Spring is here! The weather is gorgeous and it’s time to open the windows and start that spring cleaning. But where to start? What needs to be done? If you’re not sure exactly what needs to be cleaned, we’ve got the checklist just for you.
Throughout the House
- Vacuum/Wipe Down Walls and Ceilings: Start by vacuuming with the upholstery wand to remove as much loose dirt and dust as possible. Follow this with a soft cloth and soapy water to clean really dirty areas. (Squeeze out the cloth each time so it’s only damp, not dripping.)
- Furniture: Vacuum and clean upholstered items and polish wooden items. Remove all dust on furniture and treat any problem areas (tears, nicks/scratches, rust spots, loose parts, etc.) It’s also a good idea to move the couch out so you can vacuum behind/underneath it.
- Dust: Choose a quality duster that will trap and remove the dust (ex: microfiber cloth) rather than just spread it around. Dust all surfaces of your home including shelves, knickknacks, lamp shades, door trim, window casings, the tops of picture frames, and ceiling fans.
- Air Vents: Clean these yourself (here’s a guide on how) or have them professionally cleaned.
- Baseboards: Dust and wipe down baseboards.
- Vacuum: Vacuum everywhere, including all floors and other areas that can quickly be dusted/cleaned with vacuum attachments. Don’t forget to vacuum behind doors that often remain open and underneath items that can’t be moved, such as beds. Do this after dusting the other areas of your home so any loose dust that fell to the floor is picked up.
- Shampoo Carpets and Rugs: Pretreat stained areas and then clean the entire area with a quality rug steam cleaner. These are available to rent from a variety of stores; call your local hardware store or visit the RugDoctor website for some suggestions in your area. If you have valuable/antique rugs, consult a professional before cleaning.
- Windows: Clean the windows inside and out. Grab a friend or spouse to help make the job go quicker. If you need help picking a good window cleaner to buy, check out our guide 12 Natural Glass Cleaners Put to the Test. Once clean, open the windows to be sure they are in good working order and to air out the house for a couple hours while you clean. Check that all screens are secure and patch any holes you find.
- Drapes/Blinds/Window Treatments: Clean the drapes and blinds. If heavy winter drapes are used, remove, clean and store them. Replace with lighter warm weather window treatments.
- Defrost and clean out the freezer: For more info, see our guide How to Clean a Freezer.
- Refrigerator Coils: Pull out the refrigerator and clean the coils. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator first to avoid any shocks. The coils are usually at the bottom under the grill or in the back. Simply vacuum away any dust or dirt buildup with a vacuum wand.
- Refrigerator: Remove all contents, throw out any suspicious condiments, and wipe down all shelves. Wash the drawers if needed, but be sure to fully dry them before replacing them in the fridge.
- Pantry: Go through the pantry and check all expiration dates, especially those on items that are used for a long time like spices.
- Wooden Cabinets: Keep your wooden cabinets looking great by cleaning them with equal parts white vinegar and water with a teaspoon of olive oil mixed in. The oil is especially important to keep the wood supple. Use a soft cloth to wipe them with the cleaner. For added shine and deep conditioning, wipe them with plain olive oil a little olive oil on a cloth, then use a dry cloth to remove any excess oil from the surface.
- Trash Cans: Wash out and sanitize your trash cans to keep them smelling fresh during the winter months.
- Oven/Stove Cleaning: In addition to cleaning the inside of the oven, look at the exhaust vents. Clean the grease traps and vents as well. Pull the oven out and clean behind the unit to remove excess dust and debris that has dropped/dripped down over the months.
- Drains: Remove buildup and odor-causing growth with a quality drain cleaner. There are also a variety of chemical-free options, such as baking soda and vinegar (sprikle a generous amount of baking soda down the drain, then pour in some white vinegar), or simply pour some boiling water down (a teapot works well for this).
- Check Expiration Dates: Sort through cosmetics and prescriptions, and discard all expired products. Many products have a symbol that looks like an open can of tuna with a number next to it (usually either a 6 or 12). This symbol tells you how long a product can remain on your shelf after is has been opened (the number equals months, e.g. 6 months, 12 months, etc.). Use that symbol as additional criteria for determining which products stay.
- Check Grout in Tile: The grout in tile can wear and become porous. Regrout areas that are weak or damaged. This is very easy to do. Simply pick up a box of grout powder in a matching color from your local hardware store, mix a little with some water in a bowl to make a thick paste, then wipe the grout over the lines. Wipe a damp cloth over the line or surrounding tile afterwards to remove any excess, then allow the grout to dry. This also works well for covering any stains on the grout that are tough to remove.
- Flip the Mattress: To keep even wear on your mattress, it’s wise to flip it periodically. Spring cleaning is the perfect time!
- Swap the Bedding: Now that warmer temperatures are here, remove the flannel sheets and heavy blankets, wash them and store them. Replace them with lighter, warm weather bedding.
- Pillows: With use, pillows can house bacteria and mold. If your pillows are machine washable, wash them and dry them completely. If they’re not washable, leaving them out in the sun for a day is a good way to freshen them and kill bacteria. Be sure to flip them so both sides get sun.
- Clean out Drawers and Closets: Remove every item and put it into one of three piles: discard, donate, and keep. Any winter clothing that was not worn this year is a prime candidate for donation. Move cold weather clothing to the back/sides of closets and put warm weather clothing in the front.
- Smoke Detectors/Alarms: Replace batteries in all smoke detector units.
- Organize Files: Use this time to check policy dates and get rid of excess paperwork. Scan and store important documents on your computer to save space.
- Book Shelves: Vacuum the tops of the books first with the wand, then wipe down any exposed shelf area. Consider donating any books you have not picked up or thought about in the last couple years.
- Utensils: Test all pens, highlighters, and other writing utensils to be sure they work. Replace any items that are found defective as soon as possible so you have them when needed.
- Computer: Dust your keyboard, mouse laser, and speakers with a paintbrush or compressed air. Check that all CPU fans are clear of dust as well and clean as needed (do not vacuum them!). Here is a guide to help.
- Mousepad: Wash your mousepad with some soapy water, then hang it to dry. Be sure it has fully dried before putting it back on your desk.
- Outdoor Trash Cans: Wash out and disinfect trash cans to keep odors and pests away.
- Furnace Filters: Time to replace or clean the filter for your furnace. This is also important to keep your furnace running efficiently.
- Minimize: Sort through boxes of stored items and clothing. Donate, sell or trash items as appropriate.
- Sort and Organize: Use bins or boxes to keep like items together in an organized fashion so you can find them easily. Where possible, always label the boxes with details of what’s inside. To prevent writing directly on the plastic bin, put several lines of masking tape on the side to write on instead.
- Safety: Keep all appliances raised up off the floor to prevent any electrical problems should there be water in the basement.
- Light Fixtures: Check for burnt out bulbs, broken fixtures or damaged wires. Replace and repair as needed.
- Outdoor Furniture: Bring your outdoor furniture out of storage and clean it well so it’s ready for that first spring BBQ.
- Walkways: Clean all decks and walkways to remove any mildew that may have developed.
- Porch: Sweep away any cobwebs or nests. Wash down the walls.
- Siding: Clean any areas of the siding that are weathered or stained.
- Gutters: Check that gutters are free of any leaves or debris so they can take on the April showers without issue.
- Washing Machine: Clean out your washing machine. Here is a guide to help.
- Dryer: Vacuum out the lint trap the dryer and if you use dryer sheets, wash the lint screen thoroughly to remove residue. Clean the vents and exhaust as well, which is especially important to prevent a fire. Here is a guide to help with cleaning the dryer vent.
Excellent post about spring cleaning. One thing many people don’t do is check expiration dates of cosmetics. We threw away three full bags the other week, so great tip there!
I never realized there was so much to spring clean. I cleaned my house for the spring, then saw this article. Needless to say, I have a ton more work ahead of me. Great article!
Any tips for fall cleaning?
FlyLady and Martha Stewart have pretty exhaustive lists as well; check them out. I also customize my lists for my needs–I have pets, which pose additional challenges; their items must be cleaned too. Exercise equipment should be cleaned and maintained and artificial flowers should be wiped down too. My objective in spring cleaning is to clean everything that I do not normally clean during regular cleaning forays.
I clean all dishes and glasses in the dishwasher. Wipe down all kitchen cabinets. Take out all linens to clean and reorganize from winter/summer/fall. It’s festive and makes each season a holiday in spirit.
This was an excellent spring tip. This is a perfect guideline for anyone getting started. I will share this with friends. :,)
Put coffee grounds down your food garbage disposal, let set for 3 minutes, then add lemon or lemon rinds. Keeps the disposal and home smelling great.
To help remove odors, pour a cup full of vinegar and let it set, overnight or longer, in whatever area needed. This is good for using anywhere or place you need to deodorize–sinks, basements, children’s closets (sneakers)…
Excellent article; definitely household chores I hadn’t thought of and I thought I had most spring cleaning covered.
Pretty impressive list and tips. And that will consume almost all of your spring time!