One of the great mysteries of the modern age is why we observe a season of “spring cleaning.” Why are we compelled to clean and organize once the weather has turned for the better and we should be outside enjoying it? Why weren’t we scrubbing baseboards during the dreary days of January?
For our grandmothers, Spring was the season for cleaning because the weather had warmed up and the coal-fired furnace wasn’t needed 24/7. As a result, the dirty soot it created would start to subside in the springtime. It was better for the mothers of yesteryear to wait until then before they started cleaning.
I’m not sure what my excuse is. But, I know that when I wake from my long winter’s nap, I find that my home has been overrun by all kinds of stuff. While New Year’s was months ago, I feel an urge to send out the old and bring in furnishings and habits that are new and fresh.
If you find yourself in the mood for an extreme home makeover, try some of these techniques to put some clean in your spring:
Decluttering is half the battle.
The accumulation of “stuff” contributes to a large portion of the messes. Cleaning, the actual dusting, vacuuming, and washing takes very little time. But, it’s the finding a place for everything and putting it all there that bog us down.
As you approach an area to be cleaned, consider reducing the amount of stuff in that particular area. Chances are you have more than you need, want, or use. Now is the ideal time to lose some excess baggage. Less stuff means less to lose, less to maintain, less to clean.
Arm yourself with three bags or boxes labelled “Give Away,” “Put Away,” and “Trash.” Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you use it? If you haven’t worn it or used it in the past year, it may not be a necessary player in your life.
• Do you like it? Don’t keep something that isn’t serving your family in a useful or beautiful way.
• Can someone else benefit from this item more? If you’ve got enough, share with someone who would really enjoy it.
For many of us, it’s not the dirt and dust that gets us down, it’s the stuff. Most of us have more stuff than we truly need.
Next – Organize That Stuff
There are a number of ways that you can organize your possessions.
• Store like with like – This is a huge help in finding the product you need. And it just makes good sense! Grocery stores (generally) keep all of one kind of item in the same location.
• Store things that you use together in the location where you use them – For instance, keep all your baking supplies, tools, and pans together in one cupboard as opposed to having a pantry, gadget drawer, and baking pan cupboard. When you go to bake, everything you need will be ready together. Consider this for other areas of your home. You might not want to have a “cleaning cupboard.” Instead, store just the bathroom cleaners and tools in the bathroom and store the furniture polish in a living room closet.
• Store items in containers – Containerizing your stuff will make things much easier to find and use when you need them. Clear Sterilite boxes with lids are super handy for storing toys, school supplies, and craft stuff.
Traditionally, “Spring Cleaning,” is giving your home a good, deep scrubbing to get rid of accumulated dust, dirt, and grime. For many it can be the time to do seasonal tasks, such as washing the screens, vacuuming the refrigerator coils, and changing light bulbs.
For the rest of us, it can be simply trying to reestablish some routines that will help us keep our homes cleaner than they were before we started.
• Find cleaning tools that you like and will use – Having the right tool is essential to doing the job well. Experiment and see what tools, scrub brushes, cloths, etc. will work well for you. Ask friends what they like. Yes, it may seem really mundane to talk about scrub brushes, but they might know something you don’t!
• Find a cleaner or range of cleaners that works for you – You don’t need to spend a lot of money. In fact, straight vinegar is an all-natural cleaner and disinfectant that costs just pennies, especially when bought in bulk.
• Find a cleaning schedule you can live with — Assigning different jobs to each day of the week can be a great way to maintain the beauty of your home without slaving over it.
Don’t be afraid to try out different systems. Some people work well cleaning the whole house one day a week. If that’s your style, go with it. Others have different tasks for different days. Some have a very detailed cleaning schedule that assigns different weekly and seasonal tasks to each day of the year. Some just clean when it’s dirty. Find your groove and get cleaning!