Published on April 24, 2019

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Photography by Nicole Franzen

If you’ve left your spring-cleaning to the last minute, don’t panic. A delayed effort to tidy up is better than no effort at all—plus, this way you get to have your home spick and span just in time for summer entertaining season. Procrastinators, unite.

The idea of spring-cleaning can be an overwhelming one: We accumulate a lot of stuff over the course of a year, and if we’re only dedicating one annual time slot to deep-cleaning an entire home, it’s going to feel daunting. What helps with making a spring-clean a little more attainable is having a clear schedule. According to the American Cleaning Institute’s 2019 National Cleaning Survey, the average time it takes to spring-clean a home is six days. With this timeline in mind, we spoke to tidying up expert (and OG cleaning influencer) Melissa Maker to flesh out a six-day schedule.

The YouTube host and author has a simple approach to spring-cleaning: Dedicate each of the six days to one space. From there, prioritize your problem areas. “Spring-cleaning can be overwhelming, so what I always advise people to do is pick the most important things to them for that particular year,” suggests Maker. “If there’s something glaring, do it; otherwise don’t worry about it unless it’s a real problem.”

Maker recommends focusing your efforts on six spaces: the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the office (or miscellaneous small rooms), the storage spaces, and the outdoors. You don’t have to spend more than a few hours a day on each room, and when your allotted cleaning time is up, this schedule gives you the freedom to chill out until tackling another room the following day. “If people have a game plan ahead of time, it helps them stay on track. Now that you have each of your six spaces, make a list on your phone or on paper, go to each space, and have a look at the things you don’t look at every day,” says Maker.

Ready your mops and whip out your all-natural cleaning supplies: Here’s how to spring-clean your home in just six days.

Kitchen

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Photography by Sara Tramp for Emily Henderson Design

The main act: “Start with the appliances,” says Maker. You’ll feel a lot better once your oven and stovetop are devoid of stuck-on food, possibly one of the most daunting cleaning tasks of the entire home. Melissa has a lazy girl–approved tutorial for cleaning oven racks on her site involving laundry detergent and a six-hour soak in the bathtub—for the racks, unfortunately, not you—which you can easily do overnight.

The supporting roles: When you’re done with the bigger appliances, turn attention to the windows, windowsills, or sliding doors. Finally, tackle your cupboards. “Get rid of any items you don’t use anymore, as well as food items that have expired,” says Maker.

Bathroom

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

The main act: The shower. While you probably clean your shower regularly, take this opportunity to refresh the accessories: Throw your shower mat in the laundry machine and clean your shower curtain, too. Maker recommends cleaning the drain to get rid of any clogs, and then descale your shower head—all you need is regular old white vinegar. “Put vinegar in a little ziplock back, fasten it to the shower head, let it soak overnight, then remove it, and wipe off any residue,” she says.

The supporting roles: The areas under the sink, like drawers and cupboards, need a thorough cleaning. Organize your stash of beauty products and give the whole area a wipe-down.

Bedroom

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

The main act: Tidy up your drawers and closets. Sort through everything and change out your wardrobe; pack your heavier winter things away, either in dedicated storage bins or suitcases if you’re low on space, and then bring out your warm-weather pieces. Take this chance to get rid of things you don’t need by donating them instead of throwing things away.

“This is also a great time to look at bookshelves and nightstand drawers,” says Maker. “Go through any trinkets you have on your dresser or in your drawers and donate anything that doesn’t belong or that you don’t need.”

The supporting roles: Brighten your bedroom by cleaning the windows and rotating your bedding—a lighter, linen sheet option will make your room feel airier than the bulky blankets you needed during winter. Finally, rotate your mattress and air it out for a day: Open your windows, take the sheets off, and let it breathe. Do this in the morning before you leave for work and you’ll be good to go when you get home.

Office Space

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Photography by Laure Joliet

The main act: Organize and sort through your paperwork, and if you dread this, you’re not alone. “It’s one of my most hated jobs; I find it really overwhelming,” shares Maker. “Get in the zone, turn on some music, find file folders, start a shredding pile, and organize paper accordingly.” Shred things you’re sure you don’t need anymore to free up valuable desk space.

The supporting roles: Once you’ve dealt with the piles of paper, the rest is simple: Dust electronics and monitors with a microfiber cloth sprayed with a bit of water. As a finishing touch, sort through the things that are on and in your desk. “So often, we just let things accumulate,” says Maker. “Spring-cleaning is the time for us to be objective and get rid of things we don’t need.”

Storage

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Photography by Wynn Meyers

The main act: All of it. While decluttering room by room goes without saying, pay special attention to your actual storage units—whether it’s furniture in the living room with built-in storage or that hallway closet that’s essentially one big junk drawer, it’s time to pare back. “Look at an item: Do you need it? Do you want it? If the answer is yes, keep it. Put it in a place where it’s prominently displayed and you’re going to use it,” says Maker. “And if you feel like it’s outlived its use, donate it.”

It’s pretty straight-forward, but just be sure you don’t fall into the trap of buying more to pare back. “It’s very easy for us to buy organizational furniture to organize all the stuff we already have, but really what we should be doing is decluttering, and then buying more things afterward if we need them,” continues the cleaning pro. “Slim everything down first, and often what you’ll find is that you need fewer storage solutions when you have less things.”

The supporting roles: If you do end up needing a few key organizational pieces, Maker recommends IKEA and Kvell—a furniture and decor store with multifunctional pieces in a Scandinavian-chic aesthetic. Opt for sleeker items that won’t overpower your space.  

Outdoors

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

The main act: Take this chance to power-clean the exterior of your home. Clean your windows and doors, giving little paint touch-ups where they’re needed. If you have leaves stuck in the gutters, clean them out carefully or hire someone to help if you’re worried about precariously perching on a ladder. Finish off your curb appeal by changing out your doormat for a fun springtime one.

The supporting roles: After a long winter, chances are your backyard needs some TLC. Sweep your patio clean and bring out your furniture so you’re ready to enjoy morning coffees and evening glasses of wine alfresco. If your allergies haven’t started acting up yet, spend a little more time outside and rake your backyard to provide a clean backdrop for spring gardening.

See more cleaning stories:
Why Cleaning Makes Your Heart Race
6 Things You Should Throw Out Immediately

7 Tiny Vacuums Made for Tiny Apartments

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