Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

Home Improvement

Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

Welcome, May — it's officially time for spring cleaning! This is that time of year when the Chicago-area weather finally allows for deep cleaning your home both indoors and out. One of the main reasons to perform intensive spring cleaning, especially if you're getting ready to sell your home, is to perform maintenance and upkeep checks — making sure that everything is in working order and not in need of repair.

If these tasks seem too large, why not break them up into several weekends so you don't become overwhelmed? Be sure to get the whole family involved — many hands make light work. Turn it into a yearly tradition, a signal that summer fun is almost here.

To get started, take an inventory of your cleaning supplies and products, including garbage bags, vacuum bags, paper towels, rags, rubber gloves, etc. Take them with you in a bucket or other container so you won't have to go searching for what you need. Have plenty of cold water and high-energy snacks on hand (nuts, dried fruit, cheese, vegetables) to fuel your endeavor.

We'll start on the outside and work our way in:

Home Exteriors

Tackle the garage. Appraise your tool collection — get rid of tools you don't use or that are rusted or beyond repair. Make a pile of things to sell in a garage sale (more on that later) and things to haul to the dump. Install pegboard with hooks on the walls to hang tools and implements. Make a special place for outdoor toys, bikes, scooters, skates, etc. Finish by sweeping and spraying the floor.

Inspect the roof for loose shingles, soft spots and debris. Get the hose up there and spray it off. Remove debris from gutters. Ensure that gutters aren't loose or in disrepair.

Examine exterior paint, brick or siding. Touch it up if needed. Check window screens for needed repairs or replacement, then power wash the outside of the house, including windows.

Clean up woodpiles and other debris which serve as homes for pests.

Check your lawn sprinkler system for any maintenance issues.

Drain all sediment from your hot water heater.

Perform maintenance on home cooling systems and air conditioning before the upcoming warmer weather warrants their use.

Home Interiors

Go through each bedroom closet. Box up any clothing that has not been worn for more than two years and donate it to a local charity. Perform repairs (sewing buttons, fixing hems, stain removal) before storing winter clothes.

Dry clean winter coats and donate those that haven't been worn.

Dust out each closet thoroughly including walls, shelves, ceilings, floors.

Sweep away all cobwebs and dust near the ceilings.

Launder all blankets, comforters and bedspreads. Turn mattresses.

Bathrooms

Clean out and reorganize the linen closet. Repair fraying towels and washcloths, or throw them out and replace.

Remove hair stuck to walls and ceiling by hair dryers and hair spray.

Deep clean shower, toilet, floor and sink.

Inventory the medicine cabinet and toss expired medicines.

Kitchens

Defrost freezer (if needed) and wash out refrigerator. Toss out expired foods.

Remove screen on stove fan and wash. Clean oven and soak stove rings and drip pans.

Go through your kitchen appliances, clean thoroughly and get rid of ones you no longer use regularly.

Living Areas

Wash down the walls throughout the house using 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 gallon of warm water.

Vacuum-dust all baseboards and wash them down using the above solution.

Wash all interior windows. Vacuum out the tracks. Vacuum/wash/dry clean all window coverings.

Dust and wash light fixtures and chandeliers. Vacuum lampshades. Replace light bulbs.

Clean all knickknacks. Vacuum books and bookshelves.

Dust and wash down all interior doors.

Remove heat registers, dust and wash thoroughly.

Move furniture to the center of each room and vacuum thoroughly. Shampoo carpets.

Inventory the contents of each room. Force yourself to get rid of the things you don't need.

Extra Credit

Have a garage sale.

Put the proceeds toward a family vacation or fun local activity to celebrate the start of summer.