How busy have I been lately? Busy enough that it’s almost June and I haven’t really even thought about spring cleaning. I always want it to be a monumental thing, and it never is; I crave some kind of ritual to mark the change of seasons and create a forward momentum that will carry me into a new higher level of consciousness. (A hippie? Yes, I am a bit, why do you ask?) Sadly, it tends to end up as a quick scrub of the parts of my house that I’m appalled that I don’t clean more often. Spring cleaning is generally heralded by cries of “Oh wow… that’s really disgusting.”
So… here are five things that I strive to get done every spring. They’re not going to raise your consciousness, but some of them might lower your energy bill, and save you a few trips to the store. Each one should take less than half an hour of hands-on time, so set a timer and do one a night until they’re done. You’ll be glad you did.
Wash or dry clean your curtains and rotate them, if possible. Any fabric that sits for a period of time in a stationary position will accumulate dust, pollen, and, in my house, grubby fingerprints, not to mention (and I’d rather not) dead insects, mites, and their eggs. It’s gross, yes, but it also breaks down the fibers, which means you’ll need to replace your curtains more often if you don’t get the gunk out of them. Wash your curtains, if they’re washable, and dry them outside. If they are dry-clean only, it’s still a good idea to hang them outside to get that solvent smell out before you re-hang. When you do re-hang them, switch right and left to even out the wear.
Clean out your lint traps (and dust havens). You know there’s a lint trap on your dryer, but did you know there’s one on your washer? Check your manual, kids. Then clean the space under your lint trap – use an old bottle brush or a toothbrush taped to an old wire hanger. Wipe down the filter in your dishwasher. Clean that ridge under the rim of your washing machine (for front loaders, pull back the rubber gasket at the front and wipe the inside – then retrieve the ten or so socks that have sought asylum there). Wash and dry the dust screens in your air conditioners. Wipe down your ceiling fan blades.
Clean out your hard drive. Here’s one that doesn’t require rubber gloves (I hope)! Delete duplicate pictures, old downloads, spam emails, music you don’t listen to anymore – whatever’s taking up unnecessary space on your desktop and memory in your hard drive. If there are things you’re not sure about, put the questionable bits in a folder and set a reminder to yourself to look again in a month. If you haven’t used it, chuck it.
Box up your winter gear. At our house, I have to aggressively gather up winter hats, scarves, and gloves to prevent from being drafted as dress-up items and then , inevitably lost. Save yourself a trip to the mall in October, and take a few minutes to pack everything into a (well-labeled) box. Wash winter blankets, comforters, and flannel sheets, and move them to the back of the linen closet. Wash the salt off winter boots, snow shovels, and sleds and move them to ONE location in your garage or basement, because if you need one of them… you’ll probably need them all. Go through your kids’ clothes as well as your own, and box up winter clothes. Anything that’s too small or too worn to last another season goes in a box to be donated, sold, or upcycled.
Vacuum under your appliances. Appliances run more efficiently when they’re clean. You might need a second pair of hands, but scoot your fridge out and vacuum behind it, and vacuum the air vents too. Get that wacky crevice tool out and vacuum under your washer, dryer, and stove too. Wipe down the vents at the back of your microwave with a damp cloth. And don’t tell anyone how much crap you found under there. I never do.