Greetings, friends! Did you know that the month is currently May? If you’re anything like me, right now you’re thinking “OH GOD I WAS SUPPOSED TO SPRING CLEAN BUT I JUST ATE POTATO CHIPS AND WATCHED TV FOR TWO SOLID MONTHS I AM A MONSTER.” Don’t fret! I did all of the internet research to figure out how to fix my life (and, by extension, yours). I got you. We’ll get through this together. This is a safe place. Take a few deep breaths and read on, because it’s about to get CLEAN up in here.
Step One: Have a Drink
I know, I know: you’re sitting there thinking, “slow down there, Don Draper.” I’m serious, though. If you’re going to tackle something as boring as cleaning your house, you’re going to need something that is both a) incentive, and b) reward in itself. The maven of cleanliness, Mary Poppins, said it best: I wouldn’t recommend anything super-boozy, but cracking open a cider or making yourself a nice, light gin and tonic is definitely going to make the whole thing seem less like a chore and more like a movie.
Step Two: Crank the Tunes
Speaking of scenes from movies, remember how awesome cleaning seemed in Annie or Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella or basically any childhood classic? Yeah, that’s because there was music. And probably also a montage. So get on it! Make a playlist and shake your groove thing as you dust/vacuum/scrub. Bonus points if you use a broom handle or feather duster as a microphone. EXTRA bonus points if you clean your floors by doing the Tom Cruise slide from Risky Business (pants, as always, are optional). True fact: a former roommate and I would always clean the apartment to Amy Winehouse, and the epic sing-alongs actually became something we looked forward to. Again, this is about making something terrible slightly more fun.
Step Three: Set a Timer
I know this seems counter-intuitive, but doing a task (like, say, the dishes) for a certain period of time–AND NO MORE–actually makes the task seem way more manageable. Even if it’s a cleaning task you HATE (what’s up, scrubbing the bathtub?), setting a timer will remind you that you only have to do it for a lil’ bit, and then you are free. I’m into 5 minute or 10 minute increments, because even if your cleaning task is THE WORST you know it’ll be over in no time. You could even just work for as long as your favourite jam is playing (sing along, obviously). My friend Cecilia Moorcroft gets all the credit for this trick (she’s a life coach; it’s her job), and I can attest to how well it works. The best part is that you get to feel proud of yourself. Who knew you could get so much done in 5 minutes?
Step Four: Do a ‘Reset’
This may seem like semantics, but for me, this is really the best way to think of putting things away. After moving in together, a now-ex-boyfriend explained to me that he liked to ‘reset’ his apartment once a week. My thought process was as follows: A) is this a hipster thing I don’t know about? B) no, it can’t be. C) Oh, he means put stuff away. D) THAT’S GENIUS. Basically, this means that every once and a while (ideally once a week after your first reset, but I’M NOT YOUR MOM, OKAY), everything goes back to its proper place. Of course, this means you have to assign everything a proper place, but once you do that, the process becomes stupidly satisfying. You’re not ‘tidying up,’ you’re pressing the reset button on your week, so you can start fresh with everything where it should be. While you might not remember how/why the TV remote ended up in a kitchen drawer, you’ll certainly be happy when it’s back on the coffee table, aka ITS HOME.
Step Five: Use this One Weird Old Trick!
Okay, we are all wary of things we see on the internet. Pinterest, in particular, is guilty of some heinous lies (yes, you’re right– those micro-polka dot nails ARE easy!). One thing that is absolutely NOT a lie, though, is this cleaning solution solution (PUNS): White vinegar + Blue Dawn detergent + a spray bottle. Mix roughly 50/50, pour into the spray bottle, and go nuts on any surface. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes and then wipe off with a wet sponge. YOU GUYS IT WORKS SO WELL. I tried this on my tub, bathroom sink, and kitchen sink, and I was pretty stoked on it. The best part was that it left no water spots or residue of any kind. And I didn’t have to worry about it killing my cat! IT WAS LIKE MAGIC.
Step Six: Flip Your Mattress, Ya Filthy Animal!
You should really do this every six months, but once a year will suffice. Now that you’ve drank (not too much), dusted/vacuumed to some cool tunes, and scrubbed with magic cleaner, it’s time to lie down. BUT FIRST! SWITCH YOUR BED AROUND! Strip the sheets (this is probably a good reminder anyhow. When was the last time you changed your sheets? DON’T LIE), grab a friend (or prepare yourself for the hilarity of doing it on your own), and coordinate both a flip (so the underside is now facing up) and a 180-degree spin (so what was once the foot-end is now where your head goes). It’s like a whole new mattress! Get into how great it is! You’re done! You spring cleaned! It probably took you–what, an hour? Two? The timer made things better, right? And the tunes/drinking helped you forget how awful cleaning was? I thought so. Enjoy your new SO FRESH SO CLEAN apartment, and remember to reset it every few weeks. Now, wasn’t that fun?