Nothing feels quite as satisfying as coming home to a house that’s so clean it practically sparkles. Since cleaning your house from top to bottom can be overwhelming — not to mention, tiring and time-consuming — it’s easier to take it room by room or appliance by appliance with spring cleaning tips from organizing and cleaning pros.
Whether you only have five minutes to freshen things up or you happen to have an entire weekend to spare, our pros are here to help you learn how to give your home’s nooks and crannies a much-needed refresh with these cleaning how-tos from Jeffrey Phillip, organizing expert, and Carolyn Forte, Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.
Consider this your official spring cleaning checklist: Pass through item-by-item for a whole home makeover or tackle your home’s dirtiest spots when you have some extra time on your hands. While there are some givens on this list (how to clean your microwave or mattress, for example), there are also a few spots that often go unnoticed, like doormats and ceiling fans.
Clean your doormats
Trap more dirt by using two mats, one outside the door and one inside. To refresh, hose off and air-dry outdoor mats. Vacuum indoor ones on both sides — going over the back will push trapped dirt out onto the floor where it will be easier to pick up.
Spray down windows and dust blinds
Wait for an overcast day to clean your windows and start on the shady side of the house (direct sun can lead to streaking). “Raise blinds or shades and wash windows with glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth,” says Forte. “Then lower the blinds and vinyl shades and dust with a duster and finish by vacuuming the fabric shades and drapes.”
Wipe down walls
Keeping your walls free of greasy fingerprints, dust and stains is as easy as wiping them with a damp microfiber cloth. Be sure to start from top to bottom, and bonus points if you wipe the door frames and baseboards too!
Freshen up musty carpets
Refresh your carpets in between deep cleanings by using a portable carpet cleaner with a rotating brush. To rid your carpet of pet odors, sprinkle baking soda or carpet deodorizer on your carpet. Using a soft brush, work the baking powder into your carpet and let it set for 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum the baking powder off the carpet with a fresh bag or clean dirt cup.
De-stink the kitchen sink
Got kitchen stink you just can’t kick? Try running a couple of lemon rind slivers through your garbage disposal and follow with cold water to get rid of any unwanted odors.
Steam clean the microwave
Clean up those pesky tomato stains once and for all. To clean your microwave, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of water and a chopped-up lemon, lime, or orange or several tablespoons of vinegar and stick it inside. Turn the appliance on high for several minutes or until the solution boils and the window is steamy, then let it cool for five minutes before opening the door. Remove and wipe the inside and outside with a sponge.
Wash those reusable bags
Reusable grocery bags cut down on wasteful plastic, but they can get grimy with time. Look at the care label on your reusable bags to determine the best way to clean them. If they’re not machine-wash safe, clean them thoroughly with a sponge or cloth dipped in sudsy water. Rinse with a clean cloth and let air dry.
Spruce up granite countertops
Dig out the granite polish to restore shine and help repel stains on your kitchen surfaces. For daily wipe-downs, use a specialized granite cleaner, like GH Seal Star Weiman Granite & Stone Daily Cleaner & Polish. The mild formula cuts grease and removes surface stains without the damaging effects of vinegar or ammonia, and it won’t leave behind a dull film like ordinary dish soap can.
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Bring stained cutting boards back to life
If you think that nasty mark is permanent, you’re wrong. Run the cut side of a lemon over the board to help remove food stains and smells. For an extra oomph, sprinkle it with salt or baking soda first.
Deep clean the fridge
In addition to wiping down your fridge’s interior shelving on a regular basis, give the removable bins and shelves a deep clean every now and again. Pop out the door shelves and bins, and wash in warm, soapy water to get rid of food bacteria and spillage.
Shine up pots and pans
Soften burned-on residue by adding water and dish liquid to your cookware and letting it simmer on the stove. Use a scrub sponge or pad to remove any remaining stuck-on bits. Ketchup (yes, really!) helps dissolve tarnish on copper pots and other copper cooking accessories. Just massage the red sauce over the surface and add a pinch of salt to your polish, if you come across exceptionally stubborn spots.
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De-gunk your oven
Cleaning your oven is an essential part of spring cleaning. Use your appliance’s self-cleaning function to remove stubborn, baked-on grime. If your oven doesn’t have one, place a hot, wet cloth on top of burned spots to help soften the gunk. Then scrub with a sprinkle of baking powder and a heavy duty pad. Rinse and wipe dry.
Scrub down kitchen cabinets
Unsightly kitchen grime is a mix of dust and grease that builds up over time. Run the exhaust hood over your range every time you cook to keep grease from settling. To de-gunk, use a cabinet cleaner to cut through dirt and leave wood moisturized. Do an extra pass around any places that grease collects, like door and drawer pulls.
DIY a stainless steel cleaner for sparkling appliances
To make your stainless steel surface sparkle again, mix a solution of 1 teaspoon dish detergent and 1 quart hot tap water. Using a microfiber cloth, rub the detergent solution onto the marks in small sections, going with the grain. Rinse with clean hot water and dry immediately with a clean cloth.
Reorganize the junk drawer
Once you empty out your drawer, suck out dust and crumbs with your vacuum’s nozzle. “Toss or relocate any items you no longer need or that don’t belong there,” Forte says. Everything else goes back, but this time in an organized manner. Repurpose pretty plates and bowls to store cords, stamps and other odds and ends. A nonslip liner will help keep everything in place.
Machine wash your shower curtain
Stick plastic or vinyl shower curtains along with a few bath towels in your washing machine on the gentle cycle with your favorite laundry detergent. Let it hang dry before showering. To keep the curtain cleaner longer, spritz it a few times each month with a bleach-containing all-purpose cleaner. Then just let the shower rinse it off (before you hop in, of course).
Toss expired cosmetics
Getting rid of expired makeup, skincare and hair products is a quick way to declutter. Not all products note an expiration date, but many say how many months the product will last after opening. “To stay on top of their expiration date, use a thin-tipped permanent marker to write on the date you opened it,” suggests Phillip.
Clean your makeup brushes
To free makeup brushes of oil-based foundation and concealer, squeeze a few drops of baby shampoo or Dawn dish soap into your palm and rub the bristle tips into the soap, then gently work the suds through them. To rinse, hold the brush (bristles down) under warm running water. Gently shake over the sink to remove excess water, and lay the brush down on a paper towel to finish drying.
Keep drains smelling fresh
To freshen drains (not unclog them) and help keep them free-flowing, mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup table salt. Pour the mixture down the drain, followed by 1 cup heated vinegar. It will foam and bubble. Let it stand for 15 minutes tops. Follow by running hot tap water for at least 15 to 30 seconds. This is especially helpful for seldom-used drains, like in guest bathrooms.
Remove hard water buildup from your shower head
Hard water buildup can cause unsightly stains and even affect your shower head’s water flow. If scrubbing with a sponge doesn’t clear the debris from the holes, you can clean your shower head and restore its flow using a few kitchen products you already have in your home. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a plastic bag and tie the bag around the shower head, making sure to immerse the shower head entirely in the mixture. Tie the bag around the shaft for up to an hour, then wipe away any residue left behind and run the hot water of the shower to rinse the vinegar out of your shower.
Vacuum soft furniture
“Pull furniture away from walls and vacuum behind and under it,” Forte says. “Do the woodwork and air vents while you’re back there.” Then switch the upholstery tool on your machine to go over both sides of cushions and underneath them. The crevice tool is a great way to remove any gunk along the trim and stitching.
Spruce up curtains and throw pillows in the dryer
Put your dryer to work and toss drapes, curtains and even throw pillows in the dryer for 15 minutes on the “air-only” cycle, then rehang immediately to avoid wrinkles.
Give bookshelves new life
After all of those cozy winter reading sessions, your library may be in need of a cleanup. Take a few minutes to organize your coffee table books, bedside novels or favorite magazines. You can alphabetize, coordinate by color or sort by size. Make sure you dust the shelves before putting anything back in its place.
Dust those ceiling fixtures
Spring cleaning is all about tackling the areas you forget about during the rest of the year. Grab an extendable duster and attack ceiling fans, hanging and recessed lights, moldings and more. Make sure to start your cleaning here, from top to bottom, so you don’t have to vacuum your floors twice.
Replace air conditioner filters
Spring is the perfect time to clean or replace HVAC and window air conditioner filters before you start to use them regularly in the summer months. It’s best to check with your unit’s manufacturer for the recommended way to clean filters, if they are washable.
Sanitize kids’ toys
When it comes to cleaning kids’ toys, don’t overlook the convenience of your dishwasher or washing machine! For plastic toys, choose the crystal or quick cycle on your dishwasher and skip the heated dry. For stuffed animals, check the care tag first and then stick them in a mesh bag or pillowcase before throwing in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. A quick once-over with a lint roller can help too.
Wash bulky bedding
It’s time to tackle bulky items you typically avoid: clean those pillows and wash those comforters! You only need to clean these items two or three times a year, so they should be at the top of your list during spring cleaning season. But make sure you check the manufacturer’s label before tossing ’em into the washing machine.
Kill dust mites in your mattress
It’s the perfect time to pay attention to what’s under the sheets. To clean your mattress, press firmly with your vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean the top and sides. After vacuuming, sanitize your mattress with a disinfectant spray like Lysol. You can also use a garment steamer or iron to kill dust mites near the surface. Vacuum afterward.
Toss old clothes
Go through clothes and shoes from the season that’s just ended — and remove anything stained, in need of repair or worn out, Phillip advises. Make a second pass through spring and summer clothes as you take them out of storage. Try on anything you’re unsure about before giving it closet space.
Clean your washing machine
De-fuzz the dryer
More than 15,000 fires start in home laundry rooms every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Beyond removing the fuzz from your dryer’s filter after every load, pull out hard-to-reach lint with the crevice tool on your vacuum to suck up debris. Vacuum under, around and behind the dryer as well.
Disinfect your electronics
Bad news: Your cell phone probably harbors more germs than your toilet seat. To clean your phone, power it down then wipe it with a microfiber cloth followed by a Lysol wipe. Let it air dry for five minutes before wiping it dry with a paper towel or microfiber cloth once more. This same method works well to disinfect other electronics, like your TV remote and computer mouse.
Empty, organize and clean purses
Take everything out, toss trash and organize items by category. Sort smaller items, like lipsticks, into little pouches or purse organizers, before you put them back inside. Wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant wipe, if it’s made with a durable, water-resistant material.
Clean your vacuum
Yes, you have to clean your cleaners! Replace the vacuum bag or clean the dust cup and replace or wash the filters. Snip threads snarled in the brush with scissors or a seam ripper.
Wash down your broom
Scrub trash cans
Trash bags break and when they do, washing your trash can is the only way to keep odors out of your home. To wash the inside of your trash can, hose it down and scrub the inside with your favorite dish soap and a sponge. Rinse it well and allow it to air dry or dry with a microfiber cloth before returning to your kitchen. Regularly use a sanitizing wipe or spray to keep the outside of the trash can free of food bits and drips.
Wipe down outdoor furniture
With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to get your outdoor furniture ready for lounging. To do this, add a squirt of dish detergent to a bowl of warm water, then wipe down tables and chairs. Spray them down with water and then let air dry.
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