I know what you’re thinking: 30 minutes cannot possibly be long enough to complete all your spring cleaning. Well, that depends on how you look at it. Most of us don’t have endless amounts of time to spend cleaning our houses, and more than that, who really wants to? It’s not fun.
So, what’s this magical equation for cleaning an entire house in 30 minutes or less? It’s going to involve a little bit of preplanning, some bargaining with yourself over what needs to be cleaned and what can wait, and, of course, enlisting everyone in the house to assist you.
The idea is to break up the cleaning tasks into 30-minute segments. You can focus on one or a few things for those short spurts of time and then reward yourself by taking a 10-to-15 minute break between segments. Over the course of an eight-hour day, including down time, you can easily get 10 to 12 half-hour tasks knocked out. Is spring cleaning starting to sound a bit more appealing yet?
The Ultimate Checklist
You probably know what you want to achieve when you start a cleaning project. But good intentions go awry when you approach cleaning higgledy-piggledy, get distracted by outside influences, or simply procrastinate.
JoAnne Halvorson, owner of the Maid Brigade of Fargo Moorhead, says to start your spring cleaning by listing all the areas or rooms of your house you think need the most attention. Once you do that, go back to each room or area on the list and think of specific cleaning tasks. Then, estimate the time needed to complete each task. You can even take it one step further and mark the highest priority items with an asterisk. A sample checklist might look like this:
• Clean oven and stovetop (15 minutes)
• Clean out refrigerator (20 minutes)
• Pull out and clean under refrigerator and stove (15 minutes)
• Wash cabinet doors, drawers, and knobs (10 minutes)
• Wipe down all appliances (5 minutes)
• Scrub tile and grout lines (15 minutes)
• Clean out vanity and cabinets (25 minutes)
• Dust light fixtures (5 minutes)
• Gather all bedding and curtains to wash (15 minutes)
• Dust blinds (20 minutes)
• Vacuum or dust ceiling fans and vent covers (10 minutes)
• Vacuum and flip mattress (5 minutes)
• Clean baseboards and moulding (10 minutes)
• Dust blinds (20 minutes)
• Dust electronics and artwork (10 minutes)
• Vacuum or wipe down sofa (10 minutes)
• Vacuum or dust ceiling fans and vent covers (10 minutes)
The idea is to do what you can in about a 30-minute block of time and stop. If you need to go back to an area, take a break and then start your next 30-minute cycle.
If you’re not the only one living in your house, you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning it. Enlist the help of the other adults and don’t forget your children.
Having the kids help out with spring cleaning can be as easy as making them their own checklists for various spaces. This works well for older kids (ages 10 and up).
• Clean under the bed
• Clean desks and cabinets
• Dust ceiling fan, shelves, and windowsills
• Put all video games, CDs, and DVDs into their cases and store
• Remove bedding and vacuum mattress (See deodorizing tip in sidebar)
• Organize shoes and hang up all coats
• Put mittens, scarves, and hats into their own bin or bag
• Sweep or vacuum closet floor
• Wipe down all switch plates
• Vacuum vent covers
• Wash doors and doorknobs
A second option is to have kids help with projects you are doing—like a little sidekick—which is a great way to involve younger children who still need supervision. These tasks might include: cleaning out the fridge, cabinets, or drawers; dusting shelves or furniture; cleaning chair or table legs; or putting old bills and confidential paperwork through a paper shredder. Of course, with a little helper along, you may have to extend your estimated task completion times, but learning how to clean is a valuable life skill.
Yes, There’s an App for That!
BrightNest (iPhone) takes some of the guesswork out of spring cleaning with how-to cleaning guides on a variety of projects and so much more.
Good Housekeeping @ Home (iPhone + Android) offers tricks and tips on a wide range of cleaning techniques to help you breeze right through your spring cleaning chores.
Once you’ve got your lists, your next step is to make sure you have some essential cleaning gear on hand so you don’t run out of supplies in the middle of your efforts. There are about a million different products out there, all promising the cleanest clean, and if you have your favorites, by all means stick to them. Halvorson’s must-have items include a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and SOS pads. “They clean everything!” She also suggests:
• Glass cleaner or multipurpose spray
• Tile spray
• Powdered cleanser
• Heavy duty degreaser
• Bleach (for disinfecting)
• A roll of paper towels
• Two sponges (one for bathroom, one for kitchen)
• Microfiber cloth (for dusting)
• Old toothbrush (for scrubbing tight spaces or grout lines)
Plan your spring cleaning at a time when you know those who aren’t pitching in to help will be away or asleep. You’ll get more accomplished. Focus on the once or twice a year, deep-cleaning needs and give the lighter housekeeping duties like dusting and vacuuming their regular attention next week.
Tips From the Pros
Halvorson and manager Mona Simmons urge, “Clean smarter, not harder,” and offer some basic advice to make cleaning a breeze:
• Always work from top to bottom—don’t sweep your floors before you dust your tallest cabinet
• Avoid distractions—Halvorson never answers her cell phone when she’s cleaning
• Stick to one area of your home at a time—Simmons says that hopping around to different areas can derail your progress
For more tips, see sidebar.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can deodorize your mattress:
Begin the task of deodorizing your mattress by thoroughly vacuuming the bare mattress. Then, sprinkle with baking soda; vacuum up soda after 30 minutes.
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners can leave a film on your lint screen:
It’s not enough to remove the lint build-up between laundry loads—the film blocks air flow. You should wash the screen with hot, soapy water every few months to keep things running efficiently.
Soaking a shower head in vinegar will remove hard water deposits:
Fill a heavy, one-gallon storage bag with one to two cups of vinegar. Place the bag over the showerhead so it is submerged in the vinegar. Secure it with a twist tie and leave in place for an hour or so.
You can wash your pillows:
Experts recommend you wash your pillows twice a year. Most are machine washable. Use detergent, hot water, and a second rinse and spin for best results. To dry, place in the dryer along with two tennis ball-filled socks (secure the tennis ball inside each sock by tying the end). The tennis balls will help fluff the pillows as they dry.
Beyond The Home
Two additional spring cleaning tasks should be added to your to-do list.
Your child’s locker
Remember when you sent an enormous backpack filled with school supplies at the beginning of the year? Well, you’ll likely get some of those goodies back, along with a slew of graded papers, art projects, used tissues, and gym clothes. Depending on your child’s age, you might have to simply show up and help him or her clean out that locker and ready it for next year’s occupant. If you’re going to have your student clean it out alone, here are a few items to send along to ensure you don’t incur a dirty locker fine from the school:
• Disinfectant wipes. Don’t send the whole container, because you might not get it back. Pull a half dozen wipes from the tub and put them in a sealable plastic bag.
• A plastic grocery bag. There is going to be trash, no doubt about it. So give them a bag to put their trash in first, so they can transfer it to a larger receptacle later.
• An extra backpack. Roll an extra backpack up and send it with your student a week or two before school ends. Over the course of a few days, they can bring home all the treasures they’ve been hiding in their locker throughout the school year.
After a harsh winter, the elements take a toll on our vehicles. We not only track salt, sand, and muddy snow into the vehicle, but we tend to accumulate trash. Cleaning the car is a great task for older kids (and gets them out of the house for a while).
Collect trash and other junk built up over the winter months. Look under seats for water bottles or stray food items. Remember, in the winter it’s all frozen, but once the summer temps hit, you could have a real mess on your hands.
Shake out floor mats and wipe down seats and the interior with a damp cloth.
Don’t forget the trunk. Do an inspection of what’s been left in the back of your car and get rid of the excess.
Finish off the car cleaning by running it through a car wash or, if the weather is nice, getting out the garden hose and some cleaning supplies and washing it yourself.
It was a rough winter in the F-M area, but spring cleaning season is here. Throw open the windows, welcome the fresh air, and just get it done.
A North Dakota native, Megan Bartholomay is a freelance writer and editor with an addiction to grammar, cats, wine, and good food. She lives in downtown Fargo with her husband, Mike, and their bevy of fuzzy babies.
About the Author: