Spring is just around the corner – thank you, Mother Nature! – and that means it’s time to put on your cleaning pants. But before you muster up the motivation needed to tackle your annual purge, take a minute to devise a plan of attack that includes all those hard-to-reach (and often overlooked) places. It’s a dirty job, sure, but you’ve handled stickier situations, haven’t you?
Behind the fridge
Just because the fridge is stationary and nobody can see underneath or behind it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t get a once over at least once a year. All manner of debris can find its way into that dark abyss – like pet food, human food and other small objects – and it’s never a bad idea to remove it every now and then. Lest you want to add bugs and rodents to the list of oddities hanging out in that cavernous void, of course. Ask for help if you can’t move the fridge – spring cleaning shouldn’t send you to the emergency room – and spend a few minutes tidying up back there.
Underneath the stove
As with the fridge, you can almost bet there are things underneath and behind your stove that will make you scratch your head. Like how did that lonely sock get there?! Personally, my stove doesn’t sit flush against the wall, and I have a wall-mounted magnetized knife board above it. From time to time I accidently drop one of the knives behind the stove, and while I have every intention of picking it up immediately, the stove is usually too hot to move in the moment and I eventually forget. When I finally get to it and pull the stove out, not only do I find the knives but also a colony of dust balls and other grime. Man (or lady) up and get to work.
Inside the vents and A/C units
I consistently forget to clean out my A/C filters, so it’s important that I add this chore to my spring-cleaning checklist. Clean the filter on a regular basis – especially before the temps start heating up outside – so your units can run cleanly and efficiently. If you have the good fortune of having central air, there are still filters to check and replace, and you’ll want to inspect the vents to ensure that nothing has fallen into the spaces that shouldn’t be there.
It’s ideal to defrost and clean the freezer while it’s still chilly outside for one crucial reason: You can remove all the items from the freezer and pack them in a cooler for a few hours if the temps outdoors are still relatively low. You also can fortify the cooler with ice just in case. I’ve tried many methods to clean out my freezer – ice pick, hot water, hair dryer (not necessarily in that order, however; I don’t have a death wish) – but I’ve found that leaving the freezer door open overnight then attacking the problem with the aforementioned arsenal is the best way to go. Not exactly energy efficient, mind you, but you’ve got to sacrifice somewhere.
Top of the cabinets
One word: Grease! Every time I get up on my counter to clean off the top of the cabinets, I’m always baffled by the amount of grease that’s caked onto the small appliances I keep up there. I had no idea grease was so mobile. This area requires particular dedication because everything needs to be wiped down thoroughly with soap and hot water to remove all the crud that’s built up over time. It’s not a bad idea to enlist a partner to help you here either.
Inside your furniture
Remember when you were a kid and you raided the couch for all the change that fell out of your dad’s pocket as he lie there watching TV like that was his actual job? Sadly, those days are long gone – who has change in their pockets anymore? – but you can still count on all those gross food particles that accompanied the coins way-back-when if you’re a regular consumer of junk food while watching the boob tube. I’m pretty sure a random cheese puff lives underneath every sofa in America. Break out the vacuum – so you don’t have to touch anything with your delicate hands – and suck that muck to oblivion.
My medicine cabinet builds up fingerprints, water spots and toothpaste residue over time – all of which should be wiped away – but you also should concentrate on taking inventory of the items in the cabinet and discard what’s expired. Expired medicines, especially, can harm you if you’re not careful. Inspect and reject as necessary.
Underneath the sink
You’ll eliminate cleaning-product spills underneath the sink, cut the clutter by removing and recycling any empty bottles, and take stock of what you’re out of and need to replace – but this also is a great time to do a thorough inspection of your pipes (are there any leaks that need to be addressed?) as well as the general under-sink area. This dark, sometimes damp location is a perfect hiding place for insects and an ideal access point for rodents, so pay particular attention to any holes or gaps and look out for droppings so you can address the issue appropriately. (Translation: Kill the beasts, stat!)
Ceiling fan blades
Nine times out of 10 I forget to look up when I’m cleaning – mostly because my ceiling fans are on because I’ve worked up a sweat. Add this task to your list before you get started so you don’t pass it by and let the layers build up. Leave it for too long and it can permanently discolor your fan blades.
Your house isn’t the only thing that could use a good elbow greasing this spring. Your car, take-along bags, and other everyday-use items get bogged down and dirtied from regular wear-and-tear. First, clean out the clutter – all that trash, paper, whatever it is you’ve been hoarding – then give everything a good scrubbing and sanitizing. You’ll be surprised at the amount of satisfaction this will give you – and it’s worth every ounce of effort.