Get all of your supplies ready before you start.
Fill a bucket or caddy with these supplies for every helper:
- 3 Microfiber cloths—1 for dusting, 1 for polishing, 1 for cleaning windows and mirrors
- 2 Spray bottles—1 filled with white vinegar, 1 filled with 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1 pair of rubber gloves
- step stool or ladder
- dryer sheets
- old socks
- white vinegar
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- laundry basket
- 3 large containers
- marker and masking tape
- large garbage bags
- favorite snacks and drinks
Day 1: The Pick-up Artist
Before tackling any cleaning, it's a good idea to pick-up and put away the things you want to keep. This will clear the area and make cleaning easier and faster the next day. The rest of it is deciding to toss, donate or store the items.
Pick-up, Sort, Organize
1. Get your laundry basket and three containers. The laundry basket is for things that need to be put away. The three containers should each have a label—one for Trash, Donate, and Store.
2. Go room-by-room and sort items. Put yourself on a timer if you need to. Some rooms may take as little as 30 minutes (like the bathroom) and others (like the kitchen) may take longer. Don't forget closets and cabinets.
3. When any one container gets filled, use that as an opportunity to deal with the items in that box. Put away the items in the laundry basket. Take the trash out immediately. Label the donate box with its contents and take it out to the car. Label the storage box with its contents and put it wherever you're going to store it.
When you're ready to take your items to be donated, make it a family event and an opportunity to teach your children about the act of giving. Their donations of old books, toys and clothing is benefitting someone less fortunate.
Don't Forget to Check
Out-of-date anything: Get rid of expired food, canned goods and medicines.
Spices and herbs:
If your spices or herbs are out-of-date, check them anyway. They may yet still have life in them. Ground spices and even some herbs can last as long as 3 years. For ground spices, shake and sniff. For herbs, crumble them in your hand and smell. If there's little or no smell in either case, toss.
Cosmetics shelf life:
- oil-free foundation: 1 year
- cream or compact foundation: 18 months
- concealer: 12-18 months
- powder: 2 years
- blush and bronzer: 2 years
- cream blush: 12-18 months
- powder eye shadow: 2 years
- cream eye shadow: 12-18 months
- eyeliner: 2 years
- liquid eyeliner: 3-6 months
- mascara: 3 months
- lipstick: 2 years
- lip liner: 2 years
- lip gloss: 18-24 months
- nail color: 1 year
Day 2: The Clean-up Job
Turn off cell phones, TVs, computers and video games. Crank the tunes and get ready to clean! Whether you make it a race (against each other or the timer) or have prizes, keep favorite snacks on hand and figure out what motivates you and your family to make spring cleaning fun.
Don't Forget to Clean
Ceiling fans, vents and blinds: Use the brush attachment on the vacuum for the initial sweep. For particularly grimy surfaces, spray with a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution. Wipe down with a microfiber cloth. When they're dry, close blinds and vents and wipe down with a dryer sheet to help prevent dust and grime build-up.
Cutting boards, countertops, cupboard and cabinet doors, dish shelves, refrigerator shelves, bathroom surfaces: Disinfect by spraying white vinegar on the surface followed immediately with a spray of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Wipe down.
Fireplace and chimney: Though you can clean your fireplace and chimney yourself, it's best to hire a professional to inspect and clean it every year.
Most kids are excited to help out. So give them things they can do that are perfect for their size and won't require a ton of supervision.
Dust: Equipped with old, mismatched socks on their hands, send the kids dusting low bookshelves, baseboards, picture frames and under couches. Cloth lampshades can be dusted with a lint brush.
Clean: The outside of kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and the inside of windows can all be cleaned using a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle. Microfiber cloths won't leave lint behind.