31 Expert Spring-Cleaning Tips for Your Cleanest Home Ever
Follow these expert-approved tips to get your dusting, scrubbing, and vacuuming done in half the time.
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It’s time to spring clean!
Spring is the time to pull back the drapes and welcome the sunshine. The only problem? All that light can illuminate dust, fingerprints, and grime on floors, walls, doors, and more. That’s where spring cleaning comes in. It’s the time to deep clean the house and get ready for the season of renewal.
But while giving the whole house a deep clean is rewarding once you’re done, it can feel overwhelming at the outset. To help, we have the cleaning schedule and housecleaning secrets that will make your chores easier than ever; we also have tips for determining when to replace household items and avoiding cleaning mistakes. Ready, set, clean!
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Tackle one task at a time
Sure, this sounds like common sense, but how many times have you started a monumental spring-cleaning task, like attempting to scrub the kitchen from top to bottom, only to move on to the next room before finishing? This just makes everything take way longer than it should, says Eileen Dacey, author of Reclaim Your Life from Hoarding. Instead, break it down into smaller chunks. Maybe you’ll clean the kitchen floors one day and the bathroom floors the next. “It’s also important to take breaks to avoid mental exhaustion,” she says.
Make a game plan
If spring cleaning makes you feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to be specific with your goal and decide what to clean based on how much time you have to devote to it in that moment, suggests Dacey. “Instead of saying, ‘I want to clean the kitchen,’ reframe it as ‘I am going to take 40 minutes to clean the fridge,'” she says. “At the end, you’ll have a better sense of accomplishment and less frustration.”
Wash sconces, chandeliers, and other light fixtures
A must on any spring cleaning checklist: cleaning globes and lampshades of lighting fixtures. “At first glance, these may not seem dusty, but once you wipe one, you will see a noticeable difference,” says professional organizer Jamie Novak, author of Keep This, Toss That. Remove the globes and wash them in soapy water. Rinse them, then let them air-dry. Dust the inside of a lampshade and then wash it with soapy water in the sink. Rinse and let it air-dry.
Scrub your kitchen backsplash
The area behind your kitchen sink, stove, or prep area largely goes unnoticed because we focus more attention on our countertops, where we can clearly see messes. Over time, however, splatters and grease can accumulate on a backsplash, Novak says. During spring cleaning, scrub it down—a toothbrush or Rubbermaid Reveal will help you get into the crevices and any hard-to-reach spots. Need more cleaning power? Try the top-rated Pink Stuff cleaning paste.
Deep clean the dishwasher
The dishwasher is one part of the kitchen many forget to clean—we’re talking about the outside and the inside. If the outside is stainless steel, a quick rubdown with a stainless-steel cleaner should do the trick. For the inside of the dishwasher, run a rinse cycle with baking soda and vinegar. This helps remove grime that’s been stuck on there for a while and will save you lots of elbow grease.
Steam your microwave before scrubbing
Before you even attempt to scrub off that caked-on gunk when cleaning your microwave, steam a bowl of microwave cleaner to loosen sticky grime. An Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner works similarly: Add a mixture of vinegar and water to the cleaning tool, then microwave it for several minutes (the exact timing depends on the microwave). The benefit is that the concentrated steam will come out of the mama’s head and disperses at more angles than it does from a bowl.
Give attention to your small appliances
Can openers, toasters, and toaster ovens are our daily culinary heroes, and that constant use takes a toll. We either put them away dirty or leave them exposed to grease and food splatters. During spring cleaning, empty the crumb trays on the toaster and clean your can openers to prevent food contamination. While you’re at it, descale your coffee maker.
Clean the washer and dryer
Your clothes may smell April fresh, but according to Anna Caricari, a Two Maids and a Mop area representative, the laundry room is constantly under assault. “Rust and mold can grow quickly because of the use of water and chemicals,” she says. If your washing machine isn’t smelling so fresh, wipe down around the barrel and compartments. For top loaders, fill the washer with hot water and pour in two cups of vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda. Cycle through a wash and rinse. For front loaders, mix the above ingredients and add a quarter cup of water to make a detergent, then place it into the detergent tray.
Don’t forget the dryer vents, which contain flammable material when plugged. Always remove the lint after each cycle, but go beyond that during spring cleaning. Peek under and behind the washer and inspect the dryer vent.
Toss your pillows into the washer and dryer
Chances are that while you likely wash your pillowcases regularly, you never think about cleaning your pillows. Yet they can collect loads of dust, bacteria, and sweat, which is why it’s important to wash them. Though you’ll want to check your pillows’ care labels first, most can be machine-washed and dried. The one exception is foam pillows, which need to be spot cleaned instead.
Clean your toothbrush holder
You probably wipe down the top of your toothbrush holder during your weekly cleaning, but something nasty lurks at the bottom, and you shouldn’t ignore it during spring cleaning. “Residue from water and toothpaste tends to run down to the bottom of the holder … a dark and moist place where bacteria can grow rapidly,” says Becca Napelbaum, a cleaning expert with on-demand home service app Handy. “Make sure to give your toothbrush holder a good clean during your big spring clean, and then clean it regularly to prevent the bacteria from traveling to your hands and mouth.” Learn which other everyday items you aren’t cleaning enough.
Vacuum your mattress
Cleaning your mattress is another spring-cleaning must. According to Napelbaum, mattresses harbor dead cells and dust, which can irritate us in our sleep. If that makes your skin crawl, be sure you know how to prevent and destroy bed bugs. “Make sure to give it a good vacuum with an upholstery attachment and give it a good whack whilst it is propped upward against the wall. To remove odors, lie the mattress back down and sprinkle with baking soda. Leave the baking soda on for two hours before vacuuming it off,” she says.
Refresh your kitchen cabinets
If you want to maintain the beauty of your wood kitchen cabinets, your spring-cleaning list should definitely include them. “Dust can mix with grease and break down the finish on your kitchen cabinets,” says Leslie Reichert of Green Cleaning Coach. “You have to be careful around those corners, where people’s handprints get sticky. The oils in our hands mix with the finish and break down the stain.”
Don’t neglect the tops of cabinets either. “Tops of cabinets can get permanent damage from dust mixing with grease. It forms a thick layer that can’t be removed without damaging the wood,” says Reichert. Try using rubbing alcohol on a microfiber towel to cut the grease, then follow up with soap and water.
Dust the doorframe
For being so narrow, the shallow ledge of the doorframe can sure collect a lot of dirt. During spring cleaning, take a moment to wipe it off with a barely damp cloth. If your trim is particularly ornate, with lots of crevices and grooves, an old toothbrush might work best. Find out about the other things you should be cleaning with a toothbrush.
Clean baseboards with a dryer sheet
Here’s a trick for cleaning your baseboards: You know how dryer sheets are magnets for dust on your clothes? They work similarly when you slide them over baseboards. Attach one to the end of your Swiffer Sweeper, and you won’t even need to bend down.
Wash pet beds
Your furry friend’s bed is due for a spring cleaning. Always follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, as directions differ based on a bed’s filling type. Some pet beds have removable covers, which is usually a good indication the cover can be laundered. If the cover doesn’t come off, it may require simple spot cleaning. Whether you spot clean or wash your pet bed in the washing machine, use your vacuum to remove as much hair as possible beforehand.
Disinfect the light switch plate
Light switches are one of those things you touch all the time, leaving behind fingerprints, smudges, random marks, and smears. Chances are, they need a touch-up. A gentle disinfecting cleaner on a soft cloth will both clean and sanitize the switch plate.
De-gunk television remotes and controllers
Of course you know to clean the TV, but true hot spots for grime and germs are your television remotes and electronic controllers. Remove the batteries from the television remotes and device controllers before using a disinfectant cloth to gently wipe them down. Use a cotton swab to remove crumbs from the crevices and to reach the narrow space between the buttons.
Wipe doorknobs and handles
Imagine how many times dirty hands grab the door handles every single day—while you may remember to clean the door, do you remember to clean the knob as well? Use an all-purpose cleaner on a soft cloth to wipe down the handles and knobs. More ornate handles with designs or grooves may need a little more attention in specific areas. Your handy old toothbrush can help with that.
Dust the bathroom exhaust fan grill
You may not use your bathroom exhaust fan, but it can still become caked with dust. While you’re deep cleaning your bathroom, turn off the fan and then use a duster with an extendable handle to clear the grill of any buildup and dust.
Deep clean the showerhead
It’s important to clean your showerhead during spring cleaning because, over time, it can develop a thick layer of mineral buildup. To deep clean it, you can either fill a plastic bag halfway with vinegar and let the showerhead soak in it for an hour or, for a faster fix, you can dip an old toothbrush in vinegar and give it a good scrub.
Wash your shower curtain and liner
In addition to giving your tub a good scrub, wash your shower curtain and liner too. Read the care label on the shower curtain; chances are, it’s safe to toss it in the washing machine. You can wash the liner in the washer too—use the cold water setting and add some soft items, like towels, so it doesn’t rip. Then let it air-dry.
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Spruce up walls
When was the last time you cleared out the cobwebs in the corner or wiped off those dusty walls? Stuff sticks to the surface of the wall, so they could definitely use a spring cleaning. Instead of teetering on a step ladder, wrap a soft cleaning rag around a mop’s head and use that to reach up high. Alternatively, if you use a disposable, pad-style mop, attach a dry cloth and get to work.
Whiten blinds with bleach
If your otherwise white blinds are looking dingy and yellow, deep clean them with bleach. Remove the blinds from the windows, then place them in the tub in a mixture of cold water and three cups of bleach. Let them soak for ten minutes, max. Then rinse the bleach off (be sure to wear rubber gloves), dry the blinds with a towel, and hang them back up.
While you’re at it, read our guide on how to clean windows from the inside out.
De-crumb the knife block
We’ve all used a knife to slice a piece of bread and returned it to the knife block without washing it. This can result in crumbs in the bottom of the block that need to be removed. Carefully slide the knives out and put them safely to the side. With the knives removed, turn the block upside down over the sink to dislodge any debris. If needed, use a small bottle brush to loosen crumbs in the knife slots. Finish by wiping down the sides of the block and returning the knives to their spots.
Scrub the trash can
Long after you’ve taken out the trash, offensive odors can linger, making your trash can stinky. Whether the trash bag leaked, there was a splatter, or you simply notice a strong smell, the can could use a wash. Take out the trash bag, then scrub any stains with a disinfectant cleaner. Next, wash and rinse the entire can—inside and out. Before you replace the bag, make sure the can is thoroughly dry.
Make over your makeup bag
Your makeup bag, something you use every day, is probably long overdue for a little sprucing up. Easily dissolve stuck-on makeup from plastic-lined bags using makeup remover applied to a soft cloth. An alcohol-based cleansing wipe can be used to disinfect the interior of the bag. Before putting your cosmetics and brushes back inside, make sure the bag is completely dry. If yours is a cloth bag, consider handwashing it. Then lay it out to dry. While you’re at it, toss expired cosmetics and wash your makeup brushes, too, or risk these gross consequences.
Wipe down medicine cabinet shelves
Toothpaste drips, make-up crumbles, and lotion splotches can make your medicine cabinet shelves a mess. After removing all the items from the inside of the cabinet, give it a once-over with a cleaning cloth. Before putting the products back inside, give bottles, tubes, and tools a quick wipe down, and follow these tips for an organized medicine cabinet.
Clean inside kitchen drawers
The kitchen drawers you use most often are most often forgotten about when it comes to cleaning. But beneath all those utensils and kitchen gadgets are crumbs that need to be swept out of the corners. First, take everything out of the drawer so you can give it a proper cleaning. Rinse the drawer organizers or run dishwasher-safe ones through a cycle. Sweep out loose crumbs and other debris before returning the organizers, utensils, and gadgets to the drawer.
Scrub the range ventilation grate
There is one spot in the kitchen where the most gunk tends to accumulate, and that is the ventilation grate for the range. Remove it and give it a good scrubbing. Refer to the instruction manual to see if yours is dishwasher safe. If not, let it soak in some warm, soapy water. If it is not easy to pop off the grate, try this: While the fan is turned off, use a degreasing cleaner on a lint-free towel and wipe it down. For inside the oven, reach for one of the best oven cleaners.
Vacuum under the stove
Those crumbs and food bits that fall or roll under the stove can’t easily be seen, but they need to be cleaned out. If your vacuum has an attachment that can fit in this slim space, let it do the dirty work for you. If you don’t have one, no problem—try the non-bristle side of a broom. The handle should fit underneath the stove, so you can push out any debris. Learn cleaning tricks for hard-to-clean household objects.
Clean your cleaning supplies
Those scrubbers, cleaning cloths, and dusters should be wiped off and disinfected before you put them away. Take the time to shake debris off your duster and broom. Sanitize brushes and swap out dirty sponges. It’s probably time to change or rinse the filter in your vacuum too. Next, don’t miss these genius cleaning hacks you’ll want to steal from professional cleaners.
Additional reporting by Emily Laurence.
- Eileen Dacey, author of Reclaim Your Life from Hoarding
- Jamie Novak, author of Keep This, Toss That
- Anna Caricari, area representative for Two Maids and a Mop
- Becca Napelbaum, cleaning expert with Handy
- Leslie Reichert of Green Cleaning Coach