Dr. Greg’s 5-Step Spring Cleaning Guide
Spring cleaning (noun) | ˈspriŋ ˈklē-niŋ | the act or process of doing a thorough cleaning of a place, preceded by a feeling of dread and/or liberation.
OK, not exactly Mr. Webster’s words, but close enough. If there’s one thing that does resonate with the words “spring cleaning”, it’s a rite of passage following a long, often claustrophobic winter. While we may have had the means to keep our homes clean, why bother? During the long dark days of winter, wouldn’t we all rather stay in our PJ’s and binge watch Netflix instead!
Whether you’re a cleaning maven or reluctant minimalist, you’re probably at least thinking about taking the annual plunge just to get it over with. And if you have sensitivities, the thought of spring cleaning may be even more overwhelming as you try to navigate through the process without triggering those sensitivities.
Just remember, no matter how dreary the outlook of this task, you’re going to feel better when you’re done, both psychologically and probably even physically by getting rid of soil, dust and grime that can actually be making you feel unwell!
What to know before you start:
- Plan some time (it’s unlikely it’s right this moment). Sometimes, the pending visit of friends or family forces the issue, but if not, pick a starting day and time, and block it out. There’s no need to complete this in one hour, one day, or even one week, but the sooner it’s started, the sooner it’s going to be done.The way I look at it, your home is your domain to take care of when you want to.
- Pay attention to the order in which you clean. It can help save time and ensure you’re removing as many allergens, harmful residues, and toxins as possible that can impact your health.
- Do not mix cleaners, especially those containing ammonia or sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) as the results can be harmful to your health. Read more about cleaning products you should never mix here.
- The smell of perfume does not mean that something is clean! And if you are chemically sensitive, you might have also already come to the following question: when did our cleaners become room deodorizers? Remember, the true indicator of clean is actually the absence of odor.
Five steps to Spring Cleaning success:
Ready to dive in? Then first pick a room that you love, and make it look great, which will inspire you to keep it up for the whole house (and if not, you can at least spend all your time in that one room!).
Step 1: Dusting
- This may be obvious to many, but it was an “aha” moment for me: when you begin to clean, start from the top and work your way down in any area or room. If you have a duster that can reach the high ceilings, start there to get the cobwebs and dust down, then use a dust cloth for tops of door sills and high furniture (microfiber-types are best for capturing and retaining dust). Notice how gravity “helps''? What the duster and cloths don’t capture falls to the ground. Get the point? If you start on the floors, then dust the ceilings, door sills, or high furniture afterward, the dust and dirt will only re-deposit onto the floors, and you’ll have to do that all over again - which is no fun at all!
- It is no news that dust is a prime area for allergens, and as a “silver lining” most of us these days now have something we didn’t have before: a dust mask. While N95 and KN95 masks will filter out 90-95% of potential allergens while you breathe, even the most elementary of masks will help protect you compared to going bare-faced.
- Don’t forget about the forced air registers and vents. A lot of air moves directly through them and they are likely repositories of a lot of grime and dust. If you can get behind them to clean, so much the better!
- For more info on how to remove dust, read this. )
Step 2: Intermediate Heights
- Now let’s work on things that are easy to reach, such as furniture, floor lamps, counters, appliances, and so forth. Again, microfiber cloths are good for removing and retaining dust.
- For non-porous surfaces, I find that a bit of moisture helps here since water is fine for most soils in these areas because the dirt is not particularly tightly-bound to the surface. If you have a stubborn area, try a bit of Sensitive Home All Purpose Cleaner and wipe clean.
- For counters, especially stone counters, our Sensitive Home Marble & Granite Cleaner is very effective without leaving behind filmy or toxic residues. Oh and it leaves the them sparkling clean too!
Step 3: Flooring
- Now it’s time to tackle the carpets. If you have access to a carpet cleaner, you might be accustomed to using it for spot treatments (for example with our dog, who we’ve nicknamed Mr. Pee-body). Assuming you’ve attended to those, um, indiscretions as they occurred, now might be the time to treat the entire room. Removing all that dust that has settled, as well as the seasonal soil will make a big difference as far as minimizing allergens. Even if you don’t have a carpet cleaner, a thorough vacuuming will make a huge difference in removing allergens (like pet hair and dander), as well as sources of those unpleasant smells.
- If you have hard floors, cleanup is just as important to minimize stirring the dust and grime back up again. If you see stains and soils, they will probably be a lot easier to clean with our Sensitive Home All-Purpose Cleaner for linoleum or vinyl floor, with our Sensitive Home Marble & Granite Cleaner for stone or tile floors, or with our Sensitive Home Wood Cleaner for hardwood. A word of caution, especially for hardwood floors: it is strongly advised that you don’t mop on a great deal of watery cleaner and just leave it to dry — this can lead to warping and buckling of the flooring or sub-flooring. Be sure that any puddles that form are wiped up (this will also help to reduce filming, streaking, and other residues).
Step 4: Windows
- After a long winter, windows are usually covered with a film residue from gas or oil furnaces. As you know, this is rather sticky stuff and attracts dust which aggravates allergens and other sensitivities. Not to mention that it keeps you from seeing that beautiful world that’s suddenly in bloom.
- Depending on how the weather is in your region, you might want to defer cleaning the outside until the rainy season slows down a bit (or basically stops, like here in California).
- However, don’t put off cleaning the inside of the windows for too long. Again, start from the top and work your way down to prevent spray and drips from hitting those areas you’ve already cleaned. And you guessed it: I use Sensitive Home Glass Cleaner. While ammonia-based cleaners do a great job of cleaning, their choking films can deflate anybody’s willpower to keep going. Our formula is extremely effective without making your home smell like a litter box (sorry cat-lovers… I love felines, too, but not the ammonia odor).
Step 5: Bathrooms
- Since this is one of the most often-used areas, you’ve probably been keeping your bathroom(s) pretty clean even through the winter. Yes or no, this is one of the areas I like to leave to last, as it kind of announces the end of our yearly spring cleaning journey.
- Even in winter (and sometimes especially because of it), mold and mildew in the bathroom becomes an issue. Because we are leaving the windows closed during these months, the bath and shower areas do not dry out and the relative warmth of the home makes an ideal incubator. If you see areas of mold and mildew, please mask + glove up before diving in, spray on some Sensitive Home Tub + Tile Cleaner, and let it sit a few moments. You can use a scrubber sponge or brush if you like and rinse it down the drain. If you have a really stubborn stain, try one of the bleach-based cleaners that will actually kill the mold and mildew (although the fumes can be pretty intense). For more on cleaning mold and mildew, read this .
- Want to minimize the yearly (or weekly) toil of cleaning your baths and showers? Use Sensitive Home Daily Shower Spray. Just a very light mist after bathing will help moisture/water run down, minimizing build-up of soap scum and hard water deposits. Note that our Daily Shower cleaner is safe for use on all hard natural stone surfaces (e.g. slate, granite, quartzite and sandstone) but should not be used on softer stones like marble, limestone and travertine.
All done? Yay you… Marie Kondo’s got nothin’ on you! Time for a nice hot soak or shower. Not done yet? Still time for a nice hot soak or shower. You’ll get there and the journey should also have a reward, amiright?