The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist (Broken Down into an Easy, 5-Day Plan)
No matter how motivated you are, just the thought of scrubbing your house from top to bottom can be enough to make you say, “Uh, how about we start next weekend?” It seems like such a massive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be, and we’ll prove it with the ultimate spring cleaning checklist. It’s designed to help you conquer the mess—cleaning, disinfecting and decluttering—without letting it take over your life. In two hours or less a day, over the course of five days, you’ll transform your space. Here’s our step-by-step action plan.
First, Psych Yourself Up to Get Started
- Cue up a cleaning playlist. Research has shown certain types of music can help you reach an alpha state, becoming more productive. But before you lose hours curating the perfect playlist, keep things simple: Set Pandora to your favorite artist, or pull up a YouTube playlist of classical music, nature sounds or even the score to Inception.
- Set a timer for five minutes. If you struggle to get going, borrow this trick from pro organizer Nonnahs Driskill: Commit to decluttering one room for five minutes. When the buzzer goes off, you can stop—but most people don’t. It can be just the motivation you need to fly through the rest of the day’s tasks.
- Reward yourself afterward. Maybe it’s dedicating an hour and 14 minutes to watching Framing Britney Spears, soothing your muscles with yoga you can do from your bed, or simply digging into a massive ice cream sundae. Treat yourself to whatever keeps you looking forward to the finish line.
Now, Tackle Our Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist
We’ve found it’s most helpful to target one area each day (just so you don’t get burned out and quit halfway through the project), but if you’re on a roll, you could easily conquer this whole list in a single weekend. Most of the checklist is pretty self-explanatory, but we’ve included tips, tricks and hacks to make certain tasks a little simpler. (Oh, and FYI, pin the infographic below, so you can easily refer to this checklist next year…or whenever you need it.)
Day 1: Entryway & Living Room
Grab a hamper or wastebasket, collect everything that doesn’t belong in these areas, and put them in your hamper. Then, place them in their appropriate rooms. If you have a coat closet, commit to a quick edit: What have you not worn in the past two years? What do you avoid wearing at all costs? What pieces have the kids have outgrown? Now’s a good time to start a donate bin that you can contribute to throughout the five-day deep clean.
- Clean baseboards
This is one of the most overlooked spots in the house, according to Merry Maids. If yours just have a light layer of dust, simply wipe them down with a microfiber cloth or dryer sheet. For more soiled surfaces, a full dish-soap-and-water scrubdown may be in order.
- Sweep & mop the floors
- Wipe down windows
- Vacuum upholstery
- Dust lampshades & fan blades
Pro tip: Slide an old pillowcase over the fan blades, gently wiping it as you remove the case. It’s a mess-free way to get rid of dust bunnies. (Check out this video for a full tutorial.)
- Wash throw pillows & blankets
Hand-wash or machine-wash them, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Day 2: Kitchen
- Clear out pantry
Donate non-perishables you aren’t eating (be honest: Are you really going to go through 14 cans of kidney beans before they expire in two months?), and toss things that are already past their best-if-used-by date.
- Donate dishware you don't use
Yes, including the excess plastic takeout containers that are collecting dust.
- Wipe down cabinets
- Clean dishwasher, oven & microwave
With these tricks, your dishwasher and microwave will practically clean themselves. Your oven requires a little more elbow grease, but it’s well worth the effort.
- Vacuum under/behind fridge
While you’re at it, run a disinfecting wipe over the door handles and wipe down the front of the fridge too. (It’s one of the most commonly overlooked spots to clean in the kitchen.)
Day 3: Bathrooms
- Toss expired makeup & hair products
Psst: That mascara’s only good for three months. And that liquid foundation? One year. Here’s a product-by-product guide of when you should replace your makeup.
- Wipe down counters and faucets
- Clean and disinfect bathtub & shower curtains
Once you’ve disinfected the space, it’s worth using a little baking soda and vinegar to degunk the calcium buildup on your showerhead.
- Wash bath mats
- Don’t forget to scrub the floors while you’re at it.
Day 4: Dining Room
- Declutter & clean table
If it’s the landing zone for piles and piles of papers, it may be time to invest in a hanging mail sorter (and commit to opening and sorting your mail daily, so it doesn’t turn into a desk-covering avalanche again).
- Wipe down baseboards
- Dust blinds/window treatments
Day 5: Bedrooms
We saved the biggest project for last. Depending on how overdue you are for an overhaul, you may want to split this up into two days, with everyone tackling their closets first and the rest of their rooms later.
- Audit your closet
Apply Marie Kondo’s four questions (including “does it spark joy?”) to everything inside.
- Clear your "chairdrobe"
Everyone has one, Driskill says: That lone chair in the room that either acts as a hamper for your overflow of dirty laundry, “open shelves” for your mountain of folded-but-not-yet-put-away clothes, or some combo of the two. Clear it out.
- Declutter your shelves
Aim for keeping them 20 percent empty. That “breathing room” makes your space feel less cluttered and chaotic.
- Dust from baseboards to fan blades
- Wash bedding
- Vacuum floors
- Flip/rotate mattress
Twice a year, treat yourself to a mattress deep-clean. You can hire a professional service, like Stanley Steamer, or do it yourself, following these steps.