How to clear out the clutter and make room for the new
Today’s spring cleaning routine isn’t like your grandmother’s, according to household hints icon Heloise.
“It used to be homes were closed up tight during winter and heated with oil or wood,” she says. “The whole house was literally dirty. Spring marked the time when you could finally open the windows and wash everything from the curtains to the walls.”
Spring cleaning nowadays is part emotional and part environmental, says Heloise, noting that springtime is a good time to clear out clutter. Think of it as sweeping out the old and making room for the new. Heloise carries three bags as she cleans: one for trash, one for items to donate or recycle, and one for items that go someplace else.
It’s also the time to do the tasks we let slide, “such as cleaning fan blades, baseboards, window sills and blinds,” says Kristi Mailloux, president of Molly Maids Inc., a national chain of independently owned cleaning service providers.
Mailloux suggests that homeowners view rooms from all levels—standing, sitting and even from the floor. “Look at your house from different perspectives,” she says. “Guests will often see our homes in ways we don’t or they notice things we have gotten used to over time.”
Here are other professional tips for your room-by-room cleaning checklist:
“What you use most is what you should tackle first,” says Heloise, whose latest book is titled Handy Household Hints from Heloise. “It could be the stove, microwave, coffee maker, toaster or refrigerator. But it’s time to take it apart and clean it.”
Spring also is a good time to wipe down often-neglected cabinet doors, according to Donna Smallin, author of the One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple. “It’s not always apparent, but cabinet doors can collect dirt and grease released when cooking,” she says.
Living Room/Family Room
Move furniture, and vacuum behind and under everything. Shampoo carpets. Shake out or clean rugs. Wipe down ceiling fixtures, lampshades, blinds, baseboards, moldings and doorframes.
Your vacuum’s upholstery attachment is your best friend. “Use it to clear the dust from the tops of tall furniture, then go over the areas with a microfiber cloth,” Heloise says. “Vacuuming saves time by removing the bulk of the dirt.” Vacuum smoke detectors too—they can collect dust, Smallin says.
Mailloux suggests starting to the right of the door and moving top to bottom, left to right to make sure you clean everywhere.
Replace heavy bedding and draperies with lighter pieces, and wash items before you store them. Vacuum under beds and behind furniture.
Tackle closets by swapping seasonal clothing. Smallin suggests purging items you haven’t worn in six months.
The bathroom doesn’t need a lot of spring cleaning if it has been well maintained.
Heloise suggests getting on your hands and knees and cleaning behind the toilet and under the sink. Clean inside medicine cabinets and dispose of expired medications and cosmetics.
Smallin recommends pouring boiling water down drains as a preventative measure for clogs.