A Guide to Spring Cleaning
With nature slowly getting us ready for all those lazy beach days and trips to the Cape, it’s time to start thinking about one thing and one thing only...the annual ritual of spring cleaning.
Yes, it’s back. Again.
Despite the fact that most people seem to hate spring cleaning (so much that they decide to skip it), it’s actually one of our favorite events of the year. It might sound strange at first, but when you take a moment to consider spring as a season of prosperity and preparation, spring cleaning makes all the sense in the world.
So each year, we like to use this first week of spring to go through our living spaces and deep clean every corner as well as remove the items we don’t need in our lives anymore. It’s a necessary process that lends itself perfectly to this time, but it’s not lost on us that it can be a demanding task. What to do, what to clean, where to put everything. These are all questions that overwhelm.
In order to help anyone that may be struggling to get started with their spring cleaning, we put together a list of our favorite tips and best tricks so that there’s less for you to think about.
First, a disclaimer: It is our recommendation that you plan to dedicate at least 2-3 hours per room in your home. This will allow yourself time to go through all of the possessions and thoroughly clean from top to bottom. This operation only happens once each year, so spending the extra time really makes your life easier moving forward.
The best way to get started with spring cleaning is to break out your home or apartment into its organic order; by rooms. Managing only one room at a time allows you to keep precision focus, making the entire project governable.
The kitchen is always the best place to start spring cleaning, especially if you spend a lot of time in there. Begin on a fairly mild day outside so you can open all of the windows to let all that stagnant air out and the fresh air in.
- Start by removing all expired food items in your fridge, cabinets and pantry (or those things you’ve been foolishly holding onto but you will never actually eat). This includes checking the dates of your spices too, to see if they’re past their recommended freshness date. Our friend Claire over at Curio Spice Co. taught us that while spices don’t spoil, they do lose their richness in flavor and scent after a certain amount of time.
- Wipe down all of the shelves and counters as well as the inside of your fridge. We use Common Good’s All Purpose Cleaner (lavender, bergamot, tea tree) because their products are all natural, biodegradable, and plant based. They’re safe to use throughout your house, but they also actually work.
- Take out all of your dishes, pans and other cookware. These get dusty and cruddy even when they’re inside your cabinets. This is also a good time to re-season your cast iron pans if you have any.
- Remove stains from your kitchen napkins and tablecloths. Use an all-natural Marseilles soap like the one from Marius Fabre.
- Wipe down your walls and ceiling. Clean by wetting a fresh towel with a mix of warm water and some cleaner. For hard to reach areas, our pro tip is to use a long-handled paint roller.
The Living Room + Sitting Rooms
There’s a lot less activity going on in our living rooms and sitting rooms so they don’t get as grimy as places like the kitchen. But because we spend most our (awake) time in these rooms it’s important to keep them as fresh as possible.
- Kickoff the work here by taking all of your fabrics - throw blankets, curtains, pillow covers - and machine or hand wash them. For fabrics too delicate to wash, hang them outside and spray with linen water (Common Good also makes a fantastic lavender scented Linen Water spray that we love).
- Do you have carpets over hardwood? If so, vacuum inside, then take the rugs outside and beat them with a carpet beater or a broom stick if you don’t have one. Think about giving them a few sprays of linen water too in order to freshen them up before coming back in the house.
- While the carpets are airing out, go back inside and focus on the wood. For wood furniture, we prescribe Christophe Pourney’s Furniture Wax. Use floor cleaner on the wood floor, but don’t forget to polish it. Christophe's Furniture Wax also can actually be used to restore wood flooring as well.
- If you are in the unenviable position of having wall to wall carpeting in New England, follow our lead and rent a carpet cleaner. The salt and dirt from winter doesn’t just harm your vehicles and your leather boots, it also tracks all over your carpets too. Trust us, it’s worth the money.
We sleep here. We rest here. Getting motivated to tidy the bedroom up during spring cleaning should be easy.
- Aside from machine washing all of the bed linens, take the time to go through your closet or linen bin. Make sure you still have complete sets of everything – yes, the washing machine eats things other than socks. Also, ensure that all of the stored linens are still fresh – there’s nothing worse than having a house guest and giving them bed sheets and blankets that smell like a basement.
- Flip your mattress and spray each side with linen water. Allow an hour or two to air out before redressing.
Possibly the most satisfying part of spring cleaning is clearing out your closets. The funny part is that we spend absolutely no time in our closets (only our stuff does) yet they’re the hardest part to clean.
It's natural for us to hold onto our possessions, even if we no longer have a use for them, but that can lead to too much confusion in our homes. Take this step seriously because it will not only clear space in your house, it will clear space in your mind which is what you need going into the warm weather.
- It’s time to put away your winter clothes, which is a long, arduous process, but you just have to get it done. Think about taking some extra time to think about your sweaters. Before you store them, wash them. We just discovered Tangent GC’s Fine Wash, which was designed with the bygone tradition of garment care in mind. Store your fine fabrics in a cedar chest if you have one, but if not fold them into a plastic bin with Burstenhaus Redecker Cedar Blocks to protect from moths and keep them fresh.
- Next, bring out your long-awaited spring and summer clothes. Figure out what still fits your fashion sense and what still physically fits you – again, the story here in New England is a little different: bitter winters equal a lot of sitting and eating. Consider every single piece of clothing, try it on if you’re not sure, and then if it doesn’t work for you anymore, donate it.
- Repair and alter any clothing that may require it. Our Merchant & Mills collection has every tool and accessory for sewing and clothing restoration.
- Take out all of your shoes. Once again, if something doesn’t fit your taste, donate, donate, donate. But for the pairs you’re keeping, they’ll likely need some fixing after last year’s use and getting shuffled around in the off season. We have lots of tools and accessories for shoe care in the shops, but if you have any leather footwear we reall can’t recommend Otter Wax enough. All of their products are natural and made without dyes or chemicals so it's most defintely safe to use on any type of leather.
Let’s cut right to the chase here. Absolutely no one likes cleaning a bathroom. So get in there and scrub. There is one tip though:
- Tile and grout is very difficult to clean. Either you just don’t know how to do it, or the method you use isn’t very effective. The best technique we’ve found is:
- Mix the following:
- ½ cup of baking soda
- 2 tbsp. borax
- 3 tbsp. Castille soap
- Use a scrub brush to rub the mixture into the grout.
- Let sit for 30 min.
- Rinse away.
The Laundry Room/Utility Closet
These multi-functional rooms can be a little overwhelming because, depending on the home, they tend to have more variety of things than any other place in our residences. There is, however, one cleaning step that few too many people participate in but that we praise here at BGS.
- Wash out your washing machine. Surprise! The thing that cleans things needs to be cleaned as well. Set the machine to the hottest temperature and the largest and longest cycle. Add 4 cups of white vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda. After the wash is done, run an empty cycle on the same settings to clear out the machine.
When it comes to spring cleaning, it’s best not to spend time hesitating trying to figure out how much commitment it will take to get it done. There is a lot of work involved here and our list only strengthens that notion. Center your attention on the outcome you’ll achieve, that’s the real benefit in all of this effort.
The Boston General Store Team
P.S. - We put together a collection of spring cleaning wares from some of our best makers. Check it out here.
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