Once a year, as the warming sun of spring arrives and winter's icy grip begins to thaw (or, here in Miami, as bearable days become cesspools of humidity), people all over the country take on the ambitious task known as Spring Cleaning.
It's the mother of all scrubbing and organizational enterprises. Through the joys of back-breaking labor, our homes and apartments go from filthy to fresh, and our souls are renewed, ready to begin the cycle of dirt-accumulation all over again.
Well, maybe. You're probably asking: Who has time for that, really?
Actually, you do! In this Busy Girl's Guide, we're tackling Spring Cleaning, and it's not as bad as it sounds. The key is to spread out the process over the course of a week, rather than attempting to complete it in a single day or weekend. Here's how:
Day 1 & 2: De-clutter
Before you can actually clean, you need to de-clutter. Yes, that means going through your closet and sorting out what's become known as your "junk drawer." But devote an hour to two to the task on the first couple of days, and it'll feel more manageable than you think. Sort your unneeded items into three piles: recycle, trash, and donate. Be sure to go through the obvious places (such as your closet, desk, and, medicine cabinet) as well as the less obvious places (your makeup bag, the fridge, and under the bed). Resist your hoarding urges-we both know you don't need that copy of Seventeen from 1999.
Day 3: Actually Get Rid of the Junk
Now that you've chosen the items you can part with and divided them into separate piles, it's time to actually get rid of them. I'll admit, I stumble here. I can't even count the number of times I've sorted my stuff into piles, and then allowed the piles to sit for weeks until I actually got around to getting rid of them. Don't do this. Instead, put the trash bag in the trash bin, put your recyclables in the recycling bin, and get in the car and drop off your donations at the nearest Goodwill. This way, with all the clutter cleared out, the real cleaning can begin (tomorrow, that is).
Day 4: Take on the Kitchen
It's usually best to clean room-by-room, as opposed to taking on various scrubbing projects all at once. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment each time a room is done. I suggest you start with the kitchen-because you'll probably want to tackle that one while you're still all gung-ho about cleaning. So, turn up the music and start working. It should only take you one to one and a half hours to dust, mop the floor, and wipe down the refrigerator, cabinets, countertops, stove, microwave, and oven. You should have already tossed any expired food in the first two days, so you don't have to worry about pulling everything out of the fridge-just give it a good scrub-down. Once you're done with that, relax and celebrate a kitchen clean enough to cook in.
Day 5: Scrub the Bathroom
Take a deep breath-you can do this. First, pick the right product-the best way to take care of any sticky mildew, messes is a good foaming spray (like Scrubbing Bubbles). Take an hour to really scour the shower, tub, toilet, sink, wall tiles, and floor. If you have a shower curtain, look at the washing directions and proceed accordingly. Same goes for your bath mats. A quick wipe of any mirrors and countertops and voila: clean bathroom.
Day 6: Clean Up Living Space
Since the clutter is already gone, you can probably combine your bedroom and living room cleaning on the sixth day. Clean the floors, paying particular attention to the spaces under the bed and couch. Wipe down the surfaces of your furniture and clean all linens-couch cushions, chairs, blankets, pillows, whatever. If your space is carpeted, be sure to get the vacuum (and don't cut corners). Within an hour and a half or so, you should be good to go.
Day 7: Finish the Job
Okay, I know this is easy for me to say since my apartment spans a whole 900 square feet, but you shouldn't need more than a good hour to finish up on the last day. You've already done all the hard stuff, so you just have to focus on the little things here and there. Clean up any other floors and surfaces, like hallways and entryways. Toss out any garbage you've accumulated over the week. Wipe down the windows. For a finishing touch, put out some fresh flowers around the house. And embrace your bright and shiny home.
Spring Cleaning really does feel good, so don't let being busy stop you from giving your home a top-to-bottom scrub-down at least once a year. With just an hour or so each day over the course of a week, you'll be amazed at what a difference you can make.
This article was originally published on The Daily Muse. For more life maintenance tips for the busy girl, check out:
The Busy Girl's Guide to Not Living in a Pig Sty
How to Deal: You're "The Bad Roommate"
The 7 Best Ways to Invest Your Time
About the Author: Laura Drucker grew up in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in History (with a central focus in Soviet social history). She currently lives in Miami, Florida with her boyfriend and awesome puppy and attends the University of Miami School of Law.