With snow on the ground in many places and temperatures hovering around freezing, it may feel as though spring is still a long way off. But now is the perfect time for spring cleaning – if you wait until the weather is beautiful, the last thing you'll want to do is stay indoors and clean your apartment.
The best place to begin is with a de-cluttering of your space. Get some boxes and some large bags and start going through every room in your apartment – especially the closets. Winters are long and cold, so many of us become packrats in winter. It gives our space a sense of coziness and warmth if it is densely packed, and we tend to stay indoors more often, so items accumulate during the long winter months. But when spring comes along all of that extra stuff just becomes oppressive and stuffy.
Take everything out of the closets and sort it into three piles: keep, donate, and toss. Clean out your closet, dust off the shelves, wipe down the walls, and vacuum if it is carpeted. Put all of the "keep" items back into the closet. Put the items to donate in a box and call for pick-up, or if you plan to drop it off, take it straight out to your car (so it doesn't end up back in the closet!). Throw the items in the toss pile away.
Repeat this process for your bookcases, kitchen cabinets, and anywhere you may have accumulated clutter. Once you've purged the winter clutter and everything you plan to keep is back in its place, it's time to tackle your apartment room by room. (Many spring cleaning guides will tell you to swap winter bedding for spring/summer bedding and replace heavy winter drapes with lightweight ones. Since it is only February, you might want to hold off on this step until the weather warms a little more – perhaps in April.)
Spring cleaning is the one time a year you go beyond your typical cleaning routine of vacuuming and dusting to include things such as steam cleaning the carpets, washing windows, scrubbing sliding door tracks, defrosting the freezer, and cleaning the oven. You'll also want to scrub down the walls, baseboards, and door frames. Move all heavy furniture into the center of the room and wipe down the walls and baseboards and vacuum thoroughly. Move appliances out and clean behind those, as well.
Give your furniture a good cleaning. Use a fabric cleaner or leather cleaner for couches and chairs, and polish wood furniture. Don't overlook light fixtures and ceiling fans – clean both with a damp cloth to remove dust. Wipe down blinds and clean your curtains (if they are machine washable; check the label first). Don't forget those surfaces you don't pay much attention to otherwise, such as the top of the refrigerator, your computer keyboard, and air vents.
This is also a great time to check smoke detectors and make sure they are working properly (change batteries if necessary – something that should be done twice a year).
If you prefer green cleaning solutions, vinegar and water is excellent for cleaning mirrors, lemon juice removes stains, and a mixture of baking soda and water is great for cleaning kitchen counters. Baking soda or corn starch can also be used as a carpet deodorizer – just sprinkle it over the carpet and vacuum it up.
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