A Step-by-Step Guide to Spring-Cleaning Your Apartment

Updated 02/27/18
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Spring-cleaning: We secretly dread it, and we procrastinate for as long as we can until we finally give in. It’s no secret that spending an entire weekend cleaning sounds like an absolute nightmare—but with a little elbow grease and a lot of willpower, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Best of all, once we finally finish the last task and get to enjoy the results of our blood, sweat, and tears, it’s entirely worth it. Our space feels squeaky-clean, it smells nice, and it signals that spring is just around the corner.

How can you tackle spring-cleaning without getting overwhelmed? It all starts with clever planning (and a little help from your friends). Begin with a schedule that clearly indicates each task, hour by hour. Make sure you can tackle everything in one weekend—no one wants spring-cleaning to take over their lives. Want to be extra motivated? Dangle a carrot at the end—like planning a spring cocktail party—and you’ll have no choice but to get it done. Ahead, we tapped three professionals to share their best spring-cleaning tips with us—just pick and choose the tasks that apply to you.

Don’t procrastinate until Memorial Day—spring-cleaning starts now.

ON FRIDAY NIGHT: Make a Plan

Spring Cleaning Tips
Courtesy of JJ Locations

Have a plan. “Before you get started, decide how much cleaning you can handle,” says TaskRabbit elite cleaner Jacqueline Yardan. “Is this a single day of cleaning the most important areas or a multiday project of cleaning every corner and reorganizing every drawer?”

Make a list. “Once you’ve figured how much you want to tackle, write down all the tasks you plan to handle,” she says. “If you are planning to clean over a weekend, break down the tasks day by day. Having a clear list of everything you need to clean will help you determine the supplies as well as your schedule (because you’ll definitely need to take breaks to relax!).”

Time yourself. “Decide on an interval (30 or 45 minutes is a good place to start), and set a timer,” she says. “Clean in a focused manner (without stopping to check your phone!) during that time, and when the timer goes off, treat yourself to a break.”

Schedule backup. “Spring-cleaning is a daunting task,” she says. If some tasks that seem overwhelming or overly complicated, she suggests outsourcing part of the job—and claiming back your life (at least a little bit of it). 

Your To-Do List:

Make a plan
Write a list
Schedule everything
Call in a backup

ON SATURDAY MORNING: Declutter First

Spring Cleaning Hacks
Tessa Neustadt for Homepolish

Start with your closets. “Rid your closets of clothing, shoes, and accessories that you haven’t worn for a full season,” says Jacquie Denny, the founder and chief development officer of Everything But the House. “If you didn’t wear it over the winter, you are not going to wear it next winter.”

Edit your home office. “The home office is another space that should be addressed,” she says. “Once you’ve filed your taxes, file or shred that stack of paperwork and organize the pile of correspondence that has gathered.” This may also be a good time to organize your computer and make sure all your paperwork is filed digitally.

Streamline your kitchen. “For every house I see, the kitchen always has the most clutter,” she says. “Get rid of the outliers: glasses that don’t match, those random logo mugs, or pots and pans that are in poor condition. Let go of those items you thought you needed but have not used.” Try similarly editing your refrigerator and pantry.

Consider your storage. “I tell everyone I work with that off-site storage is not your friend,” she says. “Often people send things away to storage because they don’t truly need it but are not ready to say goodbye. If you’ve had things in storage for over a year, it is now time to part with it. With the money you will save in monthly payments—and the money you’ll receive from selling the items—you can upgrade your outdoor furniture to get ready for summer.”

Your To-Do List:

Swap wardrobes and donate unwanted clothes
Organize your paperwork, and clean your computer
Clean out the fridge and pantry
Clear out your storage

ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Proceed Room by Room

Courtesy of JJ Locations

Clear out each room first. “Moving furniture out of the room before you tackle cleaning floors should be a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many people just mop or vacuum around the edges,” Yardan says. “For a proper spring-cleaning, get everything out of the way so you can leave every inch of your floors sparkling.”

Ban dust bunnies. “Start from the top of the room, and work your way down,” says professional home stager Tori Toth. “Wipe down the ceiling, fan or light fixtures, the walls, baseboards, and all the furniture in the room. Make sure to move appliances, and look high and low to remove all dust.” Yardan also believes in the power of thorough dusting: “Moldings are dust magnets, but they are often overlooked,” she says. “Try running a dryer sheet over them to quickly and easily trap the dust that gathers there.”

Ditch the paper towels. Get down and dirty with your kitchen, but do it smartly. “A deep-clean of your kitchen can set you back four or five rolls of paper towels,” Yardan says. “Save the trees and your wallet by purchasing reusable microfiber cloths, which can be used to clean everything from mirrors and appliances to tricky spots on the floor—and they’re machine-washable to boot!”

Clean Stainless Steel. Give your appliances an inside-out makeover. “To clean your stainless steel, start by putting a small amount of Dawn on your cloth, rub it into the cloth, and rub with the grain,” Toth says. “Take a second microfiber cloth, put a few drops of baby oil on it, and again, rub with the grain of the metal. I love this eco-friendly solution to a super-common problem.”

Your To-Do List:

Dust surfaces, shelves, vents, and baseboards
Clean your kitchen cupboards
Clean appliances inside and out
Check smoke detectors

ON SUNDAY MORNING: Clean Forgotten Spaces

Courtesy of Studio Ashby

Wash your fabric. “The fabric around a home can collect dust and bacteria,” Toth says. “Plan on washing curtains, pillows, blankets, bedding, and rugs. Have carpets? Now is the time to shampoo them to get rid of winter’s foot tracks. Also be sure to vacuum furniture and mattresses.” Take a few minutes to flip your mattress, which should be done every six months or so.

Wash your windows. “Use a glass cleaner and a squeegee, no real scrubbing required,” Toth says. “You will add double the light in your home if you wipe away the grime of the cold winter months.”

Sweat the details. “Use Q-tips dunked in white vinegar to clean window tracks and sliding doors,” Yardan says. “Grimy window tracks will stand out glaringly when the windowpanes and sills are clean, so don’t neglect them.”

Make your grout shine. Go beyond your average bathroom cleaning. “If you have tile around the home, chances are your grout has seen better days,” Toth says. “This is a tedious task, but schedule some time to clean those grout lines with a grout stain or bleach pen to restore the color and refresh the room. Make sure to re-caulk areas that are discolored around tubs or sinks too.”

Your To-Do List:

Clean upholstered furniture, curtains, and rugs
Flip your mattress
Wash your windows
Deep-clean the shower and tub

ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Bring Life Back

Sean Litchfield for Homepolish

Go beyond cleaning. “Once you’ve put in the cleaning work, reward yourself and your home with a décor update,” Yardan says. “That accent wall you’ve craved, the TV you’ve meant to mount, or the closet organizer you keep pinning? Go for it. TaskRabbit’s pro handymen can step in to do the heavy lifting, from assembling new furniture to hanging a gallery wall.” While you update your décor, switch your heavy winter bedding for fresh new sheets.

Add a potted plant. “Flowers and grass will begin to grow this spring, so add some life in your space too,” Toth says. “You can easily add a pop of color or some life to your space by freshening up your plants. Get in the mood for spring with a fresh scented candle, and enjoy the fruit of your labor with a glass of wine.”

Your To-Do List:

Tackle outstanding tasks
Swap your bedding
Add a few plants
Light a fresh scent

Hate spring-cleaning? Find out how to keep your home tidy every day and make it easier on yourself come springtime.

This story was originally published on February 1, 2017, and has since been updated.

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