Spring cleaning is a tradition that goes back as long as humans have been living in permanent dwellings. In Western culture, spring cleaning may have its roots in the domestic preparations for the spring celebration of Passover in the Jewish faith. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, “Clean Monday” marks the beginning of Lent. In Iran, the Persian new year falls on the first day of spring and Iranians still practice the traditional house cleaning known as “khooneh tekouni” (translated as “shaking the house”) just before the new year.
When the weather begins to warm up, It just seems natural to want to throw open the windows and let some fresh air into the house. As the days get longer, we have a few more daylight hours to spend on household projects. However, with the advent of modern, climate controlled houses, busy careers and packed family schedules, a traditional spring cleaning is tough for a lot of folks to find time for.
In light of the very limited free time most people have to devote to household chores (much less a full spring cleaning) I suggest breaking down some of the spring cleaning tasks into manageable two to three hour sets that you can spread out over a number of weekends during the spring months. Remembering the fable of the tortoise and the hare, “slow and steady wins the race.” If you are more of a hare personality, feel free to do more than one set per weekend. Otherwise, spread them out on the calendar to fit your schedule, and check them off as spring progresses.
Set One: Rhymes with Fun
Do some tasks that will serve as rewards for the less-fun stuff that is to come! Think “outdoor relaxation.”
1. Get out the garden hoses and hook them up. Turn on the water to the outdoor spigots. We’ve got cleaning to do, and some of this stuff is going to be easier in the yard.
2. Get out the lawn furniture! Hose of the dust and cobwebs and set it up.
3. Did you clean the grill at the end of last season? Clean it up and set it up. You can work up an appetite doing spring cleaning, and you may need hot dogs and/or burgers to keep your strength up!
4. Take covers off air conditioners, clean out leaves or other debris, and wash or replace filters.
Set Two: Shoot High
Starting at the ceiling and working down is a good approach to cleaning. You might want to make an appointment with the chiropractor for Monday morning, though. You could have a stiff neck after this one.
1. Clean the light fixtures and dust ceiling fan blades.
2. If you have ceiling fans set for winter, reverse them for summer.
3. Dust Crown moldings, etc.
Set Three: A Breath of Fresh Air
Opening up the interior space to let in some light and fresh air is the next step. This will make all the tasks to come easier and more pleasant.
1. Window coverings: Dust, vacuum, or launder.
2. Open the windows, clean the screens if needed (take them outside and use the hose!), vacuum out dead lady bugs, boxelder beetles, and other nasty stuff. Store storm windows, if needed.
3. Wash the windows, clean exterior doors and sills.
4. Light the grill. That’s enough for one weekend!
Set Four: Stow it, Bub!
Closets, drawers, basement, and garage shelves… when everything needs to come in for the winter, things can get a little tight. You’ve already made a little progress by bringing out the hoses, grill, and lawn furniture… what’s next?
1. Swap winter and summer clothes, coats, and jackets. Space saver vacuum bags can be great for shrinking sweaters, down vests, etc. Then, they can go onto basement shelves without getting musty smelling.
2. While everything is out, clean the closets and shelves.
3. Get rid of stuff! Donate those clothes you never wear to an organization that will get them into the hands that need them. Haven’t used the canoe in a quarter of a century? One word: CRAIGSLIST.
Set Five: Get to the Bottom of it
Wrap it up with a weekend that is all about the floors.
1. Take area rugs outside. Air them out.
2. Carpets need shampooing after a snowy winter? Rent a shampooer and do it now when it is the right temperature to have the windows wide open!
3. Scrub and wax the kitchen floor.
4. Fire up the grill and celebrate!
Other online spring cleaning lists will tell you to do things like “re-grout your bathroom tile” or “clean out the kitchen cupboards.” I philosophically disagree with this! I prefer to do these tasks on a cold winter afternoon while streaming tunes or a favorite movie and drinking some strong coffee. It’s spring, for crying-out-loud! I say, get the indoor stuff done in the spring that makes sense and then get out and spend as much time as possible in the yard! We’ve got a garden to plant!
Image courtesy of Visit New Orleans