Is anyone else getting nervous?
As I crawled around my house armed with a hand vac, a pile of shmatas and my trusty bottle of Windex cleaning for Pesach, I heard the same chorus echoing in my head over and over again telling me “Chometz isn’t dirt. And Pesach cleaning isn’t spring cleaning.” While that directive had me relaxing a little, with yom tov behind us the time has come to rid my humble abode of all the dirt and the other stuff I ignored because it just wasn’t chometz. In short, it’s time for spring-cleaning.
I can’t tell you that I am excited at the prospect, but let’s face it – sooner or later the job has to get done and, as the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present. I am not embarrassed to publicly admit that I am not going to wash my ceilings and I am totally okay looking away from certain spots that may be less than perfect. Each of us has our own priorities when it comes to deep cleaning, so pick what matters to you most and don’t get overwhelmed by the rest.
First things first – realize that unless you live in a two-room apartment, spring cleaning is likely going to take you more than an hour or two and might even stretch into a full day or two. Realistically appreciating the scope of the job at hand will (hopefully) prevent you from throwing in the towel when you realize that, while this is a very worthwhile effort whose results will definitely show, it is going to take time.
Next up, go from room to room and make a list of what has to be done. Too often we gloss over the things we are used to seeing, and it is those items you are going to want to attack. Check out your ceiling including the actual surface, mounted fans, decorative moldings and light fixtures which tend to wind up housing dust, dirt and (ugh) dead bugs. Look at your walls and take note of pictures to be dusted, mirrors to be cleaned and areas that need spackling or paint touch ups. Since the floor obviously collects the most dirt, mark down all items that can be moved even just a few inches so that you can vacuum, sweep or mop and note any rugs to be freshened up. Inventory every item in the room so that you can render it dirt-free to the best of your ability – like washing bed skirts and curtains and emptying out bookcases and CD/DVD storage units so you can clean both them and their contents.
List in hand, identify what tools you need to get the job done and fill up a shopping bag, a plastic caddy or even a small trash can with your favorite household cleaners so that everything is within arm’s reach. Take advantage of some of your in home appliances to do some of the work for you – while it is fairly obvious that you can probably throw your curtains into the washer to get them clean, there are plenty of other household items that can benefit from a quick spin with some detergent. Grab a mesh bag or two and fill them with hard plastic one-piece toys like Legos and Clics or even stuffed animals that don’t have glued-on details or foam-bead stuffing. Oven mitts, mop heads, fabric grocery bags and many shower curtains and liners wash well, as do canvas sneakers, Crocs, rubber flip flops, baseball caps, inside-outed fabric backpacks, lunch bags and duffel bags, but be aware that that last batch of items should probably all be air dried. Even most blankets and pillows can go in your washer as long as it is big enough, although not all memory foam pillows are washable and larger sized comforters will likely exceed your washer’s capacity. Your dishwasher is equally adept at taking on out of the box tasks and can possibly handle exhaust fan filters and covers, microwave turntables, refrigerator shelves and bins, light fixtures, switch plates, outlet covers, non-painted air conditioning and heating vents, desk accessories, small trash cans, rubber bathtub mats, toothbrush holders and soap dishes.
As you clean, take advantage of the opportunity to de-clutter. You can take the Marie Kondo approach of holding every item in your hand and discarding those that don’t fill your heart with joy or you can ask yourself if what you are holding is something that you will ever use or wear again. Be honest with yourself and toss items that are past their prime pr post on eBay or Craig’s List those you don’t use anymore. If your adult children have moved out and aren’t ridiculously short on space, feel free to box up their stuff and deliver it to them personally, just be sure to do it in a way that won’t feel like you are trying to eradicate any sign of their existence in their former home.
Be sure to show some love to some of the items that are often missed in spring cleaning including the outside of the doors to your home, remotes that control your hands free devices, your broom and dustpan (yup, they need cleaning too!), all of your doorknobs and the top of your door frames. In the good news department, while so many articles on spring cleaning go into lengthy discussions of how to clean all the nooks and crannies of your kitchen, chances are excellent that you can pretty much skip the kitchen and even your dining room for now. Having focused so much attention on the food-centric places in your house before Pesach, your deep cleaning in those rooms probably took place two months ago and while they could probably use a little bit of attention when you have a chance, you can pretty much ignore them for now.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done. Curl up with a good book, pull a piece of chocolate out of your hidden stash, brew up a really good cup of coffee or head outside and go for a walk in the gorgeous spring weather. You worked hard – you deserve it!