Yes, it really is time to take down the Christmas lights and begin searching for the lawnmower. As the days warm and lengthen, some of us might even find the courage to face what is lurking under our pool covers. But for many, the annual spring ritual of cleaning our caves and castles from top-to-bottom can seem overwhelming.
Bear in mind two things: there are valid scientific reasons for this traditional purification rite, and it will all only get worse the longer you put off spring cleaning. Not everyone has to dust the collection of mounted deer and antelope heads. But there is something satisfying about shaking off winter blues by making your home shine.
Spring cleaning is much more than an annual ritual, it is a mindset. Following nature’s example, spring is the time when people emerge from hibernation and take a fresh new look at their lives and their homes. Sales on everything from glass cleaner and vacuum bags to interior and exterior paint, landscaping supplies and concrete spike in the spring, making spring cleaning an easier and less costly task.
For those having trouble even knowing where to begin spring cleaning after a winter’s worth of clutter has built up, or if those walls that once looked so freshly painted now seem a bit dingy, there are mountains of resources to the rescue. Recipes for environmentally safe home cleaning products and how-to hints for simple projects are a click or two away. Doing a ‘spring cleaning’ search can easily get you inspired.
Or, think about organizing mutually shared tasks with a partner, friends or neighbors. It still takes a village - and having someone to pass the time with makes spring cleaning chores somehow seem easier. Plus, local hardware stores and home improvement warehouses are overflowing with spring cleaning tips and products that will help lighten the load.
Unable to even organize a simple ‘getting started’ checklist? One quick Web search revealed sites dedicated to checklists for every conceivable chore. Author and home organizer KayLee Parker has thoughtfully posted a complete spring cleaning checklist. The list is formatted so you can print it, and it will remind you to do everything from changing your kitchen cupboard shelf paper to having your heating and cooling systems serviced.
Although Parker has written books to help those who don’t know where to start with household projects, she believes what most people want is a check list. “Lists make time management easy,” she said. “Lists let everyone choose how much they want to get organized. No one has to be totally organized - even my children and my husband.”
If time or resources still do not allow for a major spring cleaning blitz, try to find a bit of time each week for cleaning, and rotate which room you will spend the most time in. Old wives tales might be out of fashion and not everywhere in the country has dramatic seasonal changes, but there are good reasons for keeping dirt and dust at a minimum.
One study shows that many Americans are spending up to a whopping 90 percent of their time indoors - at home, in shopping malls, theaters, restaurants, vehicles, and other recreational facilities. While the statistic is a pretty appalling indication of just how much we shun fresh air and sunshine, it is indoor pollutants, like dust, which are posing high health risks.
Animal dander, molds, spores and dust mites build up in closed houses over winter months. With asthma at near-epidemic proportions, house cleaning is not something to be dodged. The importance of washing mattress and pillow casings cannot be overemphasized. This will significantly reduce mite allergens. Bathing your pets will also help keep animal dander at a minimum.
Along with dust mites, fungal contamination present in indoor environments is a growing hazard. Damp basements, poorly functioning cooling and dehumidifying systems and saturated insulation are perfect breeding grounds for these irritants, which can aggravate respiratory allergens. Removing dampness from the home is the best way to control fungal growth.
Now that you are prepared to greet the spring with a clean sweep, here are a few spring cleaning tips and checklist to get you moving:
- Pick a weekend and gather as many hands as you can for spring-cleaning. Make sure at least one friend stays at their home to cook supper for you and your helpers.
- Do your own house tour - inside and out. Make a list of any needed seasonal maintenance.
- Stick to four basic cleaning compounds for indoors: glass cleaner, heavy-duty degreasing cleaner, tile cleaner and a powdered abrasive cleanser.
- Find time on a sunny day to scrape, prime and paint peeling spots on trim or woodwork. This will protect against summer heat and moisture.
- Inspect the roof for winter water damage. Arrange for repairs early in the season.
- Schedule a spring inspection of cooling systems. On that first hot day, you will want to be cool - not overheating on the phone.
And lastly, if you cannot bear the thought of any of the above spring cleaning tips and checklist, budget for having a professional team of cleaners come to your home twice a year.