How to Manage Spring Cleaning: It’s Not just Housework!


Spring is here, and with it comes the desire to throw open the windows and let some warm air flow through the house. We then get busy sweeping out the stale and ushering the fresh. It’s called Spring Cleaning. But did you know that there are 2 sides to spring cleaning? It really is more than just housework!

Spring Cleaning is a Long-Standing Tradition

pink and yellow sponge, plastic basket filled with cleaning supplies

As far back as 3,000 BC, homemakers have used the spring season to thoroughly clean their homes. In the Persian culture, it was called ‘khaneh tekani’, which translates to ‘shaking the house’. It was believed that by thoroughly removing dust, dirt, and doing a deep cleaning would prevent any ill fortune the remainder of the year.

The Jewish holiday of Passover falls between late March and early April. This holiday requires that no trace of leaven (or yeast) be present in the home. In order to completely get rid of every trace of leaven, it meant the homemaker had to do a thorough cleaning.

Thanks to Louis Pasteur and his Germ Theory, in the 19th Century folks were encouraged to open their windows and allow fresh air to blow throughout the house. This was designed to help rid the home of the microscopic germs that had gathered and settled in over the winter months.

Today, we have a deep seated desire to shed ourselves of the dreary months of winter and surround ourselves with the glorious feel of fresh, warm, spring air! In the process, we want our homes to feel just as fresh and clean.

But that then begs the question – Where do we start?

First – Let me say This about That…

woman holding one finger to her lips

Before we go any further, let me say a few words about spring cleaning. I don’t follow what I am about to tell you. I did in the beginning, but not anymore. Why don’t I practice what I preach? Because I don’t have to.

You see, I work on a different cleaning schedule, which prevents me from having to spend days, if not a full week or more doing spring cleaning. My cleaning schedule accounts for everything I would ordinarily need to do by accommodating the long spring-cleaning list throughout the year. To learn more about my cleaning schedule, read THIS POST.

For those who have not already adopted a year-round cleaning schedule, doing a thorough spring cleaning now is a great way to get yours started. That way, next spring you can do more to enjoy the beautiful weather other than clean house.

Side 1 of Spring Cleaning – It’s Time to Clean House

a Swiffer-style duster with a yellow handle

Most folks will tell you to start at the top and work your way down. When you clean, any dust, dirt, and cobwebs will fall to the floor. Saving those floors for last will prevent you from wasting your efforts trying to clean them first.

This is an excellent way to clean your home, but for me, I start sideways, and do a little prep work first.

One Room at a Time

woman wearing a red apron and yellow gloves cleaning a kitchen counter

The first thing I do is walk through the house and remove curtains from all the windows. These are first taken outside for a good shake, and then placed in the washing machine. Between loads, I then start in the kitchen.

Why the kitchen? Because during spring cleaning, the object is to get each room thoroughly cleaned. That means washing bedspreads, cleaning throw rugs and more. Since my washing machine already has several loads lined up, I start with the room that has the fewest items to wash.

Once the kitchen is complete, most of the curtains have been washed and are either hanging on the line to dry, or are neatly hung on hangars waiting to be returned to their proper spot. From there, I begin with the bathrooms.

The next step is the first bedroom, which gets stripped down. Once that room is finished, I alternate between living room, guest room, office, and any other bedrooms. This keeps the laundry from stacking up, and still allows us somewhere to sleep.

Let’s Get Started ‘Sideways’ with Cleaning the House

cleaning a window with a squeegee; through the window can be seen a green pasture and the sun rise

Let’s begin in the Kitchen. As I stated before, the first thing you want to do is take down all the curtains and toss them in the wash. If you use heavier curtains for the winter as a way to help keep your home warm, you may need to either take them to the dry cleaners or hang them on the line to freshen in the breeze.

Since you won’t be getting them wet, be sure to either shake them out well, or use a small bat to beat the dust out of them. Your bat can be almost anything that will get the job done, such as a large wooden spoon, a broom handle, or even a baseball bat. And be sure to wash the curtain rods while you’re at it.

Note: There is one caveat to taking down your curtains for any length of time. For me, I have no neighbors who can look directly into our house. We are also set far enough back from the road for anyone to see anything other than lights.

If you live in a neighborhood, you may choose to remove curtains one room at a time to protect your privacy. If this is the case, simply do the curtains and windows when you clean each room.

Next, wash your windows inside and out. This allows plenty of light to filter in and let you see more clearly the spaces that need to be cleaned.

Spring Cleaning from the Top…

young woman wearing round glasses cleaning a white glass light fixture

From there, then you can start at the top. Take down light fixtures and wash them. (Wipe down the bulbs too – just make sure they are cool first). Clean the ceiling fans, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Wipe down the trim, upper cabinets, and anything else you see that needs to be clean.

When that is done, move to the walls. First, wipe down switches, and carefully wipe down plugs. Do NOT use a wet rag that hasn’t been thoroughly wrung out – you do not want to get water in those sockets! Instead, barely moisten a dry cloth, and work your way around the plate – don’t try to do the socket part. If those sockets are dirty, be sure to turn the breaker off first, and DO NOT USE WATER OR ANY TYPE OF LIQUID TO CLEAN THEM. This can cause serious – and possibly fatal – power issues and electrical shock if any water remains in the socket.

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The next step is to pull out any appliances possible, such as the refrigerator, and wipe down the outside completely. Vacuum the coils. Clean the wall, floor, and baseboards behind it, before putting it back in place.

From there, grab a sponge mop. Starting at the top, mop your walls. Squeeze as much water out of the mop as possible to prevent drips and marring the paint. Keep a cloth handy to catch any drips that do happen.

If one wall is mostly cabinets, wipe them down next. Be sure to get those door and drawer pulls as well. If necessary, these can be removed and soaked in a sink filled with warm water and a cleaning solution. Be sure to place them on a clean towel and allow them to dry completely before reinstalling them.

…To the Middle…

yellow gloved hand holding a blue-topped spray bottle cleaning an oven

Now that the top part is done, move to the ‘middle’ of the room. Tackle the oven, sink, microwave, and counters. From there, wipe down any door jambs, doors, and doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean the top of the door – that is a perfect place for dust and dirt to settle!

Depending on just how deeply you want to clean, this is a good time to also wipe down the inside of your cabinets. Pull out all the items and set them aside. Wipe down the shelves, and if necessary, go ahead and change out the shelf paper. Once you are finished, replace all the items.

Cleaning out your cabinets can also be moved to the ‘sideways’ portion of your spring cleaning schedule. By doing it that way, you can move quicker on the top to bottom portion. Instead of having to stop half way through washing the walls, your cabinet interiors will already be done, and you can just keep up with the momentum.

HOWEVER (and you know there is always a ‘however’) …I strongly recommend cleaning out the cabinets during the final weeks of winter. First, this gives you something constructive to do while being cooped up inside, and second, it will save you time during your spring cleaning spree!

…To the Bottom

woman wearing jeans and green gloves mopping a floor

Once you have finished with the middle, it’s time to move on to the lower cabinets and baseboards, and ultimately, sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the floors.

The last thing you will need to do is rehang the curtains. By this time, they should be washed, dried, and ready to go. If necessary, you can give them a quick pressing to give them that fresh, crisp look.

Spring Cleaning One Room at a Time

dirty white tile floor

To spring clean your home, it helps to focus on just one room at a time. In some rooms, such as the kitchen, there is quite a bit to do, and it may take you a couple of days to finish it all.

With that in mind, you may want to wait to do all the floors and hang curtains until the very last. This will prevent you tracking dirt or stirring up dust that may just end up on what you have already cleaned.

There is nothing better than walking into a home that has been cleaned from top to bottom and has the aroma of the fresh spring breeze.

The Other Rooms

an unmade bed piled with a blue flowered comforter, matching throw pillows, a set of sheets

This same process can be followed in every room in the house. When it comes to the bedrooms, strip your bed down to the mattress. Wash the spreads, blankets, sheets, mattress cover and dust ruffles.

Take all the pillows outside and hang them on the line. This allows them to air out before putting them back on the bed. Clean out closets, wipe down walls, and clean the windows. Don’t forget the window ledges, baseboards and the walls.

In the bathrooms, be sure to clean out the linen closet, medicine chest and any drawers and cabinets. If necessary, you can either wash all the towels, or hang them outside on the line to freshen them up.

lit pink candle surrounded by pink roses

Many of us have candles or bowls of potpourri throughout the house. Spring cleaning is a great time to change out the potpourri and wipe down your candles. If you have a fireplace, take out the unused wood and give it a thorough cleaning as well.

The last thing on the spring cleaning list is to vacuum and mop the floors. Once that is done, consider getting some fresh flowers to place on the kitchen table, in the living room, or next to the bed. Nothing says spring like bouquets of daisies, zinnias, and other beautiful flowers!

Spring Cleaning Doesn’t Stop with Fresh Flowers

glass vase of pink and red tulips sitting on a table with a window in the background

Now that are homes are clean and we have stopped to smile at those fresh bouquets, it’s time to move to Step 2 in spring cleaning – ourselves! This is the time we need to refresh our minds, spirits, and attitudes.

Being cooped up for the most part during the winter months can cause us to feel sluggish. Our bodies haven’t been as physical as they are during the months we can move around outside. Our minds haven’t been quite as inspired. And our attitudes probably need a major adjustment as well. I know being cooped up can cause me to be a bit cranky.

But before you put on your tennis shoes for a marathon run, you may want to take another day or two to just be still. This is the perfect time to sit outside, do some thinking, and make a plan.

Use Your Personal Spring Cleaning to Make a Plan

young girl with short brown hair laying on the grass, chin in hand, daydreaming

Did you dream about things you wanted to add to your spring bucket list? Make notes on what you need to do to accomplish them.

With all that knitting and crocheting you did, were you inspired to learn how to spin your own yarn? Look into starting with a drop spindle. They are much less expensive than a spinning wheel, and you can create gorgeous yarns with them.

Spring is also the time our gardens need to be prepped and planted. But don’t stop with making rows. Get creative. Make row markers and trellises this year. It’s a great way to add fun and whimsey to your garden.

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Or plan to do some fun activities with your family this year. Now would be a great time to plan a scavenger hunt, make a life-size board game, or look for fun places to have a picnic.

And one of the best things you can do is just sit still, soak up some sun and fresh air, and breathe. Don’t think about anything. Don’t try to make a detailed plan. Just be. Count your blessings. Let a smile cross your face, and then let it sink deep into your heart.

a small plant just beginning to sprout surrounded by dead leaves

Spring represents a new beginning. When you spring clean your home, you open it up to a fresh round of family, fun, and hospitality.

When you do a personal spring cleaning, you open yourself up to fresh ideas, new opportunities, and strengthens your determinations.

And once the work is done, you will definitely be happier, have a deeper sense of contentment, and discover you are thrilled to have started this Simple Life Journey in the first place. You finally have the time to Relax and Enjoy!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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