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Farewell, Filth: A Spring-Cleaning Checklist

Spring is finally here, and most of us have the urge to purge our closets of heavier garments. But what about doing a little spring housecleaning? 

If you’re a conscientious individual interested in maintaining good hygiene, you probably already have a regular cleaning regimen, from daily chores like washing dishes to weekly chores like vacuuming or dusting. Spring cleaning addresses all those jobs that seem above and beyond a daily or weekly regimen. For instance, washing the walls and baseboards are not things most of us consider when giving the living room its weekly cleaning, but it’s something that should be done at least once a year. And when should we do it, you ask? Let the vernal equinox be your signal to carry out these chores that should be on everyone’s spring-cleaning list. 

General Indoor Chores
Even the smallest living spaces have a cabinet or a window that could use a little spring cleaning. These tasks apply to every type of home, as well as to every room and hallway therein: 

  • Wipe down all unplugged and turned-off light fixtures and ceiling fans with a damp cloth. Your lights will shine more brightly through your newly cleaned fixtures. 
  • Give windows and screens a good scrub. A little ammonia-based window cleaner and a damp rag should do the job on the glass. Remove screens, and, if possible, use a hose to spray them down. A soft-bristled brush and a 3:1 water-ammonia mixture with a squirt of dishwashing detergent will help you scrub away the grime on screens. 
  • Clean all shelves and cabinets (including the kitchen’s). Remove everything and wipe down with a damp cloth. Use this opportunity to purge any unwanted items, which you can either donate to Goodwill or simply toss in the trash or recycling bin. 
  • Wash the walls and baseboards with a damp sponge and soapy water. This helps brighten up dingy walls and allows you to inspect your walls more closely. You may decide that you need a new paint job after a good cleaning. 
  • Clean your air conditioners and window fans, even before the weather gets warm enough to use them. This prevents that unwelcome scenario of discovering too late on a hot day that your AC or window fan is circulating dust. 

Living Room and Dining Room
These are the two rooms (or, in some cases, the one room) that get a lot of foot traffic. While we tend to clean up the smaller messes routinely, there are two really big tasks that should be done every spring:

  • Move sofa, bookcases, and tables to vacuum. Since most of us leave these larger pieces of furniture in place during regular cleanings, there’s likely an accumulation of dirt and dust stuck in those hard-to-reach places underneath and behind them. 
  • Clean carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains, and drapes, professionally if you can. Or if you have a steam cleaner, take a day to dispatch a year’s worth of dirt, body oil, and germs from these items. Yuck! 

Appliances in the kitchen get a lot of abuse, and once a year we need to pay attention to the smaller details. And you never know—these three different tasks may also help the food you cook taste better. 

  • Remove stove and oven knobs and soak them in warm, soapy water to remove grime. Then clean the areas on your appliances that are usually covered by the knobs. After you place the clean knobs back on your appliances, you’ll notice that they look almost brand-new. 
  • Remove dust from hard-to-reach areas of your appliances, like behind the fridge and underneath the stove, using the attachment hose of your vacuum. Chances are, you’ll find that earring or other small object lost oh-so-many months ago. 
  • Clean the oven. Most ovens today are self-cleaning, so all you’ll need to do is turn it on and walk away. When the oven has cooled, just wipe the grime away with a damp cloth. 

Most bedrooms become repositories for “stuff.” Because we tend to only sleep and get dressed in our bedrooms, the amount of “stuff” can really accumulate, and spring is a great time to de-junk. 

  • Clean out your closet by conducting a wardrobe swap: out with the sweaters and corduroys, in with the short-sleeved T-shirts and capri pants. While you’re at it, you might want to start a giveaway pile to then donate to the Salvation Army or a similar organization. 
  • Flip the mattress and change the sheets. Although you (hopefully) change your sheets on a regular basis, switch out flannel sheets for cotton. You might also want to remove that extra blanket you were using on chilly winter nights and take it to the dry cleaner so it’s clean and ready for next winter. 

For those lucky enough to have an outdoor private space to call their own, inspect outside your home for winter damage: cracks, leaks, peeling paint, broken tiles, and so on. Make a list of what you can fix on your own and what needs professional attention. 

Spring cleaning, when done right, should take at least three days. Attack it room by room and sing a little ditty as you go along, and when it’s over you’ll be glad you did it.