Nothing smells fresher than a home you just spring cleaned. The floors practically sparkle and there’s plenty of room in your closet for new clothes. But how long will this last? There is a full year until the next spring clean, and you might find that your clean closets, floors, bathrooms and kitchens will not stay perfectly clean for very long.
The truth is that spring cleaning is not just for springtime. Here is how to spring clean all year long.
Give everything a proper place
When you come home from work, you probably have a certain place you set your purse down, and you have a place for your shoes, coat and any gloves or scarves. When you cook dinner, you use spices from the spice rack and food stored in the refrigerator and pantry. Everything has its place, and when you are done using it, it goes back into the place.
Every object in your home should have a designated place. When you get a magazine in the mail, it goes into a magazine rack, on the bottom shelf of a coffee table or in the recycling bin. Your books and films have spots on your media shelves.
This is the key to staying on top of your clutter. If you are good about putting everything back where it belongs, you will be clutter free. If you do have clutter piling up, ask yourself whether or not it has a proper spot in your home. If not, throw it out or give it away.
Develop a routine cleaning schedule
Vacuuming and dusting are not once-a-year activities. Though all homes are different, you should be cleaning your home almost every other week to get rid of dirt that has been tracked in and bacteria that have developed on your kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Of course, we know we should be diligent about cleaning, but it is not always easy. Some nights you work late, and on weekends, you are too tired to clean. So why pretend like you will be able to clean every Sunday if you know you will sleep in that day?
Instead, do a little bit every few days. Vacuum the house when you get home on Wednesday night or clean the bathroom before you meet your friends for lunch on Saturday afternoons. Doing just a little bit will make each task seem less daunting, and you’ll be more likely to keep up with your schedule.
Institute the “Hanger test” in your closet
How many times have you pulled out a sweater or a jacket and thought, “I should get rid of this”? But then you look more closely and it’s a pretty nice sweater. Sure it is a little old, but it would look great on you. You are pretty sure you wore it in the last year, so why not keep it around for one more year?
We often try to convince ourselves to keep clothes we know for a fact we never wear, but sometimes, we just need to see it to believe it. Try the hanger test in your closet and you will see how much you really wear.
After you have finished a big spring clean, hang everything back up in your closet with the hangers facing the same way. After you wear an item of clothing and put it back, reverse the direction of the hanger. Now you know you have worn that piece of clothing recently.
At the end of a three, six or even a twelve month period, donate or toss the hangers that are still facing the original direction. You have proven to yourself that you no longer wear those clothes, and they are only taking up space in your closet. Get rid of them now, and make room for a brand new wardrobe you will actually wear.
Get the kids and spouses involved
If there is one thing most kids usually hate (other than Brussels sprouts) it is probably a list of chores. They groan, moan and think up every excuse to get out of doing work, but they are not the only ones. Spouses can shirk their responsibilities too.
Cleaning is a lot of one person to take on so get your family involved. All children should be responsible for keeping their rooms clean (making their beds, picking up toys) and at least one chore around the house. That might mean that one child empties the dishwasher when the dishes are clean and another one divides and folds laundry. You might not want your young children to handle bleach and other hazardous cleaning projects, but older children might clean their own bathrooms once a week.
Your spouse could take on a larger task to be done each week or every other week, depending on the need of your household. Maybe your spouse is in charge of the yard or maybe he or she vacuums the house.
Create a chart to hang on your refrigerator that tracks everyone’s progress throughout the week. If everything is done before Friday night, you might take the family out for ice cream or pizza. Some households pay children a small allowance for completing their chores. This is a great way to show your children that hard work will pay off.
Some projects do not need to be done every few weeks and are perfect spring cleaning tasks. You do not have to deep clean your carpets very often, and unless your oven really needs it, you should not have to clean it out more than once or twice a year.
The best solution for keeping the spirit of spring cleaning all year round is to do a little each day. If you vacuum one day, the next day you might dust. At the end of the week, you might do laundry to get everyone ready for another week of a school, sports and other activities. Do a little each day and you will never worry if the house is clean enough when an unexpected relative pops by for a visit.