Spring cleaning: You can do this

schandler@newsobserver.comMarch 28, 2014 

Finally – finally! – spring has arrived. The flowers are blooming, the trees are turning green again and – hey, how did those baseboards get so dusty?

Amid all the joys of spring comes something not quite so inviting: spring cleaning. Done right, it can breathe new life into your home and free your spirit from the weight of clutter, soap scum and dog hair.

“Spring is new beginnings,” said Beth Dannenhauer, owner of the Maid in Heaven cleaning service in Charlotte. “It kind of transcends into the house: ‘Let’s just give this a good cleaning.’ It’s good for the soul.”

And, she points out, it’s also good for the body. Accumulated dust mites, airborne allergens and dust particles can make us sick, especially in today’s nearly air-tight homes.

“Healthwise,” said Dannenhauer, “it’s very important to get that house clean, get it disinfected, do those chores that you maybe don’t do but once a year.”

But while most of us feel at least a tiny twinge of that spring-cleaning bug this time of year, not everyone actually rolls up sleeves and gets it done. We like the idea of a tidier, healthier home, but we don’t really like scrubbing baseboards.

Geralin Thomas, owner of Metropolitan Organizing in Cary, says there are ways to make all those deep-cleaning chores feel less like, well, chores.

“Sometimes it’s easier to do things in a group, surround yourself with people who are motivated and will keep you motivated,” she said. If your family members don’t quite meet that standard, enlist some friends or neighbors and create a traveling band of spring cleaners. One person’s house gets the deep clean one weekend, then it’s on to another group member’s house the next. Bring some snacks, play some music and be sure to indulge in a reward when it’s all done, maybe a night out or a glass of wine, Thomas said.

If you find yourself grumbling, instead of whistling while you work, keep in mind all the benefits a clean house offers the mind and body.

“It’s very much like exercising,” Thomas said. “A lot of times you have to talk yourself into it, and then while you’re sweating it out it’s no fun. But the minute you’re done, you think, ‘I feel so much better! I’m glad I did it.’ 

Starting a spring-cleaning project can be overwhelming – so much grime, so little time. So we asked some experts, including Dannenhauer and Thomas, for their top five tasks and tips to inspire you to take out the mop and get moving.

By the numbers

The American Cleaning Institute polled 1,777 adults about their spring-cleaning habits. Here are some highlights from that 2013 poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points:

How often, if at all, does your household engage in spring cleaning?

• Every year: 72%, up 10% from 2012

• Every other year: 5%

• Every few years: 4%

• Less often than every few years: 4%

• Never: 12%

• Don’t know: 3%

Which rooms, if any, do you prioritize when spring cleaning?

• Bedroom: 76%

• Kitchen; 73%

• Bathrooms: 69%

• Family room/den: 61%

• Dining room: 45%

• Home office: 26%

• Kids’ playroom: 15%

Which tasks are included in your spring cleaning?

• Washing windows: 80%

• Cleaning behind furniture: 80%

• Cleaning appliances: 72%

• Scrubbing floors: 70%

• Washing bedding/linens: 64%

• Washing curtains: 59%

• Cleaning fabrics/upholstered surfaces: 55%

• Garage: 44%

• Basement: 28%

The big to-do list

This handy, room-by-room checklist from Kansas State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, appeared in a “Workable Wellness” newsletter from N.C. State University’s Family and Consumer Sciences department and the N.C. Cooperative Extension.


Occasional tasks

Clean drip pans on range.

Clean oven.

Defrost and clean refrigerator.

Wash walls and woodwork.

Seasonal tasks

Clean cupboards.

Clean refrigerator coils and door gaskets.

Pull out refrigerator and clean behind it.

Defrost refrigerator.


Occasional tasks:

Wash throw rug.

Wash walls, woodwork.

Seasonal tasks:

Clean closets.

Living room

Occasional tasks:

Shampoo rugs and furniture.

Wipe light bulbs.

Move and clean under furniture.

Wash windows and curtains.

Dust books and pictures.

Clean dust and dirt from ceiling fans and air conditioning vents.

Seasonal tasks:

Clean closets.

Clean screens or storm windows.

Wax floors.

Wash walls and woodwork.

Clean carpets and upholstered furniture.

Clean blinds.


Occasional tasks:

Wash mattress covers and pads.

Wash pillows.

Wash walls and woodwork.

Seasonal tasks:

Wash or dry-clean blankets and spreads.

Organize closets.

Geralin Thomas

Professional organizer, owner of Metropolitan Organizing in Cary

919-380-7718 or metropolitanorganizing.com

• Launder dust magnets in your home. Clean bath mats, throw rugs, blankets, slip covers, decorative pillows, pet bedding and stuffed animals.

• Discard, recycle or donate old magazines, catalogs and newspapers. Store the keepers in magazine holders. Toss old issues every three months.

• Wash your reusable grocery bags. They are incubators for bacteria. Toss in the washer or turn them inside out and clean with a disinfecting wipe. Let them air dry before folding and storing.

• Clean your refrigerator. Temporarily remove all the food and place items in a cooler. Wipe walls and shelves with hot water and a mild liquid dishwashing detergent, then rinse. Clean drawers and drip pans, and don’t forget the icemaker and water dispenser on the door.

• Organize cords and cables. Use a binder clip and a label maker to separate, mark and store each cord neatly. For easy storage, hang them on the inside of a closet door with a removable hook.

Lynda Rothman

Professional organizer, owner of Sane Jane in Raleigh

919-880-0814 or Sanejane.com

• Find new space in your closet. Revisit your winter wardrobe and donate anything you haven’t worn this past season or have consistently passed over.

• Bust the pollen in your car. Store a Swiffer dry cloth in your glove box for those few minutes when you are sitting in traffic to immediately eliminate that yellow film from your dashboard and console.

• Purge old sunscreen and insect repellent. Avoid sunburn or bug bites by purging expired product. Take advantage of seasonal coupons and discounts to replenish your supply.

• Create a fresh smell. Cleaning out your fireplace and chimney means a fresher-smelling home. Remove all debris from your winter fires. Make sure your flue is closed. Consider having it professionally cleaned. Replace the winter smell of chestnuts roasting over an open fire with a vase of fresh eucalyptus for a fresh aroma.

• Lighten your mudroom. Clear out your winter coats and accessories and send them into hibernation. Break out the colorful flip-flops, sun hats and beach towels.

Laurie Martin

Professional organizer, owner of Simplicity in Charlotte

704-464-3713 or simplicity-organizers.com

Martin says your first step in spring cleaning should be making a plan. Here’s how:

• Make a list of all the rooms in your house.

• Write down specific areas in each room that need to be cleaned.

• Decide how often and what days each area should be cleaned.

• Make sure cleaning supplies are fully stocked and readily available.

• Less clutter makes cleaning a lot easier!

Beth Dannenhauer

Owner of Maid in Heaven in Charlotte

704-566-4000 or maidinheavencharlotte.com

• Cabinet fronts in kitchen and bathrooms: Mild soap and warm water usually does the trick. If the cabinets are wood, finish off with furniture oil to keep them looking great.

• Blinds: Take them down, put them in the bathtub along with some automatic dishwasher detergent and let them soak.

• Bookcases: Take everything off, wipe down and put back. Take a picture with your cell phone before you begin if you want to make sure everything gets put back exactly like it was.

• Air vents: Take the vent cover off and stick your vacuum attachment into the ducts to get the accumulated dust, dirt, etc.

• Windows: Get a cheap squeegee at the dollar store. Fill a bucket with warm water and add about seven drops of Dawn dish detergent. Wash with solution and then squeegee the window, wiping the squeegee with a dry cloth after each swipe. Don’t forget the screens. They can be hosed off outside or washed in the bathtub.

Chandler: 919-829-4830

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