It’s an almost primal urge that gets us purging and cleaning and organizing come spring. But if your home is cluttered with mittens and boots, leftover holiday décor and gifts, bikes and outdoor gear that haven’t been used since last year, it can be hard to know where to start. And if you have allergies or other health issues to consider when you’re stirring up the dust, the task may seem overwhelming.
Typically, winter is spent indoors with an accumulation of indoor allergens, so it’s important that you keep these allergens—dust mites, mold and animal dander—in mind. The accumulation of these indoor allergens can make things worse for allergy sufferers and asthmatics.
If you’re feeling the need to shake out last season’s dust and detritus, just follow these easy tips for making spring cleaning as simple as possible.
- Prioritize. You have to have a vision for how you want your house to look and feel post-spring cleanse. Once you have that mental picture, you can make cleaning and organizing decisions with that goal in mind.
- Sort. Start cleaning by figuring out what goes where. First toss things you don’t need, and then move on to putting away things you do need that have migrated from their storage space. As part of that process you can figure out what can be donated and what can be recycled or thrown away. Try having a donation bag or box somewhere in your house at all times so you can toss things when you come across them, rather than waiting for purging day.
When you’re in the sorting stage, it’s important not to buy organizing supplies until after you’ve weeded your belongings. The urge to buy bins and shelves and containers can be compelling, but until you know what it is you need to store, they won’t help.
- Think ahead. When you’re figuring out what goes where, consider keeping cleansers in more than one room. That way, if you’re motivated to clean the bathroom later, you won’t have to trek back to the laundry room to grab what you need.
- Roll up your sleeves. Once you’ve put away what needs to be put away and eliminated the rest, it’s time to tackle the actual cleaning. After all, it’s hard to mop the floors when they’re covered with clothes and books and Xbox.
- Get the family involved. Perhaps your son loves to use a spray mop and your daughter enjoys washing the dishes. Let your family members take on the tasks that appeal to them. Taking a team approach makes the chores go faster and gets everyone to buy into the goal of a clean house.
- Clean strategically. Use a pillowcase to clean all the winter dust that has accumulated on ceiling fan blades. That way the dust goes in the case, not on the floor, in the air or on the top of your head. Then, you can shake out the pillowcase outside and wash it.
- Mind the allergens. This step involves a lot of laundry: Allergy sufferers should wash clothes that have been kept in storage (using a fragrance-free detergent). The same goes for bedding and comforters that may have been kept in storage and are now being used in a spring/summer rotation. You should also consider washing rugs every few months to get the allergens out.
- Watch the windows. While it is tempting to just throw open the windows after being cooped up inside with the furnace going all winter, try to avoid switching the storm windows for the window screens until all the pollen has done its thing. Otherwise you’re just bringing outdoor allergens inside.
- Stick to it. After all the work is done, follow this final piece of advice for helping your house stay spic-and-span year-round. Life is easier when you have less stuff. Editing your belongings down to those that you use and love, and owning no more stuff than you can comfortably store, will make it much easier to keep your house organized.