Spring Cleaning for the 21st Century

Something about spring makes people feel renewed and ready for a positive change. Warming weather, blooming trees, gradually lengthening days—everything seems to naturally signal the need for a fresh start. Which leads us to what for some people is a cherished ritual: spring cleaning. But is it as cherished as we think? Or do some people dread the prospect of spending an entire day off doing housecleaning?
This is spring cleaning as we know it: an entire family wakes up early on a Saturday morning to clean their entire house from stem to stern. No toaster oven is left crumby, they leave no baseboard undusted. They clean gutters, paint is touched up, and at the end of the day the family can relax and order pizza, satisfied that their team effort yielded a sparkling clean house… or so goes the idealized vision. But not everyone has a family with members old enough or able enough to tackle big cleaning tasks. Some people work on Saturdays—or every day. Not everyone has the time to “spring clean” in the way we traditionally think.

The fact is, there are people who don’t or can’t do a spring cleaning in a traditional sense. But there are real advantages to doing a deep house cleaning. For one, once a house is completely clean, the maintenance is easier, requiring only a few minutes of touch-up work every day. Also, if you rent and move fairly often, a deep clean in the middle of the year significantly reduces the stress of packing, moving, and cleaning when the lease is up.

But how can busy people of the 21st century achieve the satisfaction of a very clean home without having to sacrifice their entire hard-earned day off? To answer this question, we take a lesson from kitchen cooks and construction workers. “What could they possibly have in common,” you ask? Before beginning the major work, both cooks and builders prepare. They look ahead at their recipe or their blueprints, set up the materials they need beforehand, and keep them in easy reach. But how does that preparation translate into spring cleaning?

In reality, spring cleaning does not involve a lot of actual cleaning. It really is more about purging and organizing—two preliminary activities that can help prepare for deep cleaning. Purging and organizing can be done in short periods over the course of about a week. Rather than spending an entire day (or two) going from room to room sorting, organizing, and then cleaning, that preparation will make the actual cleaning day much shorter and smoother.

Let’s take the kitchen, for instance. Deep cleaning the kitchen will probably involve wiping down all surfaces, cleaning the stove, oven and refrigerator, cleaning cabinets and drawers, possibly polishing fixtures like cabinet doors or stainless appliances, and then cleaning the floors. By itself, that list seems time-consuming. How can a short period of preparation beforehand make that job less stressful? Taking one hour to throw away expired or inedible food, widowed plastic containers or lids, and to arrange the cabinets allows you to focus solely on cleaning when the day arrives. This same preparation can be performed in every room: before the cleaning day, set aside 30-60 minutes to purge what you don’t need and organize what you will keep. (Of course, if you’ve decided to part with big items like furniture, mattresses, heavy fitness equipment or huge piles of clothes, Horton Hauls Junk is ready to dispose of all of it for you.)

On game day, the day you schedule your spring cleaning, the hardest part has already been done! Now, the focus can just be on just cleaning very well. How long it takes to clean will depend, of course, on how many people are helping, how large the rooms are and how many rooms there are to clean (and how dirty they were to start with). But with short periods of preparation ahead of time and with an early start, even the most thorough spring cleaning can be finished before too much of the day has passed. You could even have time to go out and enjoy that beautiful spring weather that gave you the crazy idea to spring clean in the first place.