While you're trying to make the best use of your time sheltering-in-place, a little spring cleaning might be just the thing to keep you busy and productive — plus make your space feel much more soothing. But the truth of the matter is that not everyone is proficient in the art of tidying up, and some of you considering a deep and effective clean could probably benefit from expert-approved house cleaning tips.
You probably know the basics: Dust and disinfect surfaces, clear out old or unworn pieces from your closet, vacuum textiles, launder clothing, etc. But that leaves a lot of sneaky spaces neglected. And besides that, even the basics can feel like a struggle for those who absolutely abhor the task. Luckily, the pros have solutions to help on both of these fronts. And don't worry, you don't have to go full Marie Kondo to get your home feeling neat, tidy, and purified by the time it's safe to head back out into the wild.
Ahead, a handful of professional organizers and cleaning gurus sound off on ways to make this task feel like more of a breeze while also making the most of your hard work. And while you're at it, take Get Clairefied owner and founder Claire Gould's advice and try not to lose your head over it: "Allow spring cleaning/organizing to bring joy to your space — not be an added stressor. Don't feel like you need to accomplish everything on your to-do list at once: Even just five to 10 minutes of organizing a day can make a huge impact over time."
House Cleaning Tip: Start Simple
While it can be tempting to try tackling the biggest project first, Gould suggests starting with something small and accessible to ease you into things. "I advise my clients to start tackling a project that feels easy for them," she says. "Already have some clothes in mind that you'd like to edit out of your closet? Begin there. Love the feeling of a pantry clean-out? Start there. You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment and joy from completing an easier task that you'll be motivated to start on a more challenging area."
House Cleaning Tip: Break It Up (To Make It Less Of A Chore)
Professional organizer Dorothy Breininger has a tip that will make the time fly by: Coordinate your clean with a movie or show that keeps you invested and use it as incentive. "Find a movie you can start and stop," she explains of this 15-minutes-on, 15-minutes-off technique. "Agree with yourself that you are going to watch the movie in 15-minute increments. By the time you are done, you’ve watched a movie and finished most of the chores. When you look back on your day — you may not even remember the hardship of having done your chores."
House Cleaning Tip: Create A Home For Everything
"Everything needs to have a place — even things that are only temporarily in your home," says Vanessa Valiente, a San Diego-based personal stylist and closet organizer. "If you get a lot of packages, you need to create a place for where those arriving packages go when they arrive. It may seem silly when that space is empty, but when all those packages build up, and you are too busy to open them or recycle the boxes, you will be so happy that they have their own place and don't disrupt your home."
And a good guideline to follow here is keeping like with like, according to Valiente. "For instance, don't have cleaning supplies and cleaning products scattered all around," she says. "Keep them in one place. If you live in a large home, create a cleaning products section in each pertinent area of the house. For instance, have a cleaning products cabinet for your upstairs and have the same exact collection of cleaning products in a downstairs cabinet."
House Cleaning Tip: Think/Work In Levels
If you're someone who just wants to get things over with, chances are you may have limited cleaning to things that are in your line of sight. But to get really deep, think about going both high and low. "Changing your level or vantage point will help you identify where to place your focus," says Breininger, who recommends splitting high/low projects with a roommate or living partner with whom you're self-isolating. "You can be in the same room with your partner and have them work on the bottom half of the bathroom (toilet, tub, trash) and you work on the upper half (mirrors, sinks and toiletry cabinet)."
You should also be thinking about levels while you're organizing, especially in terms of placement that's the most efficient. "Make seasonal items reachable," suggests Valiente. "If you shove seasonal items into a dark corner that involves tearing a room apart to get to it, you are never going to get to it, and if that is the case, there is no reason in keeping the items anyhow. Store everything in your life in a reasonably accessible manner. Things you need once a year should not require more than a step stool to get. Items you are storing to be opened many years from now, I give you permission to store in the dark recesses of your home, but even those items I would prefer to be 'reachable' to you."
House Cleaning Tip: Give Love To Neglected Areas
The old adage "out of sight, out of mind" may be true, but it's not very helpful when it comes to cleaning and organizing. So roll up your sleeves and tackle those spaces that don't see the light of day — or don't otherwise get much attention, like books and knickknacks on shelves, artwork, vents, and lighting. And thinking seasonally can help, according to Gould. "Spring is a fantastic time to do a deep clean on items that got a lot of love over the winter," she says. "Think vents, dishwashers, washing machines, ovens. This is also a great time to prep what you'll be using in spring and summer — I see you BBQ grills, AC units, refrigerators."
Another place that could probably use a good once-over? Your underwear drawer. "So many people miss this step in spring cleaning," says Valiente. "You don't need 43 pairs of socks and 38 pairs of panties. When purging these items, repeat to yourself 'I don't need second-string socks. I don't need third-string panties.' Only keep quality items that you actually wear with a just a few extras as a buffer between laundry day." And while you're getting rid things, she recommends keeping sustainability in mind and recycling damaged pieces with the help of H&M's recycle program or Simple Recycling instead of tossing them.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.