As the weather has gotten warmer with winter turning into spring, we have a lot of things on our minds. For those of us with children, we’re thinking about spring break. For those of us that go to any supermarket or mall or other place of rampant commercialism, we’re thinking about the Easter Bunny. And for those of us that can’t open our over-stuffed closet doors without ducking first in case something collapses and falls on us, we’re thinking about spring cleaning. With all of the other things holding our attention during the spring months, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the prospect of deep-cleaning a home. Often, we don’t know how to start or what to do. This article will provide you with that: a starting point.
Change Your Air Filters
While this may seem to be an odd place to start, changing your air filters is actually one of the most important things that you as a resident can do. Regularly changing your air filters will protect the air quality of your home, help mitigate the cost of your heating and air bills, and keep your HVAC system from breaking down. Air filters trap dust and debris that may otherwise settle in your lungs, and changing them about every three months helps them do that job efficiently. If you don’t change them, all of that build up impedes the air that travels through the system, making your heat or air conditioning work harder. This leads to higher bills and wears down your HVAC system, which could mean costly repairs. Starting your spring cleaning with a new air filter means you’ll breathe easier as pollen starts to clog the air and you’ll have lower air conditioning bills as the weather gets warmer. If you haven’t been regularly changing your air filters before now, starting with your spring cleaning is a good way to build that habit. Every three months, mark your calendar; if you have pets, or someone in the house has allergies, try making it every two months.
We know that saying “declutter” is a lot easier than actually doing it, especially if you’ve lived in your home for a while or if you have a lot of people living with you. We all have busy schedules, and it’s easy to let the black hole in your junk drawer continue to collect expired coupons, paper clips, and dried-out pens until it can no longer open. But the start of a new season–and reading this very useful article–gives you an excuse to just get started. Devise a system. Make a list. Set a goal. One easy way to get rid of all the clutter that you’re tripping over is to divide and conquer. Instead of trying to clean the entire house at once, picking up whatever you see on the floor and tossing it, set small goals. Start with the bathroom. When your satisfied with your bathroom, move on to your bedroom. Then your closet, the living room, the kitchen, and so on. If other people live with you, enlist their help too (if you can stand the groaning). Another method that makes the process faster and more effective is the “Five Box Method” (we just made the name up, we didn’t invent the system). Find four boxes: cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, or those plastic storage bins. Label them “put away”, “recycle”, “fix”, “throw away”, and “donate”. As you go through your home, instead of picking every individual thing off of the floor or a counter and walking to the other side of the house to put it where it belongs, put it in one of these boxes. Put items that aren’t where they should be (the elmo toy under the couch, the stack of DVD’s on the coffee table) in the “put away” box. You can sort through this at the end and find a place for everything. For spare sheets of paper, plastic, and aluminum that aren’t serving a purpose any more, toss those into the box designated for recyclables. (Make sure it’s actually recyclable before you do, though: a lot of packaging may look recyclable when it actually isn’t. Check for a label on your plastics, or google it.) For broken or dirty items, place them in the “fix” box to be repaired or cleaned and put away. Trash should be thrown away. And old clothes, toys, and books can be put in the “donate” box, to be taken to Goodwill or a thrift store.
Spring cleaning may still seem like a lot to handle, even with a clear outline of what to do. But once it is done, you’ll have a clean house and a clearer mind for the coming months.