We get the whole concept of spring cleaning from our Victorian forebears, who did a thorough cleaning of the home in spring for very practical reasons. Their homes were heated primarily by coal or wood-burning fires; over the course of winter, the soot and ash would build up in rugs, draperies, upholstered pieces and other parts of the home. Spring, as a bit of warmth shone through, signaled the first practical time to get all those rugs, linens and other furnishings out into the wholesome sunlight for a thorough washing and drying.
The tradition of spring cleaning lives on. But when the warm weather actually does come, do we really want to be inside organizing the hall closet when we could be exploring the woods, having a picnic or jumping in mud puddles with our kids? Since we no longer have to wait until warmer weather to get things really clean, we can use those ho-hum winter days to get through the spring cleaning tasks and greet the warm weather with a house that's ready to go.
First Step: Divide Your House Into Sections
You can probably buckle down and clean your whole house in a morning or afternoon. Maybe that's your regular routine - to get it all done in one fell swoop. However, for spring cleaning (or winter, as the case is), you'll want to do a bit more than the speed cleaning that keeps you going on a maintenance basis. So divide your house into logical sections according to its layout and how you use it. For example, you might want to have all the bedrooms as one section, or you might prefer to conquer one bedroom and its adjoining bathroom as one section. It's up to you. Just come up with 6 - 8 sections.
Second Step: Assign One Section to Each Week
After figuring out a logical way to section up your house, simply decide which one you want to tackle first. This whole process will take you as many weeks as you have sections. Section 1 might be the kitchen and pantry, so that's what you can tackle for Week 1. You don't have to stick to any particular order, as long as you take one section per week and remember which section you've already done.
Third Step: Schedule the Section into Your Week
Your work schedule, family schedule, and flexibility are the key here. It might work best for you to set aside 2 - 3 hours on a weekend morning and tackle that week's section; or you might find a better rhythm by devoting 30 minutes each day for the entire week to that week's section. It doesn't matter as long as it works for you and your life.
Fourth Step: Create a Checklist for Each Section
Your first task for each section is to sit down and make a list of all the deep cleaning that you need to do. In addition to regular cleaning tasks such as dusting, sweeping, mopping, and washing windows, don't forget to consider other, often-overlooked chores:
- clean light fixtures
- wipe down baseboards
- disinfect trash cans
- steam clean upholstery
- spot clean carpets, rugs, and upholstery
- polish furniture
- clean out-of-sight places (high window ledges, door frames, etc.)
There are some great deep-cleaning checklists online you might want to peruse; but don't worry about getting it all done. Use the time you scheduled, do everything you can do within that time, then crack a window (even if it's cold) and let some fresh air in for a few minutes. Enjoy the clean, fresh feeling of a spring-cleaned home while you're still indoors. Come spring, you'll be ready to get outside into that warm weather, guilt-free!