Hello, homeowners! Spring has sprung, and if you’re looking forward to spending time outside in the warm Charlotte weather, now is also the perfect time to do some Spring cleaning! Among all the types of home and garden maintenance, Spring cleaning gives you the best opportunity to revamp and revitalize your home.
Here’s our top fifteen tips for Spring cleaning your whole home. We’re going to start with the easy stuff, and get progressively more involved, so that you can match your commitment to your availability.
1. De-lint your dryer.
This is a one-stop and done kinda job, but an important one for sure! If you’re not in the regular habit of cleaning the lint trap of your dryer, you can make a huge difference by just swiping it clean. For a slightly more involved project, consult your owner’s manual (or google your dryer’s model to find a digital copy) and try to clean out lint from closer to the heating element. Keeping your dryer clean keeps it safe and functional.
2. Use a vacuum or blowdryer on your knife block.
Have you ever thought about cleaning your knife block before? Probably not! If you’ve ever put a dirty knife back in the block or let crumbs fall into the slots, you’re pulling a filthy knife from the block every time you go to cut up something for your family! You can clean any major crumbs out by just removing the knives and turning the block over, but for the more “dug-in” bits, try using either a vacuum or a blowdryer. Either one will force the gunk out of the knife slots, leaving you with a much nicer storage situation.
3. Clean your doormat – and get it a few friends.
Do you have a doormat outside your home’s entry door? If not, you should – a doormat makes all the difference in keeping dirt and grime out of your home. But if you only have one doormat, you’re missing out on the real pro tip. Get a second doormat for inside your home, and put it right inside the door to provide a second layer of wetness-stopping protection. Get a mat for your patio, or one for your front door. Get a mat for your sink, so that any spilled water doesn’t get tracked around the home. Doormats are traps for all kinds of messes, so having more will help you contain the gunk. Take some time to clean the doormats you already have – shaking them out and vacuuming or moping should be sufficient.
4. Use your dishwasher to the fullest.
Do you ever wash things besides dishes in your dishwasher? If not, you’re missing out on a great cleaning opportunity! You’d be surprised what objects are all dishwasher safe. We’re not going to include a comprehensive list here because many items require a little more specific cleaning agent or loading rules, but if you have something that could use a good cleaning, see if it can be loaded into your dishwasher. Some items to get your started – toys, flip-flops, golf balls, grill racks, keys, light fixture covers, and coffee makers!
5. Wipe down your stainless steel appliances.
This one is just as simple as it sounds. If you have any stainless steel appliances, you know the simple, sleek beauty of silver… but you also know that every single grubby handprint or smudge is visible right across the room. Luckily, cleaning these marks is as simple as could be, with a little bit of wiping handling the problem in five minutes!
6. Destain your plastic cutting boards.
Cleaning your cutting boards is another simple task that doesn’t take long but can make a marked difference in your home. If you have old plastic cutting boards with a yellowed color to them, there are a few recommended ways to get the stains out – some people have success with using lemon juice and leaving the cutting board sitting in the sun, and others tackle more fearsome stains with a bleach soak. Look up the recommended cleaner for the particular kind of stain you’re dealing with, but know that all cutting boards can be restored!
7. Washing your pillows and comforter.
You should be washing your sheets regularly year-round, but are you washing your pillows and comforter as well? Over time they’ll get dirty just like your sheets, with your sweat and dead skin cells sinking into the bed. Depending on the material of your bedding, you’ll need to use different washing and drying procedures. In general, for down comforters, a warm water wash and low cycle dry are appropriate. With cotton comforters, use cold wash and a low cycle dry. With polyester, cool water for the wash and a no-heat cycle for the drying is essential. In all cases, reposition the comforter every 15 minutes while it is drying, to speed the process and dry more evenly, and remove it when still slightly damp to prevent shrinkage. Air dry the comforters for the last step of the process.
8. Clean your actual mattress.
When you have the comforter removed for that cleaning process, you may as well take a few minutes to clean the mattress itself too! Vacuum the mattress to get up any major dirt, crumbs, or other messes, then use spot cleaning to get out any particularly discolored spots. Odds are that these spots are old stains and will be set into the mattress material, but you can make some headway if you identify what the nature of the stain is and choose a cleaner suited for it. Then, deodorize the mattress with a layer of baking soda left to sit for a couple hours before being vacuumed up, and lastly leave the mattress uncovered for a while to air it out.
9. Clean out you microwave, oven, sink, and fridge.
Your appliances dominate your kitchen and, no matter how pretty your cabinets are, it’s hard for visitors to see past the garbage in your sink and the blackened racks in your oven. Taking some time to clean the things you use most often will have a sweeping effect on your mental health and your comfort at home. Everyone has experienced the mental fatigue that results from coming home every day to a dirty house. The way to fix that feeling starts with the things you use most. In the kitchen, that means the appliances. Just a simple wipe-down shouldn’t take more than a couple hours, with the biggest offender being the fridge. Take this time to throw out the old food that you know deep down you’re not going to eat, and remove everything to give the shelves a proper wipe-down.
10. Clean out your dirtiest drains.
Drains are literally home to all the filth you try to clean out of your home, and unfortunately some of it inevitably ends up trapped. Depending on the extent of your blockage, there’s a few good ways to clean things up. The simplest is to go at it with some vinegar and baking soda, making a classic chemical reaction work for you! Begin by pouting a pot of boiling water down the drain. A few minutes later, dump in half a cup of baking soda, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, pout a mix of 1 cup hot water and 1 cup vinegar. Now, just put the drain plug in (to trap the reaction down in the pipes) and let it sit for ten minutes. The last step is another pot of boiling water to flush the pipes clean. If this reaction fails to clean your drain out, consider a heavier-duty industrial option, or one of the many “drain snake” products for hair clogs.
11. Degrease kitchen cabinets
If the fronts of your cabinets are starting to yellow or darken with grime, it’s time to get out the elbow grease and degrease your cabinetry. Start with a simple vinegar scrub, doing two passes – one with a rag wet by undiluted white vinegar, and then a second with warm water after washing out (and wringing) the same rag. Dry the cabinets after this, keeping an eye out for spots that are still sticky with grease. Then, use dish soap and warm water on a sponge to scrub at more serious stains, stopping once you’re through the grease – you don’t want to hurt the cupboard’s finish! Lastly, use a paste of one-part vegetable oil and two parts baking soda to bust through the hardest grease stains, and the hinges and handles while you’re at it! Clean this mix off with warm water and dish soap again before rinsing and drying them.
12. Clear out vents
Your vents might be dirtier than you expected, and any obstructions at all can make major different in the air quality of your home! Any dust buildup left in your vents is slowly filtering into your home, and if you have an afternoon, you can put a stop to it! Begin by covering any of the supply air registers – those are the metal grates on the ground. You can lift them out of the floor, then wrap paper towels around them and return them to their spots. Then, run your system’s fan and check the furnace filter to make sure that it is still intact. Do not replace it yet. Systematically go through all your home, tapping on accessibly ductwork to knock dust loose, then lifting registers and using a brush and vacuum to clean as much as you can from the piping you can reach. The process of cleaning your furnace itself is more involved and requires shutting down power to the furnace for safety, since you’ll be cleaning the furnace fan directly. We recommend looking for help with this process online, as it is too extensive to fully cover here. Finally, once you’re totally done with the cleaning of the ducts, replace all filters, including the one in your furnace and the filters for any return air registers mounted on your walls.
13. Wash windows
Everyone knows how important washing your windows can be, but when we the last time you did it? Here’s our pro tip to make the chore more endurable – only wash your windows on a cloudy day. Not only will you be more comfortable outside, but working in the shade will help ensure that the cleanser you’re using doesn’t evaporate right off the window!
14. Dig out grimy grout.
Grout work isn’t hard, it doesn’t take specialized skills, but it does take a big chunk of time. Because grout is generally light-colored and porous, it can be difficult to keep looking pristine, no matter how much you clean your tile work. The best way to clean grout is to start with a mild cleaner – try using warm water and a stiff-bristled brush to just wet and rub the grout. If this doesn’t’ cleanse any grimy spots, you can upgrade to a vinegar-and-water solution, and if that still isn’t sufficient, a paste of baking soda and water can be spread on the group before being combined with the vinegar solution. Once it stops foaming, you can use your brush in a circular scrubbing motion to freshen your grout. If these solutions haven’t made any progress on particularly dirty areas, it might be time to upgrade to an oxygen bleach product. As always, be careful when working with bleach of any sort.
15. Declutter the whole home.
We listed this tip last because it can take years, but nothing will have a greater impact on the cleanliness of your home or the happiness of your mind. Decluttering is a multi-stage process and the most important part is not giving up!
Start with a clear plan – a good place to start is mapping out your home, and deciding which areas are important to target. These could be the places that you’ll clean the fastest, if you like to be motivated by accomplishing goals, or it could be the areas most in need of a decluttering. Then, get a system together for actually doing the cleaning. Many people advocate the “three buckets” method, where you evaluate every item in your space and place it a Keep bucket, a Get Rid of It bucket, and a Storage bucket. These buckets can include every item in your home – some things stay in the same spot (the Keep bucket) some things move (the Storage bucket) and everything else can go – in the trash, into recycling, or into a donation or resell.
Once you have a system, think about The 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule states that you use 20% of your stuff for 80% of your time – you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time, listen to 20% of your music 80% of the time, and so on. Your goal is to get rid of the other 80% – and you won’t even miss it. Next, you can go through your things and use a few ways to decide if you’re keeping it. Check if things actually still work. Try to think of the last time you used something. Ask yourself if you love it. Finally, sleep on an important decision and come back to it the next day.
These tips will get you started, but ultimately you have to find a system that works well for you – try out different ways to declutter and see which one is gaining you the most ground. This is one part of Spring cleaning that you’ll still be doing well into Summer!