Springtime, the great season of rebirth and renewal, is the perfect time to throw the windows open and do some spring cleaning. If you’re feeling a bit lost about where to start, hopefully this guide will give you some ideas.
Unless you’ve been living like a completely slovenly swine, this should be a sizeable, but not impossible job to tackle.
1. Follow the same protocol as with the bathroom in part 2 of this hack: empty out all cupboards, cabinets, and drawers, laying everything out in another room. Then wash the ceiling and walls the same way as you did in the washroom, making sure you also scrub behind the fridge and stove. Keep a pillow handy in case you need to scream into it.
2. Clean your fridge. There are no items inside your fridge that will go bad in the few minutes it’ll take you to scrub inside it, but leave those in the cold until the very last minute. Get your bucket of soapy water handy (use dish soap for this!), and after emptying the fridge completely, wash it all down thoroughly. You can take out the shelves and vegetable drawers to hose down in the yard if you need to, but put things like dairy products, eggs, and meat back in before doing anything else. Check the expiry dates of all items before returning them to the fridge, and throw out whatever’s past its prime.
3. Open a fresh box of baking soda and place it on one of the door shelves to absorb odours. If you had an old box of baking soda in there beforehand, toss it out. Don’t smell it first.
4.This is your chance to organize your fridge a bit better. Keep in mind that the top shelf and the door are the warmest spots in there, so arrange things accordingly. The coldest place in your fridge is the middle drawer, so that’s where you want to keep animal products (meat, dairy, eggs). Keep raw food and cooked food separate, and don’t over-stuff your fridge! Leave room for cold air to circulate.
Note: Always store cooked (i.e. ready-to-eat) food above raw food like unprepared meat, just in case any liquids are leaked from the raw ingredients onto the pre-prepared foods.
5. Store fruit and vegetables separately. You can store most vegetables in the crisper drawers at the bottom of the fridge, but harder fruits and veg like carrots and apples can be stored at the top of the shelf.
6. Use the fridge door shelves for drinks (other than milk), condiments, preserves, and pre-made snacks.
If you find that your fridge is getting crowded, consider packing things into stack-able plastic or glass containers: this will keep things nicely organized, and will free up space inside the fridge as well. Consider investing in a fridge thermometer so you can be sure that the interior temperature remains at 40°F (4°C).
7. Clear out all the cupboards/pantry, and wash down each shelf with vinegar-water. Wipe down every can, jar, box, and other container before putting it back in tidily. If you find that you have too many bags or boxes of dry goods flopping about, transfer their contents to empty jars or plastic containers that can be stacked neatly and keep contents from spilling, or being eaten by insects.
8. Empty out all the drawers, wash your cutlery container, and wipe down the insides of each drawer before putting anything back into them. Consider lining them with wallpaper or drawer-liners if you’d like to “pretty them up” a bit. Donate any items you’ll never use again (avocado slicer? really?) and keep the tools you use most often within easiest reach.
9. Clean your stove-top and oven. Scour the top of the stove with baking soda and a bit of dish soap, and wipe clean with a wet cloth. Avoid toxic oven cleaners and just clean it yourself with baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and some steel wool.
These rooms tend to be smaller jobs, as they’re really only used for the sole purpose of work, or relaxation. If your living room pulls double-duty as a kid’s play area, however, there might be a bit more to tackle.
1. Clear it all out. With the exception of moving all of your furniture out into the hallway, grab boxes and bags and haul all the miscellaneous “stuff” into other rooms.
2. Wash down the walls, dust all the furniture (polish any wooden pieces while you’re at it), and then vacuum/wash the floor.
3. This is your opportunity to determine whether you need additional storage. If you found that you had miscellaneous “stuff” scattered around everywhere, you can take some time to organize things more efficiently. If you’re on a tight budget, check Craigslist, Kijiji, and Freecycle for things like bookshelves, baskets, trunks, and other storage solutions. For living rooms, you can designate 2 lower bookshelves for kid-stuff storage, and in offices, adding shelves for storage containers lifts things off the floor and into its proper place.
4. Before you put things away, evaluate whether you really need them, and if they need to be kept around. Holding onto a pack of business cards from a job you held 5 years ago is wholly unnecessary, and why would you keep disposable pens once they’ve run out of ink? Toss them.
5. If your living room is the place where you store your entertainment equipment, go through all of that to see what you still love, and what you’re happy to be rid of. Tastes change over time, and if you’re never going to listen to that Nickelback or Macy Gray CD again, pop it into the “donation” bin. Same goes for DVDs, console games, books, and magazines.
6. Freshen your upholstery with a little TLC to get it back into great shape. If your fabric couches and chairs are really filthy, rent a steam cleaner from the supermarket and give them a once-over to make them look their best. You can brush microsuede and condition leather furniture, and a spritz bottle of homemade Febreeze* on fabric upholstery can leave everything smelling fresh and lovely.
*You can make your own with a couple of cups of water, some vinegar, and essential oil.
7. Wash curtains and drapes to eliminate dust and odours, and wipe down windows with vinegar and water. Drying them with newspaper will bring them to a startling, crystalline shine. If you have vertical blinds, hang your head in shame, take them down, and put up some curtains.
8. This is a good time to switch around artwork on the walls, or to get some new pieces up as a chance of scenery. Consider some framed prints, or even postcards and small items you can create a collage with for interesting effects.