A Reality Check on Spring Cleaning by Clean My Space
~:: by Melissa Maker of Clean My Space ::~
Kathy Radigan and I were chatting about spring cleaning and how daunting it really is. She mentioned her kitchen which needed some love, and specified it was her kitchen cabinets that were the big challenge. She also told me that figuring out a schedule to attempt spring cleaning tasks was a chore itself, given that she is a busy mom, wife and entrepreneur. Yes, that’s pretty typical these days; limited time, tons of commitments and jobs that need doing. How do we do it?!
Spring cleaning is a big commitment, and an important one. It allows us to maintain our homes and keep our investment in great shape. We all have varying amounts of free time and I rarely encounter someone that has a full day to contribute to spring cleaning.
My suggestions for a realistic spring cleaning plan are:
Create a list of spring cleaning tasks that matter to you (i.e. leave out the ‘nice to do’ tasks and start with the ‘need to do’ tasks)
Commit to one item a week over a period of 8 weeks
Consider the economics and see if parts of spring cleaning are worth outsourcing
Perhaps pair up with a friend and spend time helping each other with some of the tougher tasks.
Now, scheduling aside, there is another timing issue that is important. Efficiency and making the most of each moment spent cleaning is going to be key in maximizing your output during one of your cleaning sessions. Quite simply, like anything else, if you know what you are doing and plan ahead, you can save a ton of time. I literally cut my time in half once I figured out how to maximize my time cleaning.
Some of my favorite maximizing techniques include:
Prepare all products and tools ahead of time (saving you from running around looking for one),
having a cleaning plan of action (what product, tool and technique will you use),
soaking certain areas to reduce your scrub time (product works for you), and
doubling up on tasks (sandwiching an easier job between a tougher job that requires soaking and scrubbing).
Strategy for Cleaning Kathy’s Wood Cupboards
Considering the finish, what product, tool and technique (‘PTT’) makes most sense for heavy-duty spring cleaning on these cupboards? What precautions need to be considered prior to cleaning (i.e. will it scratch, warp, stain etch, etc.)? Once we think about this, we know that using a PTT that scratches or removes varnish is not a good choice.
Product: In this case, I would recommend a mild degreaser (you can create your own solution of 1 part vinegar: 1 part dish soap), a vegetable-based enzyme cleaner which will gnaw away at dirt, grime and grease but leave surfaces unscathed, or water (more about this soon).
Tools: Since we want to avoid scratching the cabinets, we are going to look for soft everything. For starters, soft cotton cloths for rinsing and buffing. Pick up non-scratching sponges to work the product in and scrub, and soft bristle brushes if the grease has made its way into tighter areas, like the crevices and woodwork. You may also want to use a step stool depending on how high the cupboards are. If you have a steam cleaner, this is a great finish to use it on (hence the water mention as a cleaning product).
Technique: Look at your cabinets like a clock, choosing a start point (12 O’Clock). For this job, we have a 3 part technique, so we are going to circle around the clock 3 times to ensure each cabinet gets soaked, scrubbed and buffed without missing a beat.
Part 1 – Start at 12 O’Clock by spraying the cupboard doors with product and being generous. Work your way around to the end of the circuit until all doors have been sprayed. Allow this to sit (marinate, as I sometimes refer to it as), for about 5 minutes or longer if the cupboards are greasy.
Part 2 – The second round involves using your tool of choice and wiping each door down in an ‘S’ pattern, scrubbing gently where required, working your way from the top of the cabinet door to the bottom.
Part 3 – The third round involves taking a clean, dry cloth in one hand and a clean wet cloth in the other, and wipe off the residue and buff the door dry. Water sitting on wood can lead to cracking and warping, so drying is important.
All done! A couple things to consider though: for added sheen, apply a non-silicone polish afterward. This is also a good time to see if your varnish is in good shape or if it is wearing down, in which case you would want to investigate getting the cupboards re-varnished.
While we never quite get all our spring cleaning tasks completed, we can at least make a good-sized dent in them, creating a cleaner and better maintained home. Having a realistic task list and plan of action will help you accomplish these tasks in less time and with greater efficacy; I promise you will amaze yourself! Happy Spring Cleaning (and good luck, Kathy)!
ABOUT MELISSA: In 2006, Melissa Maker founded Clean My Space, an upscale cleaning service based in Toronto, Canada. With no prior cleaning knowledge, she needed to become an expert and learned everything cleaning-related from the ground up. Over the past 6 years, Melissa has divided her time between researching products, testing and improving techniques, producing Youtube videos, training staff, and running her company. Television producers and magazine editors have sourced Melissa to share her tips and tricks and she has been featured in Real Simple Magazine, Chatelaine and on CityLine, Breakfast Television and The Steven and Chris show to name a few. Melissa is the editor of Cleanmyspace.com, the internet’s fastest growing cleaning community and the presenter of over 100 cleaning-related videos on Youtube.
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