Ah, yes, spring cleaning. That wonderful time of year when we move everything out of the house, drag the rugs outside, throw them over a line and beat them. We scrub ceilings, walls, floors and every permanent fixture. Then we thoroughly and lovingly clean each of our possessions before it’s brought back into our home.
Now that’s what I call spring dreaming!
The results of this effort sound wonderful, but who in the world has time for it? Our lives and schedules are too full for this sort of marathon and we have far too many possessions to be dragging them out onto the lawn.
Today most people do their major housecleaning on Saturdays, three-day weekends and vacations. Rather than the marathon of old, spring cleaning has evolved into a sprint.
Maybe a relay race would be appropriate. Focus your efforts on one area of your home at one time. Deep clean one room this month, then move on to another area next month.
Begin with the most visible part of your home - the entry and living room, perhaps. Decide how you would like the room to look by the end of your cleaning session. Now make a list of the things that have to be done to make that mental picture happen. Using your list as a guide, methodically clean this room using whatever time segments you can dedicate to it. But be consistent and make it a priority to finish this area entirely before moving on to the next.
Keep up with your daily whole house pick-up so the rest of your home doesn’t go to pieces while you work on this room. Also, keep your cleaning confined to a specific area. Don’t let one room’s cleaning become chaos for the entire household.
How to clean a room
Using your list, identify the cleaning tools you’ll need and gather them in a carryall, bucket or cleaning cart. Furniture polish, general purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, paper towels, rags, a scrub brush and plastic bags (for trash and clutter) are the usual basics.
Begin at the top of the room and brush down any cobwebs that may be lurking. Wrap the business end of a broom with a rag, secure with a clothespin and sweep cobwebs and dust from the upper edges of the walls. When finished, unclip the rag and wash it for re-use.
As you did with your whole house, start at the entrance to the room. Choose a direction and tackle the first objects on that side of the room. Work from the top down, cleaning wall hangings first, then the furniture and objects beneath. When you encounter bookshelves, remove everything from the top and clean the top shelf, then work your way down.
Proceed around the room, cleaning each object as you come to it, highest first.
Before you leave the room, clean dirty light fixtures. Dust or wash blinds, drapes and window sills if they need it. Clean switchplates and doors of fingerprints and smudges. Clean baseboards.
Last of all, sweep or vacuum the floor. If carpets are to be shampooed more than spot cleaning, do the entire house at one time.
When a room has been thoroughly cleaned in this way, your daily routine only has to include a few minutes to pick up items left out of place. A weekly cleaning will include dusting, a quick wipe for fingerprints and vacuuming. This schedule will keep the room looking good until its turn for a deep cleaning rolls around again.
As you clean a room, think about reducing your effort the next time this chore arises. Cut back on the number of dust catchers. Keep pets off the furniture. Use door mats to keep dirt outside.
Now advance to the next room, probably the kitchen. Have a plan, whether you choose to do your cleaning in order of need, in a clockwise direction or simply from front to back.
Before you clean any room, identify what your goal is. It might include sparkling light fixtures, fresh floral arrangements, repaired slipcovers, carpet stains removed. Make you list and use it.
MEMO: Dale Jarrett is editor of The Get Organized! News and author of “The Perpetual Calendar of Organizing Tips.” To order the calendar ($12.45 including shipping and handling) or subscribe to the monthly newsletter ($14 for one year), send check or money order to TGON, P.O. Box 144, Gotha, FL 34734.<