It has been warm enough that we have windows open during the day—on days when it doesn’t snow. Once the windows and doors are open, it’s time to clean. Spring cleaning, or thorough house cleaning, is a tradition in several cultures with new year or celebrations in the spring. In my family, we clean for Hogmanay (December 31st) as well as in the spring. Since my children and I just spent three full days cleaning our house, I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
List everything you need to do. I get my kids to help me. Usually, we write every major cleaning job on a post-it note and slap it on the wall. While we are cleaning, each of us chooses one note at a time and moves it to the active area. This year, we decided to save on notes. We wrote out the list on a spreadsheet on the laptop that followed us around playing very loud music while we worked. It worked fine, but I miss the quick visual of the colorful post-it notes.
Gather your tools. Make sure you have what you need before you start. Look at your list, look at your cleaning cupboard, and match up job to cleaning solutions, brushes, mops, cloths, and any other tools you have. Do you have what you need? If not, can you make what you need? If not, go shopping.
Nothing takes the wind out of your sails more than optimistically wiping a wall with a water only to find that hand prints just stay there. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned my house top to bottom. I cleaned walls that had far too much grime at a height suspiciously similar to my son’s height. This built up over time because I was refusing to buy cleaners. I was using water to wipe walls when I needed to cut dirty, greasy marks with a more serious cleaner. I finally bought a d-Limonene cleaner (d-Limonene is an extract from citrus rind that is used as solvent in cleaning products). Getting the walls clean was so easy. I can’t believe how long I stubbornly held out when all I needed was the right cleaner. So, learn from my lesson! Assemble the right tools so you don’t face frustration.
Schedule a block of time. Spending 15 minutes here and there isn’t spring cleaning. That is basic maintenance. You should do that, too, but give yourself enough time that you can get into the corners without the next thing on your list distracting you from finishing. Schedule at least 3 hours at a time for cleaning. It will take more than one 3-hour block to clean a whole house. Spread it out over a week or just do it over a weekend with short breaks. Whatever you do, don’t think you will get to it when you have time. You won’t. Schedule the time now.
Play music. This is essential! Music helps keep spirits up even when you are doing grimy jobs. We set up a playlist of dancing music, and it helps us keep moving. We take turns playing DJ. We also stop here and there to talk about the music and the history around it. When you homeschool, any moment can be a homeschooling moment. If you are asking your children to help, it’s important to keep them motivated. This pays off over time as they associate cleaning with fun.
Celebrate the finish. We were cleaning because we had house guests coming to spend spring break. Our celebration was a delicious dinner on the arrival of our guests. Throw a party. Invite friends over. Just have a special dinner in a room where you don’t usually eat. Make it memorable and unusual. Thank everyone for helping to keep the house clean and tidy.
Are you ready? You can do it! Spring cleaning is exhilarating.
A few articles you might like to read:
- My number one recommendation: keep up with the cleaning so you don’t need expensive cleaners.
“Save Money on Household Cleaning”
- Make your own solutions from what you have on hand.
“Scented Vinegar for Cleaning.”
- Use the right solution for each dirty job by understanding very basic pH.
- Don’t go crazy with high-tech disinfectants. “It’s like using a sledgehammer for a push pin.”