As the snow melts away and the grass greets our feet, one dreadful realization sets in: it’s time for spring cleaning. The car, guest room, and backyard have all accumulated clutter while you weren’t looking, and no one’s happy about that.
Fortunately, spring cleaning doesn’t have to break our backs, budgets, or brains. Here are 6 ways to make your home shine without the stress and disorganization you’ve grown to fear.
Make a To-Do List
Cabin Fever has a tendency to make us crazy. Between the cold, the lack of sunlight, and the clutter, it’s no wonder the mess stacks up and our energy goes MIA. Fortunately for the beleaguered homeowner, there’s one weapon that‘ll turn a dusty house into a sterling home: a to-do list.
Most spring cleaners fall into a common trap: You gather your supplies, walk into the kitchen/living room/garage, and start cleaning everything you see. The problem with this method is that something new always catches your attention, distracting you from the task at hand. By the end, you’ve spent three times the energy to clean one-third of the space, and your stress level is unbearable.
But you can beat both your mental and physical clutter by planning things out before whipping out the buckets and mops. Perform a walk-through of every room in your home and write down everything you want to accomplish.
Then, with your list in hand, go to work. Check off each item as it’s completed to prevent duplication of labor, and enjoy the psychological reward of whittling down your workload. You’ll feel more organized and less stressed, and your home will look better for the effort.
Minimize Your Cleaning Supplies
Here’s a fun challenge: take a drive to your local mega-store twice in one month and try not to find the newest cleaning product. From steam-powered Swiffers to organic-scented furniture polish, the market is constantly churning out something new to make your home even cleaner than before!
Of course, very few of these items are actually necessary. It’s easy to run to the supermarket and grab every new device, spray, and cloth the eye beholds. Then, of course, you’re left with an unopened steam-powered Swiffer after using a traditional mop to clean your floors.
Avoid the spring cleaning arms race and consolidate your cleaning supplies. Look at each item in your basket and ask yourself, “Could good old-fashioned soap and water accomplish the same task?” (Hint: The answer is probably “yes.”) Save money, time, and residual clutter by keeping it simple, and your deep-clean will last much, much longer.
Clean from the Top Down
Sir Isaac Newton was really on to something. Neither space shuttles nor spring cleaners are exempt from the force of gravity, and that means a great deal more for your cleaning plans than you might have realized.
Duplication of labor is a plague when your back is already broken from scrubbing the walls, so why not work to minimize your effort? Dust, scrub, and tidy from the top down so that particulates eventually end up on the floor for easy vacuuming. As convenient as static-cling dusters may be, you don’t want to waste your time cleaning the same coffee table over and over and over.
Divide and Conquer
Between work, school, and our favorite TV shows, time for less interesting tasks is hard to come by. For this reason, spring cleaning tends to end up shoe-horned into a single weekend, leading to all-night scrubbing sessions.
If this sounds unpleasant to you, as it does to us, try dividing the effort over a number of days. With your to-do list in hand, schedule your tasks over a couple of weeks and perform an hour of cleaning per night. You may have to DVR “Game of Thrones,” but the weekend will give you plenty of time to catch up.
Furthermore, this allows you to work around the weather. A soggy Sunday can turn a marathon cleaning session into an absolute slog. So, delegate your outdoor tasks to another day, and enjoy the thunderstorm from the comfort of your increasingly clean home.
Get Your Kids to Pitch In
There’s a reason pirates had so many crew members—swabbing the deck isn’t a job for the faint of heart. And while your household may lack the kind of indentured help that made Blackbeard successful, enlisting assistance is never a bad idea.
The key to tapping your crew’s enthusiasm is incentive. Try turning dusting into a game; hide
candy on shelves and allow them to eat it once the surface is clean. Another option is to promise a trip to the local Pizza Hut as soon as the floor is spic ‘n span.
Keep them from feeling overwhelmed by using the “divide and conquer” technique. Give them a few options and let them choose which task to undertake. This will ensure that their attention spans aren’t as quickly spent, and that your knick-knacks are properly tended to.
Rent a Storage Unit
Have you ever tried finding your favorite movie in a pile of DVD cases? The same principle applies to spring cleaning (and your pile of DVD cases).
Sometimes the best way to work around your existing clutter is to pare it down to a manageable load. Rent an affordable storage unit, and temporarily remove those cumbersome pieces that are causing you consternation. Let’s put it this way: you can either perform gymnastics to vacuum around your workout equipment, or you can move it out of the way, perform a deep clean, and enjoy a home gym that’s as pleasant to look at as it smells.
In addition, you can seize the opportunity to perform some long-term de-cluttering. If the items relocated to your storage facility can’t find a home in your newly organized environment, consider leaving them there in a secure, climate-controlled space. For an affordable monthly cost, you make long-term improvements to your layout, and your stress levels.
No one likes to scrub the baseboards, but it’s a task we all must endure. Use these 6 tips to make sure that your warm-weather washing yields long-term results with as little effort as possible.
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