Spring cleaning comes right on cue this year—so many of us have been hunkered down over the past twelve months and we're beyond ready to shake off the cobwebs and fling open our doors to a fresh new season. But given all those hours spent sheltering in place our homes may need an especially deep scouring right now, with extra attention to the places we might ordinarily overlook.
We talked to cleaning experts/cleanfluencers, Jessica Haizman and Brandon Pleshek @CleanThatUp for some tips on creating the ultimate 2021 spring cleaning checklist. It's likely you already have a basic top to bottom routine for cleaning your home that involves going room by room which is why this is not a cleaning checklist organized in that manner. Instead, it's a list to help you go beyond the surface—or at least the usual surfaces.
1. Don't Even Think of Decluttering
Pleshek's big rule of thumb for successful spring cleaning is to avoid doing any decluttering while you clean.
"I'm speaking from experience. It’s a big trap you can easily fall into, going down all these rabbit holes in every room while you're supposed to be cleaning," he says.
2. Windows, Upholstery, and Rugs
When you think of spring cleaning, most likely you think of washing windows and beating rugs.
No matter what cleaning hacks and trends have come and gone, those old-fashioned staples are still key for getting a deep, fresh clean.
"These are the places that get the most traffic and you'd be surprised at the amount of dirt that accumulates there," Haizman says."
Haizman, for one, will be spending plenty of time on her couch this year, using upholstery cleaner on the couch itself and thoroughly cleaning between and under cushions and beneath it to get at a year's worth of hanging-around debris.
"Think of your carpet and rugs as the biggest air filter in your home," Pleshek says. "You should really do a deep clean on your carpet, whether that’s hiring a professional or doing it with a machine. You're not just cleaning but you're improving the air quality."
3. Inside Jobs
On your weekly and monthly cleaning routines, you're getting the countertops and floors. Spring cleaning is the time to tackle the cracks and crevices where crumbs and dust are hiding. We're talking cabinets, drawers, pantry shelves. Remove all of the contents and use a hand vacuum to get at any loose debris. Then make a solution of 50/50 vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and mist, wiping down all surfaces with a soft cloth. If they're extremely dirty, add a bit of liquid dishwashing detergent to the mix.
4. Look Up Top
Once you've tackled the inside of storage areas it's time to grab a step stool and look at the top of the cabinets. Out-of-sightline areas are great at collecting dust. The same goes for the fridge, the uppermost surfaces of bookcases, and lighting fixtures. Use the same spray and a clean cloth or an old-fashioned hand duster to reach farther-flung areas. Another trick is to attach a microfiber cloth to a broom with a rubber band.
5. …And Down Below
Next, you should be crouching down to the areas that time and your vacuum forgot. That means the under-side of chairs and tables—particularly in dining areas, particularly if you have young children. Go deep to get all the dust under the bed (another good use for that broom with the microfiber cloth).
Pleshek is a fan of cleaning under the refrigerator which not only removes a truly icky layer of gunk but which will improve the operation of the appliance by opening up the airflow.
"Behind the fridge is an air vent. If you pull the fridge out from the wall and unplug it. Remove the vent and vacuum out all the sticky film in there. That will make your fridge run more efficiently," he says.
6. Think Outside the Frames
All of the pretty architectural features that make homes distinctive can also be excellent at collecting dust over time. Use a microfiber cloth, Swiffer, or vacuum to attack doorframes, doorjambs, baseboards, chair rails, and any other decorative moldings that might otherwise go ignored.
7. Clean the Cleaners
The number one item on Haizman's deep house cleaning checklist is appliances.
"People don’t think of cleaning their appliances. But when the filters in your dishwasher and dryer build up, they start to become a huge problem," she says.
Really, she says these are optimally cleaned once a month but if you're not hitting them regularly once or twice a year is better than nothing. Refer to your manufacturer's instructions for how to best clean these but both should be simple tasks that only take a few moments and don't require any special tools or cleaning products.
Clean your washing machine using the self-clean function if it has one or simply run an empty cycle using two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent and hot water. Rinse out your mops in hot water and bleach; vacuum then wash brooms in warm water with liquid dish soap; run your sponges through the dishwasher with a heated dry setting. While you're at it, your trusty vacuum cleaner can always use some care and maintenance.
8. Get Ready for Your Appliance Glow-Up
We consider cleaning out the inside of your refrigerator and freezer—getting rid of old food and condiments and then giving the whole thing a thorough scrub down part of the regular routine, but if you haven't done that in a while, it's a spring cleaning must. Give small appliances—coffee maker, stand mixer, microwave, toaster, food processor, and any other well-used items—a thorough cleanse according to manufacturer's directions. Here are some of our favorite hacks for small appliance cleaning.
9. Tend to High Traffic Touchpoints
During the pandemic, you might have already developed a habit of wiping down countertops and door handles with Lysol. While it's turned out that these are not the main vectors for COVID-19 spread, keeping these areas disinfected is good household cleaning practices. During spring cleaning, consider adding remote controls, stair rails, and light switches to the list. That might also include your home computer or home office setup.
"If you've been working from home this past year, you've been spending a lot of time in your home office. You should clean your computer and keyboard and mouse as you are touching those things very frequently," Haizman says.
10. Other Places You May Be Neglecting
Truly, there's no shortage of tasks for a thorough spring cleaning, but here are some other places where long-hidden filth resides:
- Shower curtains
- Trash cans
- Under the sink
- Shower caddies
Pleshek likes to remind people to pay attention to the backside and around the base of the toilet, areas that tend to get neglected.
11. Air It Out
The best part of the job is being able to open up your windows, a symbolic beginning to a warmer and brighter season. For Pleshek, who lives in Minnesota, this can't happen a moment too soon.
"As soon as you can, open it all up. Get the stale air out, and get some fresh air in."