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Apr 23, 2013

Do you have an annual “spring cleaning” routine?  I’m more of a “continuous cleaning and purging” kind of person, but I’m beginning to understand the benefits of spring cleaning!

Spring cleaning started in the 19th century and those were dirty times! Think about it:  there were multiple people crammed into a few small rooms all winter long.  Top it off with dirty, dust-producing fuels (wood, coal) to warm the home, no filtration systems to clean the air, and they certainly didn’t have vacuum cleaners for a little rug touch-up!  

When the spring warmth came, they could open the windows to fresh air and move everything out of the house for a cleaning. They’d beat the rugs and mattresses, launder all the linens, wash the soot off the windows and let the warm wind blow all the dust out of their homes.  

I had a chat with one of our favorite organized women, Lane Jordan. She’s a professional life coach, national speaker and the author of many books. Among them are “12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman” and “12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Mom”, so she’s very qualified to help with this topic!

She says, “Today, we don’t NEED spring cleaning, but it can take the stress off a busy family. At Christmas, as you’re moving decorations to and from storage, you notice things that need to be painted, cleaned, fixed, etc. At a busy time like the holidays, it helps us to say ‘I’m going to deal with that in the spring.’ You can take away some stress by placing a date on all those activities.” 

It’s about that time, so Lane is sharing 7 simple tips to make your spring cleaning a breeze...

1)  Do something

Lane says, “For most people, the biggest obstacle is making the time and getting motivated.” To get motivated, you just have to START! Hopefully, the next 5 tips will help you get started.

2)  Make a list

Now that you’re moving, the first step is easy. It’s time to create a holistic list of needs. To do this, think about your home in 4 major chunks: 1) House, 2) Garage, 3) Attic/Basement and 4) Yard.  

Take a pad of paper and a pen and walk room by room through the house noting what needs attention. If you’re married and/or have older kids, this is a family affair and they get to help, too! As you’re doing this, Lane says, “Remember the story of the frog in boiling water. You don’t realize how things go down hill because you’re living right in the middle of it.”  So, look with new eyes and be critical as you’re walking the house. Also, get it in your head that you’re not going to tackle everything on the list this year, so you shouldn’t be afraid to make a fully exhaustive list of needs. While you might not get to all of them this year, you’ll at least have them on a list and may be able to hit a few in the normal process of your cleaning routine throughout the year.    

Lane says, “Start at the front door. Does it need to be painted or cleaned? As you walk the house, think about these things: Is it time to purge/organize cupboards and closets to free them of clutter? Is it time to cull the toys and kid’s clothing? Are there unused dishes or Tupperware in the kitchen (someone else probably could use those!)? Do cupboard shelves need a wipe down? Is it time to wash baseboards and window sills? Are there some dusty flower arrangements? Do mattress covers need a wash? Any light bulbs out? Light switches that don’t work? Repairs that need attention? Spots in the carpet? When you’re outside, is it time to mulch? Are there spots that need painting? Dirty windows? Full gutters? Bushes crowding your AC unit? The list goes on, but what’s important is to see it all and get it all written down.”  

3) Determine this year’s goal

Now that you have the exhaustive list, what do you want to work on? Be realistic - don’t try to get to everything. Lane says, “Take baby steps. Circle the items on your list that drive you crazy and start there.”

Think about what your main goal for spring cleaning is THIS year. Is this the year to just clear clutter and donate?  Maybe this is the year to organize what you have? Maybe it’s time to just concentrate on repairs and maintenance jobs? Or maybe, it’s just deep clean time!

4)  Make time & get help

You have your list and your goal. Now, set aside the time on your calendar! Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and we don’t want that! Some of the items might just happen in the pace of your normal cleaning routine. For example, as you’re cleaning the kitchen, you might choose one section of shelves to wipe down each week for the next 3 weeks.    

For the bigger projects, check the family calendar and the availability of your “help” (the hubs and kids – again, it’s their house, too!). Maybe you decide to spend 2 hours each weekend for the next month to get it done or you take an entire “Family Work Weekend.” Lane says, “The important thing is to just start! Getting started on any project is the hardest part, so getting started is half finished!”

5)  Get more help

There’s “free” help and then there’s “expert” help! You and your family can probably handle 95% of the things on your list. But, there may be some jobs that an expert will do better in less time OR that require expertise you don’t have. An electrician, a plumber, a handyman, a professional organizer, a maid service…whoever it is, set a budget and bring in the big guns to help git ‘r done!

6)  Finish what you started

Lane says, “So many people make the list, plan the time, buy the supplies, and 3 months later they still have boxes of clutter sitting in their garage.” If you bought shelf paper, install it. If you cleaned out your closets, get the clothes to a charity. If you bought the light bulbs, put them in. If you bought spot remover, remove the spot. In other words, finish it up! 

7)  Enjoy 

Your house is now clean and organized, so enjoy it! You’ll have a great work-free summer and a clean/organized/de-cluttered home!

Lane’s disclaimer: “I’m an empty nester in a relatively new home and I have the time and energy for some big projects. HOWEVER, I caution moms with babies under 24 months or adults caring for elderly parents: this is not your time! For you, be happy you’re keeping up with basic housework.  In other words, look at the season you’re at in life and plan accordingly.” 

Now, it’s your turn to tell us your tips! Are you a “spring cleaner” or a “continuous cleaner”? How do you keep your house clean, organized and de-cluttered? 


Heidi has a passion for helping busy families control their healthcare dime, time and peace of mind! She writes articles to do just that, while keeping it fun and simple for her readers! She also speaks on healthcare issues and is the owner of

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