The term “spring cleaning” can be daunting. Remembering all the little items and spaces that need attention can be difficult. Use this outline to help you quickly get through the cleaning tasks you might otherwise avoid during the rest of the year. To stay organized, print a checklist.
Wipe Down the Cabinets and Drawers
Depending on what your cabinets are made of, choose a cleaner that will not damage the surface. (A multi-surface cleaner will likely work on all cabinet surfaces, but check with the manufacturer first, or test the cleaner first in an inconspicuous area.) With a cotton cloth or paper towel, wipe down the fronts and edges of all of your cabinets and drawers to remove the grime and food buildup from dirty fingers and cooking. Then, wipe down all the handles of your cabinets and drawers with a disinfectant cleaner.
Wipe Down Backsplashes
Hopefully your counters are cleaned on a daily basis in the kitchen, but people often neglect cleaning the backsplashes behind counters, which can be susceptible to splashes from mixing bowls and pots and pans on the stove top. Wipe the walls behind the counters with a cloth rag, paper towel or sponge and multipurpose cleaner to remove cooking grime and dirt.
Clean Out the Refrigerator
Use a disinfectant cleaner and and cloth rags or paper towels to wipe out the fridge from back to front. If your fridge shelves and produce bins are removable, take them out and clean them in the sink with dish soap. Make sure you wipe down the inside of the door and the walls, as well as the front of the fridge. Use disinfectant cleaner on the handle.
Tip: Place an open box of baking soda in the fridge to keep odors at bay. Replace it every 6 months.
This may include the toaster, microwave, coffee maker, blender or anything else that sits on your counter and is subject to daily use. Wipe evertything down with a cloth and multipurpose or disinfecting cleaning product. Remove the crumb tray from the toaster and empty that, run a pot of white vinegar through your coffee maker to clean the inside out and remove stains, and wipe down the inside of your microwave.
Tip: If your microwave has a lot of buildup inside, microwave one cup of water with a tablespoon of vinegar (in a microwave-safe container) for 5 minutes to loosen it up before wiping away.
Clean the Oven
If your oven doesn't have a self-cleaning setting (or you just hate the smell of it) use this cleaning technique to remove grease, spills and buildup. Mix 5 tablespoons of baking soda, 5 drops of dish soap and 4 tablespoons of vinegar into a paste and use a sponge to cover the inside of the oven with it. Close the oven door and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, cover half of a lemon with salt and dish soap, and use that to scrub (and scrub!) the paste into the oven. When all the buildup is disintegrated, wipe away the cleaning solution with a damp cloth or paper towels.
Clean the Dishwasher
Freshen up the dishwasher and remove buildup by placing a glass cup full of vinegar in the top rack and running it through a cycle with the hottest water possible. (Make sure there is nothing else in the dishwasher besides the cup of vinegar.) After the cycle is done, sprinkle a a cup of baking soda around the basin and run it through another cycle with the hottest water possible. This combination of baking soda and vinegar will remove stains and soap buildup.
Sweep and Mop
Sweep and mop the kitchen floor, taking care to get into the corners and underneath cabinet edges that may be neglected during regular cleanings. Pull out the fridge and clean the flooring area where it sets. Yes, this will be a pain, but the combination of collected dust and moisture from the fridge can actually damage your flooring, not to mention cause your refrigerator to run inefficiently.
Clean Around the Base of the Toilet
Wipe down the base of the toilet (where it meets the floor) with a sponge or cloth and disinfectant cleaner. Pay close attention to the sides, front, and area behind the toilet, which can get dusty and are often ignored during routine cleanings.
Wipe Down the Inside of Cabinets
Take all products out of the medicine cabinet, drawers and other storage spaces. Wipe down the surfaces with a damp sponge or cotton cloth and multipurpose cleaner. Put all items back neatly when the areas are dry. Also take this time to toss any expired products and reorganize your space with what's left over.
Deep Floor Cleaning
Pull all the furniture that sits on the floor away from the walls. This includes couches, coffee tables and any other furniture you can move. Sweep or vacuum underneath, or mop if you have tile. Put everything back and mop or vacuum one more time. You may want to rent a steamer from a grocery or hardware store to deep clean any carpeted areas.
Tip: Use a vacuum attachment to clean out the crevice between the wall's baseboards and the beginning of the carpet. This area is so small and confined that regular vacuuming can't reach the area.
Use a cotton cloth and a multi-surface spray to wipe down everything in your living room including electronics, knick-knacks, movies, books and shelves. Dust collects over time, especially in corners -- it’s time to get rid of it. Also remember to dust light fixtures, including ceiling fans. Dust collects easily on fan blades, especially over winter when you're less likely to turn the fan on. Dusting them will prevent the dirt from flinging into the air when you do start using it again.
Expert Tip: Use an old pillowcase to clean off ceiling fan blades. Slide each blade into the pillowcase and wipe off the dust with the inside of the pillowcase so all the debris and dust stays inside the case. Then, shake the pillowcase outside and wash as usual.
Give your couch and arm chairs a good vacuum with the upholstery attachment, removing the cushions to clean underneath them. Spot treat any stains the best you can, taking into account the material of your couch.
Clean Window Treatments
If you have curtains, wash them according to the manufacturer instructions on the tag and hang them when dry to prevent wrinkling.
To clean blinds, fill a bowl with hot water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Wipe each blind individually with a microfiber cloth that has been dipped into the cleaning solution. Always wipe blinds with a clean section of cloth so to not leave streaks.
Vacuum or Sweep
Sweep or vacuum as with the living room, moving furniture to clean underneath.
Wipe down all dressers, nightstands and knick-knacks with a multi-surface spray and cloth.
Clean Your Bed
Remove your mattress, bed skirt and box spring from your bed frame to wipe the frame down with a damp cloth. Also wipe down the wall and floor boards behind your bed. After removing the bedding from the mattress, make a solution of 1 cup baking soda and 4 drops essential oil, such as lavender. Use a kitchen strainer to sprinkle this mixture over the surface of the mattress. Let it sit for an hour and then vacuum up with the upholstery attachment. The baking soda will draw up dirt and deodorize while the essential oil leaves behind a fresh scent.
In all rooms and entryways, wipe baseboards with a cotton cloth that has been dipped into a multi-surface cleaner. Pay close attention to corners and high traffic areas that can be easily missed.
Tip: Wipe baseboards with a fabric softener sheet, which coats them to repel dust.
If you don't want to hire a professional window cleaner, this is a task you can accomplish yourself, at least for first story windows. If possible, remove the window pane and screen from the track and hose them down in the yard with a high powered spray. For a thorough cleaning, use dish soap and a sponge, rag or bristle brush for the screen. Let the screen and windows dry thoroughly in the yard before you insert them back into the window track. In the meantime, vacuum the frame out with an attachment and wipe out any visible dirt or grime from the track so the window can slide smoothly.
For windows that aren't removable, a solution of water and white vinegar works as an effective cleaner combined with a clean cloth to wipe it down.
Tip: You can also spray the windows with water and wipe down with crumpled newspaper for the most inexpensive clean, ever!
Take all your vent covers outside and spray them off with the hose on high power. Let them air dry outside before putting them back in the house.