By Ashley Steel
Springtime means something different to everybody. Commonly thought of as a time of renewal and rebirth, many people apply this frame of mind to their house. Hence, spring cleaning: a time to be rid of the cobwebs of yesteryear; a time to start fresh.
But cleaning house is no small task, and for many people, spring cleaning is an overwhelming and dreaded process. This year, keep it under control by starting before the first blooms begin to show.
Here’s how you can approach spring cleaning in advance:
Where Should I Start?
You can’t clean your whole house at once and attempting to do so is likely to dampen your spirits and curb your enthusiasm for a clean house. “Start small,” says Barbara Reich, a New York City professional organizer and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom. “Organize a drawer or a closet.” Baby steps offer a compelling sense of achievement in small, manageable doses.
But more than just starting small, you should be selective about the area of the house you choose to tackle first. Start with the area that bothers you most — the dirtiest or most cluttered area, says Bonnie Joy Dewkett, professional organizer and founder of The Joyful Organizer, a company that creates organizational systems for homes and offices. “Start there and you’ll feel great and be motivated to continue the process.”
How Can I Make It Manageable?
It all starts with a schedule. “Set up a spring cleaning schedule like you would a meeting at work or practice at school,” says Reich. Physically block off time on your calendar and set an agenda. Not only will this will give you time to prepare by ensuring you have the proper supplies and cleaning equipment, but it will also help mentally prepare you and keep you on task.
When it comes to doing the work itself, first divide your house into zones, says Dewkett. Then divide each zone into individually manageable sections requiring no more than an hour’s worth of work. For example, your kitchen might be a zone with individual sections including the fridge, pantry and oven. By cleaning these sections one at a time on a pre-determined schedule, you’ll never get overwhelmed.
What Should Spring Cleaning Include?
This is the one question without a clear consensus, as spring cleaning has a different meaning for everybody. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping — there is no right answer — so do what feels right for your house.
However, for most people, springtime ushers in a change of clothes. “Swap out your wardrobe,” says Reich. Get all your spring and summer clothes ready to wear and hanging in the closet and stow away all of your heavy winter clothes. While you’re at it, “go through all of your clothing, throwing out anything that is ripped or doesn’t fit anymore.” And don’t forget donation as a viable option for getting rid of your old goods!
Take extra pains to clean areas with goods bearing expiration dates, says Reich. Refrigerators, medicine cabinets and the like should get a good once-over.
How Can I Stay Organized?
Think storage units and labeling.
“If you know you want to organize an area, buy storage bins and containers,” says Reich. “Buy more than you need; it’s easier to return than to go back to the store in the middle of the organizing process.”
But it’s not enough to just stash your stuff in neat little bins. This is where a label maker comes in; Reich calls it the “magic wand of organizing.” By labeling everything properly, not only will it make specific items easier to find, but it will make everyone in the household more accountable for putting things in their correct place.
Another great way to stay organized is to devote 10 minutes a day to cleaning. All that work can really add up without ever being overwhelming. Include all members of the house in your daily efforts to keep clean. “If you have five family members all pitching in just 10 minutes, that’s almost an hour of cleaning time,” says Dewkett.
This year, get a head start on spring by pulling out the dustpan now and watch your home bloom.