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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Challenge: 22 Days to a Spring Clean Home

Are you with me on this?  After having a baby (or multiple..) it's a lot harder to keep up with the house cleaning.  It sure seems that way for me, and as my son gets older, it seems his mess (or should I say ability to make a mess) grows with him.

I like to feel somewhere in between...

...when it comes to the housekeeping of our home.  Recently, I have adopted a new cleaning strategy.  While I used to be a once-a-month cleaner, tackling all the major chores on one day a month, that just isn't possible any more while still being present with my baby through the day.  My new strategy is to do one chore daily as needed.  It's been going really well so far, in the past few months since starting it.  And many of you may have already discovered this way to do things at home!

Now it is time for a good spring cleaning, top to bottom.  I'm planning to do this over almost a month's time in our home (started on Monday), and encourage you to join in on the challenge!  It's a 22 Day Challenge!

A few years ago, while I was between steady work and needed fast cash to pay down student loans, I  took on a quick money-making venture of personal maid service.  I had a few clients with humungo homes in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area and my job was to clean them top to bottom every week.  I thought it would be helpful to share the tips I learned during my cleaning days.  Even the most cared for home needs an occasional spring cleaning!  It will be helpful to make your cleaning experience as efficient as possible, whether you're in an apartment or a large house.  Any time and energy you can save the better!

Tips Before Getting Started

Spring cleaning is a deep, top to bottom, thorough and complete cleaning above and beyond standard or more routine cleaning tasks.

Spring cleaning entails moving all your knickknacks and furniture to clean under them.  Everything is touched, all the way from the ceiling, down to the baseboards and floor.  Everything from top to bottom and in between is scrubbed until it is free of dirt and dust and shines like new.

Work on wet rooms all at once (bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room) and dry rooms all at once (bedroom, dining room, living room, office, play room).  This will be the most efficient as you can dust everything at once, mop everything at once, etc, eliminating the back and forth work that usually happens when working it one room at a time.

I've also found it helpful to work each room from top-to-bottom, left-to-right.  This helps you to not miss any areas, and applies a little organization to your method in case you have to step away, so you'll know right where you left off when you come back.

And don't feel like you have to do these cleaning steps all at once.  Like I said above, I'm using this list as the basis of a 22 Day Challenge.  If you can check off one task every day, in a month you'll have done a spring cleaning to your entire home!  If you have teenagers and a spouse that are ready to help you tackle more at once, take a weekend to get through it all.  Either way, a top to bottom spring cleaning will make you feel better to be in your home and get you buzzing for spring!

I recommend using natural ingredients to clean your home.  You can read a brief summary here.  If you want a specific cleaning solution or recipe, email me and I'll share what I use.  I have also been loving my Thieves oil from Young Living mixed simply with water.  It's been great for a multi purpose cleaner/sanitizer!  You'll notice below that I use distilled white vinegar a lot in my home (also in my dish washer and washing machine).  I buy my distilled vinegar in bulk at Costco, but you can also ask to order by the case at your local grocer and receive a percentage discount that way.

22 Days to a Spring Clean Home

1.  Dust the ceilings, light fixtures and ceiling fans (I use a dry dust mop followed by a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled vinegar).  Sweep cobwebs in corners and along the ceiling.

2.  Dust all horizontal surfaces (tops of doors, picture frames, shelves, baseboards, counters, cupboards).  Wipe down any surfaces that need it (I use distilled vinegar-water mix).

3.  Spot-clean the walls, doors, and light switches (I use vinegar-water, a Magic Eraser when needed).

4.  Wipe down circulating fans (have you seen the dirt that collects on the blades??) and heating/cooling vents (again, vinegar-water).  Remember to change your air filter at least every two months!

5.  Take rugs and mats outside and beat with a broom handle (or when I was a kid, a badminton racket).  Wash any rugs you are able to.  Vacuum the floors underneath the rugs thoroughly before you place the rugs back down.

6.  Vacuum your floors thoroughly.  Use the hose attachment to vacuum along the carpet edges where it meets the walls -- may seem tedious, but dirt and allergens hang out in that crevasse.  Also, get a new vacuum filter (when was the last time you did that?).

7.  Take everything off the bed(s) and launder, including things you might wash less often like comforters and bed skirts.  Use a sifter to sprinkle the mattress(es) with baking soda and let sit for at least an hour, then vacuum it up with the brush attachment.  Also, vacuum your pillows thoroughly.  (Do this while your bedding is washing!)

8.  Vacuum all upholstered furniture, also underneath and behind.  Vacuum or launder curtains.  And vacuum behind dryer, washer, fridge (don't forget to vacuum the coils to save energy!), oven, and any other large furniture pieces.

9.  Spot-treat the carpet, then give a full cleaning.  (I use a two-step all natural process. Will post separately soon!)

10.  Check expiration dates in your fridge, pantry, and supplement cabinet ("medicine cabinet"), and bring oldest things to the front (or garbage).  Don't forget your dried spices -- should replace yearly as they lose potency and flavor after opening (oxidation), and the possibility of cross contamination of raw meats and oils left behind over time.

11.  Give the kitchen a deep clean, especially the parts you usually skip (underneath the dish rack, below the burners, inside the oven, the rubber seal around the refrigerator door...just to name a few).   Don't forget to wipe down the inside and outside of fridge and cupboards (don't miss the handles and knobs!).  Check shelf liners to see if any need replacing.  Replace stove top drip pans if needed (you'd be surprised how easily this refreshens the look of your stove!)

12.  Give the bathroom(s) a deep clean, especially the parts you usually skip (like wiping down the top of the shower curtain rod and behind the toilet bowl -- my reaction after wiping: "O.M.G!!!" -- you may be surprised).

13.  Sweep/dust mop and wet mop your floors.   Here is my protocol for my mop water, and don't forget your Thieves oil.  Wring out your mop until it is just damp before using on the floor (especially for wood).

14.  Go through your make-up and throw out anything older than 6 months, that smells funny, or you never use.  Clean your brushes or throw out/buy new ones.  (In a bowl, 2 parts filtered water to 1 part distilled vinegar.  Soak brushes for 10 minutes then rinse under running water.  Blot out excess water using a towel, then lay flat to dry on a dry towel or hang to dry with bristles facing the ground.)  Clean out bathroom cupboards and drawers.  Throw out anything expired or things you haven't used in the past year.  Chances are if you haven't used it yet, you won't.  Time to declutter.

15.  Wash windows inside and out.  A mix of water and distilled vinegar with a microfiber cloth or crumpled newspaper work great!  (Find my recipe here!)  Scrub out all window tracks with soapy water and an old toothbrush.  Remove and rinse window screens.  Replace (or install) weather stripping as needed.

16.  Go through your wardrobe and donate or recycle/toss items that are worn/don't fit/don't wear.  Bring summer clothes to the front and winter clothes in the back.  Place cedar blocks in your closet to prevent moths and freshen the air.

17.  Take an inventory of your shoes.  Shine up dress shoes (with a dab of olive oil to a dry soft rag), replace worn shoe laces, spot clean or wash sneakers, and toss any pairs that are worn out.  Donate pairs you never wear.  Finally, bring summer shoes to front, and winter shoes in back.

18.  Bring your winter coat(s) to an all natural dry cleaner's (perc free).

19.  Treat any dingy white clothes or musty towels/rags to a soak in vinegar or borax over night.  Follow with a good washing with baking soda.

20.  Polish and condition wood tables and furniture (my natural recipe is here!).

21.  Clean out the junk drawers.  Try to apply some organization to prevent future build up, like re-purposing a silverware organizer or jars/food containers.

22.  Think of solutions for problem areas, like a dish on the table by the front door for keys, an off-the-floor shoe rack in the closet for the pile of shoes that forms each week, or a basket on the kitchen counter for the mail.  (Pinterest can be a good source for inspiration!)

Good luck with your spring cleaning challenge!  Will post my cleaning solution recipes soon -- cost effective, natural, and easy to make!



Loved this post, I am actually a clean freak and make my own cleaning solutions etc. but I am a not a good planner, so I tend to run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get it all done, and this is just a better organization of time! Really enjoyed it. I appreciate the time and energy that went into writing this post!

Healing Cuisine by Elise

Hi Lesley, Thanks for checking out the list! I know exactly what you mean. That used to be me, too, until applying a little structure and action steps. After a few months of following a pattern, you'll get into some healthy cleaning habits!

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