Welcome to your Super Sweet Spring Cleaning and Decluttering Extravaganza Guide 2021. That’s not an official title. We just made it up because it sounded cool. The truth is that when most people start thinking seriously about spring cleaning, they’re not feeling very magical. Lacking motivation, they’re wondering how to get out of it and who they can convince to do it for them.
You, dear reader, however, are not most people.
You’re here for a distinct reason. You are taking your first steps toward a cleaner, uncluttered tomorrow. You have realized that spring has sprung, and you’re ready to get the jump on revitalizing your living space back into tip-top condition. If you’re still wondering, “When should I start?” just remember, there’s no time like the present.
First, strategize to declutter.
Before we drop all these terrific tips, we highly recommend that you get your strategy in place, and any good spring-cleaning strategy begins with ditching the clutter. There are plenty of ways to do this, but what works best for us is sorting.
First, decide on a few categories for stuff, and then work your way through your house room by room. These categories are typically things like trash, donations, recyclables, gifts and keepers. From there it’s pretty simple.
Your goal is to get rid of clutter, so grab a few big boxes, bags or storage bins, label one for each of your categories, and get to sorting. Once you’ve hit every room, you probably have several containers that need to either leave your home or be redistributed into their proper places, so drop off those donations, mail off those gifts, trash that junk, recycle those recyclables and put away those keepers wherever they belong. Feel better? You’ve just completed a huge first step toward achieving spring-cleaning success.
Next, freshen things up.
Now you’re starting to get into the nitty of the gritty, but before you embark on any deep-cleaning of anything, it makes sense to freshen things up a bit.
Open your windows and get some fresh air coming in. Ahh, what a relief. Time to start plowing through the usual suspects, and don’t worry, Kevin Spacey is not involved in this. By the usual suspects, we’re referring to those longstanding standards of spring cleaning, like deep-cleaning your mattress and all your bedding, washing both sides of all your windows, wiping down blinds and cleaning window treatments and upholstery. Don’t forget cleaning under and around appliances and furniture and deep-cleaning the fridge, the stove, the dishwasher and the washer and dryer.
After you’ve got most of this out of the way, you’re probably about ready for the rest of those usual suspects: the sweeping, dusting, mopping, vacuuming and scrubbing you’ve hopefully been doing all year. It’s up next.
Keep these ideas in mind.
A few additional considerations we’d like to point out before unveiling all our magical tips and tricks include teamwork. Unless you live by yourself, you shouldn’t have to go it alone. Enlist your fellow household dwellers to help you out and do their share. Even the kids should have a stake in these efforts that benefit the whole household.
Make it a party! Get some pizzas or takeout and crank out some jams. If everyone pitches in, it could even be fun.
Also, you probably need far fewer cleaning products than you think. You can clean just about anything with vinegar, baking soda, lemon and salt. If you add borax, hydrogen peroxide and maybe a little vodka, you’re golden. Finally, before you get started, think about how you could incorporate any of these spring cleaning tips into your regular cleaning routine. If you do all of them more often throughout the year, you’ll make your annual spring cleaning routine a lot easier.
Now that you’ve strategized and freshened up, you’re almost fully prepped and into that magical mindset for creative cleaning. Are you really ready? We think you are. Let’s do this.
7 unique combos for spring cleaning
1. Lemon, vinegar and baking soda
The citric acid in lemons is a highly effective, affordable and natural (if underutilized) cleaning agent. Have you ever tried rubbing half a lemon on your faucets to remove water stains, inside your microwave to attack baked-on gunk or even on stainless steel or copper cookware to bring back the shine? Add a little salt for scouring, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
As you probably know, vinegar is perhaps the grand champion of natural home cleaning, with more uses than we will try to list here. But did you know that it is a great way to clean the mineral deposits from your showerhead? Simply fill a plastic sandwich bag with white vinegar, immerse the showerhead inside the bag and attach the bag to the pipe with a rubber band. Leave it overnight, remove it, run the shower for a minute to clear, and you’re good to go — likely with improved pressure and waterflow, not to mention a sparkly clean showerhead that looks like new.
With a long list of uses, baking soda is another heavy lifter when it comes to cleaning, but did you know that it’s tough to beat when your sinks and bathrooms need a scrub? If you need extra scouring power, just add a little salt, and you might just be amazed.
2. Newspapers, cream of tartar and onions
Even if you don’t subscribe to print newspapers anymore and read them on smartphones instead, you probably have some newsprint lying around. Maybe it’s junk mail, packing material or Grandpa’s old collection of funny papers. Either way, if you have some of this thin, inky paper, you have a great way to clean windows without leaving streaks or wasting paper towels. You don’t even have to buy any special cleaners. Just mix a quarter-cup of white vinegar with a couple teaspoons of liquid soap and two cups of water, then spray and scrub with the newsprint, and you’ll arrive promptly in sparkle city.
Wondering what to do with that cream of tartar that’s been languishing in the back of your spice cabinet? Here’s your answer: Mix a spoonful of it with water until you have a paste-like consistency. You can massage this paste into anything stainless steel – from appliances to flatware – and then wipe it away with a clean, dry cloth for a one-way ticket to shiny town.
Ah, the humble onion. Not necessarily known for its ability to clean, right? The thing is, it’s naturally acidic and conveniently shaped, therefore making it the perfect tool for cleaning your barbeque grill before your first spring cookout. Once the grill is warm, spray the grates with a little vinegar to help loosen any remaining old gunk. Nex, scrub the grates with half an onion, and before you know it, you’ll have a surface primed and ready for cooking.
3. Coffee filters, butter knives and old socks
You’ve never considered cleaning a screen (like the one on your TV, monitor, laptop, tablet or phone) with a coffee filter, right? The gentle fibers in coffee filters are perfect for clearing away dust and fingerprints, but be sure to use a soft touch to avoid scratching or otherwise marring the surface.
Speaking of annoying dust buildup, you’ve probably never thought to wrap a butter knife in a cleaning cloth to clean out the gaps in your AC vents, have you? This is a great habit to get into when you change your AC filters, approximately every three months, depending on whether you have carpets and pets.
While we’re still on that dust subject, have you ever considered using a pair of old socks to clean? Instead of throwing them out or donating them with other clothes (maybe donating your old socks isn’t the best idea anyway), make sure they’re clean and wear them over your hands as you dust. Cotton socks are great for dust wrangling, and instead of just spreading it all over the place as you might with a feather duster, you’ll have more control.
4. Velcro, dryer sheets and cotton swabs
Ever get tired of keeping up with all your remotes? If your TV stand has doors on the front, like a cabinet, a great way to reduce clutter and keep them organized is to simply attach your remotes inside the cabinet doors with a couple strips of Velcro. There are also myriad uses for the stuff in closets, whether you’re affixing drawers to shelves or just want to keep things in place.
Dryer sheets are helpful if you need a way to remove the remnants of past meals from the surface of your range. Once food is burned onto your stove, a wet dryer sheet soaking on top of the stain for 20 minutes can make removing that old gunk a lot easier.
If your computer keyboard is gross (and let’s face it, it probably is, whether you realize it or not), start with a can of compressed air to blow out all the loose particles. Then clean between keys and in crevices with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove stubborn gunk and kill germs.
5. Turntables, squeegees and dividers
Whether you’re spinning vinyl or Aunt Clara’s gravy boat, a turntable (or a lazy Susan) isn’t just for listening to records (or passing the gravy). If you have an extra of either of these, you can use them for storage in closets, kitchen cabinets or on garage shelves. Anywhere you’re trying to keep track of a bunch of things (nuts and bolts, herbs and spices, etc.) that are easy to misplace, having them all accessible via rotation in one spot can help you stamp out that clutter.
Until we heard about it from a friend, the thought of pulling out pet hair from carpets and rugs with a squeegee that we’d normally use for car windows had not occurred to us, but it works! Drag it across the floor, removing hair as you go, and finish the effort with a vacuum.
When we say dividers, we’re talking closet organizers, which we’ve barely touched on, but the possibilities are endless for getting better organized and saving space. One way to do this is to divide clothes in your closet with category cards you hang between them on the clothing rod for faster, at-a-glance selection.
6. Shower rings, hooks and vertical space savers
While we’re on the topic, an excellent space-saving trick in your closet – one that also frees up extra hanger space – is to use shower rings to hang scarfs, ties, belts and any other accessories that don’t really need a whole hanger.
Ah, the power of hooks. Never underestimate the amount of space you can save anywhere in your home by simply hanging hooks on the wall or even from the ceiling. Hooks come in every conceivable shape and size, perfect for hats, bags, jewelry, belts, watches, purses, tools, bicycles, hoses, power cords and more – even your laundry bag!
Now that we’ve touched on closets, albeit briefly, we want to take this opportunity to encourage you to invest in some sort of closet organizing system. These vertical space-saving systems are a great way to free up space and get organized, not to mention the opportunity you now have to use that brand-new collection of hooks.
7. Shoe shelves, can tabs and closet drawers
Who doesn’t need a good shoe shelf? Especially if you have more than a few pairs of shoes, you’ll want to avoid cluttered piles of them or their boxes. Just like a good bookshelf, a shoe shelf gets the job done and is a nice way to display your collection, even if you’re the only one who sees it on a regular basis. You can organize them any way you like. Just build or buy a shelf and thank us later.
How about another cool closet trick? If you’re still finding yourself short on hangers, why not double up? The tiny, lightweight aluminum pull tabs on cans of soft drinks and beer (and sometimes wine) are a perfect way to double up your hangers and extend their storage capacity. Simply thread the tab over the hanger, and then hang a second hanger from the other end of the small tab. This works especially well when you’re pairing separate parts of the same outfit.
Closet…drawers? Yes, if your old closet (or new closet-organizing system) lacks drawers, you can make your own or buy some to add to your closet. The more possibilities you have to get your wardrobe organized, the less clutter you’ll have and the more positive impact of your own efforts at deep spring cleaning, decluttering and reorganizing you’ll feel.
Still feeling inspired? If you’d like, feel free to read about the life hacks we wish we’d known sooner on our spring cleaning checklist or about our survey of American cleaning and decluttering habits while stuck at home during the pandemic, how we’ve elected to spring forward with this home maintenance checklist or some great tips for sustainable spring cleaning 101. For even more excellent inspiration, follow us on Instagram.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.