When you do thorough "spring cleaning," what do you clean?
March 31, 2015 3:54 AM   Subscribe

When you do an extra thorough periodic clean, what do you clean that you don't routinely tackle?

I'm sure there is a Real Simple edition dedicated to this very topic, but what do you clean when you go above and beyond? Or what would you clean if you actually did spring cleaning? For instance, I had never, ever in my life cleaned the inside of my bathroom door. I noticed it looked a little dusty, swiped it with a paper towel and WOW. It was filthy. Seven years of dust had accumulated and lightly coated the entire inside of the door. Now it is nice and clean.

Extra bonus points for someone who can tell me step by step how to clean the plastic part of my glass shower door at the bottom that seals the door to the tile ledge preventing water from exiting the shower ... or what that plastic piece is even called. It is now a vibrant green color - actually quite pretty, but the algae is not meant to be there.

(Yes, I am pregnant - third trimester.)
posted by semacd to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 105 users marked this as a favorite
- Behind and under the stove and refrigerator. If I'm moving, do the washer/dryer too.

- If I'm having allergies, I might wipe down the walls with a damp cloth. The clean smell in the room afterward is amazing

- Windows. You can usually do this with just vinegar.

- Bookshelves; take books off, wipe tops of books with _lightly_ damp cloth (or dry cloth) -- they tend to get dusty. Clean shelves thoroughly.

- Medicine cabinet shelves and back (like bookshelves) -- notice if stuff on shelves has gotten dirty over the years. Throw out expired medications through a local program to take these -- putting them into the dump or water supply is problematic.

- Cabinet doors.

- Sliding glass door tracks.

- Refrigerator. Inside.

- Knobs on oven/stove (these come off for cleaning).

- Trash cans.

- Car inside.

- Under bed. Including baseboards. This usually involves moving the bed.

- Door tops.

- Picture frames.

- Computer keyboards (take outside and shake; wipe).

- Phone buttons.

- Welcome mat

- Cat tower
posted by amtho at 4:10 AM on March 31, 2015 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The thing on the shower door is called a "shower door sweep." It might be easier just to replace it, but if you want to try cleaning it, vinegar-and-baking-soda is supposed to be good for just about everything. A very dilute solution of bleach (sprayed on and left to sit for a few minutes) would also work, though the fumes might be a bit much.

It's ceiling cobwebs and windows for us, by the way, along with dusting every bookshelf and all the ceiling fan blades.
posted by jquinby at 4:11 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I periodically clean:
* Tops of kitchen cabinets
* Tops of ceiling fan blades
* Lampshades
* Baseboards

Have you checked if the plastic part of your shower door is removable? If it is, you should just be able to pop it off and clean it with a sponge and bleach. Also, HG Mold Spray is excellent for cleaning showers.
posted by neushoorn at 4:16 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Skirting boards, door handles, light switches, power points, behind the fridge and the washing machine, junk drawers, and the floor and shelves in the wardrobe.
posted by lollusc at 4:19 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Throw things out. All other things being equal, less is always better than more.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:20 AM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]

Also turn your mattress, wash your pillows, and beat rugs outside. Spiderwebs around the outside of the house. Dust inside the bathroom extractor fan and any filters on eg heaters or air conditioning vents.
posted by lollusc at 4:22 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is my caveat: I was raised to spring clean, so I don't know it any other way.

We do it every year, a house of two adults (one with a lot of hair) and two cats.
- All rooms, wash walls and ceilings, especially light fixtures & fans. And oh man the baseboards.
- Wash all fabric items in the room - curtains, bedding, pillows, extra blankets - if it can go in the washing machine, it does.
- Shampoo carpets & couches.
- Wash windows, inside & out.
- Bathrooms I bleach the grout and empty the medicine cabinet.
- Usually we go through our closets at this point and decide what we haven't touched in a year & needs to be donated, clothing/shoes wise.
- After the carpet dries & we move the furniture back into the room, we pretty much touch every single item that goes into the room. That's the _perfect_ time to decide if it's something worth keeping or not. Honestly we usually donate at least 2 boxes a year of "stuff" that isn't clothing. Wash everything we put back in the room.
- Kitchen we empty out all of the cabinets and get rid of expired food, scrub everything out.
- Go through the bookcases, sell/donate books. (We have a book problem but a limited amount of space. Annual weeding is necessary, sadly.)

The first year I started to do this after we were married, my husband thought I was NUTS. But he's kind of come around to my way of thinking... if the alternative is the back of your bathroom door. (Not judging at all, I suspect that's the normal way and I'm the weird one.)
posted by librarianamy at 4:57 AM on March 31, 2015 [17 favorites]

As it happens, Real Simple does indeed have a periodic table of cleaning.
posted by mchorn at 5:26 AM on March 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

Taking down curtains/drapes that haven't been washed during the winter is usually my go-to Spring cleaning move.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:34 AM on March 31, 2015

I recently went over everything with the crevice tool on my canister vac. Tops of doors, tops of window frames, backs of doors, baseboards, etc. Then switched to the hard brush and did my living room furniture.

One thing: if you are heavily pregnant, please do not reach up to take down curtains. Get someone else to do it for you. I had the "nesting instinct" when I was pregnant with my son, and was hanging blinds in his nursery, and reaching up, tore a small hole in the placenta and I had to be induced the next day. Not fun.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:56 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Good cleaning of bathrooms for sure. If you toilet seat is old and after scrubbing it still looks grimy, you can actually replace it for about 12 dollars. Just make sure to check if it is oval or round and off-white or white before you go to your local hardware store.

Blinds are another item to clean, though they can be time consuming.
posted by typecloud at 6:12 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Inside of fridge. Growing up, we always did this in preparation for Passover. Now I just do it to get it clean!
posted by amro at 6:45 AM on March 31, 2015

Re: shower cleaning, I like to use a powered scrubbing brush, like this one. It's really just an oversized electric toothbrush.

I dip it in a 50/50 mix of warm water and hydrogen peroxide (cheap generic stuff from the first-aid section of the drugstore). It gets a really good amount of mold and mildew out of the corners and crevices of the shower. Plus it makes that satisfying sizzle as the bacteria start exploding.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I clean from the top down. So I start with the cobwebs in the corners of the ceilings, vacuum (it's faster) the tops of the window sills and doors frames, the crevices of the doors themselves. I clean the windows and vacuum the bottom of the frames for whatever dust has accumulated there over the winter (so it won't blow back into the house when we leave the windows open during the summer). I vacuum the floors, then I go back and dust any furniture.

In the kitchen the cabinet doors get wiped down, the surfaces of the appliances, and then all other surfaces.

I try to follow the idea of "a place for everything and everything in it's place", so things get returned to where they belong.

Then I try to de-clutter (and I'm also 3rd trimester, and de-cluttering is a big part of my nesting phase).
posted by vignettist at 7:36 AM on March 31, 2015

I bought an inexpensive handheld steam cleaner from amazon and it is amazing! I use it over any surface. The reviews were mixed but I have not experienced any issues. It would be great for sterilizing baby toys.
posted by RoadScholar at 8:51 AM on March 31, 2015

this weekend i took all the decorative plates off the walls and any other ceramic jars etc down from whereever they were decorating and ran them all through the dishwasher on a low heat setting. much shinier.

wipe down plants. my mom used to used mayo - i shit you not. makes them really healthy looking.

if you have chandeliers, use a vinegar and water or rubbing alcholol and water solution to wipe the crystals down.

any light fixtures that have glass dome coverings - take down and can also be run through dishwasher.
posted by domino at 9:07 AM on March 31, 2015

Reorganizing closets, including throwing away a lot of stuff.

Cleaning the front and bottom of the kitchen cabinets - I never notice them unless I'm sitting on the floor in the kitchen for some reason, and they get gross!

Taking everything out and cleaning freezer and fridge (need to do that...).

Move furniture away from the walls (get someone else to do this for you) and vacuum under them and along the baseboards.

Use vinegar and water on light fixtures, faucets and sinks to make them shiny.

Send my husband out to the garage and demand he clean up his messes.
posted by Safiya at 9:19 AM on March 31, 2015

Also, after the tough scrub-down, and once it's nice and dry, you can touch up the sealant on the grout in-between the tiles in your bathroom, though you don't have to do this every year.
posted by eclectist at 10:25 AM on March 31, 2015

Start with things that you'll probably notice and enjoy.

Doors -- as you've seen w/ your bathroom door. Doors get hand grime on them, usually near the doorknob and along that edge, plus somewhere in the center where you push them closed. Don't forget the outside of the front door of the house or apartment. I use just soapy water or a spray -- plain water on a cloth doesn't really do it.

Inside the cutlery drawer. That tray and its surrounding area catch spills and crumbs.

Organize the refrigerator. I know you're supposed to wipe every surface, but I concentrate on what visibly needs cleaning.

Light-switch plates. You don't notice the dirt now, but you'll notice how much better they look when clean.

Organize junk drawer. You have bits and parts relating to stuff you don't even own anymore.

Any dark scuff marks on baseboards, usually caused by shoes and vacuum cleaner. Formula 409 and elbow grease. Use magic eraser only if absolutely necessary because it's abrasive.

Warning about walls: Don't try to wash unless the paint has a sheen. Flat paint usually looks worse after washing.

Touch up dings on woodwork. Don't worry about having the perfectly exact shade of paint. You've become accustomed to the marks where paint has chipped off, but you'll appreciate the difference once those have been filled in. Use a foam brush and dab instead of brushing.
posted by wryly at 10:55 AM on March 31, 2015

If you have decorative figurines or pottery or the like, wash them or wipe thoroughly with a dry cloth. If you usually only touch them with a dust cloth, feather duster or Swiffer duster, you might be surprised when you pick them up at how grimy they feel! Use caution, of course, depending on finish and sturdiness.
posted by jgirl at 11:19 AM on March 31, 2015

I like to combine sorting and airing of my clothes -- I have a rolling rack that goes out on the roof deck (or any sunny space), and I go through my clothes one rod at a time, getting rid of the ones I can admit I never wear and transferring the rest to this outdoor rod for an afternoon of sun and breeze -- shake them on the way too. Good for getting rid of dust and so forth, and gives everything a fresh smell too.
posted by acm at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2015

just adding to the first poster

the walls

the blinds

the windows (inside & outside, requires a ladder)


closet (as in donating things i don't wear anymore)
posted by nephilim. at 1:09 PM on March 31, 2015

The black rubber splash guard in kitchen sinks with disposals can be removed. Usually you can clean them. But sometimes you just want to replace the revolting thing.
posted by ezust at 1:34 PM on March 31, 2015

In addition to what's written here, I go through books/magazines/periodicals and throw away things or recycle them. I finished doing a master's degree last year and didn't clean and had lots of stuff.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:32 AM on April 1, 2015

When/if I spring clean, I do it by the room, going top to bottom and either left-> right or the reverse. I have a cleaning bucket with spray bottles of windex and pine-sol/water, ajax cleanser, rags, sponges too grotty for the kitchen, old toothbrush, paper towels, dust brush. I detail the bathrooms a couple times a year. The rest of the house gets cleaned if I have energy, which is ... seldom.
posted by theora55 at 5:37 PM on April 2, 2015

I clean nothing, but I sure think about it a lot. I should create a YouPorn-style site which features videos of other people cleaning their homes.
posted by donnacha at 8:05 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I found this duster to be a wonderful replacement to those compressed air cans that never seem to last very long. Great for cleaning out electronics (or the vacuum if you have bagless) or window screens or your dryer's lint trap or ...(it's like how when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail).

It's not too terribly expensive compared to compressed air cans and it's quite powerful.
posted by Twicketface at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2015

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