Although there are many guides to spring cleaning, this is the guide for people who want a really clean house! It's quite exhaustive. And, yes, it will leave you exhausted. Fair warning given. However, the sense of satisfaction in knowing your house has been thoroughly and completely deep-cleaned is worth it.
Before You Begin:
Assemble a good cleaning caddy full of all the necessary supplies. Someday, I'll get around to making my own cleaning products, but for now I use commercial products.
Here's a reasonable list of what to include in your cleaning caddy:
- general, all-surface cleaner
- grease-fighting cleaner (like 409)
- window cleaner
- furniture polish
- granite/marble cleaner
- silver polish
- brass polish
- Comet or Bar Keeper's Friend
- lint roller
- rubber gloves
- cotton or linen rags
- rolls of paper towels
- a feather duster (preferably ostrich)
- a broom and dustpan
- vacuum cleaner
- step stool
I recommend choosing a room and cleaning it all until it's done, then moving on to the next. Some years, I've powered through cleaning our home in a week's worth of serious work. Other springs, I've done a room a week and completed it all between April and the first day of summer in June.
The Basic Idea
As you come, armed with your cleaning caddy into a room, your plan of attack is top to bottom and from one corner all the way around the room to your starting place. Dust falls down. Hence, you will start with the ceiling.
Use your feather duster and dust your ceiling, particularly the corners, lighting, ceiling fans, heat/air vents, etc. If it's on the ceiling, clean it. If your ceilings are very high, a telescoping ostrich feather duster is most useful.
Now, pick a corner of the room to start. Basically, you're going to think of all the rest of the cleaning as "encounters". Every time you encounter something, whatever it is, you're going to clean it. How to react to all these encounters will depend on the material of the item to be cleaned. Here's my exhaustive guide to what you may encounter:
If you Encounter...
- mouldings, picture and mirror frames...dust them, including the tops of them...use all-purpose cleaner to remove scuffs, smudges, and fingerprints.
- glass...ALL glass gets cleaned with window cleaner. This would include: windows, TV screens, light bulbs (yes, they get dusty, and cleaning them will actually brighten the room), gas fireplace fronts, picture frame glass, glass shades on bathroom fixtures, crystal chandeliers, mirrors, glass and crystal pieces, etc. On windows, I will spray directly onto the window (cleaning inside and out and the tracks), but for most other items, I spray the cloth and then wipe the object.
- lamp shades...you can vacuum, but I find a lint roller works best.
- fireplace bricks...dust with feather duster or vacuum.
- lightswitches and outlets...wipe clean with cloth sprayed with all-purpose spray.
- wood furniture...polish with furniture polish.
- upholstered furniture...vacuum, including removing cushions and vacuuming under them. Move furniture away from wall and vacuum the backs of them too.
- baskets...vacuuming will work okay, but the best way is to give them a thoroughly blasting with an air compressor, if you have one.
- books and bookshelves...remove books from shelf, dust the book (especially the top edges of the pages), dust the shelf, and return book to shelf.
- silver and brass...polish with cleaners.
- other metals...wipe down with cloth sprayed with all-purpose cleaner.
- cupboards, drawers, and closets...remove all items (some, like seldom-used glasses in a kitchen cupboard, may need to be wiped to remove dust), clean the shelf or drawer itself. Then sort items into one of the following four categories: 1.) throw away, 2.) donate to charity, 3.) give to someone else, 4.) sell or consign. Return everything you're keeping to its place.
- curtains, mini-blinds, or pleated shades...vacuum, or have professionally cleaned.
- tile and grout...in the kitchen, wipe down with grease-cutting cleaner. In the bathroom, scrub with Softscrub.
- granite and marble...polish with granite cleaner.
- beds...remove all linens and wash, dry, iron, and return. (The bed frame, being wood, will be cleaned with furniture polish.) Now is a great time to flip your mattress. Remove all items from under the bed and vacuum under bed.
Now you will have worked your way all around the room, from one corner back to your starting place, cleaning everything as you went. What remains is the floor. Move everything sitting on the floor to another place (either in that room, or out of the room, whichever is easiest). Rugs will be vacuumed, including using your crevice attachment for the groove where the baseboard meets the carpet. Vacuum the baseboard. Rugs can be spot-cleaned or professionally cleaned. Bathroom rugs should be washed in the washing machine. With wood floors, first sweep. Then wipe wood floors down, on hands and knees, with a damp cloth and dry quickly with a dry towel. (I work in areas about 4'x4' at a time, so the water doesn't sit on the wood for more than a couple of minutes.) Tile floors can be damp mopped. With wood and tile, pay particular attention to the corners and edges, where crumbs and dust like to collect.
I hope you've found this guide useful! It's a lot of work, but I enjoy knowing my house is really clean and I've provided my family with a healthier home.