You might say that it’s a little optimistic to be thinking about Spring when it is only February. And while we’re all familiar with the TERM “Spring cleaning,” it’s not necessarily something all of us practice as a yearly ritual. But if you tend to get the winter blues, then a good Spring cleaning might be just the thing to pick you up. And no – it’s NOT too early to think about starting.
The first and without a shadow of a doubt most important part of a good, thorough Spring cleaning is DECLUTTERING. You’re moaning and rolling your eyes right now, aren’t you? Don’t lie. I’m a mother. I know. But this is EXACTLY why now is the perfect time to begin. There’s no point in trying to clean when there is no free surface area TO clean. Now is the perfect time, when there are days that all of you are stuck indoors because of cold or yucky weather, to start sorting. Start in a small area that will bring immediate gratification. Take out some garbage bags, go through drawers and closets, and remove clothes that don’t fit or you don’t wear any more. There are plenty of others who would greatly benefit from your donation, and it means a tax deduction for you, with or without a receipt. If your kids have friends who take a smaller size, ask if they’d like some of the clothes. If not, take a ride to the local Salvation Army, thrift store, or donation bins that are virtually everywhere, and make someone else’s day.
As for the non-clothes items, invest in some bins, and start a yard sale corner of the basement or garage. You will be amazed at how much better and freer you feel just by ridding your home of STUFF. And a planned yard sale can bring in extra money for something special . . . . like a family vacation! The less things you have around the house, the cleaner your house will automatically be. Agree that nothing that is in the yard sale pile will be returned to the house. Find an organization or local thrift store that will gladly haul away your yard sale leftovers, or bring them yourself. There are a couple of Unique thrift stores on Rt. 22, a Yellow Tag family Store in Watchung, and Mango in Linden, just to name a few in our area. Arrange ahead of time for them to show up at the exact time your yard sale ends, or agree to pack up whatever doesn’t sell right into your car and drive there immediately. That way, you know that everything will be gone at the end of the day.
Now that you have less stuff to clean, it’s not so overwhelming. Collect whatever odds and ends and pieces of décor that you can, bring them to the sink, and wash them gently as you would your dishes. Now the surface areas they were covering are bare, so you can clean them, too. Dust lightly, then invest in a gentle cleaner and dilute with a lot of water. Clean every surface with a safely diluted mixture. Shelves, furniture . . . . . even the walls and woodwork. Pay special attention to doors and areas around doorknobs that are often touched. You may find that wiping these areas down with a damp rag will eliminate the need you THOUGHT you had for repainting!
Wash windows. You’ll want to wait until winter is pretty much over for this one. Winter is an icky season, which leaves behind . . . . well . . . . ick. If you’re lucky enough to have newer windows that fold in, then you can wash them inside and out. Otherwise, break out the powerwasher for the outside! You will probably be shocked at the difference in the amount of light entering through your cleaned windows, and that in itself can do a lot to lift you from your winter blues. Take down the blinds, bring them outside, and wash them as well. Curtains get thrown into the washing machine. It is astounding how much dust collects on window treatments. Not only will cleaning them be healthier for everyone in the house, but it brings new life to your living space.
Wash floors, wash carpets. You can certainly hire a carpet cleaning company if you like, but you can also rent a carpet cleaner from the local supermarket. If you can vacuum, you can wash carpets. It is basically the same principal . . . just . . . . wet. And try not to gag when you see the blackened water after washing a section of the rug you thought you were so diligent about vacuuming and keeping relatively clean. Even for the best of housekeepers, carpeting holds a TON of mostly unseen and unnoticed dirt. You may be shocked to be reminded of what color your rugs used to be.
Take off all bedding, wash it, and renew it. That includes bedskirts, decorative pillow shams, and basically anything else that can be removed and thrown into the washing machine. This is a good time to flip mattresses, too.
Pay some attention to the small areas that are frequently neglected. Vacuum out the vents, and if you have old fashioned radiators, clean their entire surface. Remove the globes, coverings, and crystals of light fixtures and clean them at the sink, and enjoy how the light once again dances and reflects off of them! Vacuum the lint trap area of the dryer, and beneath the dryer and refrigerators if you can. Clean out the fridge. Not just throwing out the old, but cleaning the interior surfaces, as well. Pull out the crisper drawers and wash them at the sink. Clean out the bottom of the oven, and the tray under the toaster oven. That’s actually good for fire prevention, as well. Purchase some washing machine cleaner at the supermarket (it’s in the aisle with the laundry detergent) and run it through the washing machine. A winter of neglect can be very damaging to appliances, as well as psyches.
As these tasks are completed, you may be surprised at how much your spirits feel lifted. The house will look better, smell better, and be a happier, calmer place to be. You may find you enjoy it so much, you start taking on other little clean-up or clean-out projects. The jewelry box. The linen closet. Even . . . . (dare I say it?) . . . . the attic, basement, or garage debacle! OK – work up to that one. Start small, feel successful. Don’t be daunted. One clean corner breeds another. Spring is supposed to be a time of renewal. Wash away the dirt, and wash away the winter. Put a little “Spring” in your step as you walk through your newly cleaned home!