Spending more time at home makes a person notice all of the things that are normally overlooked. Now is a great time to catch up on all of those honey-do list items and do a deep spring cleaning – both inside and outside. Below is a list of essential indoor and outdoor tasks to tackle. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist.
- Clear Clutter. Create more space in your home by clearing out unused items from closets and drawers. For now, put the donations into a box or garbage bag and take them to a local charity such as Goodwill when it reopens. If you have large items such as furniture, you can schedule a pick-up with most non-profits. Some will send a truck free of charge. If you have a lot of one type of item (i.e., baby clothes), look for a consignment shop in your town where you may be able to sell them.
- Rid Rooms of Dust & Cobwebs. Vacuum underneath seldom-moved furniture and dust on top of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, ceiling fans and light fixtures, as well as out-of-the-way places like wood paneling, doors, and trim. Wipe cobwebs from the ceiling and high corners.
- Clean Trash Cans & Recycling Containers. Take empty cans outside and spray them with a hose to start. Spritz inside and out with the cleaning spray of your choice. Let the bins sit for a few minutes before scrubbing them with a stiff-bristle brush. Rinse with the hose and leave them upside down to dry.
- Check Safety Devices.Test batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, replacing them as needed. Be sure to properly recycle the dead batteries. It’s also a good idea to periodically check for recalls of your home safety products; you can find up-to-date listings at Recalls.gov.
- Clean the Washing Machine. Your faithful washing machine has laundered loads and loads of clothes. Now it’s time to clean the machine itself! First, use hot soapy water to wipe out any gunk caught in the rubber gaskets around the washer door. Then, run the empty washer on its hottest setting with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
- De-Grime the Dishwasher. Pull out the racks of your empty dishwasher and check inside for any lodged food particles; these are often stuck in flatware holders or filters at the bottom of the machine. To cut through lingering odors, lime stains, and mineral build-up, run the empty washer with a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl placed on the top rack.
- Clean Cutting Boards. Cutting boards endure a lot of wear and tear throughout the year. Sprinkle them with baking soda or kosher salt and rub them down with the cut side of a lemon. Afterwards, wipe wooden boards down with cutting board oil; this will help prevent your boards from warping and remain free of cracks for years to come. If your cutting boards have reached the end of their useful life, recycle them.
- Clean the Pantry. Throw out any expired food. Donate non-expired food that isn’t being eaten to a local food pantry.
- Wipe Out the Refrigerator. Pull everything out of the refrigerator. Throw away anything that is expired. If shelving and drawers are removable, give them a quick wash in warm, soapy water. While they dry, quickly wipe down the inside of your fridge (including any rubber gaskets around the door edges) with a mixture of warm water and vinegar.
- Wash the Bedding & Vacuum Mattresses. Larger soft goods, like pillows and comforters, can often go right in the washer and air dry on a curtain rod or drying rack; just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the tag, as some may need to be dry-cleaned. While the beds are stripped, pull out your vacuum cleaner and use the upholstery attachment to carefully vacuum the top crevices of all your home’s mattresses. This is also a great opportunity to swap out heavier bedding for lighter, summer-friendly linens. As long as you’re vacuuming, move the bed and vacuum underneath.
- Vacuum & Wash Throw Rugs. Get rid of dust and dirt by vacuuming and then washing your throw rugs. Hang the rugs to dry on a drying rack or clothesline.
- Check for Indoor Plumbing Leaks. Check under sinks and around bathtubs, showers, and toilets to ensure there are no leaks. If there are, repair them or schedule plumbing repairs.
- Clean the Floors. Hardwood, ceramic tile, linoleum, and carpet all need to be deep-cleaned. Here are eight no-sweat tricks to clean any type of floor.
- Clean & Organize the Garage. Can you park your car in your garage? If not (or if it’s a tight fit), it may be time to make some more space. Clear out the junk and schedule time to take unused paint, motor oil, and other hazardous household waste (HHW) items to a recycling center that accepts them. If you’re not sure where to go, search Earth911 to find a center near you. Once your garage is cleaned out, consider adding ceiling-mounted storage units or shelving units to keep things off the floor and neatly organized. Does this seem like an impossible task? Here are some additional Garage Cleaning Tips for the Overwhelmed.
- Clean Gutters & Downspouts. Start at the top. Having your home’s gutters and downspouts cleaned (and repaired if necessary) is one of the first important tasks to schedule this season. Clogged gutters during a rainy spring can cause water to pool, potentially damaging the roof and siding of your home.
- Inspect the Roof. Carefully inspect the roof while cleaning your gutters to ensure that it is leak-proof, isn’t growing things, and doesn’t contain fallen branches. Schedule necessary roof repairs.
- Wash the Siding.Using a regular garden hose, attach a siding cleaning kit (available at most home improvement stores) to clean grime from your home’s siding. If your siding could use a really deep cleaning, it can be tempting to use a pressure washer to get the job done quickly. But if you do, use it with care: Consumer Reports advises avoiding any pressure washer that comes with a 0-degree nozzle, because it can be too dangerous (to you and your house). Wider nozzles can get the job done just as well. Pro tip: wash the siding BEFORE you wash the windows. Find tips on how to wash your house here.
- Wash Windows & Doors. Welcome the spring sunshine by clearing dirt and grime from windows inside and out. After cleaning the glass, take an extra moment to wipe the window frame and sill, which can often be a breeding ground for mold. For more information, check out The Best Way to Get Your Windows Spotlessly Clean.
- Clean and Inspect Screen Doors & Windows. There is nothing better than opening the windows and letting in some fresh spring air. But before you do, clean the pollen and dirt build-up on the screens. For a quick cleaning, leave screens in place and vacuum with a dusting attachment. For a deeper cleaning, remove screens and gently scrub with warm, soapy water. Rinse and let them dry. Before putting window screens and screen doors back up, inspect each one for holes and rips—even small tears can let in mosquitoes and bugs. If you find any holes, repair them with a screen patch kit (available at most hardware stores). And don’t forget to clean the window treatments inside.
- Decks/Front Porches. Spruce up the front porch or backyard deck. Clean the porch/deck floor. If you have porch furniture, clean them off and wash the cushions. To keep dust and dirt from entering the house, lay down a fresh doormat. For an added touch, add a plant or a pot of flowers.
- Keep Mosquitoes at Bay. Warmer weather and longer days means we’re entering mosquito season. Take preventative measures by regularly checking your property for standing water and emptying it. Any open containers (empty flowerpots and saucers, a wheelbarrow, etc.) can become mosquito breeding grounds when filled with rainwater, so store these items upside down or in a shed.
- Inspect Paths & Driveway. Repeated freezing and thawing can take a toll on asphalt and concrete. Check your driveway and paths for cracks, scheduling repairs such as asphalt sealing as needed.
- Schedule Cooling-System Maintenance. If you have central air conditioning, be sure to schedule professional maintenance before the start of summer. A properly maintained system cools better, uses less energy, and lasts longer.
- Test Sprinklers & Irrigation System. Take the time this month to test each part, adjusting or repairing as needed. If you don’t already have drip irrigation for your garden, consider putting it in—a properly installed system can save time and water.
- Maintain Wood Decks, Fences, Pergolas, & Furniture. Keep outdoor woodwork in top shape by staining or resealing it each spring. Check gates, fencing, decks, railings, pergolas, outdoor structures, and wood furniture. Make repairs as needed.
- Yes, even in Wisconsin and Iowa, be on the lookout for these winged insects. If there is a large number of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, it’s probably termites. If you notice any, call a licensed professional pest-control company. Find a pest control service near you.