What do you think of when you think of spring cleaning? Here’s what I imagine — every cabinet emptied and reorganized, every surface scrubbed, and each piece of clutter assigned a place or gone altogether. I also imagine me, way too overwhelmed and giving up before ever getting started.
That’s the big issue with spring cleaning. Historically, spring cleaning was instigated by the first warm day, which allowed homemakers to actually empty their home of furniture and rugs and finally clean off the dirt and grime of winter. Today, we may not be taking things quite this far, but spring cleaning is still made out to be this massive overhaul.
While I guess it can be a whole home makeover, if you’re a young professional with a full-time job and a social life, it often feels like an impossible undertaking. In the past, my feelings of being overwhelmed would have meant avoiding it altogether. But I can only avoid it for so long before I have to deal with it in a scramble before friends or family come over, or the dirt reaches a point I simply can’t ignore.
Last year, I decided to try spring cleaning my house in less than 15 minutes a day. When I took an honest look at my life, it was obvious that 15 minutes was all I could spare without rearranging my schedule and it was a commitment I could make without feeling too overwhelmed by the task. Here’s what I learned.
Go room to room
The first task I took on was creating a plan. Spend your first 15 minutes dedicated to spring cleaning taking a thorough assessment of your space. Carry a notebook with you and create columns for each room. Make a list of each task that needs to be done and jot down a rough estimate of how long it will take you.
Dusting your ceiling fans won’t take you more than fives minutes each, but cleaning out your bedroom closet might take you as much as an hour. It’s good to know what you’re getting into from the start.
Not sure what should go on your spring cleaning checklist? I try to use this time of deep cleaning only for the stuff I don’t do on a regular basis. That means I don’t spend my time cleaning toilets or vacuuming, I keep on handling those items when I normally do, during my weekly cleans. Instead, I focus on the stuff that gets put off like wiping the baseboards, washing mini-blinds, and cleaning out the junk drawer. Other things that might need attention are your drawers and closets, underneath beds, hard to reach surfaces like the top of cabinets, and your refrigerator.
Once I made my list, it became obvious that my cleaning could be divided into two different categories. There were small tasks that needed to be done in multiple rooms that could be knocked out in a few minutes each and there were massive projects that needed to be divided over the course of a few days.
I learned that I could use batching to conquer some of the smallest tasks. Batching is a productivity tool done by completing alike tasks in groups. If you need to clean your ceiling fans, disinfect doorknobs, or scrub the front of your appliances, these things only take a few minutes each. Conquer all of the ceiling fans in one single day before moving on to something new. That way, you’ll already have the supplies in hand and save the time of bouncing between different kinds of tasks.
Divide and conquer
Most of my spring cleaning fell into the category of big projects. These projects can be divided up into 15 minutes increments and worked on for days on end until complete.
For instance, my windows all needed a good clean but washing every window in my house could eat up an entire day. If I think about this task one window at a time, it’s so much easier to avoid getting overwhelmed. Even the refrigerator can be cleaned one shelf at a time, instead of taking up an hour on a busy day. Use a cleaning caddy to keep everything you need for a project nearby so you don’t waste any time hunting down supplies before tackle a few items on your list.
Change up your routine
When I finally finished my tasks last year, I felt like I had learned a few things about my home and how I keep it clean. Specifically, I realized that some of the most overwhelming projects, like keeping my windows clean, might be better managed if I work them into my routine all year long. Take stock of your home as you clean, there may be items that can be woven into your weeks moving forward to cut back on the accumulation of dust and dirt all year long.
Originally published on April 5, 2019.