The end of winter signals a lot of things: snow and ice melt away, the days get longer, flowers and green things start to bloom, the sun finally comes out for days at a time, and temperatures start to warm up. It’s a time to shed the heavy clothes, claustrophobic feelings, and cloudy pre-spring months and leave them behind.
That often leads to spring cleaning, an annual purge of unnecessary belongings, and giving your home a good deep cleaning before the summer months arrive. You don’t have to wait for April to get started, though. This quick guide will explain spring cleaning’s origins, why it’s important, and how to get a jumpstart on doing it.
Why People Spring Clean Their Homes
People started giving their homes thorough cleanings every spring for pretty good reasons. Homes 200 years ago were lit by oil-filled lamps warmed by burning coal or wood, none of which are clean-burning substances. The result was a film of dark soot and ash that coated ceilings, walls, shelves, furniture, window sills, and personal belongings. The grime needed to be cleaned away, a process which was done when the weather warmed in the spring and the windows could be left open to air out and dry the home.
We may not all have oil lanterns or wood fireplaces in our homes adding a layer of soot, and those that do have fireplaces likely have flues that pull soot and ash up and out through their chimneys. Being cooped up all winter accumulates more dust, germs, and dirt than the other months of the year, though. A thorough deep cleaning as the weather warms and we start spending less time indoors can help get us prepared and in the mood for the upcoming summer months.
How to Dig into Spring Cleaning
The important thing to remember is that spring cleaning is a process and you don’t have to do your whole home in one day. Take your time with it and try to enjoy the process! Here are some easy-to-follow steps to get you started.
- Put things back where they go. If your home has accumulated some clutter over the winter, the first step is to take the piles and randomly placed items back to where they belong. Clothes go back in the closet, dinnerware and cups in the kitchen, shoes in the coat closet, and so on, until all items are in their rightful places. You’re not cleaning during this step, merely organizing.
- Thin out what you own, one room at a time. Now that everything is where it belongs, it’s time to sort what you have and figure out what you don’t need. Holidays, birthdays, shopping trips, vacations, and other assorted gifts and purchases accumulate quickly, often overwhelming your closets, drawers, and shelves. Grab a couple of boxes — one for donations and one for trash — then start in one room and sort your belongings. Part with duplicates, items you were gifted but do not want or need, and anything you no longer like, haven’t worn in more than a year, or have no intention of using in the future. You’ll know when you see it if it’s something you want to keep, so trust your instincts. Gently used items can be donated to give them a second life with someone else who needs them.
- Clean your space. This is easiest to do if you combine it with step two. Once you’ve sorted your belongings in one room, clean it! Dust shelves, furniture, window sills, and baseboards. Refold your clothes in your drawers and rehang those in your closet (they’re out from being sorted anyway!), group like items together in baskets or baskets, and organize shoes side-by-side in pairs. Vacuum your carpets or sweep your hardwoods. Clean windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces. Clean your sheets and make your bed. Put books and other knickknacks back on shelves. Hang jewelry and other accessories (an over-the-door hanger on the back of a closet or bedroom door works great for this).
Bonus tip: Make sure the whole room is done before moving on to the next. This will help you know where you left off should your spring cleaning take more than a day.
- Disinfect bathrooms and kitchens. These two rooms will likely require the most elbow grease because they collect the most dirt, grime, and bacteria. For bathrooms, scrub toilets, sinks, bathtubs and showers with a quality, bacteria-killing cleaner. Wipe down glass and windows with window cleaner, wash towels and washcloths, and switch out loofahs and toothbrushes. As with the rest of your belongings, thin out what you own. Toss expired products like old makeup and dried out cosmetics. Take expired and leftover unused medications to an appropriate disposal site; recycle what packaging you can. Remember, you’re cleaning and organizing, but also giving yourself a fresh start: Use up or toss anything you no longer want or need.
Kitchens get similar treatment. Sort your dinnerware, pots and pans, souvenir cups, baking gear, and anything else that’s accumulated in your cupboards, putting whatever you’re not keeping in the donate or trash boxes. Group like things together when putting them back in the cupboards. Disinfect sinks and countertops with a quality cleaner. Run the clean cycle on your dishwasher if you have one. Clean out your fridge and freezer, taking everything out and wiping down your shelves and drawers with disinfecting cleaner. Let the inside dry before replacing food items. In the meantime, sort your refrigerated and frozen food and drinks, removing anything that has expired. Recycle what you can.
A Clean and Organized Home Is a Happy Home
The nice thing about deep cleaning is that it doesn’t have to be reserved for the start of spring. You can do this same process every few months or as often as you’d like! Deep cleaning your home will go a long way toward welcoming the spring and summer months, though, and doing it regularly will keep you organized all year long.