The 7 Deadly Sins of Spring Cleaning

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We’re back to spring: the time of renewal, rebirth, and cleaning your damn house. And I mean really cleaning–not just picking up, but moving the couch, wiping off the blades of the ceiling fan, and getting behind the fridge. Spring cleaning. But if you’re going to brighten the corners, you can make both the returning Messiah and the Easter Bunny proud by avoiding these common spring cleaning mistakes.

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I’m putting this one first because moving the furniture is what separates spring cleaning from regular cleaning. That said, a spotless home is not worth screwing up your back trying to move the La-Z-Boy. Like anything else, there’s technique to moving furniture: keep heavy objects close to your body, don’t bend at the waist, lift with your legs. Remember to breathe. Improper technique leads to injury. For a deeper dive on injury-free furniture moving, check out our guide here. The best advice, though, is “if you think it’s too heavy, get some help.”

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Personally, I can’t understand people who clean with vinegar, lemon juice, or other wimpy means. It’s not really clean to me unless dangerous chemicals are involved. But dangerous chemicals demand respect: cleaners like ammonia, bleach, and oven cleaners are probably going to be caustic, poisonous, fume-releasing, and otherwise capable of killing you, your pets, or your loved ones. So read the warning labels carefully, actually follow their guidelines, and have the number of poison control on hand. And never mix cleaning products.

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Honor your moment of sudden motivation, but instead of an “I’m cleaning everything right now” vibe, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks…or you’ll end the day with all the furniture moved and everything in disarray. Spring cleaning is a project, and like any project, it will come out better if you make a realistic plan for larger goals. For the specifics, start with taking the advice of professional housekeepers.

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When I’m cleaning, there’s little worse than spending all day scrubbing, only to have my place still look cluttered. Too much crap around makes me feel like my whole life is disorganized, so I use deep cleaning days as “getting rid of things” days, too. If I haven’t used it since the last time I cleaned, I seriously consider a trip to the local thrift store. De-crapifying a home has a list of best practices that we should all learn.

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Even if it isn’t stained and smelly, your mattress is probably disgusting. You spend eight hours a night there sweating, drooling, and shedding dead skin cells. You probably let your dog up there, too. It’s a hassle, but there are a lot of ways to clean a mattress. Don’t forget the inside of your garbage cans either. And the inside of your refrigerator. And your remote controls. I could go on all day.

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You don’t need a ton of gear to deep clean, but you can’t clean your house with a single old rag either. A basic surface cleaning kit should include all-purpose cleaning liquid, window cleaning liquid, cloth (microfiber, if possible), a scrub-brush, and a hand duster. You also need a mop and bucket, a broom, more garbage bags than usual, and a vacuum with attachments. Optional are things like ivory polish, guitar wax, and other specialized-to-you cleaning supplies.

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I always mean to clean my house. I have the best intentions, but then there’s something to watch on TV or I decide to get some empanadas, and before I realize it, the day is over. But if I’ve invited people over, I’m going to clean, because I don’t want other people to see how I live. Perhaps you can relate.

If you’re having motivation problems, nothing solves them like fear of other people judging you. So throw a springtime party. If your house really sparkles, all your friends will silently feel shame for their own slovenliness, and that’s a win-win.