by Lara Gladych –
It was around this time last year that we were beginning to realize that Covid lockdown was going to keep us home and very bored for longer than any of us hoped. For a good portion of us, this proved to be the perfect time to dig in to that deep cleaning we’d been meaning to get around to. A year later, we’re probably due to tackle it all over again.
Something that’s a little bit different this spring is that, given the circumstances, it’s probably been ages since we’ve had guests in our homes, and what that can translate into for some is the lack of necessity to hunker down for the detailed cleaning jobs that we would otherwise insist upon. For me personally, it’s a little bit harder to maintain the discipline around a sparkly clean house when no one will see it but me and my family.
So, where to begin?
The folks at Good Housekeeping remind us to be realistic, and not expect to get everything done in one day. I would suggest breaking the jobs down by room (maybe all bathrooms one day), or by task itself (like perhaps all windows). They also recommend (as do I) that you tidy and remove clutter in the space at hand before getting down to business.
The first thing I like to do when the warm sun and less frigid breezes arrive is open up the windows and create a cross draft where possible. The fresh air is so good for us, and inevitably leaves our stale spaces smelling cleaner and crisper.
Take the time to do an inventory of your cleaning products and supplies. Maybe this is the year you want to replenish your stock with more natural, less toxic cleaning solutions, possibly reducing the number of products in your arsenal generally speaking, as there are fantastic natural cleaners that multi-task beautifully. Think “homemade” with the likes of vinegar, baking soda, lemon, essential oils, etc.
When deciding what to tackle first, the experts at marthastewart.com recommend “starting with the space that feels the most manageable,” and working your way outwards from there. Think small, like a hallway closet or kitchen pantry. In my experience, these small spaces can also feel the most rewarding to wipe down, vacuum and organize, since they can often be our messy little secrets with those closed doors that allow the chaos inside to be out of sight and out of mind.
Refrigerators are another small but mightily in-need space that should get a thorough cleaning, according to Martha’s people. In our house, we often refer to the fridge door shelves as the place that food goes go to die. Sound familiar? Get in there to not only wipe out spills and food debris, but to clear out the items that have expired or are likely to never be touched again.
In my kitchen, I also like to degrease the stove hood and surrounding area as part of my deep clean. Remember that like-dissolves-like, so grab either an orange oil cleaner or the closest bottle of cooking oil, and use this along with a dry cloth to rub out accumulated oil and fat splatter. Wipe down with something like dish soap and water afterwards, to remove all residue.
Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics, recommends refreshing your spring and summer wardrobe in anticipation of the warmer weather. Combat any musty smells with a homemade cleaning spray: “Simply put vodka (any inexpensive brand will do) into an empty spray bottle, then spritz onto clothes to dampen. Let it sit, then wash the garment as usual” (www.oprahmag.com). She reminds us that vodka is great for jewelry polishing, too!
Vinegar is one of my go-tos for any cleaning adventure. If it’s been a while since you’ve done any of the following, investigate dilution instructions for running vinegar through a wash cycle in your washing machine, your dishwasher, coffee maker or kettle, to freshen them and dislodge buildup and gunk. You can also detach and soak shower heads in vinegar to clear out mineral buildup.
Something I was taught years ago when I worked as a yacht detailer was to start at the top and work your way down. Begin with the highest point of focus (ceiling fans, tall dresser tops, light fixtures) from which debris is likely to fall, and work downward, rather than against the pull of gravity which will undo your progress. Another rule on the job was that shiny stuff is polished last, which means that mirrors and fixtures are the last things to be made to sparkle when finishing up a room.
Lastly, wherever you’re cleaning, don’t forget your old toothbrush! This will be your best friend when digging in to any minuscule crevices that are untouchable otherwise.