June 6, 2014
Oh my, is that a rodent in the corner? No … just a gigantic dust ball. They seem to be everywhere this time of year, and the need to clean is pressing on your conscience. It may feel like summer, but it's not too late for a spring cleaning, time to open the windows, let your home breathe and clear out the winter grime.
The only thing is, how are you supposed to find time for a thorough round of spring cleaning? You've already got a full plate. The good news is that you don't have to do it all at once.
"Deep cleaning takes time. It takes hours. I'd say you need 15 to 20 hours to thoroughly, deeply clean a 1,500 square foot home," says Tim Szurgot, (aka Captain Vacuum) founder and operator of Organic Housekeepers. "I don't want to blow a whole beautiful spring day inside cleaning. It's best to stay on top of it all the time and chip away."
Remove your shoes
While spring is historically the most popular time for your big clean out and clear out, in the mountains, homes typically get dustier in the summer when windows are open and pollen is blowing in. During winter, there is still a substantial build up of cave-like grime, not to mention the potential mess that comes with clopping in and out of the house with wet, muddy feet.
"The best way to keep your house clean is to take your shoes off," Szurgot says. "Even if it's not muddy footprints, you have no idea how many pollutants, chemicals, dirt and oils you put in your floor and carpet by wearing shoes in the house. Get a pair of slippers or house shoes. In the winter, it's a different kind of dust that builds in the house — it's more like a hairball versus the environmental dust that comes in the summer. The entryway of the home is one of the first things to clean in the spring — the place where the shoes and jackets are. That area gets dirtier than any other in the winter and the dirt that piles up there comes into the rest of the house."
Do one room at a time, keep products handy
It's not a bad idea to make a list of areas of the home that need cleaning and rather than tackling them all at once, hit them individually when you have a window of time, making sure to have the necessary cleaning supplies close at hand.
"I like to have all of my cleaning products under the sink. If I'm in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I notice, 'Oh, the sink's dirty.' Boom, I can clean it right then. I like to clean the shower when I'm in the shower. Having rags around with white distilled vinegar, if I look up at the exhaust fan, I can reach up and wipe it down."
If you are at a loss to come up with a thorough roundup of what needs cleaning this spring, Organic Housekeepers' Website has a deep cleaning checklist isolating cleaning specifics areas of the home. Beyond vacuuming, dusting, cleaning toilet bowls, etc., deep cleaning involves general duties such as vacuuming furniture, fireplaces and window treatments, actually moving furniture and appliances to clean behind them, wiping down picture frames and glass, cleaning light fixtures, wiping down walls and treating leather furniture.
Time in the kitchen
For a thorough clean, the kitchen is the area of the house where you can expect to spend the most time, considering the elbow grease involved in cleaning the oven and stove, removing all dishes and kitchen ware from cabinets to clean each piece and wipe down drawers and cabinet interiors. As a rule of thumb — especially if you're busy — it's best not to leave it until the massive spring clean to tackle some of the kitchen upkeep.
"A tiny kitchen takes about 10 hours to get everything clean," Szurgot says. "You don't want to wait until once a year or twice a year to clean behind your fridge or your oven."
Capitalizing on closets
During the wardrobe and equipment transition that inevitably takes place in the spring time — something you will obviously find time to do regardless of how busy you are unless you plan to stare at your skis all summer or run around in wooly boots in July — there is prime opportunity to clean those oft-forgotten storage spaces where bikes and bikinis are kept.
"Putting the ski gear away and pulling out the bike gear, moving all that stuff — it's a good time to clean. The garage, too, is another place that needs cleaning. Over the winter, it's gathering up all the mag chloride, you're dragging all of that through the house–cleaning your decks and patios, grills — they've been outside getting dirty all winter — they're always on the spring cleaning list."
More cleaning tips for spring busybodies
The Globe and Mail recently pointed out common mistakes made while cleaning, all of which are even more likely when you're trying to juggle a spring clean with all of your other responsibilities.
• For stains, people often try to scrub them out, when really soaking them in soda water and blotting them will do the trick. Szurgot also recommends "letting the product do the cleaning" and leaving toilet bowl and tub cleaner on the porcelain overnight to soak as well as oven cleaner in for a few hours, making the grease lift off more easily. As for products, Szurgot recommends a vegetable-based line called Bon Ami.
• Wear gloves. Even if you're using more natural products, they're still hard on the hands.
• Vacuum baseboards before wiping and vacuum parallel to them so as not to shove dust and dirt underneath. Make sure you have a decent vacuum that's picking up dirt and not just moving it around.
• Don't forget to clean in high places. Cobwebs gather in upper corners and fans grow a thick coat of dust over the winter.