If you want to start with a clean slate, there’s never been a better time to rethink your spring cleaning routine.
Devotees of today’s tidying up craze are turning to de-cluttering sensation Marie Kondo to help them with motivation. And if you’re using her KonMari method for cleaning, hopefully your own version of tidying up will “spark joy.”
Guide for Cleaning Preparation
Getting in the cleaning mood is Job One and it begins with you deciding why you want to dive in, according to the KonMari website. More than just decluttering, you’re actually devising a plan to achieve your ideal life.
“Think about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it,” the site says. “In other words, describe your ideal lifestyle. If you like drawing, sketch out what it looks like. If you prefer to write, describe it in a notebook. You can also cut out photos from magazines.”
Kondo sees a big cleaning project as a turning point and she offers a list of 5 productivity tips:
• Start your morning with good energy
• Make a to-do list
• Coordinate with your partner
• Clear your mind
• Create a nighttime routine
It really is a mental game. As you can see with shopping addicts or people who can’t clear out the clutter because everything is sentimental, there is work to be done, and it typically starts on the inside.
If you’re a person who only cleans up when you’re having a party or selling your house, you need to access new motivation. It may mean you really need a guide to spring cleaning your mind. Mental clutter gets in the way of attending to things that matter.
Ask yourself if you’re just worrying or actually problem-solving. Some of those thoughts are, doubtless, holding you back. Starting a new project – like decluttering and cleaning your living space – is no small matter, so you have to be in a good psychological place to start.
You can’t even get started with spring cleaning until you stock up on supplies. Some of the most popular products for spring cleaning include: vacuum, mop, floor solution, microfiber cloths, dusting spray, new air filters, disinfecting wipes, gloves, baking soda and vinegar.
Every guide for cleaning will have its own list of preferred products, and many of them contain such agents as chlorine bleach, ammonia and acids. You want to do some research before you make your purchases, especially if you have babies, young kids or animals.
If you don’t want to invest in a lot of harsh chemicals, Martha Stewart has suggestions for healthy cleaning products made up of household supplies.
One universal product she recommends is mild dishwashing liquid, which you can use to clean up spills. She has a recipe for all-purpose cleaner, including: 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of dish liquid that you combine in a spray bottle. It’s particularly good for hard surfaces.
Another household item-turned-cleanser is baking soda. The beauty of the soft, white powder is that it doesn’t cause scratches on surfaces. Martha Stewart creates a paste out of 1 part baking soda added to 3 parts warm water, which you can use to tackle the inside of your oven or to work on stains.
To create a bathroom cleanser, make a paste out of baking soda and dishwashing liquid.
White vinegar is a strong, but natural, cleaning agent also. Add lemon juice and you have a nice scent and you can do mild bleaching when you combine the two. They take care of soap scum, Stewart says, and when you mix equal parts water and vinegar you can clean windows and mirrors.
How to Spring Clean Room by Room
The house in general: There are a lot of matters that should happen on a routine basis. For instance, fire and safety experts suggest replacing the batteries in your fire alarms every time you set your clocks forward or back during a time change.
Other acts to promote cleanliness include: replacing air filters, dusting window sills, bookcases, collectibles, etc., vacuuming, mopping, sanitizing and re-thinking your layout.
Even harmless decorations require cleaning. Anything soft, such as decorative pillows and curtains, need to be removed and either replaced or cleaned.
The kitchen: You probably work on kitchen counters every day. They have to be wiped down and dishes washed, dried and put away. Because you’re dealing with food, you want to disinfect all counter spaces.
There are a lot of tricks for cleaning the sink. Some people recommend sprinkling baking soda over the sink, cutting a lemon and squeezing half of the juice on top of the baking soda. Put the remaining piece down the garbage disposal so when you turn it on the lemon can sanitize the drain.
Run your dishwasher without the dishes loaded inside, and if it has a self-cleaning and disinfectant setting, use it. You also want to set up a schedule where you go through the pantry and discard old foods. Wipe down inside and outside of cabinets and finish with a wood polish. Lastly, don’t forget to finally mop the floors.
The bathroom: This is a room with more hidden germs than you want to know about. According to Cleanlink.com, a website providing information for sanitary supply distributors, there are more than 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses found in the common restroom.
To prevent cross contamination, use separate rags for each of the surfaces when you clean. With different colors of microfiber cloths you can keep separate what you use for the floor, sinks, toilet, tub, and shower.
Vinegar is useful, again, as a safe, nontoxic cleaner to use in your bathroom that helps break down limescale and remove stains.
The bedroom: For your guest room, kids’ rooms or master bedroom, devise a plan. One smart idea is to work top to bottom so that when dust falls downward, it won’t make anything dirty that you already cleaned.
Start with dusting the moldings, lights, fans, window sills, blinds, curtains, and then begin on furniture. Of course, you want to wash the bedding, but also use a vacuum to clean your mattress. A surprising amount of dust collects in and under it.
There’s a recipe for cleaning your mattress: Sprinkle baking soda on top of the mattress, then using a spray bottle, mist a water and vinegar solution to activate the baking soda. Turn on a fan and open windows to help it dry faster.
After an hour, vacuum the remaining solution, flip the mattress over and repeat. Once the room is clean, put on clean sheets and bedding. Your final step is to vacuum.
The closet: One of Marie Kondo’s main principles definitely applies here. When spring cleaning the closet, the logical choice is to first toss out what you shouldn’t keep. Purging what you don’t like or need, and what doesn’t fit, is a great start.
Try on clothes and shoes and donate those that don’t fit anymore. When deciding what else to donate, think about what you didn’t wear all year – go season by season. You’re unlikely to wear it if you haven’t worn it in the last six months to a year.
Think about it while you finish your organizing process.
After you’ve restructured your closet by color, style, season, or type, you can make that decision about who gets your outcasts. They each have rules about picking up donations and which items they take – some don’t accept electric appliances, while others may not take donations of certain types of furniture.
An article on the Salvation Army website talks about legal restrictions on certain types of donations. They aren’t allowed to resell items that are hazardous, have been recalled or violate other government rules laid out in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guide book.
The Garage: For some, the garage is their crafting center, while others just fill it to the rafters with junk. But for individuals who want to improve their tidiness skills, your garage is likely to need some work.
Are you someone with a need for speed? If so, you may have a number of vehicles you don’t use – motorcycles, a sports car collection or a golf cart perhaps. You can turn vehicles you no longer need into support for a cause.
When you donate a car to charity, you get an easy way to move your car along to another owner, while your favorite nonprofit gets a donation and you get a tax write-off.
Even if your batteries are dead in your Club Car or your vehicle is at the repair shop, through Cars2Charities you only have to call or donate online, and the rest is taken care of for you.
Many people will purchase a boat that sits in a slip and collects dust or an RV that they stop using at some point. Cars2Charities will pick up an RV donation, a boat donation or a motorcycle donation or nearly any other car, truck or SUV.
Sweep out your garage, go through the attic and cabinets, donate all the items you haven’t touched in over five years. The garage is one place where a guide for cleaning won’t help you – they’re all unique to the owner.
The Health Benefits of Tidying Up
These may be a lot of good ideas, but if you still need an answer to the question, “why is spring cleaning a good idea?” we can give you one: it boosts your health.
Indiana University researchers found a connection between clean homes and physically fit owners. They aren’t entirely sure which is the chicken and which is the egg. It’s possible that cleaning keeps you in shape, or it may be that people who are physically fit have the energy to clean.
There are other ways that keeping a clean home contributes to your wellness also, says an article on Health eNews, a website for AuroraHealth.
It lowers stress and fatigue which can rise if you live in a messy environment. And if it’s more than just a little untidy, if it’s dirty, you can develop allergic symptoms or asthma. Bedding, upholstery and carpets tend to trap germs that make allergies worse.
“The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to clean,” says allergy and asthma specialist Dr. Uma Gavani. “Messy areas increase the potential for dust, pet dander and mold to accumulate in closets, on surfaces and in crevices.”
You don’t have to look like a house on “Hoarders” to have problems with health and safety. Fires and falling are the two leading causes of death at home and when there’s too much clutter, people trip and fall.
Tidying up makes sure you don’t have any furniture blocking doors or walkways, which are hazards for slips and falls, and they also impede your escape from a fire.
By keeping the kitchen clean you minimize the spread of germs while also discouraging pests. The CDC reports that contaminated food causes gastrointestinal illnesses and cleaner kitchens produce fewer cases of food poisoning.
Bugs like spills from food, pet bowls, dirt and debris that isn’t cleaned up. Cockroaches can carry parasites and numerous bacteria, so they cause such illnesses as gastroenteritis.
Mice also need to be taken care of. They spread diseases from salmonella to hantavirus, so you want to put food away and throw away trash in a covered receptacle.
Purging, cleaning and reorganizing are good ideas year-round. But now that people are focusing on the benefits, perhaps it’s time you experienced some of the “life-changing magic” too. It will be nice to only be surrounded by things that bring you joy.