The Best Approach To Summer Cleaning

newjerseycleaningHas your spring cleaning been bypassed because you just didn’t have the get up and go to get up and clean? Don’t be hard on yourself that’s pretty common – life is very full for most of us and taking an entire week to change over your house and scrub it top to bottom seems to be more of a thing that our grandmothers did than something we can manage. It’s a wonderful mental picture to see yourself pulling down the drapes, hand washing them and hanging them in the sun to dry. Taking all your old bedding off and laundering it, lovingly folding it and storing it away in your cedar trunk in favor of your lightweight coverlet and fresh summer linens – and don’t forget emptying your pantry and swapping out the shelf liners with new fresh paper or rotating and refolding all of your linens and towels…. Okay I’m exhausted.

It seems like something out of Cinderella to have all that time and energy to complete that huge list of tasks, but remember, Cinderella had a whole bevy of woodland creatures to help her with her chores… you may be lucky to get a teenager to lift their feet off the bed while you wrestle with stripping their sheets, but that’s probably about it.

So what do you do? How can you tackle a seasonal changeover and make the time needed to complete a task as daunting as a full home cleanout? The answer is easy, you can’t. Instead you have to realistically look at the time you do have in chunks and match select tasks to that available time. And do yourself a favor – don’t say “I’ve got all day Saturday 6am to 8pm to handle cleaning until I go to that party in the evening.” Number one, who wants to spend an entire day cleaning? And number two, you’ll be exhausted for the party if you even think of trying that. No you have to be 100% honest with yourself – “what do I realistically think I can manage on one day?” If you take too big a bite and can’t get it done the “I’m a failure mode” sets in and suddenly you ditch your whole cleaning schedule because “what’s the point?” So my goal here is not to dissuade you from a deep spring cleaning – it’s to get you to evaluate what really needs to get done and parcel your efforts into chunks to actually make some progress.

If you’re anything like me, the promise of an entire weekend trapped inside cleaning is not my idea of a fun time. And while I have friends that revel in reorganizing their panty and flash me pictures of their OCD stacked soup cans, that not me. So the only way that I can get through a big project is to be realistic and chop it into manageable pieces. Much like I do my standard home cleaning – each day on the calendar is assigned a task and that is my target for the day, 1 thing! So for your large cleaning projects you HAVE to realistically figure out how much effort you can set aside each day and make a plan of attack that matches what you have. Only an hour – clean out a drawer (and really throw things away.) You have two hours – refold your linen closet and donate the old towels and lines to your local animal shelter (yes they need them desperately) have half a day -tackle your bedroom closet, you really weren’t going to ever fit in those pants again anyway were you? So here are some hints and suggestions for you – your times and chores may vary.

Tackle your toughest first:

If you can handle it try to do your toughest, least favorite job first while you have the drive to do it. I hate bathrooms so my first call to order is cleaning out the cabinets and throwing out old products and expired medicines and those pesky q-tips that manage to migrate out of the box and get really nasty in the bottoms of my drawers. It’s time for everything to come out and get a fresh wipe down with a mixture of vinegar and water – even the walls and shower curtains which I hang in the sun to dry.

Be reasonable:

There is only so much you can do at once. If you try to accomplish too much you will quickly get sloppy, cut corners and it will become no more than a regular cleaning. Handle what you can manage and take pride in completing it. Something is better than nothing.

Learn to let go:

The best spring cleans are purges. Why do you have that honey mandarin pomegranate candle that Aunt Marge gave you for Christmas three years ago. You almost passed out when you smelt it then, do you really think that you will grow to like it? And for gosh sake STOP saving things for a garage sale that you will never have. Pack it up and drop it off the same day to your local good will or church thrift store – there will be market somewhere for your 1960’s Corel dishes. Embrace the ZEN of tossing the collected artifacts of yours, your mother’s, your grandmother’s and great grandmother’s life. Kids artwork? Take pictures of the whole darn collection and order a picture book from an on line photo company. Take one of your favorites from each child frame them and hang them in their rooms.

Take it further:

So I am not going to bore you with a whole blog of cleaning tasks – you know what you avoid cleaning on a regular cleaning basis, yup – it’s time to tackle those jobs. If you regularly skip moldings and the dust bunnies have collectively make them look like they are sprouting beards, it’s time to get on your knees and scrub them up. Not a fan of the under the bed clean out – time to work one room at a time and tackle the black holes. And while you are at it – wipe down the front door. That is everyone’s first impression of your home and it is worth a quick polish.

I hope that in some way I’ve inspired you to maybe consider taking a chunk out of some seasonal spruce up. It doesn’t have to be a huge chunk – but anything will make you feel victorious!

Happy Cleaning!