Spring cleaning is always a great idea in theory, but the reality is a little different. After a winter cooped up inside, freshening up your home sounds nice, but getting rid of months’ worth of dust and grime is at best daunting (and at worst, terrifying).
The solution: Break up your tasks. You (truly!) don’t have to do everything in one day. Choose the areas that matter most to you and start there, using our super-practical tips from cleaning experts Rachel Hoffman, blogger and author of Unfuck Your Habitat, and Dana White, blogger and author of How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. Go on, you got this!
A version of this story originally appeared on SheKnows in April 2017.
A good starting point: "Kick off your cleaning with anything that has the potential to smell bad," says Hoffman. The source of most stinky household items? The kitchen (trash, fridge, sink, etc).
Clear out the fridge
Give your refrigerator a good clean-out, removing expired products and wiping down sticky surfaces.
Clean the sink
Sprinkle your drain with baking soda followed by white vinegar; let that sit for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down to clear out any remaining gunk.
Tackle your cupboards
One shelf at a time, from top to bottom, take everything out of your cabinets. Clean the surfaces, then put everything that's not expired back, setting aside items you no longer want for donation or the trash.
A season of warm snuggles (and plenty of pillow drool) means there's work to be done in the bedroom.
Wash all bedding
"Spring cleaning is a great time to wash comforters and pillows or any bedding that doesn't go through the washing machine on a regular basis. They'll be clean and dust-free and you'll sleep better," said White.
Swap out comforters
You should also store your heavy winter comforters for the season, washing them before storing in an airtight container in a dry place.
Flip the mattress
Freshen up your mattress by sprinkling it with baking soda, letting it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuuming up. Flip the whole thing and repeat. This will get rid of extra dust mites that can aggravate seasonal allergies.
The Living Room
The living room might feel overwhelming since it's used all the time and might have some accumulated clutter, but it will feel that much better after you get it done.
Dust the smart way
Dusting first makes the rest of the job easier. "Dust collects on walls, crown molding, tops of curtains, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures," says White. "Starting with the ceiling, eliminate dust from the top to the bottom of the room."
Vacuum and mop floors
"Dealing with all the dust that's settled in over the winter is infinitely easier with a vacuum," says Hoffman. "And Swiffers and reusable electrostatic cloths are super-useful for items that can't be vacuumed." Vacuum carpets, then mop up any hard floors. Use vacuum attachments to clean your couch, curtains, chairs and radiators. They're even good for sucking cobwebs in hard-to-reach ceiling corners.
Wash curtains and drapes
Last but not least, wash your curtains and drapes, and for any that aren't machine-washable, use your vacuum.
You (hopefully) already clean your shower and toilet on the regular, but now's the time for a deeper, more thorough bathroom refresh.
Clean shower curtains
If you use a vinyl liner, now's the time to swap it for a new one, and throw washable curtains in the laundry.
Wash bath mats
Toss bathroom rugs in the wash to get rid of bacteria (or consider splurging for a new mat if yours is years-old and dingy).
Ditch old products
Look through your personal care products and see if there's anything you can purge. Most makeup expires (and using old cosmetics is bad for your skin), and we all have lotions and potions that we've been keeping for "someday." Donate unopened products and toss anything that you aren't using.
Whether you're a Marie Kondo fan or have your own system, devote a few hours to sorting through your clothes, shoes and accessories — then take steps to keep your closet clean, fresh and organized.
Donate or toss items that no longer fit, aren't really your style or you never loved in the first place. Once you've decided what to keep, take everything out, lay it on your bed and vacuum and dust the closet interior. "From there, consider how often you'll need to access the items within and arrange accordingly. If the stuff you grab the most is the easiest to get to, you'll be able to keep order more easily," says Hoffman.
Store winter items
Of the clothes you've decided to keep, select the winter items that need washing and storing for the next several months. For best results, store coats, sweaters and other cold-weather layers in airtight, opaque, plastic containers — this will keep out bugs and dust. Vacuum-seal bags are a great way to save space, especially if you're storing bulky items like comforters.
Keep things fresh
Last but not least, stash some lavender satchels or bundles of cedar wood chips in the closet to keep moths and bugs away and to freshen the scent of clothes that have been in storage for the last few months.
Your foyer is the first place everyone sees when they enter your home, so it feels pretty great to give it a spring makeover.
Shake out mats and rugs
Welcome mats and outdoor rugs should be shaken out or vacuumed and thrown in the washer if they're not too bulky. Pick up any entryway rugs and vacuum and/or mop underneath them.
Clean shoe bins
If you store your shoes in the foyer, vacuum and wash whatever it is they've been resting on, whether they're bins, a shoe organizer or just a pile on the floor.
Store winter items
Take stock of the items in this space — winter hats, gloves and scarves can be put into storage to save space along with snow boots and shovels. This will clear the way for spring jackets and rain boots — hooray!
The Basement and Attic
You might want to save out-of-the-way storage spaces for last since they're not places anyone sees every day — but don't forget to tackle them at some point.
Check for damage
This time of year, keep an eye out for water damage from melting snow or heavy spring rains. Call an expert if you find any drips or leaks and seek professional help stat if you see any mold — some kinds can present serious health risks.
Air things out
If the room feels dank and damp, run a few box fans in the space for a couple of days to dry things out (and open a window or two, if your attic has them).
Dust, sweep and organize
Remove cobwebs with a vacuum cleaner attachment or long-armed duster, sweep what you can and organize your various boxes and items that are being stored so they look tidy.