Pesach is coming! I will admit, the holiday of cleaning and purging is my absolute favorite. Every year, I try to sneak in Pesach cleaning earlier and earlier. When my children were young, I was able to justify starting on Tu B’Shevat, as one never knows what will interrupt your schedule. Now, that my children are in middle school, when I try to begin cleaning before Purim, my family revolts.
So, I am forced to bide my time until an acceptable time frame to begin the process. This shortened time period has its benefits; it encourages me to become more efficient and diligent in what I would do myself versus what I can outsource to either children, professionals, or amateurs, i.e. paying a teenager to do it for me. After all, there are some things that only I can do, some things that I am capable of ruining if I do myself, or some that are just not worth the effort. Take a look at this list and see what things should simply be outsourced to others.
Let’s start from the outside of the house. The first thing I would outsource is the backyard, covered in leaves and debris from the long winter. As I live in an urban setting I don’t have any landscapers, as I hardly have any land. Despite that, cleaning the backyard myself would take hours. Instead, I can pay children, mine plus whomever else is interested, a few dollars each and in an hour my backyard will be as clean as it will ever be.
Next, the car. This is another thing that is not worth cleaning yourself, but rather use a professional, i.e. your local car wash. For a few dollars, they will do a wonderful job, shampooing the carpets and vacuuming the seats, guaranteeing to either get every last cheerio or at least make it inedible.
Finally, we have the garbage cans. Here, you can outsource the job to the heavens themselves. I found this incredible trick that I have been doing the last few years: before a rain storm is expected, empty out the garbage can and spray cleaner in it. Then, leave the garbage can open and let the heavy rain do its work. Afterwards, simply dump out the soapy water and enjoy your clean garbage can!
Now, let’s turn our attention to the house. Nothing says spring-cleaning like cleaning windows. If you have windows that open in and can be cleaned with a squeegee, this is a simple job that can easily be done by an adult. However, if your windows do not open in, i.e. where you can easily clean the outside, then it’s best to outsource this to a handyman who can get onto a ladder and clean the windows in a few minutes time.
Going inside the house, we are confronted with the largest item: the floor, either carpeted or wood. Cleaning carpets and polishing floors is tedious, difficult work. This is something best left to the professionals. To maintain a wooden floor in a typical Jewish home, I would recommend having it polished every two years. For the cost of about two hundred dollars, you will get a sparkling, new looking floor. The same thing for the carpets, which I have cleaned every year. Carpet cleaners can also clean fabric couches and chairs, making them as good as new.
As the weather will be getting warmer, now is the time to vacuum the air conditioning filters and dust the blades of ceiling fans. These are quick jobs, but best left to an adult. As you need to change the filter for your water system as well as the battery of your smoke alarms every six months, Pesach and Sukkos are good times to do this.
All bedrooms can be cleaned by the people sleeping in them, except for the baby, of course, and all you would need to do is take a quick look through after.
Another thing that announces spring-cleaning is fresh tiles in the bathroom. This can be accomplished by re-grouting the tiles on the floor, walls and especially in the shower, where mold can build up. Although some extreme DIYers can handle this, for most people this is a job best left to the professionals. It does cost another couple of hundred dollars, but it would save you hours of stress trying to do it yourself as well as avoiding any disastrous, ruinous results of using toxic chemicals that can easily destroy the tiles if you are not careful.
The toys, bookcases and drawers in china closet are simple jobs and can be delegated to children. Have them divide the items into keep, throw out and donate. If you would like, you can review the groups before the items are discarded, but most children from middle school on can handle this themselves.
Finally, the kitchen. This is best divided into zones: meat, dairy, pantry, etc. Then, with the help of the children, take each section one at time and go through it. The person who most uses the items in the kitchen is the best person to do this job, usually the mother, as she would know what items are needed often, which have been used once and never again, and which mismatched containers and lids need to say goodbye. However, everyone can help wipe and line the shelves and if we all work together, it can be done in no time.
Yes, it is true that dust is not chometz, but if you aren’t going to clean the crown molding now, when would you?
An enjoyable Pesach cleaning experience to all!