It’s that time of year to start planning a good old-fashioned spring cleaning. But, if you’re doing it right, and you have other things going on in your life, this once a year deep clean could take weeks. The excitement of how fresh everything will look and smell quickly goes away after day 1. So, I’m going to give you a few tips so you never have to spring clean again. Sure, you will still have to wait for the weather to warm up some before opening windows to let some fresh air in, or clean the outside of those windows. If you do things a little differently throughout the year, though, 2017 could be the last year you ever spring clean. Sound good? Cool. Now let’s see how to make that work.
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The Basic Plan
The idea is pretty basic, and I will explain further as we get into this. If you do enough “regular” cleaning throughout the week, it frees up some time on your usual cleaning day (most people tell me this is weekly, so we’ll go with that), so you can do a few extras. When spring rolls around, you won’t have to do everything in the house that has to be done once a year, because it will all have been done within the last few months. That’s where some simple planning and rotation come in.
First, though, let’s see where you fit in that “regular” stuff during the day. I hear a lot of you screaming at this point that there is no way you have that much time to spare. I must have nothing to do all day but clean my house, right? Nope. I understand as much as anybody the challenge. I home school a 4-year-old, keep a 2-year-old from putting his fingers in light sockets – because he’s THAT kid, have a 4 & 6-year-old in addition to take care of, am working 40-50 hours a week on this blog right now trying to get it going, deal with now daily setbacks from a chronic condition – the list really keeps going. I get a few hours sleep a night, and remember with fondness the days I could get it all done smoothly. I can’t keep my house at all times like I used to, but I can still keep it in a state where I don’t have to do the spring overhaul. Why? Seven minutes. Let’s do some math. 7 x 365=2655. Divide that by 60 minutes = a little over 42.5. Divide that into 8 hour shifts, assuming you were going to spring clean that many hours straight for days on end. It’s over 5 days worth of cleaning.
That seven minutes doesn’t even have to be all at once. Here are my tips for fitting it all in here and there.
Have wiping cloths or towels handy in or near the bathroom. After you brush your teeth, or wash your hands, just wipe up the sink. Every few days, just wipe off some of the toilet. Keeping the bathroom/s in a cleaner maintenance mode will make cleaning day so much easier without having to scrub anything, you can take the extra 5 minutes you save and wipe a couple of shelves in the medicine cabinet, throwing old products out as you go. You can wipe up a shelving area, or exposed pipe behind a pedestal lav, or behind the toilet. The shower area in a full bath could always use some extra attention. Keep rotating these things with the few minutes you’ve saved, and that is one less (or 2-3) rooms to spring clean.
Wipe up something extra in the kitchen during clean-up from one meal a day. You could rotate them like this: Wipe insides and fronts of 2 cabinets, wipe out fridge (this would be after you’ve done this year’s spring cleaning maintenance mode becomes easy just wiping off a shelf here and there),wipe outside of large appliances, wipe whole counter – meaning move things to wipe under, wipe small appliances on counter. You can also wipe out just one section of your utensil tray before unloading the dishwasher a couple of times a week. That thing gets weirdly funky for a spot that stores clean dishes! Keeping these things in the rotation will now save you from giving the kitchen a spring clean.
Vacuuming and floors. Let me tell you about my life saver. It’s the right vacuum. I have tried so many over the years, always spending a little extra for the pet version. The one I have now is the most I’ve ever spent. But, it’s lasted at least twice as long as the others so far, so I’m already coming out ahead. Check out all their options HERE. This vac does my area rugs and laminate floors, and my favorite feature on it is the easy to remove wand. Every day when I do the high traffic areas in the house, I pull out the wand before leaving the room and get corners, and run it along the tops of baseboards. It’s an extra 2 minutes for the main areas. So, you can check cleaning baseboards off of your list,too! It also lifts off to carry a lighter part, so cleaning stairs is super easy. The most impressive thing about this vac,though, is it’s pick-up. We don’t wear shoes in the house – which, by the way, is a huge tip because of how much cleaning time it saves. Anyway, even with no shoes and vacuuming every day, when I got my new toy I went over our family room rug and was horrified at how much dirt was sucked up into the canister. Gross! Having a machine like this makes it so easy to get the job done, it makes it pretty simple to rotate moving pieces of furniture out to sweep under. That’s another thing that can consume a lot of time when spring cleaning.
As long as we’re talking floors, here’s my other thing I can’t live without. I used to mop our laminate with a swiffer wet-jet. The supplies get very expensive to keep on hand.though. This has a removable pad that you throw in the wash, manual trigger for the spray so you don’t need any batteries, and you fill it with whatever cleaner you want. If you need a special hardwood cleaner, or have your own special concoctions or all natural products, you can put those in it. I love this thing! HERE is a link to see options, but you can also usually find these at the grocery store for under $20.
Dusting. If you make some of the extras part of your routine, it only adds on a minute per room, but will keep things clean enough that you don’t have to scrub once a year. These extras are things like ceiling fans and air returns, or one shelf at a time with books and decor. I even go over the walls every once in a while so they don’t get a big build up of dirt. I’ve tried so many different options over the years, and the swiffer duster is the one for me.
Laundry. Once a month, throw a room’s linens into your laundry loads for the week. By keeping up with window treatments, throw blankets, bedding, fabric shower curtains, all in an every few months rotation, you don’t have to do them all at once.
Keeping it Straightened Up
Know your “dump spots” and accommodate. Every house has the spot or 2 where everything gets dumped. Find ways to accommodate that. It’s frustrating to have limited time on cleaning day, and then realize you’re not going to get it done because most of your time was spent straightening instead of cleaning. I’ll go into some organizational solutions that I use to keep the dump spots taken care of in a later post. For now, just find a way to contain. For instance, if everyone throws the mail and schoolwork on a certain table, put a stacking tray system nearby and have the things sorted there until you can get to them. HERE is an option that won’t look too office-y (my own new word – no applause please). I do realize that not everyone in the family will put it where it needs to go, but all it takes is one person to make sure that day’s onslaught is contained. One day’s worth is a lot easier than a week’s!
Putting It All Together
Try to never leave a room without taking something with you. If you’re walking to the kitchen anyway, you might as well take that cup in with you. This is straightening time that really adds up.
When you see all of these things have left you with a few extra moments on cleaning day, make the most of it. Straighten a closet, or clean out the ledge on a window. Wipe the parts of walls that the kids get grimy, or around handles on doors where it’s always darker than the rest.
Get Rid of It!
Lastly, keep a box or bag for donations in a closet or basement, so you can stick things in there as soon as you decide you don’t need them. Most areas have a charity that will even come pick the stuff up from you if you call and set it on your porch. Less stuff to clean around is always good!
This is all really just a detailed version of a clean-as-you-go plan. I hope that by breaking it down into what you can get done in an extra few minutes, will help you come up with your own plan. That way, next year, instead of spring cleaning you can relax and read a bunch of my blog posts instead. 😛
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