Spring is almost here, which means it’s time to dust off the cobwebs, see what’s growing under the kitchen sink, get rid of unwanted dirt in quiet corners, scrub the bathroom mould, chuck out all the tattered clothes…yadda, yadda, yadda. No, wait – spring cleaning doesn’t have to be as dreadful as it sounds. On the contrary, it IS possible to do a cathartic deep cleaning without hating every minute of it. Just follow these simple, smart suggestions.
Plan, Prepare, Prioritise
The key to making a dreadful job less stressful is to plan ahead. Prepare a cleaning plan/checklist (take your pick from these printables), set a convenient date that suits you as well as others involved in the process and commit to it. Remember, you don’t have to do it all in a day. Take it one day at a time, or maybe even one room at a time, and budget time for little breaks in between jobs to recharge and refuel. Prioritise chores that need to be tackled first – consider decluttering, organising, dusting, cleaning and mopping in that order, or work with a format that best suits your needs. If you intend to finish the entire spring cleaning in a day, consider fixing your meals/snacks ahead of time. “Cook dinner first or plan to order out,” says author, professional organiser and clutter coach Jamie Novak of Keep This, Toss That, so it won’t interrupt your spring cleaning schedule.
Stock Up, Organise Your Supplies
Refreshing and organising all your cleaning supplies beforehand will jump start the process and help you stay on track till the very end. So grab a bucket or caddy that you can tote from room to room, and fill it up with your supplies: all-purpose cleaning sprays, scrub brushes, microfibre dusting cloths, glass cleaner, sponges, extendable dusters, washcloths, a toothbrush, lint roller, squeegee, mop cloth and garbage bags. Hang rubber gloves over the rim of the bucket for easy access and drying between jobs.
Divide And Delegate, Or Hire Help
Nothing says you’re solely responsible for all the spring cleaning at home. So try and enlist help from all members of the family (yes, even the kids – some evidence suggests that having kids do chores is associated with positive character traits in later life), and delegate tasks according to each one’s capability or interest. Alternately, you can call in the professionals who’ll do a thorough cleaning job for a fee. So hire help if you can afford it, sit back in your armchair and relax with a drink.
Give Away What Doesn’t Bring Joy
Before you put on your cleaning overalls and get down and dirty, a good way to start is to bring out the junk, pile everything on the floor and sort it out according to category (e.g., books, clothes etc.). Then decide what needs to be tossed out.
In her New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Japanese lifestyle expert and decluttering diva Marie Kondo outlines a general rule of thumb in deciding what to save and what to toss. Ask yourself “Does the item spark joy in my life?” If you answered in the affirmative, it’s a keeper. For those possessions that no longer generate happiness, she advises that you acknowledge and appreciate their services and memories before donating or disposing of them. Ridding yourself of material clutter and tidying up your home in this manner will leave you feeling happy, lighter, relieved and like you’ve engaged in some good karma.
Learn New Shortcuts
Dreading and dodging spring cleaning because of the amount of time and elbow grease involved? Don’t despair. Thankfully, there are several genius ways to make the process easier, quicker and even lighter on your wallet, using high school chemistry, a little common sense and what’s already available at home. Do some digging online and look for trustworthy advice on intelligent and imaginative techniques, or “hacks”, for dusting, cleaning and organising every room in your house. Not only will you learn a new trick or two, the job will also be over before you know it.
Make It Entertaining
Keep your spirits high and mood elevated by indulging in some quality entertainment while you attend to your duties. It could be anything from watching your favourite TV show to grooving to some killer adrenalin-pumping beats while you clean, or maybe even listening to an audiobook that you haven’t had the opportunity to savour just yet. If it’s music, we recommend creating your own playlist comprising motivational songs and familiar sing-alongs, or using a ready-made spring cleaning playlist from the web (see Buzzfeed and NJ101.5 for inspiration). Turn up the volume on your system, give your imagination free rein, get your groove on and dance the dirt away.
Convert Chores Into Contests
Ask the experts, and they’ll reckon that when you treat a chore as a game, it becomes a LOT more enjoyable. So transform cleaning jobs into fun little contests and see how quickly things start getting ticked off your to-do list. For instance, if you’re working with kids, make a timed race out of organising drawers, picking up toys, sorting out clothes from cupboards and so on. The person with the most finished tasks within the time limit gets a special treat, or they get to indulge in their favourite craft and so forth. Try out the suggestions for all age groups at Collective Whim, Coffee With US 3, Toddler Approved and Mama in the Now. No kids? No problem. Adults can also challenge friends and/or family members into clean-offs with rewards and incentives for milestones achieved.
Turn Tasks Into A Workout
If you don’t already know, spring cleaning IS an incredibly effective way to add more physical activity to your routine, get your body moving and get fitter. The key is to add more steps, more movement and more speed (that’s right, more intensity) than what you’re typically used to. For specific tips and tricks to shed calories, stretch and tone muscles, as well as dos and don’ts, check out WebMD’s spring cleaning workout. Also worth seeing are cleaning workouts by Carolyn Barnes of Taskercise and aerobic house cleaner Stevie Markovich that demonstrate how to combine exercise with household chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, laundry and so on.
It’s definitely motivating and fun to work hard when there’s a reward waiting at the end of it. So set little goals or milestones and incentivise yourself for all achievements on your checklist. For example, you could treat yourself to an ice cream after you’ve organised your cupboard, or take a little home spa break after you’re finished cleaning the windows (see here and here for free, fun and frugal ways of rewarding yourself). Don’t forget to set a big reward at the very end – throw a party, maybe – it’s a huge motivator that’ll spur you to complete the entire task.
Bring In A Touch Of Spring
Finally, when you’re done with all the cleaning, organising and tidying up but still have some leftover time and energy, open out the windows and let in the fresh air, rejuvenate your home with natural, subtle spring scents, change the curtains, quilts, cushion and pillow covers to reflect the shades of the season, rearrange furniture and create floral displays on tables, shelves and in entryways with bright blooms and green sprigs. Then make time to celebrate all your hard work – you deserve it!