Spring, the season of new growth, transformation and change for the good. It’s time to come out of hibernation and meet the world again, refreshed and renewed.
But the house is a mess.
The closer you look, the more you realise there are jobs that you’ve put off all winter or perhaps for even longer. It’s time to bust out the rubber gloves and get cleaning.
Wait! Don’t go it alone. Before you get scrubbing, you’ll need our ultimate list of spring cleaning tips to get you cleaning faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Tips to Spring Cleaning the Interior and Exterior of Your Home
See our ultimate checklist for every part of your house
The Benefits of Spring Cleaning
The leaves are back on the trees, flowers are blooming, and you’ve taken off the thermals for the first time since December. It just feels right to make a new start, so make a resolution you will actually keep this year. Learning how to spring clean properly will make next year’s tasks much easier as well.
While you’re cleaning the house from top to bottom, why not reduce how much stuff there is to polish and dust? For every item you pick up, consider the “four-box rule” and stick to it.
Make a decision there and then to either:
- Bin or Recycle It- If it’s broken and you can’t fix it, or it’s no good to anyone else, get rid of it
- Donate or Sell It- If you can make money from your old junk, that’s great, but if not then give it to charity and let someone else enjoy it
- Store It- Winter coats are only useful when it’s cold. Seasonal and less-used items should be stored away, with inventory lists so that you remember what you’ve got
- Put It Away- If you use an item regularly, give it a proper home and keep it there. Your useful gadgets should be easy to find but easy to tidy away as well
The Complete Room-by-Room Checklist
There are certain things that need to be done in every room when you attempt a whole house blitz. If you can take these spring cleaning ideas and work them into your regular cleaning routine, you’ll find that dirt won’t stand a chance against your cleaning skills.
Every Room Needs This
Tick these spring cleaning tips off in every room as you go along:
- Curtain call- Before you do anything else, give your curtains a really good shake, preferably whilst holding your breath. Let the dust settle and get on with the rest of the room
- Dusting- Start at the top with the light fittings and work to the bottom, then work from one end of the room to the other, to avoid dusting the same spot twice
- Picture cleaning- You’ll be amazed, or disgusted, by how dusty pictures and other wall decorations can get, so remove them, dust them and clean the glass with dilute vinegar
- Clean the things you touch- You touch doorknobs, light and power switches all the time, so make sure they are thoroughly disinfected to avoid spreading germs
- Freshen the carpets- Before you vacuum, liberally sprinkle the carpet with bicarbonate of soda for freshness. This can kill that stale smell that dust leaves behind
- Vacuum properly- Vacuum from left to right, slowly, and then vacuum up and down at right angles to your original direction. This will help to lift dirt out of the carpet
- Vacuum the curtains- That’s right, use the extender nozzle to get them really clean
- Shampoo the carpets- To get the best clean, you can either get in the professionals or rent a carpet cleaning machine for a reasonable price. It’s much cheaper than new flooring
- Air out the room- Now the days are getting warmer, open the windows wide to air out your home. Close them again before the inevitable rain starts
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary away from the world, where relaxing sleep prepares you for your busy waking hours. Or has it become a dumping ground? A place to hide things from soon-to-arrive guests or a wasteland for items that just don’t seem to have a home?
Under the Bed
“Out of sight and out of mind” is the philosophy that most of us stick to when it comes to that space under the bed. What could be a useful space becomes a magnet for junk and the thickest dust imaginable. The first thing to do is to clear everything out. Only then can you tackle the grime that hides below.
Anything you pull out from under the bed needs sorting by the faithful four-box method explained above. Investing in under the bed storage boxes makes the most of the available space. It also means you can get at the stored items easily, and the things inside stay dust-free.
Once the under-bed area is clear, vacuum it. Move the bedframe to get at the floor underneath, as hair and dust tends to build up along the edges.
Your place of sanctuary, you most likely spend more time in your bed than on any other item of furniture. This means it gets dirty. Seriously dirty. Here’s how to spring clean it:
First, strip the bedclothes off and wash them, including mattress protectors, bed skirts and anything else you can remove. Then clean your mattress. Manufacturers recommend a brisk clean at least three times a year, but don’t feel bad if this is the first time you’ve ever heard of this:
- Vacuum the surface of the mattress with the upholstery attachment to lift off any dust and loose dirt
- Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to tackle any stains. Rub it on and leave to dry. The acid in the lemon works like a safe bleach and the salt acts as a scrub
- Sprinkle the surface of the mattress with bicarbonate of soda to battle any bad smells and freshen up the mattress’ surface
- Don’t forget to vacuum up the bicarbonate of soda before putting clean linen back on
- Organise your drawers- Now is the time to de-clutter and put your winter clothes in storage
- Strip and clean the bed linen- Remove everything and wash it
- Get under the bed- Tackle this clutter and dust magnet once and for all
- Clean and rotate the mattress- Deep clean your mattress and rotate it to even out the wear
You’ll only need a few ingredients to make this recipe for spring cleaning ideas in your kitchen: combine cleaning spray, scouring pad and a healthy dollop of elbow grease for delicious results.
Plunge into those cupboards full of tins, packets and jars of who-knows-what that have built up over the years and blitz them. The trick to achieve clear cupboards is to take items out and put them in boxes marked “Bin”, “Eat” and “Store”.
- Anything seriously out of date should be binned or recycled
- Anything close to its date should be put at the top of your recipe list so it gets used before going bad
- Anything with a long shelf life can be put back, but only if you plan to use it soon
Use the internet or your favourite cookbooks to find ways to use up your more obscure food items. You might just surprise yourself with your creativity! But if you’re really stuck, you could give it away. Schemes like OLIO have been set up to share unwanted food items with those who might want them.
Use the Booze
Do you have a cupboard filled with bottles of strange alcohol? That ouzo was great while you were on holiday in Greece, but is it really the same three years later on a damp Wednesday at home? And those bottles of liqueur you think you’ll drink at some point? There are a few things you can do with them.
Cooking with spirits and wine is a time-honoured tradition, and it might make you more adventurous with your recipes. Don’t worry, the alcohol burns off in the cooking process, so you won’t get a midweek hangover from whisky marinated steaks.
Vodka works in the same way as rubbing alcohol, which is a brilliant cleaning product. If you’re not into drinking it, it will come in useful when you clean the rest of the kitchen. Make up a multi-purpose cleaning spray with equal parts vodka, white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
And if you can’t find ways to use your old booze, you could try giving it away before pouring it down the sink. You’ll be amazed at the extra space in your kitchen after getting rid of unwanted alcohol.
Clean the Oven
It’s time. You’ve put this one off for a long time. It’s OK, the first part of dealing with any problem is admitting it’s there. Ovens can easily become filthy, with sauces and blobs of grease baking hard over every surface. Most people will reach for dangerous-looking bottles of oven cleaner covered in warning stickers, but you don’t have to. Follow these steps for a sparkling oven:
- Make a paste using about 160g bicarbonate of soda and three tablespoons of water in a bowl. Mix together well until you have something you can spread on the oven
- Remove all trays and racks from the oven and soak them in soapy water
- Using gloves, work the paste into the oven where it is heavily soiled, avoiding electrical elements but getting all of the nooks and crannies covered
- Close up the oven and leave it, preferably overnight, or for as long as you can
- Use an equal mix of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to liberally spray onto the worst areas
- Using a non-scratch scouring pad, scrub the stained areas until they are clean
- Replace the now-clean racks and enjoy your clean oven once again
The real key here is to clean your oven often. Built-up dirt, food and grease is much harder to remove when it has been baked on for months, so do yourself a favour and schedule a clean every season rather than once a year.
Clearing the Fridge Freezer
Now that you’ve cleaned out the cupboards, ditched the booze and have a sparkling clean oven, it’s fridge freezer time. Be prepared to find things at the back of the freezer you have no memory of buying! Use these spring cleaning tips, if you dare.
As with all of the other parts of your house, the best way to de-clutter and clean is to empty the contents out first. Start with your fridge, and throw out anything that is out of date, green and mouldy, or that you just don’t recognise. Then move on to the freezer and what lurks inside there.
Use clever sites like Supercook to use up unusual ingredients that are still in date. Just enter in what you have, and it will search for the recipes online. The goal here is to clear some space ready for the actual cleaning.
The Best Way to Defrost Your Freezer
If you have a build-up of frost in your freezer or fridge, unplug it and leave it to thaw out. That’s the ideal, but if you don’t have the time, use a plastic ice scraper to tackle chunks of ice. Just be careful to avoid damaging the inside of the freezer. Then rub the area down with a cloth soaked in hot water and rubbing alcohol to banish the rest of the frost. Use old towels to soak up any water.
How To Clean Your Refrigerator
Now that your fridge freezer is frost-free, you can get on with cleaning it. It’s important to keep your food storage areas free of chemicals, so use natural cleaning products. They are a gentler alternative to brand name cleaners and are much cheaper.
One of the most effective cleaners to use inside your fridge is a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and hot water in a spray bottle. It will cut through the dirt and leave the surfaces clean and shining like new. If you really don’t like the vinegar smell, you could add a few drops of lemon essential oil, or any other scent that works for you.
Some guides recommend lemon juice as a fridge cleaner, which is effective, but it can tarnish stainless steel. Always be careful and test on an inconspicuous area first. Spray a lemon juice and water mixture over the surfaces, let the acid work its magic and wipe away with a cloth.
Mini-Guide to a Fresh Fridge Smell
To keep your fridge smelling fresh, there are a few easy tricks to stop that old vegetable smell from putting you off making your favourite recipes. Try a few of these fresh hacks:
- A small dish of bicarbonate of soda left in the fridge will neutralise nasty odours
- Soak cotton wool in your favourite essential oil and leave it in your fridge for a fresh scent
- Activated charcoal, found in most pet shops, will absorb nasty odours
- A dish of coffee grounds will soak up smells and leave a delicious scent
Everything Including the Kitchen Sink
You don’t even want to think about cleaning the sink. The grime and gunk that builds up around the plug hole are best left unmentioned, but they need cleaning, and fast. It will take a little elbow grease, but these spring cleaning tips will have your sink sparkling in no time.
Disinfect Your Dirty Sink
Before you do anything else, fill the sink with hot water. Pour a healthy amount of white vinegar into the water and let it sit for a while. Using a sponge or cloth, wipe down all the surfaces, the taps and inside the overflow. Use a nylon brush on any rust spots or tough stains. Then let the sink drain and give the plug hole a good scrub. Your sink will be beautifully clean in minutes.
Unblock the Sink
If your sink is draining slowly, it is probably blocked with an unspeakable mess of old cooking oil and bits of pasta. Don’t reach for the phone to call an expensive plumber until you’ve tried yourself. If you’re feeling brave and practical, you can remove the u-bend pipe underneath and remove the blockage from there. Provided you can access the pipes under the sink, follow these steps:
- Make sure the sink is empty, and put the plug in to stop any leaks
- Place a bucket under the u-bend pipes to catch any water or debris
- Take a picture of the pipes so that you remember what they look like once you’ve taken them apart
- Carefully undo the union nuts that hold the u-bend in place
- Don’t lose the little rubber “o” washers that seal the pipe to the union nuts
- Allow the water to flow into the bucket and then clear the blockage from the pipe
- Replace the rubber washers and screw the u-bend back into place
- Check for any leaks while the bucket is still in place
- Enjoy a free-flowing sink without having to call a plumber
Get Rid of That Sink Stink
Even though you’ve cleared the blockages and disinfected the sink, you might still get that drain smell. If it’s putting you off doing the washing up, try pouring a decent amount of bicarbonate of soda down the drain with a little water to help it flow. Leave the mix down there for a few hours, then rinse with dilute vinegar. The mixture should foam and bubble, then leave a fresh sink behind.
Sanitise the Surfaces
The last thing you should do when spring cleaning your kitchen is tackle your surfaces. They need to be clean if you want to avoid nasty germs and bacteria from growing where you prepare your food. Before you jump in with a strong brand name chemical cleaner, consider these gentle homemade products that are still tough on dirt.
Note: Make sure you know what your surfaces are made of. Never use acid-based cleaners on natural or artificial stone as you can tarnish them for ever. The same goes for some metal worktops like steel and copper. Always check your cleaning products on an inconspicuous corner or underneath before you tackle the tops.
Different Solutions for Different Worktop Materials
Try these methods on your kitchen worktop at home:
- Wood- Spray a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water with a drop of washing up liquid over the surface and leave to work its magic. Wipe away with a clean cloth. When dry, oil your wood worktop with linseed or Tung oil
- Stainless steel- Wash with warm and soapy water first. Then, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda across the surface. Spray the area with equal parts water and vinegar solution and use a nylon brush to scrub the surface with the grain of the metal
- Stone- Simply wash down the surface with warm soapy water. Make sure to dry surfaces afterwards with a clean cloth, and never use abrasive or acidic cleaning products
- Laminate- Spray with equal parts water and vinegar solution, using bicarbonate of soda on heavily stained areas. Don’t forget to dry the surface thoroughly afterwards
- Organise the cupboards- De-clutter and clear out old jars and packets of food
- Clear out the old booze cabinet- Save a lot of space by ditching things you’ll never drink
- Clean the oven- It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it
- Clean the fridge- It can get very dirty in there, make it clean and fresh to boost your health
- Disinfect the sink- If it’s dirty or not draining properly, give it some TLC
- Scrub the surfaces- No matter what they’re made from, your surfaces need caring for
Spring cleaning isn’t just limited to the inside of your home, the garden needs sprucing up as well. Now that the temperatures are rising and the flowers are ready to bloom, get stuck in to these spring cleaning ideas and make your outside spaces somewhere to be proud of.
Paths and Patios
Pathways and patios get really grubby over the winter months, with moss and weeds thriving in the damp weather. Tackle your unsightly outdoor surfaces to make them safe to walk on and a beautiful entrance to your home. There are two main ways to get there, but they follow a similar method.
- Pressure washing- Renting a pressure washer is an effective way to clean your pathways to a professional standard, and it’s not as expensive as you might think. Simply blast away the winter dirt with high-pressure water. You won’t even have to sweep up afterwards
- Stiff brush and hose- A low-tech option that requires little more than mild detergent and a bit of effort. Don’t use harsh cleaning products as they can run off into your plants and grass and cause damage. Hose down the patio and use the brush to scrub the dirt away, using a little soap on stubborn stains.
If you’re really struggling with stains, mould and moss, try using a strong white vinegar and hot water before scrubbing the area with a stiff broom. Isopropyl alcohol can help to break down stubborn stains, but use it sparingly.
Your windows are the eyes of your home, so here’s how to spring clean them. Get your timing right and pick the optimum weather for the best results. A dry, cloudy day will show up streaks and allow your windows to dry without leaving streaks. If you wash your windows in direct sunlight, you’ll have trouble seeing whether or not you’ve cleaned them properly.
Before you start washing them, make sure that the frames and panes are free of dry dirt and dust. Use a nylon brush or even your vacuum cleaner if it stretches that far to clean out any grit. The last thing you want is to scratch your windows when you wipe them down.
There are plenty of off-the-shelf window cleaners available for windows that sparkle and shine, but if you want great results for a fraction of the price, try this magic streak-free solution:
- Mix 120ml white vinegar with 60ml isopropyl alcohol and 40ml water
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle (a bottle that produces a fine mist gives the best results)
- Spray a generous amount on the window to dissolve streaks and stains
- Wipe away the spray with a microfibre cloth using a circular motion
Blitz the Barbecue
Now that the days are getting longer, you probably can’t wait to get back to your outdoor grill and try out another crowd-pleasing marinade. But the last time you cleaned the barbecue was… last summer. If your barbecue is covered in burnt food, heavy grease and ash, try this method for a barbecue that’s clean enough to eat on:
If your grills are seriously disgusting, don’t throw them away. Put them in a plastic bag or bin liner, and mix up about 500ml of equal parts bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. Pour into the bag with the grills and tie it up tight. Shake the bag until the grills are covered and let the mixture work its magic. Leave it overnight and the muck will be easy to shift in the morning.
If you feel like a workout, scrap the bag trick and use your handy water and vinegar spray with a wire brush to clean the grill. Spray the mixture on and scrub. If you have a gas barbecue, carefully clean around the burners and make sure the nozzles are clear of gunk with a small brush.
Clean the Bins
You can leave this nasty job for last or do it first to get it out of the way, it’s up to you. If you dread taking the bins out because of nasty smells and unspeakable liquids, it’s time to make use of these spring cleaning tips and make them clean before the temperatures start to rise.
If you rented a pressure washer to clean your patio or decking, use it here as well. Lay the bin down on its side and use the jet to blast off any stubborn muck. If you don’t have one, use a garden hose or hot soapy water in a bucket.
Once you’ve cleaned out the muck, spray the insides with your choice of disinfectant. This will kill off the majority of germs and bacteria. To soak up any bad smells, pour some bicarbonate of soda into the bottom of the bin when it’s dry. Top it up regularly.
- Patio and pathways- Make them safe to walk on and looking their best with a bit of effort
- Wash the Windows- You’ll see the difference immediately through sparkling windows
- Barbecue Time- Before the outdoor cooking season really starts, make sure it’s fit for use
- Clean the bins- No one wants to do it, but you’ll be delighted once it’s done
If there’s one thing you can take away from this guide to spring cleaning, is that you don’t have to use lots of strong chemicals to add a sparkle and shine back into your home. Effective spring cleaning takes just a few household products, a little bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of scrubbing. If you are prepared to roll up your sleeves and apply some good old fashioned elbow grease, you can save money, stay eco-friendly and have a home to be proud of all year round.