Spring Cleaning Rules

The following rules are excerpted from Jeff Campbell’s best-selling book, Spring Cleaning. Following these rules will help you get through the yearly top-to-bottom spring cleaning process, with plenty of time left over for you to enjoy the season.

Rule One: Make a List

It’s difficult to get through your spring cleaning if you aren’t clear on what’s included in the process, so make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish. The modern definition of spring cleaning (the one that we use), is: The cleaning jobs that you don’t do during your normal weekly or bi-weekly cleaning routine that you cannot ignore forever. That’s good to know: spring cleaning doesn’t have anything to do with the season any longer. Instead of waiting until spring, do your “spring cleaning” chores when whatever it is needs to be done. For example, clean out the refrigerator when you can see that it’s needed.

Here’s a sample list to get you started:

1. Wash windows (it’s not a difficult task when you know how, and the rooms look so much better when you’re finished!)
2. Clean and reorganize your cupboards
3. Clean out the refrigerator
4. Clean the refrigerator coils
5. Clean and reorganize drawers, closets, etc.
6. Refinish floors (add a coat of wax)
7. Clean light fixtures, chandeliers, etc.
8. Wash ceilings and walls (especially in bathrooms and the kitchen)
9. Clean or change filters
10. Polish silver and other metals
11. Clean and treat leather furniture
12. Vacuum or dust mini blinds

Rule Two: Make an Appointment to Tackle the Worst

You know that there are certain tasks that you dread, so make an appointment to take on one ; the appointment will help you get started. Maybe it’s the closet that you can’t fit anything more into and that you can’t find anything that’s already in it. It doesn’t matter what the job is, make a serious appointment – the same kind you make to take your child to the doctor, and keep to it. Set the appointment far enough in the future that you’ll have time to complete  Rule Three and Rule Four before hand.

Rule Three: Assemble the Required Tools and Supplies Since spring cleaning jobs are chores you don’t do often, you may not have all of the supplies on hand. If you’re planning on sealing grout, you may not even know what supplies are needed! Do your research and gather everything you need.

Rule Four: Research Before Starting If you don’t know how to do a task (or you’re just guessing), read more about the job online or in a book or article. There’s few things more depressing than to want to accomplish something but not know how to do it. Also, if you don’t have a firm grasp of what needs to be done first (and second and so forth), until the job is completed, you’ll waste time and the results are apt to be mediocre at best.

Rule Five: Be Careful with Spot Cleaning If you’ve not cleaned an area in a while and you decide to spot clean, you may end up with a clean spot surrounded with dirt. If you spot clean a dirty ceiling, you’ll have a clean spot that’s more annoying than the bit of spaghetti sauce that you removed – and now you have a much larger task of cleaning the entire ceiling. The same can be true of walls and carpets. Of course, if things are so dirty that you can’t safely spot clean, then you really need to clean them in their entirety – so put them on your spring cleaning list (Rule One).

Rule Six: Safety Is Essential Because spring cleaning entails cleaning areas that you don’t regularly attend to, you may need some special and unfamiliar equipment. You may need a ladder – and you may be cleaning an electric chandelier. Take precautions to ensure you don’t fall or electrocute yourself.

Rule Seven: Spring Cleaning Includes Repairs If caulk is missing in some areas in the shower, you may need to remove what is left and re-caulk. A toilet that leaks water may need a new flush valve. If you’re spring cleaning and come across a gouge in the wall, consider patching it with spackle and spot-painting it as a follow-up to the cleaning job. Do not be afraid: these small repairs can be easier than many cleaning jobs.

Rule Eight: Create Personal Cleaning Intervals The refrigerator owner’s manual may tell you to clean the coils every six-months. Instead of following that generic instruction, just check your coils in six-months; if they are nice and clean, then check again in six more months. You may find that, in your home, they need to be cleaned only once every 18 months. Do similar calculations for as many other spring cleaning chores as possible and put dates on your spring cleaning list (Rule One) whenever you establish a cleaning interval.

Rule Nine: Spread-Out the Chores Since spring cleaning has nothing to do with springtime anymore, you can spread out the various tasks so that they are more manageable or logically grouped together instead of an overwhelming marathon of jobs.

Rule Ten: Implement Clutter Control Spring cleaning is a great time to implement clutter control practices. When cleaning out a closet, separate out the clothes you’re going to donate, those that need repair, and those that you will keep. While you’re in the closet, take out things that don’t belong there in the first place and place them into their proper location (or recycle them). Make yourself toss things that you no longer use, that are parts to things you no longer own, and so forth.

Rule Eleven: Call In a Professional If you are no longer interested in renting a carpet-cleaning machine, hire a carpet cleaner rather than letting the carpet get so dirty that it can no longer be satisfactorily cleaned. The same goes for your windows if they are too difficult to reach, or your floors if your knees can’t take the punishment the way they used to.

Rule Twelve: Work as a Team You may know that this is also a Speed Cleaning Rule, but it bears repeating. Everyone that helps get the house dirty should help get it clean – and that includes spring cleaning jobs!

You’ll also want to check-out Jeff’s other cleaning rules and the books they’re from:

Speed Cleaning Rules: Rules for speed cleaning tasks, from Jeff’s Speed Cleaning book.
Clutter Control Rules: Rules for control clutter, from Jeff’s Clutter Control book.
Talking Dirt Rules: Cleaning questions and answers from Jeff’s book Talking Dirt.
Cleaning Maintenance Rules: Rules to maintain your belongings, from Jeff’s book Good As New.