The Complete Spring Cleaning Guide
Spring cleaning is an old-age tradition. For the past centuries, families would huddle in the confines of their homes as winter rages outside. It’s warm and comfortable inside the house, but humans also had to interact with several things that made the abode dirty. The interiors are lighted by oil lamps that created soot while smoke clung to the walls that discolored them. Without much air, the residents also lived alongside dust, dirt and grime most of the season.
When winter ends and the warm and dry season starts, members of the household would grab their brooms and take out their rags to begin spring cleaning the home. And this ritual has made its way even to the modern times when homes are run and powered by electricity and there’s not much soot and smoke to speak of.
Importance of Spring Cleaning
But more than tradition or rite of passage towards spring, cleaning the house at the start of the season is important for several other reasons.
Improve Indoor Air
Dust, dirt and mites were trapped in your home all winter long and they had a few months to breed and multiply right inside your property. According to the experts of Rush University Medical Center, pet dander and mites can trigger allergy attacks and cause respiratory conditions to household members, especially young children.
Spring cleaning allows you the opportunity to air out your home by letting natural sunlight and breeze in which expel these allergens. Taking out the mattress, cleaning air filters and dusting all surfaces will also help remove most of these harmful organisms, resulting to a healthier and cleaner indoor air.
Cleaning Makes You Feel Better
A cluttered, dirty and disorganized home can make you feel stressed and depressed. Although cleaning means putting in the elbow grease, a tidy home can lift your mood up and even help you become more productive. It is well worth your time to spend the day or weekend cleaning if that means you’ll be in a space where the surfaces are clean, things are in order and in their right places and just overall neat and clean.
It’s Also a Good Exercise
Unlike your regular cleaning routine, spring cleaning is more thorough. You’ll be spending a lot of time lifting furniture, scrubbing the floor and fixing damages, among others. You might think that you’re only cleaning and making your home presentable and livable, but you’re also working your muscles up. Researchers from the Indiana University found that cleaner homes usually equate to homeowners who get more physical exercise.
Spring Cleaning with the Top Down Approach
Cleaning the entire home could get daunting, and a system is often implemented to guide spring cleaners in deep-cleaning their homes. Although there is no right or wrong approach as long as you’re able to clean the house to your satisfaction, following a cleaning system allows you to maximize your time and resources so you can finish the job within a set timeline.
One of the most popular approaches to spring cleaning is called Top Down. In this approach, you start from the highest part of the house, the ceilings, work your way to the walls, windows cabinetry, countertops then down to the floor. This is a logical approach as it prevents duplication of work, such as when dust fall to the floor, you’ll only give the room one thorough sweep.
The Complete Spring Cleaning Checklist
Air Out The House
First thing in order: air out the house and let the sunshine and spring breeze in. Since most of the dust, dirty and allergens were isolated in your home during winter, the first thing you need to do before you actually clean is to expel most of these pollutants.
The goal of airing out the home is to remove indoor air pollutants that are risky to human health. We are living in more airtight houses and use synthetic products to treat air fabrics and fight indoor odor. Imagine all of these substances mixing up with indoor air and no means of air circulation, dangerous particles are likely to build up over the course of winter.
The basic way to air out a house is to open the doors and windows and let the outdoor air in. It also helps to turn a fan on from one part of the room facing an open window as this encourages air circulation. Let air circulate at least 30 minutes before moving to other room. It also doesn’t hurt to open the windows for a lot longer in spring, particularly if you live in a less polluted area where you can enjoy the natural breeze inside your home.
Ceiling fans may seem daunting to clean because they’re up there and dust would fall into your floor and furniture, if not on your face, when you’re cleaning the blades. But it’s a task that one must do, especially if the fan looks like it has grown fur over the seasons. Keep using a dirty ceiling fan and run the risk of contaminating your indoor air further.
There are two basic ways of cleaning the ceiling fan. First, inspect your vacuum cleaner for a dusting attachment. If it doesn’t, you can opt to buy such attachment from the store for a low price. This attachment attaches to the vacuum’s hose and seeps dust instead of letting dust fall everywhere. Run the dusting attachment on one direction and clean each blade. Repeat the processes if needed until you’re happy with your dust-free ceiling fan.
Another popular way of cleaning the fan is using a pillowcase. For this method, you need a stepladder to stand on and reach the fan. Insert an old pillowcase over the blade and wipe the dust off. The dust would simply fall inside the pillowcase instead of all over your floor. Repeat the process until you finish with all the blades. Take a clean, slightly damp rag and wipe the blades again to remove any leftover dust.
Carefully close the pillowcase and take it outside. Give it a good shake until you remove most of the dust and throw the pillowcase into the washer.
Dirty light fixtures aren’t just an eyesore, but they also emit 30% less of light they’re supposed to give, making the room look duller and less bright Also, it eliminates your bragging rights about how pretty your chandelier is if it doesn’t sparkle.
Whether you’re cleaning the chandelier, pendant lights or overhead bulbs, there is one thing you should remember: turn the electricity off. Let the bulbs cool down before doing anything.
For the chandelier, the cleaning technique will depend largely on its size and intricacy. If you’re cleaning without any help, you have no choice but to step on the ladder and clean the chandelier in place. However, it would be great to have the option of taking the chandelier down and setting it on a thick towel so you can thoroughly clean even the hard to reach places.
Either way, you’ll need a feather duster to unsettle the dust. Use a dry paintbrush to clean the nooks and crannies. Next, combine 3 cups of water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of mild dishwasher into a spray bottle. Spray the chandelier with this solution then promptly wipe with a microfiber cloth.
BONUS TIP: If you plan to remove parts or crystals of the chandelier, it is best to take a photo beforehand so you know where they belong when you need to assemble later on.
Pendant lights are easier to reach and a lot less intricate than chandeliers so they’re also easier to clean. Using the same cleaning solution you used earlier, spray the bulbs and cable of the pendant light and wipe with a clean cloth. Let them dry before plugging in.
Ceiling glass lights can become home to bugs, dust and dirt. To clean them, you need to unscrew the glass cover and remove any foreign inhabitant. Let the glass cover soak in lukewarm water for a few minutes to remove any leftover matter. Don’t place the glass inside a dishwasher no matter how tempting that is for you. It could break and shatter inside the dishwasher.
Now inspect the bulb. If it has been giving off a hazy light, it may need a more energy-efficient replacement. But if it’s still in great condition, just wipe the dust off with a clean cloth.
Going back to the glass, let it totally dry before screwing it back in place.
Recessed Lights and Bulbs
Recessed lighting and light bulbs are the easiest to clean. With the power off and bulbs cooled down, remove them from the socket and wipe with a damp cloth. Let the bulbs dry then install into their sockets.
PRO TIP: To reduce the amount of dust and grime that settle on your lighting fixture, include them in your weekly cleaning routine. Dust them off with a feather duster regularly. That way, the fixtures are mostly clean and provide better illumination.
At this point, you probably have a thin layer of dust from cleaning off the ceiling fan and lighting fixtures. You can’t help it, some of the dust will still fall on your walls, table, cabinets and other surfaces. Plus, add all the dust your home has accumulated over the season and you have some serious cleaning to do.
Beginning with walls, use the vacuum and install the dusting attachment. Run the vacuum from top to bottom to remove dust without spreading it out to other surfaces.
Other places to dust like the baseboards, tables and cabinets will simply require a clean cloth and a cleaning solution contained in a spray bottle. Spray the surfaces and wipe them down. If you encounter dusty nooks and crannies, take a Qtip or a brush with fine bristles to unsettle the dust. Spray and wipe.
Make sure to unplug electronics and appliances from the power source before dusting them off. Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust from the surfaces. Use a fine-bristled brush to remove dust from hard-to-reach corners and crevices. Skip the cleaning solution as it can damage your electronics.
BONUS TIP: Make dusting a regular cleaning routine to prevent dust build-up that can thicken and over time.
We now go down to cleaning the furniture. Every type of furniture has a right cleaning approach and it is wise to know the best methods based on furniture type than employing a general cleaning strategy.
Run a vacuum over the leather furniture, making sure to reach the corners and crevices. If you see stains on light-colored leather furniture, you can spot treat it with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Dampen a clean rag with the cleaning solution and gently rub into the stain. If the furniture sports mildew, wipe it with alcohol.
To polish the furniture cleaning, just mix 2 parts of linseed oil with 1 part vinegar. Apply the solution into a cloth and wipe the entire furniture. Take another clean cloth to buff the furniture.
Take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the entire wood furniture to remove dirt, dust and grime. Use a polish used for primarily for wood to protect its surface. If you don’t have a commercial wood polish, you can combine one cup of linseed oil to ¼ cup of turpentine into a container. Pour a small amount of the mixture on the surface of the wood furniture and wipe with a clean rag. Wipe following the grain’s direction, not against. Lastly, buff off with a dry soft cloth.
Remove the cushions and thoroughly vacuum the entirety of the upholstered furniture to remove dust. Treat stains and foul odor by filling a spray bottle with water and half tablespoon of liquid dishwashing. Add in a tablespoon of vinegar and baking soda and shake.
Find an inconspicuous spot to test the solution. If it doesn’t discolor, go ahead and remove stains with the solution. Also lightly spray the furniture to combat odor and let dry. Some upholstered furniture may require professional stain removal so make sure to test any solution you intend to use at a hidden spot first.
BONUS TIP: Most furniture fades and discolors when they’re in constant exposure to the sun and the effect is mostly impossible to reverse. If the arrangement exposes your furniture to the sun, change the layout.
Cabinets & Counters
Moving into the kitchen, you are now about to clean the cabinets and countertops. You can apply the same methods in cleaning up your bathroom cabinets and counters as well. How you clean these fixtures depends on the material they are made of.
Most cabinets are cleaned using water and a mild dish agent. Using a sponge or microfiber cloth, wipe the entire surfaces of the cabinets, buffing off dust and grime build-up along the way. Once done, wipe it again with a clean dry cloth.
Regardless of the cabinet’s material, take note not to use abrasive cleaning materials and agents that can damage their surface. If you’re cleaning wood cabinets, wipe along the direction of the grain. If your cabinet has a matte finish, avoid using wax.
Quartz, Granite And Marble Countertops
You now have to be more specific with the countertops. Quartz, granite and marble surfaces have mostly similar qualities so if you own one of the three, you can use this cleaning method. Dilute some mild dish into water and dampen the sponge or cloth with this solution. Thoroughly wipe the entire surface of the countertop. Finish off with another wipe of clean microfiber cloth.
Glass countertops are a lot easier to clean than others because they can resist stains. However, dirt and grime can taint the beauty of glass countertops. To clean, use a commercial glass cleaner you have at home and wipe with a soft cloth. Don’t use abrasive cleaning materials as they can scratch and quickly damage the glass surface.
Stone, Concrete and Marble Countertops
Generally, you can clean stone, concrete and marble countertops with water and some mild dish soap. Dampen a sponge or cloth and wipe the surface. Don’t use abrasive pads to prevent scratches. Wipe with another clean cloth to dry.
Dampen a soft sponge with water and some mild dish and wipe the laminate countertop thoroughly. Follow it up by wiping with a clean dry cloth.
BONUS TIP: Most stains on cabinets and countertops are product of neglect. If you spill coffee, juice or any other substance that can cause stains, treat immediately. It is also important to never use scouring pads and other abrasive materials on any surface to prevent the unsightly scratches.
With the variety of food and ingredients the refrigerator holds, this is one kitchen appliance that can quickly become dirty. An unkempt and dirty refrigerator is not only stressful to the eyes; it can also cause the spread of contamination across foods.
Empty the Fridge
First, you need to remove all the food from the refrigerator. Prepare a cooler and fill with ice to hold food like meat and fish that can spoil if not stored in the refrigerator for more than a few hours. Then, remove all the drawers and shelves so it’s easier and seamless to clean the refrigerator in its entirety. Also, you’ll be able to reach all the nooks and crannies without them hindering.
Clean Any Stains
With the refrigerator empty, start cleaning the removable parts with water and dish soap. If you’ve just removed a cold glass from the refrigerator, be sure to clean it with cold water also. Cleaning it with hot water can cause the glass to break. As for the stains, you can combine water and some ammonia. Let the stained part soak in this solution then scrub after a few minutes. Leave the cleaned shelves and drawers to dry.
You can also address built-up stains by making a paste out of water and baking soda. Apply the paste over the stain and leave for at least 30 minutes. Gently scrub the stain until it disappears. If the stain is rather stubborn, you can lay hot cloth over it, which will soften the stain after a few minutes. Wipe the stain off.
Proceed with cleaning the interiors of the refrigerator. In a container, combine lukewarm water and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Dip a clean sponge or cloth into the cleaning solution and wipe the insides of the refrigerator, working your way from the top to the bottom.
Take a clean dry cloth to wipe the interiors dry. Return all the removable parts to their proper places and store your food. Inspect food and ensure that they are not expired or spoiled; otherwise, discard them.
Clean the Exterior
Close the door and begin cleaning the exteriors of the refrigerator. Using the same cleaning solution you used previously, wipe the door and sides of the refrigerator with a sponge. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth. If the refrigerator is made of stainless steel, you can use white vinegar instead to clean the exterior.
BONUS TIP: Make sure to unplug the refrigerator before you start cleaning to avoid electrocution. Plug it back after you’ve cleaned and returned the contents.
Carpets & Floors
Your floor can sustain visible wear and tear after winter. All those snow, mud and dirt can scratch and settle on your floor, leaving marks and build-up of grime that don’t make for a pretty sight.
Before you start cleaning, it’s best to remove all the furniture, rags and other removable items from the floor. This way, you can work on cleaning the floors without any obstacles and allow you to reach the nooks and crannies. Here are the best ways to clean your floor based on floor type and material.
Vacuum the entire carpet flooring to remove dust. If it’s very dirty, you might need to repeat the process for the second to third time. You can rent a shampoo machine to shampoo your carpet. This process will remove dirt, dust and pet hair as well as eliminate foul odor. Run the machine over the carpet, paying more attention to areas with high foot traffic. Let the carpet dry before returning the furniture.
If shampooing is not an option, make sure to thoroughly clean the carpet first and apply some bicarbonate soda to remove odor. Use a commercial stain remover to treat stains off your carpet.
Run the vacuum over the hardwood floor. Next, clean the floor with a slightly damp mop. Don’t get the mop overly moist as water can seep into the wood and cause warping. Leave the floor to dry or follow it with another wipe of clean soft cloth. You may also consider polishing and buffing the floor with a product made for wood flooring.
You can easily clean tile flooring with a mop and warm water diluted with mild dish soap. Wipe or mop the floor with this solution after vacuuming. If you see stubborn stains that the mop can’t remove, clean it with a commercial stain remover. Also clean the grout with baking soda and used toothbrush or a specialist product.
Go inside the bathroom carrying an empty garbage bag. Go through all the things and throw away all the empty containers and expired product. Also take off the shower curtain and towels. Clear the surfaces from all your products.
Dust the bathroom ceiling and walls. Make sure to clean the lighting fixtures, vents and fans too. Use a clean cloth dipped in mild dish soap with water or white vinegar. Wipe your way from top to bottom until you get rid of all the dirt and stain you see.
Wipe your counters and cabinets the way you did in the kitchen. Dissolve soap scum on surfaces and shower doors with a commercial cleaning agent. Also wipe the mirrors with a damp cloth and wipe dry with another clean cloth.
Scrub the tub and toilet. You can use a commercial cleaning solution or pour some baking soda over them. Return and scrub after a few minutes. Make sure to clean the bottom and crevices too.
Now tackle the floor. You can vacuum the floor to remove all the dust and dirt that fell from cleaning the upper areas. Use a damp to clean the floor or use an old towel and manually wipe the floor with your foot.
Return your bathroom products, put up some new fresh towel and linen and install a clean shower curtain. Leave the bathroom door open to air dry.
After spring cleaning, you’ll notice that your muscles hurt (from the scrubbing you did) while the house is a lot cleaner, and that’s great reward for all the time and effort you put in. And you’ve just created a home that’s safer, more comfortable and livable than it was last season. Give yourself a pat at the back, sip some wine and enjoy your new and cleaner space.
Spring Cleaning Checklist
- Air out the house
- Ceiling fans
- Light fixtures
- Cabinets & countertops
- Carpets & floors
Cary Silverman is a consummate entrepreneur having sold multiple companies during his 20 years of business experience in the financial industry, but for him, it isn’t about the money. His success is rooted in his passion to focus on doing something better today than it was done yesterday. These days, he’s the CEO of Waldo General, Inc. that oversees the operation of King of Kash.