Avoid These 10 Common Spring Cleaning Mistakes
You’ve decided it’s finally time to buckle down and do a thorough spring cleaning, and you’re going to do it the right way this year. That means tackling the garage (which currently holds no cars, but lots of boxes and clutter) and the basement (you’re not even sure what’s down there and not sure you want to find out!).
Before you dive in and devote your entire weekend to tackling grime and clutter, let’s look at some common spring cleaning mistakes and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not planning ahead
If you don’t plan out how you’re going to tackle your spring cleaning, you may find yourself with an overwhelming number of unfinished projects all over the house. Plan out which rooms you’re going to clean, in what order (tip: get your least favorite rooms out of the way first), and work your way through them one by one. Even if you’re considering hiring a housekeeping service to help you with your spring cleaning, it’s still important to plan in advance so you can delegate tasks to your maid/house cleaning person.
Mistake #2: Keeping too much stuff
Are you ever going to use that croquet set that’s been collecting dust in your garage for the last 15 years? And do you really need six bins full of bows and wrapping paper? Many of us hold on to things “just in case” we need them some day. What we end up with is stacks of boxes that we haven’t opened in years, or even decades. Start out by identifying the things you truly know you don’t need or want —like that t-shirt with the corporate logo that’s three sizes too big. Start with the easy things, sorting every item into one of three piles: a “keep” pile, a “get rid of” pile, and a “not sure” pile.
Mistake #3: Letting go of too much stuff
On the flip side, it is possible to get rid of too much. This can especially be a problem for obsessive purgers who feel compelled to rid their homes of clutter at every turn. Before you hastily donate that old watch or vase that’s been tucked away in the back of the cupboard for years, make sure it’s not an antique that’s worth real money. As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Mistake #4: Trying to do it all yourself
If you don’t have teenagers at home or a friend to call on for help, consider using a house cleaning service. Spring cleaning is a big undertaking, and trying to do it all yourself can lead to exhaustion, injury, or just plain old procrastination. Four hands (or more) are better than two when getting through a big job!
Mistake #5: Avoiding the difficult deep cleaning
It stinks (literally), but, if you want a truly clean house, you’re going to have to do the dirty work. That means scrubbing away at the stuck-on-grease from the cabinets above your stovetop, and getting into the nooks and crannies and hard-to-reach places. The kitchen and bathrooms often take the most “elbow grease”—so for these heavy-duty cleaning projects, you may consider getting help.
Mistake #6: Not having the right tools
Consider yourself a spring cleaning warrior preparing for battle! Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but spring cleaning is a big undertaking, and you’ll need the right tools for the job. The basics include a broom and dustpan, plenty of cleaning cloths (flour sack towels work well), a bucket, sponges and heavy duty scrubbers, twine and/or rubber bands (for tying up newspapers, tying up wrapping paper, etc.), glass cleaner, and other household cleaners. For natural, plant-based products, seventhgeneration is a good choice.
Mistake #7: Scrubbing too soon
Our instinct is often to spray a surface like tile with cleaner and immediately start scrubbing. But many cleaners need to sit for at least 10 minutes for their surfactant (and disinfectant) properties to start working. Practice this rule: spray, and walk away. Come back 10 or 20 minutes later, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier is it to wipe away the grime and grit. The bonus: conserving precious energy!
Mistake #8: Trying to get it done in one day (or weekend)
The reality is that if you’re tackling a major overhaul that includes not only cleaning the house but also going through the garage, basement, and/or attic, it’s probably going to take longer than a day, or even a full weekend. Real spring cleaning involves moving/dismantling furniture, taking down and washing curtains and window dressings, de-griming surfaces, etc., so don’t expect it to happen in a flash. Take the time you need to get it done right. You’ll feel accomplished and relieved once it’s done.
Mistake #9: Cleaning windows while it's warm and sunny
You wipe and wipe and wipe, and still can’t seem to get that window clean. It’s a common mistake to clean windows while the sun is out, when the heat of the sun will cause the window cleaner to dry more quickly—leading to annoying streaking. Choose a cloudy day to clean the windows, or wait until it’s 70 degrees or cooler to start. If you live in the desert and it’s summertime, wait until night falls and clean smaller areas at a time to ensure the cleaning solution doesn’t evaporate before you can get to it.
Mistake #10: Waiting until spring!
Getting into daily habits and routines of putting things away and cleaning as you go can make a tremendous difference and help you avoid annual spring cleaning events. Try putting a squeegee in the shower and wiping down the shower walls and door after each shower, tackling clutter before it piles up, and keeping a “donation” basket out all the time where you can put those items you plan to give away, so they don’t pile up in closets and cupboards (and every family’s favorite dumping ground: the garage). If your family embraces everyday tidiness, your next spring cleaning project could be years down the road!
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