There’s something about the first springy day that makes you want to throw open the windows and bust out the broom (even if you typically have to talk yourself up to the task).
But nobody is superhuman, and tackling the whole house at once can feel overwhelming. So why not go room by room? By approaching your spring cleaning this way, chances are you’ll be able to give each room more attention, plus you’re more likely to follow through rather than burning out.
While energy and enthusiasm are still high, start with one of the more highly-trafficked rooms in your house where your efforts will make the most difference, like the kitchen. You want to go beyond your standard cleaning tasks (wiping countertops, sweeping floors, and rinsing out the sink). Instead, think of spring cleaning as your chance to tackle the items on your to-do list that you normally put off for later.
Here’s what’s worth the elbow grease, plus some tips and tricks for getting the jobs done.
Edit Your Pantry
“The pantry is one of the trickiest areas to organize because it’s typically used by multiple people on a daily basis,” says Joanna Teplin, co-founder of The Home Edit. Take this opportunity to pull everything out and toss anything that’s expired or that you know you’ll simply never use. Once the area is empty, vacuum out any crumbs and use a moist cloth to wipe clean.
When replacing your dry goods, make sure to group like items together, says Clea Shearer, co-founder of The Home Edit. “In general, we find that snacks work better in bins on a lower shelf since they tend to be more grab and go. Spices and cans should be within reach, especially if you cook a lot, and stored on turntables or tiered shelving.”
Empty the Fridge
Like the pantry, you’ll want to remove all food before targeting the surfaces inside. Check the expiration date and look for any signs of spoilage. Toss anything that shouldn’t be there. Then, take out all removable parts, like shelves and drawers. Fill your sink (or the tub!) with warm water and dishwashing soap. Let these parts soak while you wipe all surface areas inside the appliance with commercial wipes or a microfiber cloth dipped in a solution of equal parts warm water and dishwashing soap.
“For stubborn stains, mix a small amount of baking soda with a little water to produce a thick paste,” says Michael Dimopoulos, founder of Lazy Susans Cleaning Service. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for about an hour before wiping clean with a damp sponge or cloth. Once done, rinse shelves and drawers clean, towel dry, and replace. Finally, put any food back inside.
Give Your Drain Some TLC
To help clear your drain from anything that might be causing backups, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then run cold water to flush it out, says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority. If you have a garbage disposal, toss half of a lemon in and turn the machine on to help deodorize it.
Descale the Dishwasher
Over time, your dishwasher tends to hold onto tiny food particles, soap scum, and calcium deposits (especially if you have hard water). “To keep it running more efficiently, remove anything in the dishwasher, take apart and clean the filter, then generously spray the inside with a spray made from 70 percent white vinegar, 20 percent water, and 10 drops of citrus essential oil),” says Dimopoulos. Make sure to cover all trays, compartments, movable parts, and all inside walls, then let sit for 15 minutes. To finish, run the machine on a hot cycle. (For an extra cleaning boost, you can toss about a cup of white vinegar into the machine prior to running it.)
Steam-Clean the Microwave
“This small appliance is one of the easiest to clean: Simply combine one cup of water, one cup of vinegar, and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a bowl and place the bowl in the center of the empty microwave,” says Dimopoulos. Turn the microwave on high for two minutes to fill it with steam, then use a damp cloth to wipe down the inside walls. For stubborn spots that linger, try the baking soda paste you used in the refrigerator.
Flush Out the Coffee Maker
Your coffee pot is a haven for mold, but there’s an easy way to clean it: with two denture tablets. Simply fill the back of the machine with warm water, drop two denture tablets into the liquid, let them fully dissolve, run a regular cycle, then repeat using just warm water, says Stapf.
Clean Your Knife Block
“If you have a knife block, it’s a can’t-miss, as this unsuspecting item can be a hot spot for bacteria growth,” says Viola Wüsthof, CEO of WÜSTHOF. Mix one gallon of warm water and one tablespoon of bleach, then submerge the knife block and let soak for two minutes. Turn upside-down to air dry completely.
Buff Stainless Steel
Skip the harsh cleaning products—you can buff out any fingerprints and smudges on stainless steel (plus prevent new ones from popping up) with a single pantry staple: oil. For convenience, Dimopoulos recommends coconut oil spray. Simply spray and then wipe clean (in the direction of the grain) with a microfiber cloth.
Wipe Down the Trash
Though you might not think to clean the area that holds your garbage, it’s a must. Using a commercial disinfectant, wipe down the walls of your trash can, as well as any hinges and pedals that may have particularly stubborn crevices. (An old toothbrush or a cotton swab can help get into these tiny areas if need be.)