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Spring cleaning, family style

There are two words that can clear a room almost immediately. “Spring cleaning” is like a call to arms, to rally the troops for a top-to-bottom attack on dirt, dust, clutter, and grime. It’s time to tackle chores in every room, nook, and corner, to shake off the toll that months of hibernation have brought to your household. But it doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. When you undertake spring cleaning family-style, you not only get it done faster, but instill some valuable lessons in teamwork. 

Here are some tips for turning spring cleaning into a productive and even enjoyable activity.

Make a list of cleaning chores, room by room

The best way to make the most of your family’s time is to start with a plan. Go room by room and create a list of what you need to be done. Here’s a comprehensive spring cleaning checklist you can print out and share. Break down bigger items, like “Clean the playroom”. You could, for example, list “Sort through toys and pack up items for donation”, “Vacuum or wash cushions”, and “Dust the windowsills”, to name just a few. When you turn a big chore into smaller ones, your helpers are less overwhelmed by the enormity. They also get faster gratification when they can cross several things off the list, instead of just one.

Assign tasks appropriately

You could assign spring cleaning chores according to room, but if you have kids of varying ages, it’s better to dole out responsibilities according to their age. Consider their ability to follow directions, use the cleaning tools safely and correctly, and to understand your idea of “Completed”.

For young children, give them baskets or bags and have them pick up toys, books, and other things that are strewn around. Ask them to put their stuffed toys in the laundry room to be washed. Show your kids how to dust furniture. Give them a dusting mitt and they only have to go around the house wiping their hands along surfaces. Cleaning baseboards is a great task for little ones because it’s far easier for them to get down to the floor level.

Set up goals and rewards

If your kids are like so many others, they respond to a rewards system. It’s not enough to tell them that being part of a family means helping out around the house. Show them how much you value their hard work by offering prizes for a job well done (emphasis on “well done”). If you put a time limit on a specific task, they might hurry through it. However, you can make sure they aren’t slow-poking by assigning a reasonable timeline with a prize for meeting it with acceptable results. By doing so, you teach your kids that getting their work done isn’t a race. Doing it well is more important.

Rewards could be monetary, like cash prizes or something they’ve been wanting you to buy. You could instead offer experiences as incentives, like family movie night with a menu of their favorite snacks. Maybe the spring cleaning reward is taking them to a sporting event, letting them choose a new color for the walls in their bedroom (and painting it for them), or going to a place you’ve promised to take them “one of these days”—making sure that you’re following all health guidelines for safety.

Prepare cleaning kits

When your workers have to run back and forth to the kitchen, garage, or elsewhere to get cleaning tools, they’re not just wasting time, but also likely to get distracted on this detour. 

Gather the supplies and create a cleaning kit for each member of the family, based on the chores you’ve assigned them. You can pick up buckets and cleaning caddies at your local dollar store, along with some helpful items like sponges, microfiber cloths, and spray bottles to fill with homemade cleaning solutions. Microfiber cloths are great for dusting and cleaning surfaces. They’re more cost-effective and eco-friendlier than paper towels.

Here are some “recipes” for safe and effective cleaning solutions you can make at home:

All-purpose cleaner: 2 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water, and juice of one lemon

Glass cleaner: 2 cups water, ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, and 10 drops of scented essential oil of your choice (e.g., lemon, eucalyptus, orange, lavender)

Heavy-duty kitchen scrub: ¼ cup liquid dish soap (like Dawn), ¼ cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon of water (enough to create a paste-like consistency), and 5 drops of essential oil

Shower and tile cleaner: 1 cup water and ¼ cup baking soda; mix water and baking soda in a microwave-safe bowl; heat for 30 seconds and pour into a spray bottle.

Upholstery freshener spray: 1 ½ cups water, ¼ cup baking soda, and 10 drops essential oil

We’ve waited a long time for spring to get here. Let’s welcome it with the joy of having a clean home!

Need more than a good cleaning?

Maybe once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your home, you’ve found room for improvement—like remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, finishing your basement, or creating a more inviting outdoor living space. Kettler Forlines Homes does more than build beautiful new homes in Montgomery County, MD. We use our skill, experience, reliability, and eye for detail to help homeowners “refresh” their homes with remodeling. Now that you’re starting spring with a clean slate, let’s get together to make it really “shine”!