You Need a Game Plan
These days, our homes provide more than just shelter—they're our havens from the world, our movie theaters, our work spaces, our gyms, and our schools. With all the activity at home, it can be tough to find time to do the deep cleaning and organizing that spring cleaning demands. To get you started, we’ve come up with a game plan that anyone can follow, with step-by-step hacks to make spring cleaning efficient, affordable, and refreshingly simple.
Step 1: Gather and Clean Your Tools
Shave considerable time and effort off your cleaning routine by taking a few minutes at the outset to prep and organize. Make sure you empty your vacuum cleaner's dust bin or bag, which will ensure a deeper, faster clean. Shake out brooms, and invest in microfiber cleaning cloths, which suck up both dust and wet messes. Put all your sprays, sponges, and rags in a bucket or caddy that you can tote from room to room.
Step 2: Choose the Right Products
Chemistry matters when it comes to cleaning products, and the right products will help you clean more efficiently. Acidic conditions require an alkaline cleaner, and vice versa. For residue from dirt, oils, and grease, which tend to be acidic, look for an alkaline product with a pH level between 7 and 14. When tackling alkaline issues, such as calcium deposits, rust stains, and other mineral buildup in bathrooms and kitchens, choose an acidic spray with a pH level below 7.
Step 3: Do Double Duty
Save time by cycling through your laundry while you're cleaning your home. First, strip beds and wash linens, towels, bath mats, and kitchen rugs. To get through the laundry as quickly as possible, set a timer on your phone, or even download a laundry app that will help you keep track of your loads. While you're downloading, take a look at the variety of apps designed to streamline housework and other home routines. You can even make your cleaning day more productive by checking out Task Rabbit and hiring someone to handle a few outdoor cleaning jobs.
Step 4: Divide and Conquer
Divide your home into “cleaning zones” for a fast, thorough refresh. Group areas with similar cleaning needs, and start with the most labor intensive—the kitchen and bathrooms, heavily trafficked hallways, entryways, and living spaces. Last of all, sweep out the garage and check the basement and attic for bugs, leaks, mold, and other concerns.
Step 5: Tackle Deeper Dirt
It’s time to vacuum behind the sofa, sweep under your bed, and wipe down the baseboards. In the kitchen, clean your fridge with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Move food from shelf to shelf, cleaning and replacing items as you go. This way you won't have to take everything out, which will save you time and energy.
Step 6: Transform Your Surfaces
Giving floors a thorough cleaning is time-consuming, but necessary. If you can, roll up area rugs, shake them out outside, and then vacuum. For hard surfaces, vacuum or dust mop before wet mopping—and if you have waxed wood floors, don't wet mop them at all! When you're done, try out a few of these seven unusual tricks for your cleanest floors ever—for instance, using a tennis ball to get rid of scuff marks.
Step 7: Declutter and Organize
To get paperwork under control, start by pulling out your phone. Take photos of sticky notes, business cards, paid bills, concert programs, and other paper items that you'd like a record of but don’t absolutely need to file away. Then recycle or repurpose this paper clutter. Before you go through closets and other storage spaces, check with your local Goodwill or thrift shop to find out what items they take and if they are currently accepting donations.
Step 8: Make Everything Shine
Finish up by making surfaces throughout your home shine. Make your own solution for cleaning windows and removing water stains and spots from mirrors by mixing one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water, and one tablespoon vinegar in a large spray bottle. To clean wooden furniture, rub in a little olive oil to lift dirt and condition the grain for long-lasting brilliance.
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