I recently posted about ways to get your kids involved in the spring cleaning chores (and chores in general). Today, I thought I’d give you the Top Ten List of Spring Cleaning Tips (in no particular order):
- Outdoor and more: Often forgotten but very important are the yearly household maintenance tasks. I highly recommend going around your house and inspecting for damage that may have occurred during the winter months. Any cracks in the foundation/brick/stone work that look suspicious? Check each window’s caulking. Caulking, though improving with technology, still has a tendency to peel away from metal/plastic surfaces. Make sure you don’t see any signs of caulking cracking, peeling or lifting away from the window. As best as you can, inspect the roof. Any missing shingles? Lastly, I highly recommend making sure your drain spouts are directed AWAY from your house. Spring means lots of water and water (still freezing and thawing, too) can be detrimental to your foundation. Make sure to direct all water drainage away from your home.
- Lawn lovin’: The winter months are cruel to your grass. The salt, the snow, the leftover leaves (and dog poop?) and even the dirt can all leave your grass looking less than healthy come spring’s thaw. Once your lawn has more or less dried out, give it a good raking. Try not to pull up the grass root but rather “comb” through the grass and remove the yellowed grass and dirt. I fertilize my lawn with Scotts Turf Builder and I highly recommend giving your lawn a good start to the season with some vitamins. Don’t mow until the grass has had time to fully grow in.
- Work your Garden: Surely your garden has accumulated leaves and dirt from the winter. Let your plants spread their roots! Clean out all the excess layer of leaves and other dirt that has collected in the garden around your plants. If you covered your plants during the winter, you can remove the protection. Inspect your plants for any signs of disease or frostbite. I know my boxwoods really suffered this winter–even though they were protected! Again, like your lawn, I would fertilize your plants just to offer them a great start to Montreal’s (relatively) short growing season.
- Car Care: Aha! You forgot! Ok, I always do, too. Typical situation: Change summer to winter tires sometime in early Fall with an oil change and forget about my car through all of winter, most of fall and a part of spring. Our cars need love, too. Take the time to do an interior and exterior inspection. Clean out all the Tim Horton’s cups and bags of who-knows-what and give your car some TLC. Clean the interior and exterior. Bring it in for a tire change and a much-needed oil change.
- Garage (sale): Over the winter, I have a tendency to throw everything into my garage and because it’s barely heated, I rarely go in to organize the mess. By spring, I’ve ended up with complete chaos. I knew it was time for a garage clean-up when my dog got lost in the piles (she’s an 80lb chocolate lab so there’s no excuse). I’ll recommend the same organization method as for your closet. Make piles of “Throw Away,” “Give Away,” “Garage Sale” or “Organize”. Be honest with yourself. I have the tendency to delay the agony of throwing away perfectly useless junk by moving everything into the “Garage Sale” pile and then never hosting the garage sale. Once you’ve made the piles, organize accordingly. My goal this year is to park my car in the garage over the winter. Hopefully a solid goal will get me to garage organizational bliss.
- Attic addict: Lately I’ve been researching how to make my home more energy efficient. The top culprit for heat loss? Yup, the attic. Your attic is supposed to be the same temperature as the outdoors minus the wind and rain/snow. The goal is to reduce heat loss (heat rises) through the ceiling by insulating your attic. Spring is a great time to get up there and familiarize yourself with your attic. Take note of any water damage or any areas where the insulation is moved, etc. Your best bet would be to call a licensed energy efficiency technician who could evaluate your home’s energy efficiency. Hydro Quebec offers rebates! http://www.hydroquebec.com/residential/manage-account/home-diagnostic/ Increasing your attic’s R-factor (insulation rating) can greatly reduce your heating costs over winter.
- Windows windows: Quite a lot of dirt accumulates on the inside and outside of the windows over the winter. Get out the Windex and get scrubbing! Make sure to pay attention to the nooks and crannies where dirt loves to collect.
- Rug rats: I would never want my rugs microscopically examined. As pristine as I am (*insert smile here*), I have a dog and a toddler (and a husband). If your carpets can be lifted, bring them outside and give them a good beating and for those carpets that are permanent, I recommend renting a carpet cleaning vacuum (it’s once a year and it’s worth the effort to keep your carpets looking and smelling clean). If you are worried about the germs, they now make great carpet attachments for steam cleaners.
- Fridge? Freezer? Pantry? Admit it. When’s the last time you emptied and cleaned any of those three? Spring cleaning time means emptying the contents of your fridge/freezer and pantry and checking for expired/gross/untouched food and tossing them out (or donating when non-perishable). Again, make the piles: keep, donate, toss. Once the food is organized, get scrubbing!
- Closeted closet hoarder: I saved this for last because I find it the toughest part of cleaning. I always feel like if I throw something away that’s too small for me that I’m giving up on ever being pre-baby fat weight again. My husband’s trick? If (and when) you lose the weight, treat yourself to new clothes! Spring cleaning is also about doing the winter to summer rotation and it’s a perfect opportunity to go through the stuff you haven’t worn allllll season (or last last season) and donate to charity.