Spring cleaning organisation

Spring cleaning organisation includes having a master plan, having a cleaning station, and implementing in the most efficient way. A spring clean is a once a year deep clean of the house, to freshen up all areas of the house after being closed up for winter. Spring time heralds more sun, breezy weather, and perfect weather for opening up the house.

Coming out of winter, the sunny weather invites you to throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Many cultures have spring cleaning as part of the season. Cleaning the house is often in anticipation of a celebration, to bring in the New Year, or to bring good fortune to the home. Do you have to spring clean? Well, no. There’s nothing to say you have to. But there’s a certain sense of satisfaction after a day of productive labour to have a sparkling and clean house. At least for a couple of hours until the kids tip their toys out again.

We’ve trawled the literature to see what gems are out there in the scientific community regarding cleaning, and put them together in this handy spring cleaning guide for you. It includes organisation, best cleaning agents to save you money, and how to be most efficient in your cleaning.

How to clean a toilet and other cleaning advice

Who would have thought you’d find a paper in 2021 on research needs around toilet hygiene?

The key takeaway from that paper is that toilets can spread germs from flushing, releasing aerosols into the air. Using a disinfectant (such as bleach, hypochlorite, or benzalkonium chloride), not detergent, to clean is most effective in reducing microbe counts. While daily disinfection and cleaning is what occurs in hospital for example, research suggests other options. Scott and Bloomfield (1985) recommended that continuous release system disinfectants be used. Cistern or toilet rim systems that contain disinfectants are more efficient at lowering bacterial levels in the toilet itself – more so than daily cleaning. But, even automatic toilet bowl cleaners that only contained detergents (surfactants) were effective.

Another take-away is to use a different cloth for cleaning the toilet. The study found transfer of bacteria from the toilet to other areas of the bathroom – from the cleaning cloth! They also recommend cleaning lights switches and door handles, as these places can harbour germs.

It’s also worth considering what products you’re using. A study that investigated eight cleaning products found only some were effective. Hypochlorite containing disinfectants (such as White King and other bleaches) were found to be more antimicrobial. However alcohol, ammonium and phosphate-based detergents were much lower in their effectiveness. A study from 2007 concluded that for the best cleaning, use a water and detergent and follow up with a disinfectant (0.1% hypochlorite bleach).

How often to clean? And other scary questions.

It’s a common question of how often should I wash my towel? Or how often should I wash my bed sheets?

Toothbrush and towel hygiene was explored in this 2020 study. With the heading of “Recommended Towel Handling Practice”, they quote research from Sturt (2015) and Bradford (2018). These papers found that towels should be washed after they’ve been used three to four times. In addition, drying towels in the sun can reduce smells, and kill bacteria effectively. In the 2020 study, 54% of respondents cleaned their towel less frequently than once a week (24% every fortnight and 20% once a month). So, if you don’t clean your towels and sheets every week, you’re with the majority of people who apparently don’t follow the recommended towel handling practice.

Looking at laundry hygiene, adding white vinegar to a load of washing is effective in reducing microbes. This is recommended if there isn’t the addition of oxygen-activated-bleaches in laundry detergents, or if cold-water washes are used.

Surprising benefits of cleaning

One upside to COVID-19 is that there has been an explosion of recent research around cleaning practices. And there are some surprising benefits to cleaning such as:

The Master Plan for spring cleaning

So cleaning is good for you, and for your house. But when embarking on a spring clean, it pays to have a master plan.

For spring cleaning organisation, you need a master plan. This 10 step plan gets all the essential chores done in a day. Or complete your spring cleaning in one hour blocks over a week.

HOUR ONE

  1. Using a diffuser, put on a fresh scent like lemon.
  2. Open all windows to air out rooms.
  3. Strip beds to air out mattresses.
  4. Wash all bed linens, curtains, throws. Set out summer weight sheets and quilts and put away the winter.

HOUR TWO

  1. Start from top to bottom and dust ceilings, fans, light fittings. Dust electronics, surfaces, bookcases on the way down.

HOUR THREE

  1. Using soapy water, wipe all skirting boards, doors and handles. Wipe down cupboard doors and baseboards. Use sugar soap or a magic eraser to clean dirty spots.

HOUR FOUR

  1. Wash inside windows. Dust and wash outside windows with soapy water. Use vinegar and a microfibre cloth (or paper towel) to remove streaks.

HOUR FIVE

  1. Clean the inside of the oven, and any hotplates. Descale the kettle by boiling a cup of white vinegar, then boiling water. Then run an empty load of washing with 4 cups of vinegar to descale your washing machine while you’re at it.

HOUR SIX

  1. Empty out the fridge and clean the shelves. Next, wipe out kitchen cupboards and tidy the pantry. Then discard expired food.

HOUR SEVEN

  1. Vacuum and mop floors, rugs, carpets and the sofa.

HOUR EIGHT – BONUS

  • BONUS: Sort out the wardrobes. Give away clothes you don’t need, put away winter clothes and rotate in summer clothes.

Download a pdf of the Master Plan Spring Cleaning.

Creating your cleaning station

Another part of spring cleaning organisation is having all the items you need in the same place. This makes cleaning more efficient, reduces walking back and forth from the cleaning cupboard, and reduces time spent on cleaning by being organised.

Your cleaning station might be a tub or bucket. Inside this bucket you store all the tools and cleaning solutions you need for your spring cleaning. It might include:

  • rubber gloves to protect your hands
  • a duster cloth or microfibre duster
  • a spray for mirrors and glass, such as a 50:50 vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle
  • a disinfectant spray for cleaning bathrooms, such as a bleach based disinfectant spray
  • a detergent for making up soapy water for general cleaning
  • white vinegar for descaling
  • bicarb for deodorising fabrics, carpet and fridges, and for cleaning ovens
  • a magic eraser for spot cleaning walls and surfaces
  • microfibre cloths

This cleaning station will contain everything that you need for your 10 steps of cleaning. You might also like to carry around an empty tub or washing basket to help with tidying as you go. Any item that doesn’t belong in that room goes into the washing basket to be relocated elsewhere where it belongs.

Why organise your spring cleaning?

The benefits of spring cleaning on the health of your house, your mental health, and on your own physical health through air quality and physical activity, are clear.

But that’s not to say you should spend every waking hour in spring dragging out your spring cleaning. Getting organised can make a thorough cleaning possible in a reasonably short amount of time. Come up with a plan for attacking your spring cleaning. Add the item in your planner so you have a schedule, whether all in one day or spread across several days. And tick them off when you achieve them so you can feel productive and accomplished. So spring cleaning organisation before you lift a single microfibre cloth is important to save you time in the future.

But what about motivation?

We’ll here’s the elephant in the room around spring cleaning. How do you get the motivation to complete this much needed, really important job?

Getting boring and tiresome stuff done, like the spring cleaning, can be hard work. But keeping your house clean and tidy is important, and spring cleaning is an excellent ritual to put away winter and look forward to summer. The trick to boring tasks is to make them fun and motivating. Motivation can come from gamification, satisfaction from achievement, rewards, social support, music, autonomy, following your interests, and from just plain random silliness that’s a little unexpected to keep you interested.

This Spring Cleaning Toolkit gives you 5 levels (plus one bonus) of motivation, from Level 1 through to Level 5.

You may need lots of variety to stay motivated, and so use parts of all of the levels in order to complete your spring cleaning. Or you may cycle through the levels each time you clean so each experience is new.

5 Levels of Increasing Motivation

Level 1 – harnesses the power of satisfaction from the achievement of ticking off boxes on a checklist. This might be enough reward and motivation for you to tick off all boxes. If not, level up.

Level 2 – this harnesses the motivation of satisfaction and reward, with stamps or crossing-off for each box you complete. It also allows autonomy to choose which order you progress.

Level 3 – this level introduces some gamification. With manageable short tasks broken into rounds, it helps reduce cognitive overload that you can get with huge lists of items to complete. This level is a little bit silly and a bit random (to keep you interested and engaged) but if it’s not motivating enough for you, level up again.

Level 4 – this is another gamified variation that can leverage your interests. If card-based, dice-based or adventure games appeal to you, then collecting these monsters, defeating the battles and quest seeking may provide the interest-based motivation to keep you going on your cleaning journey.

Level 5 – this set of challenge cards incorporates many motivational strategies, including music, social support, time-based challenges, breaking down large tasks into clear simple steps, game play/gamification, reward and rest cycles, and of course chocolate (a reward that deserves its own mention).

Bonus: the bonus level is a variation on level 4 and 5 based on another adventure style game. This level uses gamification, interests, and breaking down big tasks into simple steps to be motivating.

If this sounds like the sort of gamified motivational push you need to get spring cleaning happening, check out the whole Toolkit of Motivational Spring Cleaning Games.

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