The Benefits of Spring Cleaning
Clean space, clear head — or so the saying goes. While some people might consider cleaning a drag, many find that they’re glad they set aside time to spruce up their home for spring. In addition to being able to find your keys again, there are many benefits of spring cleaning — from the material to the mental.
Cleaner air in your home: Removing dust and hair from hard surfaces and textiles in your home can drastically reduce irritants in the air. Say goodbye to sneezing (until allergy season starts!).
Less mess = less stress: Dedicated spots for frequently used objects can cut down on time spent frantically looking for these things. Plus, having clear surfaces (including the floor) can subconsciously lower stress levels.
Unwanted goods can find a new home: You may have perfectly usable items in your home that you simply don’t need anymore. Donate these items to clear space in your home while helping out someone else.
A clean space increases productivity: When you’re less distracted by mess, you free up space in your brain that’s needed to focus on other tasks, like work or online classes.
Cleaning is great exercise: Simply washing dishes by hand for a half hour can burn up to 300 calories! Just imagine what vacuuming can do…
A fresh start for spring: The season of new growth is the perfect time to freshen up your home. Cleaning and decluttering can also inspire new ways to keep your home mess-free.
Where to Start: A Spring Cleaning Checklist
Even thinking about starting to clean your home can cause stress. It helps to break the process down into easy, manageable steps, which can even be spread across several days. You can use this cleaning and decluttering checklist as your guide:
- Wash all linens and fabrics: towels, shower curtains, washcloths, dish towels, bedding, pillowcases, etc.
- Take a trash bag into each room and clear all trash and unnecessary items from surfaces and floors. Designate one bin/box per room for “maybe keep” items, to address later[MRL1] .
- Wipe down all surfaces that can collect dust: shelves, tabletops, fan blades, windowsills, etc.
- Wash all glass surfaces: windows, mirrors, tabletops, etc.
- Room by room, clear the floor of furniture and area rugs, then sweep, vacuum and mop.
- In the kitchen, clean all appliances one by one: fridge, coffeemaker, stove, sink, dishwasher, etc.
- In the bathroom(s), clean all areas one by one: shower, toilet, sink, etc.
- Once all surfaces and floors are clean, or while you’re waiting for laundry to dry, revisit that “maybe keep” box in each room.
- If you’re overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, plan to tackle one room per day – two if you’re feeling ambitious!
For more motivation when tackling cleaning projects, read Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” or check out one of the many TV shows devoted to the art of keeping a clean home (and while you’re at it, wipe down your TV).
Best Products for Spring Cleaning
To help you achieve the best grime-free shine in every room, we’ve rounded up our favorite cleaning products, along with suggestions for where to use them.
Method: This company’s affordable line of household cleaners can help you target dirt in every room. We recommend their specialty surface cleaners for ultra-shiny granite and marble countertops. Their hand soaps make quick work of grime too.
Swiffer: A crowd favorite for clean floors, their WetJet products make mopping a breeze.
Bissell: Your carpet will meet its match in a Bissell vacuum cleaner. These powerful machines are a go-to for pet owners.
Windex: The gold standard for streak-free windows and mirrors.
Seventh Generation: Made with the eco-conscious homeowner in mind, Seventh Generation is a planet-friendly choice for dish and laundry detergents.
Mrs. Meyers: While Mrs. M’s all-purpose cleaners can tackle mess with the best of them, their scents really set them apart. Countertops smelling like Basil or Iowa Pine? Yes, please.
You can also create your own grease-fighting countertop cleaner by following this simple recipe:
In a spray bottle, mix ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of water. Add 3 to 5 drops of dish soap (a little goes a long way!), and 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice (optional). Spray on your countertops, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
Best Decluttering Tips for Spring Cleaning
Lifestyle bloggers love a new cleaning hack — but some of these on-trend methods are more than just fads.
The four-box method. This strategy is fairly simple: Gather four large bins or boxes and label them “keep,” “store,” “donate” and “toss.” As you work your way through your home, place items into these boxes according to where you want them to end up. Be careful with the “store” box though — if you already struggle with holding on to unnecessary items, you may be tempted to put too many items in here.
The 12-12-12 challenge. Every time you clean a room, find twelve things you want to throw away, twelve things you want to donate and twelve things you want to put in storage. Notice there is no “keep” option here: This takes the focus is off the things you can’t bear to part with, and instead trains your mind on the things that you definitely don’t need in each room anymore.
Enlist a friend’s help. While this isn’t necessarily a ground-breaking solution, adding a second pair of hands can make cleaning projects go faster and feel much more manageable. Divvy up the rooms in your home and meet in the kitchen every hour to refuel on snacks or rotate cleaning products.
Declutter Your Home & Keep It That Way
So you’ve scoured your countertops and excavated your couch cushions — now what? Cleaning may be the first step, but organization will help you keep your newly sparkling home mess-free for much longer. Here are some of the best hacks for helping you stay uncluttered.
- Invest in drawer, cupboard and tabletop organizers. Companies like Ikea and The Container Store offer compact and stylish storage solutions. If you’re on a budget, you can find many attractive and affordable solutions at Target and Ocean State Job Lot.
- Set aside one day per month for cleaning. If you keep up with a regular cleaning schedule, you can avoid becoming overwhelmed by cleaning tasks. Start with the first Saturday of each month and go from there.
- Designate a bag or box for items to donate. Keep this donation container somewhere out of the way, like in a closet or mudroom. Add to it every time you come across something you don’t need anymore and make a monthly trip to your local donation center.
- Engage all members of your household. If everyone participates in cleaning projects, you can celebrate your success together when it’s all done. Even young children can help by setting aside extra or unused toys to donate.
- Make it fun! Pump up the music, keep some good snacks in the kitchen and order takeout for lunch. Come up with fun rewards for yourself and/or your whole household once the cleaning is done. If “cleaning day” becomes an enjoyable routine, it’ll feel less daunting each time you need to address it.
- Take a picture. Once a room is clean and organized, take a photo of it. When the next cleaning day rolls around, this photo will remind you and your housemates how each room should look at its cleanest.
- Give each item its own place. Have a designated place for items like keys, travel mugs, mail, sunglasses and shoes. If you make a habit of putting each object where it belongs, you will always know where to find it.
Donate Unwanted Goods After Spring Cleaning
Chances are, not every unwanted item in your home is done serving its purpose. Clothes, dishware and home décor that are still intact and usable can find new homes after yours. Check out this list of our favorite local donation centers in the Seacoast region; just be sure to check their websites for donation times.
Goodwill Industries, Portsmouth
The Salvation Army, Portsmouth
Local thrift or consignment shops: There are dozens of second-hand stores in our backyard (like Wonderland Thrift Shop in Exeter) that are happy to take donations. Explore this comprehensive list to find one that’s accepting today.
Planet Aid: You can find these yellow bins in the parking lots of many local grocery stores. Use the “Find a Bin” feature on their website to locate one near you.