The days are getting a little longer, the nights a touch less cold, and with the promise of springtime on the horizon, many of us are feeling the urge to fling open the windows and give our homes a really good clean. And while spring cleaning has become a cultural touchstone that we all lean into as we prepare for the warmer days ahead, there are certain tips and tricks that will make keeping your home neat and tidy much easier—not just in the spring, but year round.
“Spring cleaning started from cultures following passover cleaning, which is in the springtime. Passover cleaning is pulling out appliances, cleaning inside them and around them and cleaning inside cupboards and drawers,” explains Stephanie Riddell, Founder of Nettoyage Eco Vert (opens in new tab) (NEV), a chemical-free residential cleaning company in Montreal. “Then others started to mimic the passover cleaning and spring cleaning became a whole new incredible to-do list.”
Starting your own spring cleaning this weekend? In order to make sure you get it right the first time around, we tapped into our network of cleaning and organizing professionals to get their insights on the most common mistakes they see their clients make when it comes time to clean.
If you’re hoping to be as efficient and stress-free as possible going into your cleaning frenzy, you’ll want to read on to ensure you don’t make these common cleaning blunders.
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Waiting until it’s spring to do any heavy lifting.
“The main mistake is that people wait until spring to do a ton of deep cleaning—that's a good recipe for backache!” says Riddell. “The best way to keep a home clean is to follow a manual of rotating duties in a home and the frequency of those duties. All can be broken up into smaller, more manageable tasks year-round.”
Instead of waiting until spring for a yearly clean-out, Riddell suggests trying a system where your major tasks are spread out through the year. “In the spring, you have so many outdoor tasks like gardening and weeding, so it's better to go through traditional spring cleaning tasks year-round.”
“At NEV, we try to do as much as possible in colder seasons. We have a rotational system in place so that the large ‘spring cleaning’ tasks are not all concentrated in April/May. They’re not duties you want to do if a client doesn't have air conditioning either,” she laughs.
If you’re starting your spring cleaning this weekend—don’t fret. While Riddell is an advocate for doing heavy lifting year round, it’s not too late to implement your own system that will set you up for an easier spring cleaning next year. Consider making it part of your to-do list to create a cleaning calendar to keep track of your deep cleans, or enlisting the help of a professional to step in every few months rather than doing one massive sweep come spring.
“Having a system in place means that when spring rolls around, we can fully focus on the most important spring tasks: windows, patio doors and tracks, etc. and get ready to enjoy our spring and summer that goes by so quickly!”
Trying to declutter and clean at the same time.
While pop culture sensations like The Home Edit and Marie Kondo make organizing seem like a fun and sexy practice for getting your home in order in a hurry, Michele Vig, Founder and Chief Organizer at Neat Little Nest (opens in new tab), suggests avoiding trying to declutter and clean at the same time.
“Decluttering and cleaning are a power-packed duo, but not when you try to do them at the same time because they are different acts,” explains Vig. “Decluttering is the act of looking at the items you own and deciding what you want to keep (a relationship with your stuff), while cleaning is getting the dirt out of your home (a relationship with nature of sorts). Declutter first, clean second.”
According to Vig, the most successful way to declutter an entire home is by category (clothing/closets, books/shelves, decor/mementos et al) rather than by location. Decluttering by category makes it easier to make decisions because you are able to see the total volume of a category all at once, as well as see if you have duplicates making it easier to compare and contrast.
Then, and only then, should you move onto actually putting in the elbow grease and doing any deep or surface-level spring cleaning.
- See also: 15 organization ideas for every room in the house
Forgetting to actually clean your cleaning products.
“Before starting your spring clean, the first step is to check your cleaning equipment,” says Ana Andres, Co-Founder of TidyChoice (opens in new tab), a London-based residential cleaning service. A common mistake, according to Andres, is neglecting to clean cloths and sponges. When you forget, bacteria grows which is then spread around your home when cleaning. “Our easy tip is to throw your cloths in with your regular clothes washer and to replace your sponges every few weeks!”
According to Andres, green cleaning is a trend for this year’s spring clean, so, alongside cleaning up your sponges and cloths, you might want to clean up the chemical-laden products you’ve been storing under the sink.
“White vinegar is a must for any chemical-free cleaning kit. Its natural acidity works perfectly for removing limescale. However, this acidity can damage other areas of your kitchen,” she warns. “If used on granite or marble countertops, it can take away their shine and make them easier to stain. For cleaning worktops, our best advice is a simple solution of water and washing up liquid with a gentle microfibre cloth.”
A spring clean wouldn’t be complete without the finishing touch of smell. While it’s easy to grab an aerosol air freshener, Andres also suggests exploring natural alternatives. “To avoid those harmful chemicals, make your own spray with a DIY recipe using part natural lavender oil and part water!”