My mom tackled spring cleaning like clockwork. Armed with a stiff-bristled scrub brush, she filled a bucket with hot water, swished in a little Spic-n-Span and proceeded to the nearest wall. In short order, the walls, floors and kitchen cupboards gleamed.
She filled the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water and washed and dried every plate and cup in the house before returning them to the newly cleaned and freshly papered cupboards.
Spring cleaning meant moving furniture and carefully hand-washing the draperies while my dad scrubbed the windows inside and out to a sparkling clean. Then he helped my mom hang the still-damp draperies on the curtain rods to dry.
Before it was over, they had scoured every inch of the house, including closets, woodwork, doorknobs and hot water tank. The house and all its contents glistened and smelled wonderfully clean. Finally, mom opened the windows to let in the warming spring air. Ah, life didn't get any better.
Now that I am an adult, spring cleaning doesn't hold the same charm for me as it did when I was 9 years old. In fact, the thought of giving the home a thorough cleaning is a bit daunting.
Laurie Wilson, office manager with Housekeeping Unlimited, 1611 St. Andrews Drive, suggests prioritizing your annual cleaning list. For example, some people send every dish and glass through the dishwasher while others merely opt to wipe down cabinets.
Spring cleaning can't be rushed. It requires effort, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or a professional.
"You need a good block of time to tackle it," she said.
But don't let the spring cleaning process overwhelm you.
"Be realistic," she said. "Do one room one weekend and another the next."
If you are not able or willing to do it yourself, call in the professionals.
No matter what chores might be on your list, Wilson said a good place to start is by changing the furnace filter and vacuuming or washing window screens.
"It cuts down on the dust and debris that float in," she said.
Be sure to use clean equipment, too. Mops, brooms and brushes can be disinfected by soaking them in a 10 percent bleach solution for about 10 minutes.
"Start high and work low," Wilson said. However, wash walls from the bottom up, but only after dusting away all the cobwebs.
Here are some specific tips for each room of the house.
Remove and store winter clothing and shoes; bring out the summer wardrobe.
Empty dresser drawers and wipe them down; replace shelf liner if needed.
Take an inventory of your clothes. Don't return anything to the closet or dresser that you no longer wear or fit into. Clean and donate it instead.
Store winter jackets, coats, scarves and gloves.
Launder and store winter blankets and quilts.
Clean walls, corners and ceilings and vacuum the floor, including in the closet and under the bed.
Clean toilet, sink and shower areas.
Launder or replace shower curtain and bath mats.
Clean medicine cabinet, safely discarding out-of-date medicines.
Wipe down and polish the outside of the kitchen cabinets.
Clean the inside of the cabinets and replace the shelf paper.
Clean kitchen floor, paying special attention to the corners.
Clean behind the refrigerator, vacuuming any dust stuck to it.
Empty the pantry and wipe down the shelves. Toss out food that is no longer usable.
Clean under the kitchen sink.
Launder or dry-clean curtains or draperies.
Wash windows inside and out, wiping out windowsills.
Vacuum furniture and pillows.
Move furniture and vacuum the floor beneath it.
Clean walls and woodwork.
Clean out fireplace and utensils.
Dust picture frames, bookcases and knickknack shelves.
Clean ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
Change the batteries in the smoke detector.
Vacuum and wash heat registers.
Change the furnace filter.
Clean mops, rags and throw rugs.
Wash out trash pails and waste baskets.
So, what are you waiting for? Time's a-wasting. Grab a bucket and some cleaning rags, and get cracking. Afterward, open the windows and let the welcome songs of the birds come in with the spring breeze. Life doesn't get any better.
Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and home and garden writer for the Journal-World.