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Don't let Spring Cleaning add to your stress levels

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Do you still 'Spring Clean'? I don't, mainly because being organized in my approach to weekly cleaning seems to lessen the need for it. But, let's say that pandemic life has been overwhelming and you've let a few things 'go' for want of time and/or bandwidth.

You'll get it done if you tackle it incrementally, with an underlying plan so that you don't throw your hands up in despair and collapse with a bag of chips and the TV remote.

First things first. Go easy on yourself. Pick your battles and separate the 'need to' from 'nice to' tasks. Don't decide to clean the ENTIRE garage. That puts an enormous amount of pressure on that you probably don't need. You'll end up feeling resentful of the time investment, hurt that other members of the family aren't realizing that you need help, and probably think yourself a failure if you can't finish the task. If you see the whole garage floor loaded with 'stuff' it's too easy to think "Okay, this is too much, I'm tired and don't feel like it". Instead, pick one aspect of the garage that needs, say, to be a bit more organized. Give yourself a time limit - maybe 30 minutes.

This shelf unit now has all of my canning jars and supplies, within reach from the door into the kitchen! Oh, and BTW, when reorganizing spaces like the garage, think 'vertically' when possible. I hung that milk crate (in the photo above) up on the wall for things that mice love to get into - large bags of cat food or wild birdseed.

I had too many canning jars and supplies that had been living in spaces they'd outgrown. I couldn't find anything. Yes, I'm merely human. It occurred to me the other day, that if I'd simply move a few old binders of stuff we hadn't even looked at in years into the trash (yes, paper into the recycle bin!) that I'd free up several shelves near the door to the kitchen for canning stuff! BAM! In about 30 minutes, it was done. Not 'pretty' but done! That was one day. I had agreed with myself at the outset that I was ONLY going to do that much. No more. Here's one reason why: It gave me time to think about what the next step needed to be, and how best to accomplish it.

There is no rule that says you must get these tasks done in one day, one week or longer.

If you have a list, with tasks prioritized, you can cross them off in a time frame that works for you, while keeping your sanity.

I saved money repurposing a small wood garage shelving unit to the laundry room closet! I think I may add another shelf above this, utilizing some brackets I have out in the garage and a leftover shelf from another project. I could also hang some mesh storage bags on that rod for the potatoes and onions, freeing up that shelf.

I was able to repurpose the small white shelf unit from the garage (where canning jars were overflowing!), clean it up and bring it inside for additional storage in the laundry room closet! Now, stuff isn't falling on my head every time I reach for cleaning rags, and I also gave myself a new place to store my SCOBY 'Hotel' plus potatoes and onions. I really did save money, as I'd almost gone over to Home Depot for another large six self unit for the garage, and was looking for an additional shelf unit for this laundry room closet!

It's not 'pretty' but reorganizing (and getting rid of a LOT of unused stuff!) from these garage shelves made a difference inside - I could bring overflow from inside out here. My objective out here was consolidating 'like with like'. The seldom used went to the left and higher - furthest away from the door into the kitchen.

Maybe the garage isn't your 'issue'. Look, then, at the spaces that you spend the most time in rather than closets. Could be the coffee table in the living room where everybody just puts 'stuff'. Declutter it. You can do this in a few minutes, and everyone in the family will probably appreciate the result. Well, maybe not, but you will. Try the same thing for the entryway next. Your study or workstation. The magazine and book clutter next to the bed. The same principles that I applied to the garage and laundry room apply to any room or the entire house.

Here's another thing to remember about getting those 'spring cleaning' jobs over and done with: Create a list or a plan. I have a Task List on my Mac. I list jobs that I want to tackle. It feels great to delete them as I finish them. The tasks are 'manageable chunks', listed in order of need or 'urgency'. Most don't involve over one hour, and many are accomplished well under that. I tackle one or two per week, as time allows, and it doesn't get huge and discouraging.

Fold your microfiber cleaning cloths in fours, or even eights, to maximize use. You'll easily get through at least half the house with one larger cloth. And, microfiber cloths mean you don't need spray dusting products, which is another money saver. Just toss it in the laundry for next time.

You'll avoid a lot of 'spring cleaning' tasks simply by routinely cleaning your home the right way. Top to bottom. Yup. Start high and go low. I'll go through the entire house with one of those extendable Swiffer-type wands and as I move from room to room, I clear all the cobwebs and dust from the tops of curtain and drapery rods, ceiling fans, light fixtures. Then, with a microfiber cloth folded in four or eight sections, I dust the tops and fronts of furniture. Folding the cloth - instead of wadding it up - gives you 'clean' sections to work with. BTW: Swiffer dusters can be washed and reused. Once. Maybe twice. But, as you use them up, consider truly washable dusters that you can slide over the wands. You'll save a lot more money in the long run.

Oh, and when it comes to reorganizing, don't overlook the back of doors - even doors you might not think of at first. This is the door to the furnace and water heater in the kitchen. It makes a much better place for pot and pan lids - or even other smaller items. You could even utilize the back of the door going out to the garage with racks like this!

Here's a space that you probably forget to clean - the 'mechanical' area. As long as you have the vacuum out, why not give that area an occasional once over.

Columns written about cleaning often talk about using sanitizers and specialized cleaners to make the job go faster. I don't agree. I have almost no specialized cleaners beyond BarKeepers Friend or BonAmi for scrubbing, and generic Windex type cleaner for glass and similar. Really. I don't need it. I use my steam cleaner for all of those other greasy/dirty jobs. This saves me a LOT of money. Steam takes off grease and grime like you can't believe (without toxic fumes and chemicals) and the only thing you need is the occasional jug of distilled water - which also takes up a LOT less space than a dozen different spray bottles of cleaner. Oh, and you've probably heard about not mixing various cleaning products - as that can create some really dangerous fumes. Well, you'll have no worries like that when using steam!

Here's a little 'spring cleaning' job that I did the other day: I pulled the toilet seats off entirely in order to thoroughly clean under and around and under those hinges that hold it onto the base. That area is really hard to get clean on a weekly basis and that brownish 'gunk' builds up. Taking the seats off isn't a difficult task, and only involves a screw driver and maybe a small wrench. I took each seat off, and into the deep laundry room sink for a real cleaning. It only took perhaps 15 minutes per toilet.

Windows are a sticking point when it comes to spring cleaning. The streaks and smears can be annoying. Here's the solution: Don't use paper towels. That's right. Use microfiber cloths. I also use these on sinks and countertops. They do the job the first time, and are washable.

I have a good supply of these type of cloths, and they work brilliantly from windows to sinks to my induction glass cooktop.

Finally, it's so important to do things in the right order to get the best results.

1- Start with the 'scrubby' jobs like bathrooms. Steam clean the fixtures and/or countertops, if that's on your list.

2- Vacuum - and a couple times per year, toss the curtains into the dryer to 'tumble' the dust out of them. Also consider doing the same with decorative pillows and throws.

3- Mop - or preferably, steam clean the hard surface floors.

4- Dust.

5- Finish with cleaning windows.

This way, you don't stir up dust from vacuuming that will settle on your freshly dusted surfaces or fabrics.

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