Spring Cleaning the Efficient Way

The Dirt Devil stick vac. Photo by  rwkvisual/Flickr.March is the time for spring cleaning, although some people wait until the official beginning of spring in April. I like to get a head start on spring cleaning so that it does not creep up on me, so I start in mid-March. While spring cleaning can look daunting, it does not have to be. Trust me on this, because I am a notoriously crummy housekeeper who can only function in a clean house. I thrive on shortcuts and efficiency tricks; pay heed to the following advice and your spring cleaning will be both effective and tolerable.

1. Buy a cheap stick vacuum, and other pre-spring-cleaning shopping tips: A $30 Dirt Devil stick vacuum is one of the best purchases you can make. I know this because buying one changed my life, and I am not exaggerating. Owning a lightweight vacuum cleaner with a long cord (another tip: buy an extra long extension cord so that you can vacuum in more than one room while plugged in to one outlet)  makes vacuuming super easy. The Dirt Devil stick vacuum is an agile little vacuum. It can slide under furniture with ease, and it's light enough that you can attach the crevice cleaner and actually hold it upside down to suck the dust out of the corners of your ceiling. Dirt Devil did not pay me to write this; I am telling you my honest experience.

Make a shopping list before you start spring cleaning. These are the cleaning products that you will need: If you are inclined to make your own ecological DIY cleaning products, more power to you. During most of the year, I use ecological and DIY cleaning products. For spring cleaning, I pull out the big guns. I suppose that if you are chemically sensitive, then the vinegar and water solution will have to do. If you are not, then make your life easy and open up the windows and use some heavy duty cleaning agents. You'll need a strong all-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle, like Fantastik. You'll also need some oven cleaner, a dusting spray like Pledge, and a glass cleaner. Buy at least two bottles of the all purpose cleaner, as you will be using it to clean your tile floors as well.

Here is a list of the cleaning equipment that you will need for spring cleaning: A big stack of small dish cloths (at least 12, and I am talking about the cheap cotton dish cloths that you can buy in 4-packs at discount stores, the ones that are a bit rough to the touch and have no fluff to them), a big stack of dish towels (actual towels), newspaper or coffee filters for cleaning glass, a vacuum cleaner (see above), a broom with stiff bristles, a mop with a fresh mop head, a bucket, and a strong scrub pad and paper towels for cleaning the oven. Invest in a fresh pair of rubber gloves, as well. Don't bother with anything newfangled; I promise that this is all you need.

2. Work hardest-to-easiest: A little trick I have figured out is that getting the hardest task done first makes the rest of the job seem easy. For me, the kitchen is the most labor-intensive room during spring cleaning, so I tackle it first. Start with the worst job in the worst room. Cleaning the oven and range top is the worst job in my kitchen. The second worst is pulling out all of the appliances and vacuuming and mopping behind them. Third is dusting the tops of the cabinets. Fourth is pulling everything out of the cabinets, and cleaning inside the cabinets. You get the idea. However, before you work hardest-to-easiest, work top-to-bottom.

3. Work top-to-bottom: It makes no sense to dislodge dust from above if you've already cleaned below. The absolute first thing to do when spring cleaning is dusting the ceiling and high parts of the walls. If the dust falls onto the ground or onto your furniture, no big deal since you will be cleaning it later in the day.

4. Your spring cleaning check list: How deep you clean is (obviously) up to you. There are thousands of spring cleaning guides and check lists on the Internet; it seems like every DIY blogger has published one. For me, the priority is always deep cleaning the kitchen and actually dusting off all of the books and bookshelves (in my house, this is a big job, as an entire wall of our living room is covered by book shelves and books). If you work full time, as I do, breaking spring cleaning down into smaller pieces and prioritizing the big, tough jobs might be the most efficient way to approach the task. Unclutterer published a very reasonable spring cleaning list; check out Martha Stewart's spring cleaning checklist if you are more ambitious. By purchasing all of your cleaning supplies before you begin spring cleaning, and by cleaning top-to-bottom and hardest-to-easiest, your spring cleaning can be efficient and tolerable.

Chaya Kurtz writes about everything from electricians in Phoenix to roofers for Networx.com.

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