March 21st is officially the first day of spring. For many of you living in the north, it probably still feels like winter! But, it’s a good date to begin to set your mind and plan your time to spring clean your home.
Spring cleaning actually began in times past, when people kept their houses shut tight against the cold of winter, when they heated them with coal, oil and wood, and lighted them with candles. The coming of spring signaled a welcome opportunity to make their homes fresh again. On the first warm, dry day of the season, everybody in the family would pitch in to pull every stick of furniture and scrap of cloth outside. Then, armed with brooms and washrags, they would return to the house, sweeping and scrubbing every corner and washing down the walls, while others would air out linens, remove soot and ash from couches and chairs, dust books and paintings, and mend any furniture or cloth items.
Today, most of us don’t want to commit a whole weekend to turn our houses upside down. And, of course, with our centrally heated and cooled homes, they don’t get the kind of dirt build up as homes in the past. But since our homes are so airtight, they also can’t breathe. They’re full of chemicals and gases because of the floor wax, the fibers in carpets and the cleaning solutions we use.
So, we really do need to use the benefits of sunlight and fresh air. Here are some tips to help your spring cleaning be easy:
1. Start cleaning your winter sweaters and clothes as the weather starts to change, a little at a time. This will really help you not become overwhelmed with so many clothes to clean all at once. You can follow this tip down to floor rugs or anything else you know needs to be cleaned at least once a year.
2. Now start with your bedrooms. Clean each room from top to bottom. Literally strip everything off of the beds, washing everything down to the mattress. If you can take the mattress outside to air in the sun for a day, you will be able to kill any dust mites. If the mattress is too big to handle, vacuum it and perhaps buy a mattress cover that completely covers the mattress to prevent mites or bed bugs to get into the mattress.
3. Look over the room and see if there are any light bulbs needing to be replaced, ceiling lights or lamps to be cleaned, furniture to be polished, windows to be washed, picture frames wiped and glass cleaned, floor molding to be cleaned, carpet to be vacuumed or cleaned. I like to take a room at a time (you could even designate one room and bathroom a week) so that I’m not overwhelmed.
4. Next, tackle the bathrooms; clean as much as you can, even walls and light switches, toothbrush holders, throw rugs, mirrors, drawers, etc. This is a great time to add new liners in the drawers or wipe them down and reorganize the contents. Keep a trash bag close by! It’s also a good time to buy new towels for the bathrooms to help them look fresh and pretty.
5. And while you are working in the bedrooms, start cleaning out the closets. This is so important because when you switch clothes from winter to spring, you will get a better understanding of what you need to buy for the new season. I had my children do their own closets and then make a list of what they needed. They made a pile of clothes to be donated, cleaned the shelves and threw away items they didn’t need any more.
6. The kitchen will probably need more work than any other room. Move your stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer and clean behind them and underneath. Wipe clean the inside of the refrigerator, throw away out dated food, wash the food storage drawers and vacuum the coils under the refrigerator. Clean out your dryer’s lint hose and wash down both washer and dryer. I run a wash cycle with white vinegar to clean the inside of the dishwasher. Also, clean out the pantry by throwing away out dated food and wiping down the shelves.
7. Clean your oven and don’t forget your microwave (if it is wiped down daily it will stay clean).
8. Now that your bedrooms and bathrooms are cleaned, move to the rest of the house. Now is the time to clean the windows (I have the outside of the windows cleaned professionally and I wait until I get a good special), blinds, curtains, lamp shades, ceiling fans, chandeliers. For the chandelier in my foyer, I ask the person who cleans the outside windows to wipe it down and then I have all the lights replaced at one time since it is too high for me to reach with my small ladder.
9. Check all your hallways and see if you need to wash doors, marks off the walls, light switches, etc. Replace batteries in your smoke detectors.
10. Check your front door, as well as your back door and clean, paint or stain them. Add a new welcome mat if the old one is looking worn. Check the light fixtures and see if they need to be cleaned and lights replaced.
11. Last, clean out your garages, basements and attics. Yes, these are hard places and may take more time and energy than you have. So do sections at a time. Shelves and plastic bins can really help put items in their own place and help organize these areas. The best way to clean these large areas is to remove all the items, clean the floor and then as you bring items back in, determine what should be thrown away, given away or brought back in.
12. Make sure you delegate! The family should all pitch in and work together to make your house a clean and livable home.
13. Of course, there is always yard work to do in the spring. So, I do a little at a time. One weekend we will fertilize the bushes. Another, we will put the cushions out on the patio furniture which, this year, will need to be spray painted. Then, on another day, I will plant my pots with flowers.
14. As I look over this list, it does seem like a lot of work! But I really do believe if you do a little at a time, and as you see your home transformed, it will become easier. I have found that if I am constantly working on some part of my house or yard, I am able to keep up with its upkeep!
When I was a new mother, I remember thinking how easily I could keep the house clean if no one was there! Then I read this verse and realized that keeping everything clean and perfect may be nice and easy, but there is no joy in living a life without the fruit of love and family. I think this verse will make you laugh and put everything in the right perspective!
“An empty stable stays clean – but there is no income from an empty stable.” Proverbs 14:4, The Living Bible
This is a long blog this week. We will continue with more tips for spring cleaning next week!