Swing into spring cleaning

Spring didn’t arrive according to the calendar when I was a girl. Grandma’s determined expression and a bevy of weapons – stove blacking, mops, pail and lemon oil – heralded the rite, and for the next month it was “all hands on deck.”

If you valued anything in your room, it had better be stashed away. Otherwise, chances were it would be cleaned up – and out.

And at Grandma’s, a wood stove in the kitchen and a coal furnace in the basement ensured there was always a substantial layer of soot everywhere.

Get organized
If, like my grandma, you can’t resist the annual urge to purge, there’s much you can do to simplify your spring cleaning. Being organized is the number one priority, so start by making separate lists for indoors and out, and prioritize everything.

Ask yourself if each chore is a “must do or maybe?” This is especially important with large chores like decorating. How much of this can you do yourself, and how much can you afford to have someone else do for you?

You don’t need specialists to wash windows, clean out rain gutters or pick up the trash left once the snow has gone. Teenagers usually welcome the chanceo earn extra money, or there may be a volunteer group nearby willing to take on the jobs to raise some cash. And don’t forget your family!

Make a Game Plan
Next step? Make up a realistic game plan, breaking chores into daily and weekly timeslots. Put a tick mark against each job as it’s done, no matter how small – these positive signs of progress are reassuring, and it’s surprising just how quickly they mount up.

And remember – spring lasts from March 21 to June 21, so don’t try cramming everything into just a few days.

Check out tools of the trade
There’s one more important list to make before knuckling down. Check under the sink, or wherever, and make sure you have all the necessary cleaning agents. And don’t neglect the tools of the trade. This might be a good time to throw away that old sponge mop and invest in something better suited to the task, such as the new wringer pail and mop by Rubbermaid.

And you’ve probably by now seen those commercials for Swiffer, something of a cross between a mop and a broom. I can’t praise both of these items enough. Finally, don’t throw away those old cloths – use both sides, shake ‘em out and toss them in the wash.

Use a Bundle Buggy
If you have a bundle buggy – one of those handy two-wheeled devices so useful for carrying groceries — use it! Put a box in the bottom and pile in those essentials like brooms and mops. A carryall from the hardware store will take all the cleansers, cloths and dusters.

To keep paper towels handy, open a hanger, slip the towels on it and simply hang it on the side of your buggy along with an old mitt or sock. The latter are great for cleaning those awkward plastic blinds. No scraped knuckles!

Tackle Closets
What about closets? Well, those handy wire-racking sets can sure help you organize these spaces. Haven’t worn that outfit for two years? Give it away. Apply this principle to everything from recipe books to the garage.

For those particularly adept at planning ahead, maybe it’s best to “think spring” all year ’round. If you can learn to spread you major cleaning and organizing over 12 months, you may well find yourself able to keep spring cleaning from turning into one major headache.

If you’ve followed the steps outlined above, you’re now ready to pick whatever job you want and get to work.

Finally, a word of warning: don’t make yourself a slave to the spring cleaning ritual. Be sure to schedule some time for lunch with a friend or to do a little shopping.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Oleg Prikhodko

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