The Seven-Day Spring Cleaning Challenge to Get Your Home in Shape

white ceramic toilet bowl
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It’s spring cleaning time! This is the time of year when dedicated homemakers dive in and do a thorough home cleaning, tackling jobs that aren’t part of their regular cleaning routing. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and want to whip your home into shape.

Either way, this seven-day plan will arm you with all the information you need to deep clean your home in seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging of all the unnecessary clutter eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you organized by taking deep dive inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will bring bedrooms and bathrooms up to code. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Finally, on day seven the kitchen will be targeted.

Once you’ve gotten your home into shape, keeping it that way will be easy if you establish a regular cleaning routine. Even if your housekeeping hasn’t been so great up ‘til now, this is your fresh start, a new beginning. And isn’t that what spring is all about?

Day 1: De-cluttering

The first step to house cleaning of any type is de-cluttering and organizing. It’s just plain easier to clean spaces that are free of unnecessary objects. De-cluttering isn’t difficult unless you have years of clutter to clear out. In the event that this is your situation, this step may take longer than one day.

Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so the task won’t be that big of a deal. It’s a simple process: throw things away, give things away, and put things away.

The key principle of organizing is that all items have a permanent spot where they live when they’re at rest. This allows you to put things away when you’re not using them and readily recover them when you need them again. The end result: everything you own doesn’t end up on the island in the middle of the kitchen and you have nowhere to eat breakfast.

The first step to de-cluttering is tossing out anything that’s just plain trash. Take a good look around, and I mean really look around. Often we overlook stuff that’s right in front of us because we’re so used to seeing it. Piles of old newspapers or magazines or Amazon shipping boxes that you think you’ll use sometime are trash. Toss ‘em (or recycle ‘em).

Get real, be honest, and if it’s something that you might use but probably won’t, don’t let it keep taking up valuable space that you could be using for the things that are of value to you. Be ruthless.

Once you’ve got the outright trash out of the way, take another look around for stuff that’s not trash, but that you’re not using. These are things that have value, and that someone else could use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you’re never going to use it, isn’t it better to pass it along to someone who will?

Put together a donation box and pat yourself on the back for doing your part to help others while also doing yourself the favor of eliminating stuff you don’t need. Win-win.

At this point, whatever clutter you’ve got left is the stuff that you want to keep, so put it away somewhere. If you’ve already got a great system for organizing your stuff, this step should be easy.

If not, get busy. Find a logical place to store each object and put it there. Your storage spaces should be places that make sense to you and that you will remember so you know where to look when you want to retrieve the object for later use. Do this over and over again until everything is put away. It’s very easy once you get the hang of it.

If you’re finding that you haven’t got space for your stuff, don’t worry, because tomorrow you’ll clean out some closets. Set it aside for now and keep in mind how much room you’ll need.

Day 2: Clean Closets

Closets are often the spots where we hide things. All kinds of things. Stuff we don’t know what else to do with, stuff that we no longer want, stuff that we tell ourselves we’re going to use some day. Getting into your closets from time to time to take a good look at what you’ve got is a great way to free up space. Without fail, there’s some stuff in there that can be gotten rid of.

Your day two deep-clean challenge is to clean and re-organize closets. Bedroom closets, linen closets, entry hall closets, laundry room closets, the closet in the family room with all the board games. Make it a fun family day activity and split up the job. Whoever has the best organized closet at the end of the day wins!

Closet cleaning can be a simple process or it can be quite involved. If your closets are small and there’s not a lot of stuff inside, it shouldn’t take long. If your closets are walk-ins packed full of stuff, the job may take a while.

Either way, the basic steps are the same.

First, clear some space for a work area. If you are cleaning a bedroom closet, lay an old sheet over the bed so you can use the space to temporarily place things. Next, pull everything out of the closet. As you remove items, quickly decide whether each object is worth keeping. Have a box ready for things that you will be giving away, or designate a separate area if you are getting rid of a lot of things.

After you’ve got the closet cleared of its contents, dust all areas, remove cobwebs, and sweep or vacuum the floor.

Next, replace the things you’re keeping, reorganizing and cleaning as you go. Dust off any boxes or other containers before replacing them in the closet. Introduce new boxes, bins, baskets or whatever storage containers will help you store things so that you can easily find them again. Label boxes, make lists of contents and tape them to the outside, or use clear storage containers. Don’t waste any space. Arrange articles so that taller things are behind shorter things.

This is a great time to bring in new organizational systems. There are all kinds of shelving and racks to help you create your dream closet, so get creative. Have fun with it. You’re aiming to create well-organized spaces that will make your life easier by helping you keep track of your stuff.

At the end of your day two challenge, your closets should have nothing to hide. You will be able to immediately lay your hands on whatever you’re looking for because your closets will be free of unnecessary stuff and well organized. Pat yourself on the back and get some rest. Tomorrow will be window washing day.

Day 3: Washing Windows

No deep-cleaning project would be complete without a day devoted to windows. It’s best to avoid washing windows when the sun is shining directly on them, so the first thing to think about is what time of day is the best to tackle your project. Observe the sun’s position to make this determination.

The second thing to consider is whether your windows are really dirty or just a little dirty. This will determine what cleaning method is most appropriate in your situation.

If your windows are only slightly dirty, a spray bottle of glass cleaning solution will be the quickest way to go.  Use commercial glass cleaner or mix your own using equal parts vinegar and water or three parts water to one part rubbing alcohol.

Spray the cleaner on the glass and then use dry cloths to wipe the glass clean. If you see streaks when you’re finished, repeat the process using a fresh cloth. Sometimes you can buff away streaks with a dry cloth without having to re-apply glass cleaner. If you’re doing a lot of windows, have a lot of cloths on hand because the key to avoiding leaving lint and streaks on your windows is using fresh, dry cloths for buffing.

If your windows are really dirty, the above method will take forever. Instead, mix a window washing solution in a bucket. A simple, effective window washing mixture can be made using a few drops of dish detergent in a gallon of warm water. Alternatively, use a cup of of ammonia or vinegar in the water.

Using a cloth or a sponge, wash the window with your solution, rinsing your cloth as often as needed, until all the dirt has been removed. Then buff the window dry. Switch off your drying/buffing cloth as it gets damp to avoid streaking.

Depending on the type of windows, you may be able to clean them on both sides (inside and outside) without setting foot outside your house. Tip-in windows can easily be cleaned on both sides from inside the house. That’s a no-brainer.

To clean the exterior surfaces of windows that slide or crank open, open the window and see if you can reach your arm around to the exterior side far enough to wipe the area clean. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. This method might be your only option for cleaning upstairs windows, and in this case you’ll have to do the best you can.

Cleaning window exteriors outdoors is sometimes challenging, and sometimes impossible, depending on the nature of your landscaping.  Steep grades or dense foliage are typically deal breakers.

If it’s a question of distance, for example awkwardly placed windows or windows that are just beyond reach and impractical to get at with a ladder, a squeegee with a long or telescoping handle comes in handy. Use a squeegee with an attached sponge on one side. Apply your cleaning solution to the window with the sponge side and then pull the squeegee back and forth across the window surface horizontally working from the top down.

Window screens should be removed and cleaned at the same time you clean your windows. They can be vacuumed or wiped clean with a damp cloth.

Window sills and tracks can also be cleaned while you’re at it. If they’re really dirty, first vacuum up loose debris, then wash with a cloth or sponge dipped into a solution of water and all-purpose cleaner, or use your window cleaning solution. Use a toothbrush to get into the edges.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules about window cleaning, so improvise as necessary. When you’re done, take satisfaction in how nice your windows look. Window washing is hard work. Job well done!

Day 4: Bedrooms from Top to Bottom

Deep cleaning your bedrooms is a great opportunity to target accumulated dust under beds and on window treatments, as well as behind furniture.

To begin, temporarily remove any lightweight objects like lamps or knick-knacks to make it easier to move furniture around without fear of breaking anything.

Any small area rugs should be removed and washed or shaken outside and left to air.

This is a good time to wash or air textiles like bed skirts, duvet covers, bedspreads, decorative pillow shams, etc.

Start cleaning from the ceiling down, dusting away cobwebs and dust on ceiling fans, ceilings, light fixtures, and walls. Use a dusting tool or a dustmop.

Pictures, wall art, wall hangings, or anything else on the walls should be cleaned or dusted.

Vacuum or dust louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters. Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails, baseboards, and baseboard heaters. Vacuum or dust air vent covers.

Move furniture around as necessary and if possible, to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted.

Take the opportunity to vacuum or clean areas of floors which are normally underneath furniture and not easily accessible. If furniture can’t be moved, try to get under and behind it as much as possible using a dustmop, broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Vacuum your mattresses and flip them over.

Dust or vacuum lampshades and window treatments.

Dust furniture and begin re-assembling your room, dusting objects before replacing them.

Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.

Smell the clean air. Good job!

Day 5: Bathrooms

Deep cleaning bathrooms might take some time, depending on the state your bathrooms are in to start. If you’ve neglected them, this is a great opportunity to bring them up to snuff.

First pick up any area rugs and mats. Wash them, if you’d like. Also take down shower curtains and wash, if necessary.

This is a good time to go through the medicine cabinet and other cupboards. Move everything so that you can wipe off shelves and dust. Get rid of outdated medicine, toiletries, etc. Replace everything in an orderly fashion.

Dust ceilings, walls, baseboards, wall hangings, any furniture or shelves, and whatever else might need dusting. Clear any dust or cobwebs from your vent fan cover if you have one.

Clean woodwork, cupboard doors, sides of vanities. Wash walls if you’re so inclined. Wash any tile on walls and buff dry for a nice shine.

Clean the sink and vanity. If there’s any type of buildup, use all-purpose scrub and rinse thoroughly. Otherwise, clean with all-purpose cleaner or tub and tile spray cleaner. To clean discoloration or gunk from around drain, faucets or other areas, use all-purpose scrub cleanser and a toothbrush or other small scrubbing brush. Remove mineral deposits with vinegar, or use a specialty cleaner.

Clean the mirror, top to bottom. If your mirror has a film or residue that won’t come off, clean with straight vinegar and buff well. Dab rubbing alcohol onto stubborn spots, such as hair-spray overspray.

Clean tub/shower using tub and tile cleaner, all-purpose cleaner or scrub, or the appropriate cleaner if it’s a surface that calls for special care, such as granite.

To eliminate mildew or dark-colored discoloration on your shower walls or tub, use an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach. Be sure to follow safety instructions: never mix chlorine bleach with other products, use proper ventilation, wear gloves, rinse thoroughly.

To eliminate heavy-duty soap scum buildup in your shower, spray your cleaning agent on the shower surfaces liberally up to an hour prior to cleaning the area so it has time to break down the grime. Then use your cloth or a nylon scrubber to remove the buildup.

Using a good commercial tub and tile cleaner specifically formulated to break down soap scum is the quickest way to eliminate heavy buildups. Likewise, for any type of mineral deposits or stains, a product targeting the specific type of stain will be the quickest way to get rid of it.

Don’t forget to run your bathroom vent fan or open a window if you’re using cleaning products that produce fumes.

If you have any type of buildup or mildew but you’re averse to using strong chemicals, here are some ideas for more natural cleaning agents:

~Use an equal mixture of baking soda and Castile soap. Scrub with a nylon cleaning pad to remove soap scum buildup. Re-apply and rinse until you are satisfied with the results.

~To remove mildew from grout, spray liberally with hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then scrub grout with a toothbrush or scrub brush and rinse. Re-apply peroxide to areas that don’t come totally clean and repeat the process.

~Try straight vinegar on areas with mineral stains or deposits. Spray on, allow it to sit for an hour or more, and then scrub the area with a stiff brush or nylon scrubber. Rinse, and repeat the process, if necessary.

Clean the toilet. To remove toilet stains, try using two or three cups of straight vinegar; pour in and let it sit for a while.

Clean the floor. This is the time to really clean areas behind the toilet and in corners.

Reassemble your room. Take satisfaction in knowing that the toughest cleaning job in the whole house is now over and done. Excellent work!

white wooden table and chairs seen from oval mirror
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Day 6: Living Areas

Today your deep cleaning challenge is your family room, living room, and other common areas. Because these are the spaces where we usually entertain company, they tend to be kept in pretty good shape. Your prime objective is getting to areas that aren’t usually in the line of fire when you clean, like under and behind furniture.

Start out by setting aside any objects-de-art or other bric-a-brac so they don’t get broken in the throes of your cleaning frenzy.

Remove small area rugs to wash or shake outside and left to air.

This is a good time to wash textiles like throws that you snuggle under in cold weather.

Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, ceiling and walls. Clean or dust wall sconces, pictures, wall art, wall hangings.

Dust or vacuum louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters.

Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails and baseboards.

If you have baseboard heaters, don’t forget to clean ridges and spaces underneath, not just the top edge.

Vacuum air vent covers with a dusting brush or use your dusting tool.

Dust or wash woodwork. Spot clean walls, switch plates, door frames.

Move furniture around to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted and washed. Be careful not to scratch the floor when moving furniture. If you can lift a piece of furniture enough to slide soft cloths under the legs, then you can shove it around on a bare floor.

Thoroughly dust any built-in shelves. Either remove objects completely or shift them so you can dust behind and under them. Dust other areas that you don’t normally clean, like inside of china closets, if necessary. If it’s not dusty inside, don’t bother. Free-standing bookshelves or other shelves that hold objects-de-art should be thoroughly dusted or vacuumed. It’s sometimes easier to vacuum the top side of books with a dusting brush attachment. If there’s a space behind books, pull them out and dust back there.

Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. If cushions are removable, turn them over. You can use upholstery cleaner if you feel the need. Test the upholstery cleaner on your fabric first. Spray on, then blot with a clean, damp cloth. Keep rinsing the cloth in clear water and blotting at the upholstery until it’s clean.

Vacuum lampshades carefully, if they’re dusty. Or use a clean, damp cloth to dust them off.

Vacuum window treatments.

Clean the floor.

Reassemble your room. Replace objects that you removed earlier. Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.

Smell the clean air. Admire your handiwork. Well done!

Day 7: The Kitchen

This is it, day seven of your seven-day challenge. This is the home stretch. The kitchen is the one room in the house that most people tend to keep pretty clean. If this is the case in your home, deep cleaning your kitchen shouldn’t be too difficult.

Start out by getting rid of stuff that’s been sitting around for a while. Clean out closets, cupboards, and drawers. Then reorganize. This is a good time to rearrange those plastic storage containers that you can never find the lids for or to rearrange your pots and pans.

Clean out food cupboards. Take stuff out or shift it around so you can see what you have and get rid of anything with expired dates or that is obviously no good. Don’t forget cupboards up high that you never use.

If you have a drawer under your oven, clean and reorganize that too.

After all your closets, cupboards and drawers are in good shape it’s time to clean.

Temporarily remove knickknacks while you clean. If you have a collection of plates hanging on the walls or salt and pepper shakers on a shelf, this is the time to wash them.

Remove any throw rugs and wash or shake outside and leave them to air. Remove window treatments, if you are washing or airing them.

Eliminate cobwebs and dust from the ceiling, ceiling fans, light fixtures, walls, wall hangings, tops of cupboards.

Dust any furniture. Thoroughly wipe down kitchen table and chairs and any kitchen stools.

Wash or spot clean woodwork, doors, doorknobs. Kitchen doors and doorways attract dirty fingerprints, so pay special attention to these areas.

Clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.

Clean the stove vent fan cover.

Clean appliance fronts and inside the microwave.

Clean inside the refrigerator thoroughly: wipe down walls, shelves, remove drawers, clean inside the door.

Clean under the refrigerator. If your fridge is on wheels, pull it out to clean the floor underneath, and clean any dust or cobwebs from the back of the fridge and the wall behind it.

Clean the stove top: remove drip pans, if applicable, and scrub. Clean the oven, too, if necessary.

Clean countertops, backsplash, and countertop appliances. If they haven’t been done in a while, take your time and get into all the corners.

Clean garbage container.

Clean the floor.

Reassemble the room: replace curtains, blinds, rugs, knick-knacks, etc.

That’s it! You’ve completed your seven-day deep-cleaning challenge. Your home is now clean from top to bottom and well-organized to boot. It will stay that way if you stick to a regular cleaning routine from here on out. Since you’ve gone to the trouble of whipping your home into shape, why not give it a try? Keeping a clean home is all about maintenance. Set up a regular schedule to routinely clean your home and then stick to it. Once you get going, you’ll see how easy it is.

For today, pat yourself on the back because you’ve done a lot of work and a really great job. Congratulations!

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page on Amazon.   My books include the titles De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.