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Unf*%& Your Habitat: What the Hell is “Spring Cleaning,” Anyway?

Here in New England, we’ve had sunshine and temperatures above 40 degrees for two consecutive days, which can mean only one thing: spring is here! (Well, until the next unexpected snowstorm, I suppose.) And with spring comes the ubiquitous expectation of “spring cleaning.” Since UfYH operates on the assumption that most of us aren’t living in a Better Homes & Gardens spread, what does “spring cleaning” mean for real, actual, occasionally (OK, often) messy people?

I’m assuming most of us are still dealing with a baseline of a somewhat messy or cluttered house. So you may be thinking to yourself, why should I bother with this “spring cleaning” nonsense when I don’t even have a clean fork in my house? Well, first of all, please go take 20 minutes and wash some damn dishes. Seriously. Twenty minutes. Excuses are boring. I’ll wait.

OK, everyone back? Good. So, lots of people and publications are happy to tell you what they think are essential tasks for spring cleaning, but frankly, I think most of those lists were made for pod people, and I don’t know any of those. I think. So I’ve put together a list of spring cleaning tasks for the rest of us.

  • Open your windows. Seriously, if your home has been sealed up all winter, you need to get some air flowing through there. Depending on where you are, it might be a little chilly, but I think it’s worth it.
  • Deal with your dust. Spring cleaning, as far as I’m concerned, is at least half about dust. So grab your duster, Swiffer, vacuum, damp rag, or whatever else you use to dust, and get to it. Start with higher surfaces and work your way down. When you reach the bottom, then vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor.
  • If you’re a person who switches out her seasonal wardrobe, take this opportunity to weed out stuff from both the winter and spring seasons. Anything that doesn’t fit, is hideously ugly, or is otherwise taking up valuable room, donate it.
  • Think about the last time you did these things: changed the batteries in your smoke detectors, wiped down the fronts of your cabinets and appliances, or vacuumed/wiped down your couch and other common lounging furniture. If you’re like most of us, it’s been too long and you should probably do that stuff.
  • Do you have outdoor spaces that you’re responsible for? Do at least a few 20-minute sessions outside. For me, this usually means picking up downed branches and clearing out debris from the plant beds. No matter what you do, a little sunshine will probably do wonders for your mood. Wear sunscreen, please.
  • Wash your comforter/duvet/bedspread and your pillows (if they’re washable).
  • Go through your fridge and freezer and get rid of what needs getting rid of. Don’t give me that look. If you can’t identify it, or it predates your favorite TV series, it goes.
  • Feeling ambitious? Vacuum your mattress and then (with help) flip it. Vacuum the newly exposed side before putting bedding on.

Does this all seem too overwhelming? Do you think a lot of it is unnecessary because you’re still dealing with basic messiness in your home? That’s OK. Spring or not, it’s always a good time to brush up on the basics and get your habits and habitats back in order.

8 replies on “Unf*%& Your Habitat: What the Hell is “Spring Cleaning,” Anyway?”

I am helping my roommate with spring cleaning by helping her finish off various frozen chicken and things (she was at her mom’s a lot over the past month, and is leaving again tomorrow for a trip with her mom). You know, so they don’t go bad. She offered when she saw that my food stash is currently rice and beans.

Our third roommate (the horrible one) moved out two weeks ago, and it’s like we spring-cleaned the atmosphere. I’ve been opening all of the windows on nice afternoons to let some fresh, happy air flow through the place.

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