Between the cold winter snows and the short winter daylight hours, there’s usually not a lot of time or ability to get much done around the house. Once the days start getting longer and the flowers start blooming in your garden, however, you know that it’s time for a little spring maintenance and cleaning around the house.
Where do you even start? If the task ahead seems overwhelming, here’s how to break it down:
Clear out the Clutter
There’s a lot going on during the winter months and throughout the holiday season, so household clutter tends to accumulate. Excess clutter can raise the level of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in your body and tax your physical and mental health. The visual noise from excess clutter can even make it harder to think about what you need to do and make decisions.
The first step toward spring cleaning should be eliminating excess clutter. Start a donation pile and grab a waste bin and ask yourself as you pick up each item, “Do I really want this enough to put it away?” It may feel a little ruthless throwing out those old Christmas cards, for example, but unless you honestly think that you’ll look at them again they aren’t worth keeping.
Make an Indoor Cleaning Schedule
Starting from the inside and working out is a great way to get a grip on your cleaning and maintenance, but everything is easier to handle when you break it down into small steps and take them one at a time. A spring cleaning and maintenance schedule can help you focus your energy and time, and keep you from overlooking something important.
To make your spring cleaning schedule, grab a pen and a notebook. For now, concentrate just on the inside of your home:
- Walk through and inspect your home. What areas have been most neglected over the winter? What areas get skipped during routine cleaning? Is there any particular task, like cleaning out the cupboards, that you’ve been putting off? Make sure they all go on the list.
- Break down the tasks by room. Just writing “clean the bathroom” is too vague and can either leave you overwhelmed or liable to forget something important. Instead, be specific. List separate tasks like “re-caulk the tub,” or “clean the grout in the shower” so that you can better see what has to be done.
- Set reasonable goals. You know how much you can accomplish in a given day without feeling burnt-out, so plan accordingly. Consider assigning yourself the small tasks (things that should take less than an hour) on the weeknights after work. Save the bigger jobs for the weekend.
- Enlist help from your family. If your spouse and kids can pitch in, let them. You can coordinate the work and assign the jobs so that nobody is left wondering what they should do to help — and you don’t get frustrated from doing everything on your own.
Inspect the Exterior of Your Home
Winter isn’t just hard on people — it’s hard on buildings. Over the last few months, your home has endured everything from sudden cold snaps and thaws to piles of ice and snow. It’s time to look around to see what may need repairs — even if you can’t get to them right away.
As soon as the weather (and your time) permits, take a walk around your property and be ready to make notes. Take a good look at the following:
- Roofing: You probably don’t have to climb up there to see if you have any lifted shingles or bare spots. Visible cracking, shifted and missing shingles are a sign that your roof is going to need a little tender care as soon as possible.
- Chimneys: Look for cracked and missing mortar along the joints between your bricks that signal a need for repairs. You may also find that your chimney cap is missing or damaged thanks to winter winds.
- Siding: Your siding may be a little worse for the wear, especially if you live in a high-traffic area where there’s been a lot of road ash or salt laid down. Look for loose pieces that need to be reattached and make note of whether or not you’ll need to pressure wash the house once summer is here.
- Gutters: No matter how carefully you cleaned them before winter, the odds are high that your gutters are full of leaves and sludge again. If they are, you want to move those to the top of your list of necessary outdoor jobs as soon as it’s warm enough.
You probably can’t handle these repairs immediately, but you should be aware of them early so that you can plan for the work and any extra expense as soon as possible.
Handle the Seasonal Preparations
There are a few household jobs that are just necessary every spring if you want to have an easy summer. They include:
- Replacing your furnace and HVAC filters: Those old filters from the start of winter have probably seen better days, and new filters will keep your home cleaner (and much more allergen-free).
- Checking the dehumidifier: If you have a basement dehumidifier, it’s time to check the hoses, filters and other working parts to make sure it’s still operating properly — especially with spring rains coming up.
- Getting the garden tools ready: Dust off the mower and make sure it’s charged or has plenty of gas, and make sure that your trimmers and other garden tools are clean and ready.
All of this work can go quickly if you keep at it. We suggest keeping your list pinned up to the fridge where you can check it daily — and check off the tasks as you do them for a greater sense of accomplishment and a happier, healthier spring.