10 Brilliant Spring Cleaning Shortcuts
Your Plan of Attack
Some parts of your home can go months without a deep clean: window treatments and even the oven can get by with regular light cleaning from week to week. But when spring rolls around, remove months of dust and grime from these forgone spots (without blowing the entire weekend doing it) by following three rules of efficient cleaning.
1. Get multi-function supplies: Microfiber cloths (in both regular and eye-glass grade), microfiber mop, non-abrasive cleanser (like Bon Ami or Soft Scrub with bleach), baking soda, white vinegar, vacuum with long-bristle and edger attachment, steam cleaner.
2. Start simple: Tackle a low-traffic space like a dining or living room first—your speed and success will motivate you to keep going.
3. Go top-to-bottom, back-to-front: Avoid backtracking by working with gravity—when you dust high surfaces like ceilings and furniture, it falls to the floor. Likewise, start mopping or vacuuming opposite the entrance to the room, so you don’t track dirt over clean areas.
Ceilings and Walls
Swipe ceilings and walls with a clean, dry microfiber mop. The wide, flat mop head makes quick work of removing cobwebs and dust, and the long pole helps you reach every corner and behind furniture, says Boston-based housecleaning veteran Leslie Reichert, “The Cleaning Coach.” This speedy technique is ideal for painted or wallpapered surfaces; for textured ceilings or stucco walls, use a feather duster instead.
Windows and Curtains
Give your windows a one-two punch of sparkle with this multitasking trick: Strip fabric treatments from every window in the room and tumble them in a cool dryer for 15 minutes. While the dryer shakes the dust from your curtains, dampen an eyeglass-grade microfiber cloth with water and use it to clean windows, streak-free. Swipe a water-dampened regular microfiber rag over the woodwork trim, then remove window treatments from the dryer and hang immediately to avoid wrinkling.
Blinds and Pleated Shades
Working from top to bottom, run the long-bristle attachment on your vacuum horizontally along pleated or honeycomb shades to remove dust and dirt. The gentle bristles protect the material while the vacuum’s suction does the work, says April Lane, owner of April Lane's Home Cleaning in Seattle and a board member of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI).
For wood and faux wood blinds, says Reichert, close blinds so that slats lay flat, facing down, and wipe each one with a dry microfiber cloth from left to right, top to bottom. Then open the blinds and close so that the slats face up and repeat the process. Finally, with the blinds still closed, run the microfiber cloth along the back of each slat to catch any dust at the edges where the slats overlap. (In the kitchen and bath, where grease and steam makes dust adhere to surfaces, dampen microfiber with water before wiping blinds.)
Lampshades and Wall Art
Using the long-bristle vacuum attachment, circle the top and bottom band of the lampshade to suck up dust without catching or disturbing the trim, says Lane. Then run the brush up and down the sides of the shade to clean the entire surface.
When it comes to wall art and framed mirrors, Reichert suggests pulling down pictures and running a microfiber cloth over the front and back of the frame as well as the wall. Never spritz glass cleaner on glass, she notes—moisture can seep behind the glass and ruin your photos or art. Instead, use a fine microfiber cloth to remove dust from glass or spray your solution directly on the cloth, then apply to clean the surface.
Area Rugs and Carpeting
No need to empty a room completely before vacuuming, says Reichert; simply move furniture out of the way—and then replace—as you go. Roll up area rugs and vacuum beneath to remove dirt and debris. In a room with wall-to-wall carpeting, use the edger attachment of your vacuum to clean the space where the baseboard meets the floor. (While you’re at it, use the long-bristle attachment to clean the baseboards.)
On carpeted stairs, use static electricity to make your life simpler: Put on a rubber dish glove, then run your fingers along the edge of each step to bring out dirt caught in the crevices. With a handheld vacuum or vacuum attachment, suck it up as you go.
Lane considers a steam floor cleaner a secret weapon for fast, deep cleaning on hardwood, tile, vinyl and laminate floors. She especially likes it in the bathroom, where it makes easy work of pulling up dirt from uneven tiles and grout.
As an alternative, spritz hardwood and laminate floors with your favorite floor cleaner (Reichert likes Canada-based Woodpecker or Better Life’s Simply Floored) and wipe with a microfiber mop.
Remove mildew and soap scum from your shower curtain liner with little effort by throwing it in the washing machine with a few fluffy towels and laundry detergent. Put it in the dryer on low heat for 10 minutes to soften and remove wrinkles, Lane says, and hang it back up, looking like new.
For hard-to-reach stains around the toilet, faucets, and other tight spots, aim the steam cleaner nozzle at the area and watch dirt and grime you never knew existed get flushed out. Wipe the newly sanitized area with a microfiber cloth and move on.
Mattress and Headboard
Run a new or clean microfiber cloth over wood headboards, footboards and mattress frames; for upholstered pieces, systematically vacuum with a long-bristle attachment, working from the top-down and paying extra attention to tufted or pleated areas. Then sweep a long-bristle attachment along the sides of the mattress and box spring, focusing on the welting at the edges, where dust can get trapped.
Stove and Appliances
If you’ve got a self-cleaning oven, save it for last—turn it on and then head outside to avoid any intense fumes (either enjoy a much-deserved iced tea in the yard, or else take the opportunity to shake out smaller area rugs outdoors). For all other ovens, prepare a paste of baking soda and water, apply to inside walls and floor of oven, then spritz with vinegar in a spray bottle and wipe down. Grease and cooked-on food should come right off, says Reichert.
Wipe the top of the refrigerator with a water-dampened microfiber cloth—for especially greasy dust, moisten the cloth with cleaner. If possible, move the refrigerator away from wall and clean the coils with the brush attachment on your vacuum—removing months’ worth of dust will help the appliance run more efficiently, says Reichert.
Put your dishwasher to work: Run the range hood vent screen and non-wood dish drains through a cycle to clean and disinfect them. Then show the dishwasher itself some love: Add non-abrasive cleanser (like Bon Ami or Soft Scrub with Bleach) to a damp microfiber cloth and run it along the inside rim of the dishwasher door to remove any accumulated food build-up. Spritz with water and wipe dry.