Spring Cleaning?

March is the month credited with heralding in the spring. And, with the coming of this flowery season, comes the famous chore of spring cleaning. Does the mention of spring cleaning make you feel like singing the blues? While I won't pretend to have a great trick up my sleave for making cleaning a snap, I do have a few hints on how to lighten the load and make the chores you do have to complete a little easier.

One of the best ways to keep your work load managable is scheduling your chores according to layers. I generally try to clean my home in four layers. Each layer includes chores that are increasingly involved, yet need to be done less often. Cleaning in layers allows you to plan your cleaning schedule carefully and keep the amount of work you need to complete when spring cleaning comes around to a minimum.

The first cleaning "layer" includes everyday jobs like washing dishes, feeding your pets, taking out the garbage, picking up any clutter, making the beds, and sweeping the kitchen floor. If these jobs are done on a daily basis, it should take no more than 20 minutes for a 2 bedroom home. You will probably take less time if you have a dishwasher.

The second cleaning "layer" includes cleaning tasks like watering your household plants, wiping down your bathroom(s), vacuuming, and dusting the furniture. Depending on what types of plants you have, how much use your bathroom(s) see, how much traffic your home gets, and the amount of dust that gathers in your home, these tasks should be completed once or twice a week.

The third cleaning "layer" is your once-a-week deep cleaning. This task should take several hours (or you could split it up among your everyday tasks). Some of the things you should include in this layer are: changing the linens, polishing the furniture, scrubbing the floors, and cleaning the refrigerator. Depending on the amount of laundrey your household produces, you may want to include doing the laundrey among your third cleaning tasks.

The fourth cleaning "layer" includes all of your special cleaning projects. All households need to have the following tasks on their fourth layer list: cleaning screens and storm windows, laundering summer or winter blankets, waxing floors, washing woodwork, cleaning carpets, and cleaning your oven. You might also want to include cleaning and polishing silver and defrosting a refrigerator.

Remember, don't clean because it's time to clean; clean things because they are dirty! If you find that your home isn't too dusty when you plan to dust, enjoy the extra time. If you have a friend you haven't written a letter to for a long time, here's your chance.

Do you have those items that you absolutely dread cleaning because they seem so time-consuming and difficult? Here are a couple of tips about some of my own least-favorite tasks and how to make them a little less difficult:

  • Clean that nasty shower door or curtain with a mixture of 1 part distilled white vinegar and 4 parts warm water. An open window will help let it dry nicely.
  • Make your silk flower arrangements new again by carefully blow-drying them on low. Any remaining dust can be removed by brushing them away with a clean artist's paintbrush.
  • To remove stains from your sink, fill it with warm water and add a few ounces of bleach. Let it sit for about an hour and wipe the sink clean after you drain it.
  • After all your cleaning is done, make sure your sponges are all cleaned by including them in your next dishwasher load in the top rack.
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I have to offer for you this spring has to do with what you do after the work is done. Make sure you take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. Whether it be dressing up and going out for a night on the town or ordering take-out and relaxing in your clean home, help yourself to a well-deserved rest.