Gather your supplies
istock/TatommThe night before your big day of spring cleaning, gather your supplies in a bucket, says professional organizer Jamie Novak, author of Keep This, Toss That. In addition to any cleaning products, she recommends having trash bags, a lint roller, rubber gloves, and upbeat music to keep you motivated. With everything you need in one place, you don't have to ruin your groove by running around for cleaning items. Don't miss these other tricks to spring clean faster.
Don’t forget food
istock/rez-artYou might be tempted to jump right into the cleaning, but plan your meals first to make the whole process go more smoothly, says Novak. A healthy breakfast will start your day on the right note, and planning dinner—whether throwing something in the slow cooker or choosing a takeout spot—will be a lifesaver after a tiring day of cleaning, she says. Keep some easy snacks on hand as you clean too so you don’t have to interrupt your cleaning marathon. “First you have to find peanut butter to make a quick sandwich, then you make a mess and actually add to your workload,” she says. Avoid these sneaky energy-draining foods while you work.
Set a timer
istock/NastcoDecide how long you want to spend in each room, then set a timer so you don't lose track of the time. “You’re giving yourself a goal in the room, and it makes it a fun challenge,” says Novak. “Can I get this done in 45 minutes? It keeps you on track so you don’t spend all day in one room.”
Start the laundry
istock/PeopleImagesJump-start your spring cleaning by going from room to room, gathering anything that can go in the laundry. “That way that's working as you’re working,” says Novak. Bedding, slipcovers, shower curtains, rugs, bath mats, throw pillows, and more can go in the washer for a hands-off cleanup. Be sure to avoid these laundry mistakes.
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Head to the front door
istock/dpproductionsBefore you start cleaning the rooms in your home, give your outdoor entryway some attention, says Novak. Dust cobwebs by your porch light and change the bulb if needed, and wipe down the doorbell and mailbox. “Next time you come home, that entryway is going to be really welcoming to you,” says Novak. Learn more ways to make your home more inviting.
Start on the bathroom
istock/KatarzynaBialasiewiczNow that you’re ready to head inside, start your spring cleaning in the bathroom. “Most people dread the bathroom, so if you start there then it’s off the list,” says Novak. “Now that you’ve done the worst first, everything else seems so easy.” Start by applying products that work at dirt without any scrubbing. Take off the toilet seat, then apply a paste of baking soda and water to the inside and outside of the toilet, particularly under the rim, says Lauren Haynes, cleaning expert at Star Domestic Cleaners. You can also drop a couple antacid tablets into the bowl to help clean and disinfect, she says. Work at mineral deposits by attaching a plastic bag half-filled with vinegar to your showerhead with a rubber band. Now apply your baking soda paste to the bathtub to attack that grime, says Haynes. Let those solutions do their magic while you clean the rest of the bathroom.
istock/fstop123While those products are breaking down filth, use some elbow grease in other spots around the bathroom. Sprinkle baking soda over the sink and rub it away with a soft, wet cloth, says Haynes. “You also have to pay attention to the drain and give it a good treatment with an old toothbrush,” she says. Rinse with warm water to get rid of the baking soda. Wipe down the mirror with a microfiber cleaning cloth—no cleaning solution necessary, says Novak. Take this time to go through products you keep in the bathroom too, she says. Toss expired medications, ointments, makeup, and sunscreen, along with these other useless bathroom items. By the time you’re done with all that, you can easily scrub down the toilet, shower, and showerhead, and be out of the bathroom within half an hour. If you're truly pressed for time, use this guide to clean a bathroom in five minutes.
Move on to the bedroom
istock/rakoptonLPN“It’s good to get the bedroom out of the way before the middle of the afternoon when you think ‘I’ll just take a nap,’” says Novak. As with any room, she suggests circling around the bedroom, from top to bottom, so you don’t drop dirt to spots you already cleaned. If you have a ceiling fan, start there using Novak’s trick: Roll back an old pillowcase as if you were going to put a pillow inside, then close it over the fan blade. As you slide it back, the pillowcase will capture the dust instead of letting it fall to the floor. Once the fan is clean, use an old mitten to wipe down your blinds, suggests Novak.
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Avoid moving bedroom furniture
istock/kanzefarYour bed sheets should already be in the washer, but heavy-duty spring cleaning is a great time to freshen your mattress. Sprinkle some baking soda over your bare mattress, says Harriet Jones, cleaning supervisor for Go Cleaners London. “It balances the pH levels of your mattress and removes the bad odor,” she says. “You don’t have to flip your mattress, but you will still have a fresh bedding to sleep on.” After a few hours, go back and vacuum the baking soda away. In the meantime, vacuum the bedroom more thoroughly than usual, making sure to go under your bed and dresser. If your dresser doesn’t have a bottom panel, remove the bottom two drawers to reach the floor without moving the whole chest of drawers, suggests Novak.
Freshen the living room
istock/YinYangUse a lint roller to remove dust from living room lampshades, says Novak. Spring cleaning is a great time to hit commonly missed spots—a dry or damp Q-Tip can get in the crevices of a remote control, and a microfiber cloth should take fingerprints off a light switch. Use a vinegar solution to wipe down a gunky baseboard, then follow with a dryer sheet once it’s dry. “It has a nice scent but is also dust-repelling, so dog hair and other dust won’t settle as quickly on your baseboard,” says Novak. Avoid getting on your hands and knees by attaching the dryer sheet to a Swiffer Sweeper or similar tool.
Clean the living room furniture
istock/SerdiukovDab a bit of coconut oil on a microfiber cloth, then rub down wood furniture. “All of my wood comes out beautifully, and it is much less expensive than any special wood polisher you’d buy,” says Novak. To clean the couch, remove all the cushions so you can vacuum between the crevices. Keep those tight spaces cleaner in the future by tucking a sheet between the cushions. “Going forward, you would just need to ball that up and shake it out vs. having to vacuum all those crevices,” says Novak. Don't miss these unexpected uses for a vacuum cleaner.
Head to the dining room
istock/svetikdIf you light candles in your dining room, wipe down the walls with equal parts warm water and white vinegar to get rid of any soot buildup. Next, as you clean the table and chairs, make sure to scrub the underside of the seats. “People have food on their hands and pull their chairs in, but we never think to clean under there,” says Novak. Stick candles with wax buildup in the freezer to make the excess easier to chip off, and pull out a spring-themed tablecloth or place mats instead of putting back your winter linens (which should have gone in the laundry earlier). Find more easy decorating tricks for spring.
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Wash your kitchen cabinets
istock/NoDerogUsing your top-down strategy, clean off your kitchen cabinet handles and doors. “You might be very surprised when you clean a cabinet door and you think that’s what they look like but they don’t,” says Novak. “That’s just what happens when they’re coated in a layer of grease.” Wipe them with a cleaning spray, then polish the wood with coconut oil. Next scour your freezer and fridge for food that is spoiled or has freezer burn. Wash the rubber gasket on your fridge door with soapy water to keep the seal tight and prevent cold air from escaping, says Novak. Check out these other tricks for quick-cleaning your kitchen.
Clean your cooking space
istock/FotoCuisinette“The oven vents are one of the dirtiest features in the kitchen because they collect a lot of grime and grease,” says Haynes. While you're doing a deep clean for spring cleaning, she recommends filling your sink with boiling water, then mixing in a quarter cup of baking soda and a bit of liquid dish soap. Let your range hood filter soak in the solution for a couple minutes, then rinse it off. To clean without chemicals, use a lemon half dipped in baking soda to scrub your stovetop, oven door, countertops, and refrigerator top. Citrus is a natural degreaser, and abrasive baking soda will scrub the grime away, says Novak. Don’t forget to wipe down the backsplash in your kitchen, which can be a target for food splatters, she says. Soften food buildup in the microwave by simply nuking a bowl of water for a couple minutes, says Novak. Then use an old gift card to scrape away food stains. Learn how to clean your trickiest kitchen appliances.
Finish by bringing out spring items
istock/sizovinTo wrap up spring cleaning, transition your hall closet from winter to spring. Swap out heavy coats for lighter jackets, and put hats and scarves away in favor of visors and sunglasses, says Novak. Do the same in the garage, replacing ice scrapers and snow shovels for sports equipment and beach toys. “It’s not a full garage makeover, but just these little tweaks to signal spring is here,” says Novak.