THE BLOG
04/02/2013 11:38 am ET Updated May 21, 2013

Spring Cleaning 101: From Getting Started to (Yes!) Involving the Kids

Spring cleaning isn't nearly as fun as jetting off to some sunny beach, snowy mountain resort or, really, come to think of it, just about anything. But after a winter of the kids (not to mention the husband) trekking in all sorts of mud, sand and God-only-knows-what-else all over the house, it's a necessary evil.

I needed reinforcements. Debra Johnson, training manager at Merry Maids, answered some of my questions when it comes to planning a deep clean after a deep freeze. Armed with my mop, dust rag and bucket of suds, I'm choosing to look at it this way: Even if I must spend some of spring break at home scrubbing the bathtub, at least I'll burn a few calories and save a little money while doing it. And should I choose to reward myself with a margarita or two while daydreaming about the beach in Miami while my kids put their toys away? Well, who wouldn't say cheers to that?

Spring cleaning problem #1: So, my house is a disaster and my schedule is crazy. Where do I even begin?
"Make a checklist and commit to the days that you will work on spring cleaning," Johnson says. "It is probably best to divide by tasks."

Depending on the size of your home, spend one day completing all of these tasks in every room or on one level:
  • Remove all cobwebs.
  • Wash ceiling fan blades and motor mount, hanging light fixtures, air vents, blinds, doors and door frames, light switch plates, window sills and baseboards.
  • Move furniture and vacuum and wash underneath.
  • Wash/dry clean all window treatments.
  • Clean all electronics with canned air.

For every bedroom, Johnson recommends you wash or dry clean all bedding, including the mattress cover. In a time crunch? Do one bedroom per night.

In the kitchen, Johnson says you'll want to:
  • Clean the oven and, depending on the type of stove you own, clean any grills, hood vents, etc.
  • Move the refrigerator and wash all the outside surfaces, vacuum the coils and wash the floor underneath the refrigerator.
  • Organize and straighten inside cabinets and pantry -- washing surfaces if needed. "This task might be set aside for 1/2 day of cleaning," she says.
Other tasks to tackle:
  • Clean out closets.
  • Wash windows.
  • Clean and organize the garage.
  • Have carpets and upholstery cleaned.

Spring cleaning problem #2: I don't think I've cleaned my kitchen blinds in, like, a decade. (Don't judge.) What should I do to clean up the grime?
For mini blinds, Johnson says to fill the bottom of the bathtub with soapy water and place the blinds in the tub for 30 to 60 minutes. "Drain the water out of the tub, flip the blinds one way and dry them with a cloth; then flip the blinds on the other side and dry," she says, adding that you may want to hang them in the sun to dry.

For wood, faux wood or plantation shutters, Johnson says to use a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust, flip the blinds to one side and wash, then flip again and wash the other side, using water and dish washing liquid.

Spring cleaning problem #3: What area do people often forget (read: avoid) to clean, that seriously needs attention?
"Many people avoid cleaning the shower, which is typically the biggest challenge," Johnson says. "Do not fear, as frequency in cleaning will improve the current condition. Set a day each week that you will commit to clean the shower. You will only need about 15 to 30 minutes. Continue to clean weekly and you will see improvement."

Johnson says other neglected areas include:
  • Window sills
  • Blinds
  • Baseboards
  • Ceiling fan blinds

Spring cleaning problem #4: I need to arm myself with cleaning supplies. What should I be sure to pick up?
"If you have not switched to microfiber cloths, you will spend longer cleaning," Johnson adds. "Microfiber grabs and removes dust -- other cloths push dust around. Also, when washing surfaces, microfiber is easier, and, if you're using a cleaning product, fewer products are needed because the fibers will do the work for you."

Johnson also suggests investing in a steamer.

"Men love the steam tools," she says. "Using steam may get your husband involved in cleaning, as he will want to play with a new gadget. There are floor steamers, but there are also canister and hand-held steamers that will assist you in getting the job done."

You'll also want the following:
  • Cleaning caddy to organize and transport supplies
  • Vacuum with attachments
  • Step ladder for hard to reach places
  • All-purpose cleaner, degreaser, neutral cleaner for floors and stone surfaces, soft scrub for stubborn stains, glass cleaner
  • Toilet brush, grout brush, floor brush
  • Trash bags

Spring cleaning problem #5: The kids are home and I am sooo making them help. What are a couple of good cleaning tasks to assign them?
"Kids are able to pick up toys, as well as other items that you instruct them to grab," Johnson notes. "Organize their rooms so they know where things go. For example, books go on shelves, toys go in a container, clothes go in a specific area, etc."

Other cleaning tasks for kids:

  • Match socks while you fold other laundry.
  • Make sure pets have water.
  • Unload the dishwasher -- hand dishes to an adult.
  • Assist with setting and clearing the table.
  • Assist with meal preparations (task dependent on age).
  • First dust.
  • Clean glass and mirrors.
  • Vacuum.
  • Sweep.
  • Clean sink.
  • Clean tub/ shower.

Lesley Kennedy writes about fashion, family, trends and more for the Online Shopping Report at ShopAtHome.com.