health and the health of those around you.
Our florists at Maryjane's Flowers in Berlin, NJ, can help you find the perfect plant to fit in with your space this spring. Once everything is clean and arranged the way you like, set aside time each day to straighten up.
If you keep the space neat and tidy going forward, you will be less likely to accumulate junk and junk’s relatives - dirt and dust. Now is the time to end your life of grime!