How to Easily Spring Clean without being Overwhelmed
Spring cleaning. Every year, spring cleaning pops up all over social media. It’s in all of our conversations. Maybe in passing someone mentions that they’re doing their spring cleaning, and all of a sudden you realize you’ve got spring cleaning to do yourself. But is spring cleaning just this primal urge that we have as women, or is it a lot of peer pressure? I have thought about this often.
Either way, there are reasons that we do spring cleaning. First of all, it can help lift the burden of so much stuff off of our shoulders. One time a year we dedicate time to get rid of and throw out all the things we don’t need. Sometimes, as we come out of a long winter, people feel the need for a new fresh start. I know that when I lived in the snow, after being hunkered down for months and months, it was really great just to throw open the windows clean out all the old crap and start over as spring was coming to life.
And some of us just need a really deep cleaning in our house once a year. It’s nice to check off some of those things that we don’t do every single week. And there’s a reason for that. You don’t need to wipe down your floorboards, every single weekend. But how do we do spring cleaning, so that it doesn’t make our head explode? How do we do spring cleaning without losing our minds and wrecking our bodies over the course of a weekend?
I used to do my spring cleaning in one weekend. I would dedicate one entire Saturday, and one entire Sunday, where I would just go crazy cleaning in the house. That means that for two straight days I would be on my hands and knees scrubbing, up on ladders dusting, and everything in between. Sometimes cleaning for eight to 10 hours a day and then it was all done.
But the sacrifice I made was my sanity. I felt all this pressure to come out of the weekend with a sparkling clean house. My hands were scrubbed or raw. My body honestly ached so badly that it took days for me to recover. I was stressed and then went back into the week unable to enjoy all the work I just did. I don’t want to do that anymore. So here is the change I have tried the past few years.
Instead of doing it over one weekend and bringing too much stress on myself, I instead scheduled my spring cleaning to last all spring. Now hear me out. I know we don’t like to drag stuff out, but a lot of spring cleaning has to do with getting rid of things that might just be sitting around or cleaning odd places that we don’t get to every day. This means all that stuff and all that dirt has been there for a whole year. It’s okay to let it sit for a couple more weeks.
Break it Up
Instead of doing all of the work on one Saturday and Sunday, I divided it up over the course of four to five weeks. The easiest way for me to tackle it was to give one room and each weekend. That means one weekend I would tackle the kitchen, one weekend I would tackle a bathroom, one weekend I would tackle the bedrooms, and one weekend I would tackle the living room. This year, I added the garage to the list for its own weekend.
While this seems like you’ll be giving up a lot of weekends, instead of doing eight to 10 hours and the whole house over a whole day I gave myself two to three hours in each of these rooms. That of course, over the course of five weekends adds up to 10-15 plus hours, but it wasn’t done at the expense of my mental health.
Outline it on the Calendar
To really help break it down for myself, I wrote on my calendar each weekend, a time block where I was going to do a deep spring cleaning. And just because it’s happening in the spring doesn’t mean you can’t do this other times a year. In fact, I do this in the fall as well, but because we’re in spring and we’re talking about spring cleaning I’m just referring to this as spring cleaning.
So the first thing is to write one of the rooms or areas of the house, each weekend on your agenda or in your phone notes and block off two or three hours. Nothing crazy. You don’t want to give yourself half a day because you will fill the time that you allot. So the best thing to do is keep it short and sweet. Go in, tackle what you have to do, and get it done.
Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
The second thing I do is for each different room, I take time to evaluate where are the places that I can make the most difference. For example, in the kitchen, I do scrub the floors more regularly than I do anywhere else in the house, so I don’t put scrub the floors on my spring cleaning list. Instead, I put things like wipe out the refrigerator and throw out all the expired food from the pantry. These are things I don’t do on a weekly basis and I know that one good sweep will really clean up a lot of the kitchen.
Another example of big bang for your buck cleaning is in the bathrooms. Same thing here. Find things that you don’t usually do and skip over the things that more regularly get done. You probably clean and scrub your toilets and your sinks more regularly than you clean out your medicine and products cabinet.
This is another place where I take the opportunity to get through all those old crusty jars that have just a little bit of stuff left in them. Toss them. If I have four or five half bottles of something I didn’t really love. I toss them. This is also the chance to clean out those drains. Yes I know it’s one of the most awful chores you can do but they need to get done for the health of your pipes. Faster draining sinks and tubs help keep the bathroom cleaner months after you do it.
In each room, I go in and I say “What haven’t I done in a while, what areas can make a big impact by doing a little extra work?” Here’s are a few other things that I do room to room that I think really helped change rooms look and does a lot to clean it on a little time.
Dusting isn’t one of my favorite things to do, but dusting really does change a lot visually especially if you have a lot of knickknacks and decor. And dusting can kind of be a big task but can clean up a room fast and be a relife of your allergies. You can wipe down ceiling fans, baseboards, smudges on the walls. Cleaning out catchall drawers is another big impact task.
In your bedroom and in the kitchen, there are a lot of cabinets and drawers. This is the time of year I take the opportunity to really go through and look at things and decide if they can go or if I should keep them.
Map it and Check it Off
The third thing I do is I take the time cleaning to actually ask myself if I need all of the stuff I have stored and hanging around. If I haven’t used it in a whole year, I first asked myself why that is. Is it because for the full past year I haven’t entertained a single soul at our house, so I don’t have any reason for my serving plates? I’ll keep those. But if there’s a slicer, dicer or chopper thingamajig that I really loved and used for a month and now I don’t use it all, that can go.
Forth thing I do is make a rough sketch of areas with a lot of drawers and cabinets that I have to go through. Give yourself some peace of mind by making a mini-map of all the cabinets and drawers on a notepad, and cross off drawers as you go through them.
If you don’t do things in one day, for example, in the kitchen you could list several of your cabinets and drawers, you want to go through and then give yourself a checkmark next to each as you go through them. It might take more than two hours in some of these rooms, depending on how much you want to get rid of and how much you want to clean, but this is a good way to help you keep track of where you’ve already been in the house so you don’t get frustrated trying to find the next place to clean.
If you don’t want to doodle out the space you can place a post-it on the outside of every cabinet and drawer you want to go through and clean out and as you finish it, you take the post-it off. That way you can visually see how far you’ve come and what places are left to finish!
And that’s how I do it, I look in each room, I look at what could really use the most TLC, and I get to it, and I try to do it in the two-three hour period when the time is up, I look around and I ask, “Do I feel good about the progress I’ve made?” Most of the time, it’s a resounding yes. But if for some reason I only made it through half the drawers in the kitchen or the junk drawer still needs to be emptied out I just give myself one more hour on the next day, and I move on.
Give with a Happy Heart
The biggest tip I have for a successful and less stressful spring cleaning is giving with a happy heart. Something to focus on when you’re going through your spring cleaning is how to donate happily. Donations are the foundations of lot of charities and can do a lot of good right in your community. Anything from clothes to kitchen appliances that you no longer use but are in great shape, are fair game. Most charities and organizations have a website where they outline exactly what they can accept.
The things you don’t use could be going to people who could be enjoying them. Cleaning out your cupboards and junk drawers can be really intimidating. If you go into it with a happy heart knowing that some of the stuff that you just don’t have a use for could improve someone else’s life might make it just a little bit easier to get through. I know one of the most intimidating things for me is going through my closet. It’s the bane of my existence. I honestly feel like clothes, as much as I love them, totally overwhelm me.
So how do I clean out my closet? With the same small steps and remember to have a happy heart. I’d dedicate one day and two hours to start. I write down all the drawers\ I want to pull out and go through. I check them off as I go and I go through them with a grateful heart for everything that the clothes have done for me so far. I put them in a bag for donations when they no longer serve me, reminding myself that they are going to be loved by someone else.
Learning to happily donate my items has changed how I feel about cleaning my house in general. If you look at it as a treasure hunt for someone else, it makes it a little easier. If you look at it as a way to find things to give with a full heart rather than just getting through spring cleaning might make it a little more fun than it was in the past years.
So if you’re like me and you feel the dread of spending days and days on end or multiple weekends just whittling away in your closet or stuck in a cabinet somewhere deep cleaning in the kitchen, then try this new approach. I’m not sure if anyone already cleans like this, with just a few hours over the weekend throughout the entire spring, but it has really changed how I feel about spring cleaning. I no longer dread it, I see it as an opportunity to really dig into the corners of my house, but in small manageable chunks of time. I also see it as an opportunity to give somebody else.
I hope that splitting this up, doesn’t make anyone feel like it’s a normal cleaning chore because, at the end of the four to five weeks, it takes me to go through this, my house is so cleaned out, it feels great. Outside of the day-to-day cleaning, it’s nice to look down and see that all the smudges off the walls and windows are gone, at least for the next couple of minutes if you have toddlers! Happy spring cleaning.