Spring Cleaning Tips

Published on 15 March 2024 at 16:13

Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment when you get a head start on spring cleaning. If you space out your spring cleaning list over a couple of weeks, it might not seem like such an overwhelming task. The easiest way to start is to take it room by room or appliance by appliance with our cleaning tips from organising and cleaning pros. Grab your cleaning tools, stock up on winning products from our 2022 Cleaning & Organizing Awards, and make sure the battery on your favourite cordless vacuum is charged before you rev it up.

Whether you have only five minutes to freshen things up or you happen to have an entire weekend to dedicate to full spring cleaning days, our pros are here with their best spring cleaning tips to help you out. Learn how to give your home's nooks and crannies a refresh with these 47 cleaning how-tos from Jeffrey Phillip, organising expert, and Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. Read on for tips to help you clean the usual spots more quickly and effectively — and for reminders to tackle harder-to-reach (and harder-to-remember) spots around the house too.


Keep crumbs out of hard-to-reach places

If there's a gap between your stove and your kitchen counters, there's a good chance food bits have made their way into this tight, dark space. Use the crevice tool on your vacuum to reach into this space, then place a stove gap cover between the counter and stove to cut down on the debris that falls out of view.


Freshen white sneakers

A bright new pair of white sneakers goes well with almost any outfit, but those cool new kicks can also be magnets for dirt and debris. Here's how to clean white shoes, like Vans, using a simple DIY mixture:

In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of baking soda, a half tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and a half tablespoon of warm water until it forms a thin paste. Use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the shoes, then rinse well with a damp cloth and allow to air-dry away from the sun. For leather sneakers, skip the hydrogen peroxide.


Organise the fridge

Large refrigerators are great for big families, but they can get cluttered fast. To keep your fridge organized, remove the packaging from multipacks of drinks and single-serve yogurts, use roll-out refrigerator bins to keep small items together and, to help reduce food waste, rotate older food items to the front before adding new groceries.

Keep storage spaces organised

If you use your garage or an outdoor shed as a storage space for things that don't fit inside the house, consider adding this step-by-step strategy to your spring cleaning checklist. Start by organising all your items into three piles: keep, donate and toss.

After you've removed the donate and toss items, vacuum and clean the floor thoroughly. Then begin sorting the things you'll be keeping. Organise smaller items by product type in labeled bins and store them on shelves along the walls to maximise floor space. For more organisation tips, check out these genius garage storage ideas.

Clean your doormats

Trap more dirt by using two mats at exterior/outside doors: one mat outside and one inside. Vacuum indoor mats on both sides. Going over the backs of the mats will push trapped dirt out onto the floor, where it will be easier to pick up. To refresh outdoor mats, hose them off, then air-dry.


Spray down the windows and dust the blinds

Wait for an overcast day to clean your windows, and start on the shady side of the house. (Choosing a sunny day is one of the most common window-cleaning mistakes to avoid.) "Raise blinds or shades and wash windows with glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth," Forté says. "Then lower the blinds or vinyl shades and dust them with a duster. Finish by vacuuming the fabric shades and drapes."

Wipe down the walls

Rid painted walls of greasy fingerprints, dust and stains by wiping them with a damp microfiber cloth or a clean, damp microfiber mop. Be sure to start from the top and make your way to the bottom; bonus points if you wipe the doorframes and baseboards too. In between springtime deep-cleans, do spot-cleanings with a damp microfiber cloth whenever you see stains and marks. Tile walls in bathrooms can be cleaned the same way, though you may want to pair the damp microfiber cloth with a disinfecting bathroom cleaner to take care of any germs too.

For walls with vinyl wallpaper, make sure to wring out the damp microfiber cloth or the clean, damp microfiber mop well to avoid damage. Skip the water altogether if you're dealing with paper, fabric or grass cloth wallpaper. For more in-depth instructions, take a look at our guide for how to clean your walls.


Freshen up musty carpets

Refresh your carpets between deep-cleanings by using a portable carpet cleaner with a rotating brush. To rid your carpet of odors, sprinkle baking soda or carpet deodorizer on your carpet. Using a soft brush, work the baking soda into your carpet and let it set for 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum the baking soda off the carpet with a fresh bag or clean dirt cup.

If you notice unsightly stains on your carpet or it's time for a deeper clean, check out our expert guide to how to clean carpet the right way. Or consider investing in an at-home carpet cleaner appliance to get the job done without having to call a cleaning service.

De-stink the kitchen sink

Got kitchen stink you just can't kick? You might already have the necessary ingredients to freshen up your sink in the fridge right now. Try dropping a couple of lemon rind slivers into your garbage disposal, and turn it on for 15 to 30 seconds. Follow with cold water to flush out any bits of lemon rind that remain.


Steam clean the microwave

Clean up those pesky tomato stains once and for all. To clean your microwave, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and a lemon, lime or orange cut into thin slices — or several tablespoons of vinegar — and stick it inside. Turn the appliance on high for several minutes or until the solution boils and the window is steamy, then let it cool for five minutes before opening the door. Remove the bowl and wipe the inside and outside of the microwave with a sponge.


Wash those reusable bags

Reusable grocery bags cut down on wasteful plastic, but they can get grimy over time. Look at the care label on your reusable bags to determine the best way to clean them. If they're not machine washable, clean them thoroughly with a sponge or cloth dipped in sudsy water. Rinse with a clean cloth and let air-dry.


Spruce up granite countertops

Dig out the granite polish to help restore shine and repel stains on your kitchen surfaces. For daily wipe-downs, use a specialized granite cleaner, like GH Seal Star Weiman Granite & Stone Disinfecting Wipes. The mild formula cuts grease and removes surface stains without the damaging effects of vinegar or ammonia, and it won't leave behind a dull film like ordinary dish soap can.


Give Your Home a Refresh!

Discover brilliant ways to get organized, declutter and make over any room. These downloadable digital guides make it easier than ever to give your home a refresh. Visit our store to find dozens of ideas from Good Housekeeping and our sister brands.

Bring stained cutting boards back to life

With regular use, even the best cutting boards can become stained. If you think that nasty mark on your cutting board is permanent, you could be wrong. Run the cut side of a lemon over the board to help remove food stains and smells. For extra oomph, sprinkle it with salt or baking soda first.


Deep-clean the fridge

In addition to wiping down your fridge's interior shelving on a regular basis, give the removable bins and shelves a deep-clean every now and then. Pop out the door shelves and bins and wash them in warm, soapy water to help get rid of food bacteria and spillage. Don't forget to rinse everything well before putting the shelves and bins back in.

Shine up pots and pans

Soften burned-on residue by adding water and dish liquid to your cookware and letting it simmer on the stove. After it's cooled a bit, use a scrub sponge or pad to remove any remaining stuck-on bits. Ketchup (yes, really!) helps dissolve tarnish on copper pots and other copper cooking accessories. Just massage the sauce over the surface, and add a pinch of salt if you come across exceptionally stubborn spots.

De-gunk your oven

Cleaning your oven is an essential part of spring cleaning. Use the appliance's self-cleaning function to remove stubborn, baked-on grime. If your oven doesn't have one, place a hot, wet cloth on top of burned spots to help soften the gunk. Then apply an oven cleaner (like one of the best oven cleaners we've tested) and let stand for as long as the manufacturer recommends. Rinse with a wet cloth and wipe dry.

Scrub down kitchen cabinets

Unsightly kitchen grime is a mix of dust and grease that builds up over time. Run the exhaust hood over your range every time you cook to keep grease from settling. To de-gunk, use a cabinet cleaner to cut through dirt and leave wood moisturised. Do an extra pass around any places where grease collects, like door and drawer pulls.


DIY a stainless steel cleaner for sparkling appliances

To clean stainless steel appliances and sinks, mix a solution of one teaspoon dish detergent and one quart hot tap water. Using a microfiber cloth, rub the solution onto the marks in small sections, going with the grain. Rinse with clean hot water and dry immediately with a clean cloth.


Reorganise the junk drawer

Once you empty out your drawer, suck out dust and crumbs with your vacuum's nozzle. "Toss or relocate any items you no longer need or that don't belong there," Forté says. Everything else goes back, but this time in an organised manner. Repurpose pretty plates and bowls to store cords, stamps and other odds and ends, or consider a drawer organiser like the Cleaning & Organising Award winner from Poke-a-Dot that can also be taken on the go. A nonslip liner helps keep everything in place.

Machine wash your shower curtain

Put your plastic or vinyl shower curtain in the washing machine on the gentle cycle with your favorite laundry detergent (and a couple of old towels for scrubbing power). Let the curtain hang dry before showering. To keep white and clear shower liners cleaner longer, spritz them a few times each month with a bleach-containing all-purpose cleaner. Then simply let the shower rinse it off — before you hop in, of course.

Toss expired cosmetics

Getting rid of expired makeup, skincare and hair products is a quick way to declutter. Not all products note an expiration date, but many say how many months the product will last after opening. "To stay on top of their expiration date, use a thin-tipped permanent marker to write on the date you opened it," Phillip suggests.


Clean your makeup brushes

To clean makeup brushes, squeeze a few drops of baby shampoo or Dawn dish soap into your palm and rub the bristle tips into the soap, then gently work the suds through them. To rinse, hold the brush (bristles down) under warm running water. Gently shake over the sink to remove excess water, then lay the brush down on a paper towel to finish drying.


Brighten up grout

White grout picks up, well, everything. To clean tile grout and help restore its sparkle, spray it with a top-tested grout cleaner. "Let it set for several minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush like the Casabella Smart Scrub Grout Brush and rinse," Forté says.


Keep drains smelling fresh

To freshen drains (not unclog them) and help keep them free-flowing, mix a half cup of baking soda with one fourth of a cup table salt. Pour the mixture down the drain, followed by one cup of heated white vinegar. It will foam and bubble. Let it stand for 15 minutes, tops.

Follow by running hot tap water for at least 15 to 30 seconds. This is especially helpful for seldom-used drains, like those in guest bathrooms. Clogged drains require a dedicated product, like one of the best drain cleaners, all recommended by our experts.


Remove hard-water buildup from your shower-head

Hard-water buildup can cause unsightly stains and even affect your shower-head's water flow. If scrubbing with a sponge doesn't clear the debris from the holes, you can clean your shower-head and restore its flow using a few kitchen products you probably already have in your home. (Take note: This method is best suited for chrome fixtures.) Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a plastic bag and tie the bag around the shower-head, making sure to immerse the shower-head entirely. Secure it with a twist tie. Leave the bag around the shaft for up to an hour, then wipe away any residue left behind. Run the shower's hot water to flush the vinegar out of the shower-head's openings.

Caution: To help prevent damaging decorative shower-head finishes, choose instead to dunk a brush into the vinegar-and-water mix and scrub the shower-head nozzles. Then flush the openings by turning on the hot water, as above.


Vacuum soft furniture

"Pull furniture away from walls and vacuum behind and under it," Forté says. "Do the woodwork and air vents while you're back there." Then switch to the upholstery tool on your machine to go over both sides of cushions and underneath them. The crevice tool is a great way to remove any gunk along the trim and stitching.

Spruce up curtains and decorative pillows in the dryer

Put your dryer to work and toss drapes, curtains and even throw pillows into the dryer for 15 minutes on air-only or the lowest temperature your dryer offers, then immediately rehang to avoid wrinkles.


Give your bookshelves new life

After all of those cozy winter reading sessions, your library may be in need of a cleanup. Take a few minutes to organise your coffee-table books, bedside novels or favourite magazines. You can choose to alphabetise them, coordinate them by colour or sort them by size. Make sure you dust the shelves before putting anything back in its place. Donate old books and magazines that are still in good condition to local organisations or your neighborhood's Little Free Library.


Dust those ceiling fixtures

Spring cleaning is all about tackling the areas you forget about during the rest of the year. Grab an extendable duster, like the one from GH Seal holder Swiffer, and attack ceiling fans, hanging and recessed lights, mouldings and more. Make sure to start your cleaning here, from top to bottom, so you don't have to vacuum your floors twice.

Replace air conditioner filters

Spring is a great time to clean or replace HVAC and window air conditioner filters before you start to use them regularly in the summer months. It's best to check with your unit's manufacturer for the recommended way to clean filters if they're washable.


Clean kids' toys

When it comes to cleaning kids' toys, don't overlook the convenience of your dishwasher or washing machine. For plastic toys, choose the crystal or quick cycle on your dishwasher and skip the heated dry. For stuffed animals, check the care labels, and if machine washable, place them in a mesh bag or pillowcase before throwing it into the washing machine on a gentle cycle. A quick once-over with a lint roller can help too.

RELATED: Easy Toy Storage Ideas and Tips That Will Get Kids Super Organized


Wash bulky bedding

It's time to tackle bulky items you typically avoid: Clean those comforters and wash those pillows! You need to clean these items only two or three times a year, so they should be at the top of your list during spring cleaning season. But make sure you check the manufacturer's label before tossing them into the washing machine.


Kill dust mites in your mattress

It's the ideal time to pay attention to what's under the sheets. To deep-clean your mattress, first use a top-performing clothing steamer to kill dust mites near the surface. Vacuum the mattress afterward, making sure to press firmly with your vacuum's upholstery and crevice tools to clean the top and sides. After vacuuming, sanitise the mattress with a disinfecting spray like Lysol Fabric Disinfectant Spray.


Toss or donate old clothes

Go through clothes and shoes from the season that's just ended, and remove anything stained, in need of repair or worn out, Phillip advises. Make a second pass through your spring and summer clothes as you take them out of storage. Try on anything you're unsure about before giving it closet space. Drop off items that are in good condition but just aren't your style anymore at your local clothing donation site.


Clean your washing machine

Before you start to notice an odor, clean your washing machine by adding bleach and turning on the special washer-cleaning cycle on your machine. Or use a washing machine cleaner like GH Seal Star Tide Washing Machine Cleaner.


De-fuzz the dryer

More than 15,000 fires start in home laundry rooms every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Beyond removing the fuzz from your dryer's filter after every load, pull out hard-to-reach lint with the crevice tool on your vacuum to suck up debris. Vacuum under, around and behind the dryer as well. Unplug the dryer and use your vacuum's hose to clean as far into the dryer vent as possible.


Disinfect your electronics

Bad news: Your cell phone probably harbours more germs than your toilet seat. You should try to clean your phone at least a few times a week. Power it down, then wipe it with a microfiber cloth followed by a Lysol Disinfecting Wipe. Make sure it stays wet for four to five minutes — letting it sit for this long allows the disinfectant to work — and let it air-dry. That same method works well for cleaning other electronics, like your TV remote and computer mouse.


Empty, organise and clean purses

Take everything out, toss trash and organise items by category. Sort smaller items, like lipsticks, into little pouches or purse organizers before you put them back inside. Wipe down the exterior with a disinfecting wipe if the purse is made with a durable, water-resistant material.


Clean your vacuum

Yes, you have to clean your cleaners. Replace the vacuum bag or clean the dust cup, and replace or wash the filters. Snip threads snarled in the brush with scissors or a seam ripper.


Wash your broom

Clear dust bunnies stuck on your broom's bristles by swishing the broom head around in warm, soapy water or vacuuming it with the end of the vacuum hose.


Scrub trash cans

Trash bags break, and when they do, washing your trash can is the only way to keep odours out of your home. To wash the inside of your trash can, hose it down and scrub the inside with your favourite dish soap and a sponge. Rinse it well, and either allow it to air-dry or dry it with a micro-fiber cloth before returning it to your kitchen. Regularly use a sanitising wipe or spray to keep the outside of the trash can free of food bits and drips.

Wipe down outdoor furniture

With warmer weather on the horizon, it's time to get your outdoor furniture ready for lounging. To do this, add a squirt of dish detergent to a bowl of warm water, then wipe down tables and chairs. Spray them with water and let them air-dry.


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