Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spring Cleaning -- On to the Attic/Garage

How's everyone's cleaning system going? Last week, I worked especially on my dining room. When I pulled things down to clean, I decided not to put a few of them back. I also weeded through some table linens and made a give away bag of a few things I don't need.

For this week, I'm going where I fear to tread: into our family's storage areas! I need to re-box some things and decide what to do with others, but I also need to do a lot of dusting and sweeping. This is an area that you don't go into as often as you do other areas of the home, but a good cleaning in these areas helps to make for an overall clean home.

Who will join me in making storage areas cleaner, neater, and more healthful?

It's been a lot warmer here, lately, so I got out and pruned a rose bush, as well as turned over some of the dirt in our very small veggie garden.

Here are some general spring cleaning tips:

1) Chart your plan for your cleaning. Will you attack this by setting aside one or two weeks and devote them entirely to a deep cleaning? Or, will you tackle one room a week for as many weeks as it takes to move through your home? Do you need to stretch out your tasks over an even longer period due to illness or time constraints? Whatever you do, make sure that you have a plan for moving through your home methodically.

2) Wear comfortable, feminine, and suitable attire during spring cleaning. Comfortable doesn't have to mean torn sweats or clothing that you wouldn't want even the mail person to see. In fact, our great-grandmothers knew what they were doing when they attired themselves in pretty day dresses and a dusting cap. Even if you wear jeans, as I sometimes do, you can pair them with a feminine looking shirt. Don't forget to wear an apron if you don't want your clothing to be ruined when you're cleaning.

If you decide to bathe in the evenings during spring cleaning, do some basic grooming in the morning. You may or may not want to put on make up. If you don't, you can at least clean your face and put on your favorite light moisturizer. Or, use a paired own version of your daily makeup. The exertion of cleaning is likely to bring roses to your cheeks, so perhaps all you will need is some lip gloss and a little mascara.

Also, you may want to cover your hair with a pretty scarf when dusting ceilings, walls, and high furniture. If your hair is long, you might also want to put it up. During spring cleaning, dust and sweat can collect in the hair. This not only make you feel less than fresh, it can actually make you sneeze! Again, our foremothers knew what they were doing when they donned scarves and caps to tackle heavy chores.

2) Assemble the tools you will need. You won't need a huge array of cleaning products, but do think through what you do need. Remember to change filters and be prepared to change light bulbs.

Also, consider taking around a little notebook with you to jot down things you realize need doing when you are deep cleaning. You may want to save some projects for after spring cleaning is done. If so, jotting them down will help you remember.

3) Make a plan. Will you blitz through the house in a couple of weeks. This is the traditional method and has the advantage of getting your house ready in a shorter period of time. However, you might not be able to devote this concentrated time to cleaning. If so, stretch your work out by tackling one room a week. If you need to, you can even spread your work out over six months time by working in a heavy chore here and there among your regular home keeping. If you choose to work over a longer period of time, you will need to have a good plan and take good notes so that you do eventually get to everything that needs doing. Many homemakers today do not observe spring and fall cleaning, but work in their deep cleaning chores throughout the year. They may do one or two deep cleaning chores a month, for example. Since we have more methods at our disposal for keeping our houses clean year round than women of yesteryear did, this can work. The only drawback is that you never get to experience that wonderful spring clean feeling and your deep cleaning chores are always hanging over your head.

4) If you are doing the traditional concentrated spring cleaning, think through your meals. You will have less time for cooking than usual. Make use of your crock pot; fix a few things ahead of time and freeze them to be used during your cleaning week; and keep your menus simple, but tasty.

5) Walls and ceilings will need a good dusting, perhaps also a thorough cleaning, or, at the least, a spot cleaning. Curtains will also need tending to. Furniture will need a good polishing. In the process of doing these things, you will be moving things around and even taking things out of a room. You will be pulling pictures off of the walls and taking knickknacks off of surfaces. While you have these items out of the way for a moment, pause and take a good look at your walls and surfaces. How many pictures, knickknacks, and pieces of furniture do you really want to put back in a room? You may be happy with the way things were arranged, and that's fine. However, you may find that you would like a fresher, cleaner look, and you may decide to edit the amount of things you put back in place.

6) The change from cooler to warmer weather and from warmer to cooler weather have traditionally been times to clean out closets and, if need be, to store out of season clothing. Use this time to evaluate your family's wardrobe. Give away items that are no longer needed. Jot down items that you do need to buy or sew. Jot down any mending projects that need to be done.

Spring is a good time to have coats cleaned and to clean other winter gear.

7) Don't forget your baseboards! After you clean them, you can polish them with a good wax, like paste wax, if you like. Test a small spot to make sure that it works on your baseboards.

8) Clean and wax shower doors to cut down on soap film.

9) If you live in the Southern U.S., be careful when cleaning out garages and attics. Every spring, when people begin to tackle their storage areas, the number of brown recluse bites goes up. These spiders do not build webs, but like to hide in dark corners or in boxes. So, you can see why people are often bitten during spring cleaning. Wear gloves and look carefully before reaching into something, and you'll be fine.

10) Treat yourself to a bubble bath each night. This will make you feel fresh after a day of heavy work and may head off any sore muscles.

Happy Home Keeping!
Elizabeth

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