It’s just like Mary Poppins tells us: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – snap! – the job’s a game.”
OK, so maybe it would take more than a spoonful of sugar to entice you to scrub your toilet bowl. But these five tips should help make spring cleaning tasks in the time of coronavirus quarantines less dread-inducing and more of a piece of cake. You (and maybe your family or roommates) are at home more than usual right now – might as well do something rewarding with all that time.
1. Take advantage of having more time on your hands
Getting started with an annual cleaning project can be daunting: Where do you even start?
Fear not, fellow procrastinators. Melissa Maker, the founder of Canadian-based housekeeping service Clean My Space and author of “Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster – And Loving Your Home Every Day,” has some suggestions on how to get up and moving.
“We’re in the unique position right now where you don’t have to worry about getting it all done and running out and taking care of the other things you generally have going on,” Maker says. “This really is kind of a rare and unique opportunity to really take your time with things and spread it out … (Feel) encouraged by the fact that you do have the time, so you can take on some of those projects you would otherwise shun for more exciting things.”
Here’s the order Maker suggests:
- Sweep the patio, walkways, clean exterior windows, light fixtures and patio furniture.
- Wash interior windows (this is a good one to get the kids to help with).
- Clean out closets, cupboards and the pantry.
- Change filters, check furnace, carbon monoxide and smoke detector systems.
- Deep-clean appliances and under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
2. Make a to-do list, then divide and conquer
Start with a wish list of all the things at home you want to scrub, wash or tidy up. Then go from there, Maker recommends. You’ll figure out what’s feasible later, but for now, shoot for the moon.
“I try not to clean the whole house at once,” author and Clean Mama blogger Becky Rapinchuk says. “I find that a cleaning routine that spreads the work out over the day, week or month is much more productive and keeps the house clean most of the time versus having to do a full house clean on the weekend, when you can’t stand it anymore or when someone is coming over.”
Coming up with a calendar for different tasks might also help make things less daunting. Rapinchuk recommends starting by wiping counters, vacuuming, running a few loads of laundry, putting away clutter and making beds. Once that’s taken care of, she likes splitting different chores into different days:
- Monday: Bathroom day.
- Tuesday: Dusting day.
- Wednesday: Vacuuming day.
- Thursday: Floor washing day.
- Friday: Catch up on anything from the previous days you didn’t get to.
- Saturday: Sheets and towels day.
- Sunday: Upkeep those basic starter tasks.
3. Channel your inner Marie Kondo (and have the kids join you)
Does that old knickknack still spark joy?
As organizer extraordinaire and Netflix star Marie Kondo recommends, go through your belongings (be it the contents of your closet, junk drawers or basement storage): If the item you’re holding doesn’t make you happy, it’s time to say goodbye.
Kondo previously told USA TODAY that this process is great to tackle with your kids (and a particularly good idea if you’re hanging out with them at home under quarantine).
“Some parents do say, ‘My children love everything, so they can’t really let go of anything.’ But actually you’d be surprised,” Kondo says. “You’d be surprised to see how much (a child) would be able to let go of things after she sees a pile of things.”
And items don’t have to be falling apart to warrant getting rid of them – things still in good shape can be sold or donated to a thrift store. Let someone else enjoy your treasures if you don’t have a real purpose for them anymore.
4. Short on cleaning products? No problem
Even if you’re out of some household cleansers, you most likely have the right substitutes on hand.
For a DIY disinfectant, Maker combines one cup of water with one cup of rubbing alcohol (optional: about 20 to 30 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oils to increase antibacterial properties). For window washing, a mix of equal parts vinegar and dish soap works as well as commercial glass cleaners. Not only does it remove dirt and grease, but it kills odors and doesn’t leave streaks.
5. Don’t forget your before and after pictures
Nothing like the idea of a good before-and-after comparison to push you to get results. Snapping a few clutter-filled shots will make it all the sweeter when you get to the final, sparkling end. Even better: Text the before shot to a friend or family member for added accountability.
Or make a TikTok out of it, if you’re feeling hip. One trend that the social media app’s users are putting their own spin on: Take video a messy room, then throw what’s supposed to be an explosive (TikTokers get creative, using anything from a bottle of perfume to a tennis ball to a single shoe). Close the door just as an explosion sound effect goes off, then re-open the door to find a newly spotless room.
Cleaning may not be quite that easy IRL, but it does bring in that element of fun.