12 Spring Cleaning Basics You Need to Know

woman wearing blue gloves cleaning countertop with product and cloth
Getty / Kathrin Ziegler

You're likely already giving the most highly-trafficked spots in your home a good clean every week, but there's something so satisfying about giving your entire space deep, thorough scrub a couple of times each year. Thinking about doing a little spring cleaning? Don't let the process overwhelm you. While a big organizational overhaul and clean might seem daunting, it's actually pretty manageable if you're armed with the right tools and tactics. That's where we come in.

First up? Deciding where to start. This is often the most difficult aspect of spring cleaning—every room feels equally important, which makes finding your entry point tough. We recommend starting with the space that feels the most manageable—perhaps your entryway closet or the kitchen pantry—and working outwards from there. Be sure to look in every nook, vacuuming, organizing, and taking the opportunity to donate any unused or outdated items. Spring cleaning makes for a great chance to clean out your closet, refrigerator, and even the garage. One easy way to keep the process moving? Create piles for items you'd like to keep, donate, and throw out. As you work through each space, keep the process moving by determining which items belong in each group.

We're also sharing basic areas to take extra care of during your deep clean, such as the often-overlooked refrigerator. Clearing-out your fridge, and even your freezer, is key to cooking with ease. Don't forget the pantry, too. Designating areas for your kids' favorite snacks, your spice rack, and coffee pods will make your mornings—and life—easier.

Finally, you can't forget to clean underfoot. Giving your hardwood floors a good spring clean is essential in maintaining their shine. Ahead, find more spring-cleaning basics to get your home looking and feeling fresh.

01 of 13

Clean Windows


Start the season with a clear outlook; give all of your windows a good clean, both from the inside and outside of your home. Dirty panes are no problem when you use rubber-edged squeegees, which are quicker and more effective than cloth or newspaper. They come in a variety of sizes—and a screw-on extension will let you reach high spots. To start, dip a sponge into a bucket of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Wet the window and rub the dirt away. Then, dampen the squeegee; starting at an upper corner, draw it down pane from top to bottom. Repeat, overlapping strokes and wiping the rubber edge with sponge after each stroke. (For large windows, ''snake'' squeegee back and forth; then touch up edges.) Finally, dry windowsills with a cloth.

02 of 13

Dust Lightbulbs


Unscrew lightbulbs and polish the bulbs with a microfiber cloth dampened with water (avoid wetting the metal screw base). Clean the bulbs in recessed ceiling fixtures with a telescoping lamb's wool duster. Then, relish in how much brighter your rooms feel.

03 of 13

Wash Your Blinds

Courtesy of Annie Schlechter

Once or twice a year, wipe wooden blinds with a few drops of gentle wood cleaner on a nearly dry sponge. Aluminum blinds can be washed outdoors: Place them on an old sheet on a slanted surface, and scrub with water and a noncorrosive cleaner. Use a hose to rinse well, and then dry the blinds thoroughly with a towel to prevent rust.

04 of 13

Stock Your Stain-Fighting Kit


Saving tablecloths and other household fabrics from spilled hot chocolate, wine, gravy, and candle wax, to name a few, is a matter of having the right product on hand. For a printable chart of common stains and what you need to remove them, see our Stain Chart. Replenishing your must-have products during your spring clean will ensure spills are no match for you all year long.

05 of 13

Update Bed Linens

Martha Stewart Collection (Bedding) at Macy's
Courtesy of Macy's

Replace your bedding for a quick makeover. A bright, red quilt looks great against white sheets and a neutral-toned wall.

Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Diamond Tufted Velvet Quilt, from $149.99, macys.com.

06 of 13

Switch It Up

Ceiling fan with round blades
Getty / lll0228

Change the direction of your ceiling fans. While the standard counterclockwise direction provides a pleasant breeze during warm months, you should run the fan clockwise in cold weather. This creates an upward draft, redistributing the warm air hovering near the ceiling throughout the room, thus heating your home more efficiently. Most fans have a switch on the base to adjust the rotation.

07 of 13

Protect Wooden Floors

wood floor nethermead style
Gieves Anderson

Guard against scratches on wooden floors. Make sure there are surface protectors on the undersides of furniture legs, and replace any that are dirty or worn. (A buildup of grit can mar the floor.) Use thick, padded self-adhesive discs; they come in different diameters and can be found at home stores.

08 of 13

Clean Out the Refrigerator


Spring cleaning means giving your entire home a wash—including your refrigerator. Start by removing all of the food items, and cleaning each shelf one by one. Then, toss any expired items, and replace and organize products you'd like to keep.

  • How to Seriously Deep Clean Your Refrigerator
09 of 13

Restock Homekeeping Supplies

ecofriendly cleaners for the home
Kate Mathis

You'll need all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, specific products for problem spots such as mildew in tile grout, as well as natural cleansers such as baking soda and vinegar. Stock up on sponges, rags, scrub brushes, and rubber gloves, too.

10 of 13

Deep-Clean Carpets and Rugs

Pottery Barn Teen "Jake" Washable Rug
Courtesy of Pottery Barn Teen

For synthetic carpeting, rent or buy a shampooer/extractor—a machine that cleans the fibers and removes traces of soap using hot water. Open windows and let air flow to help carpets dry. If you have wool carpets or rugs, or any that are valuable or delicate, contact a professional for cleaning.

11 of 13

Clean Your Curtains

Martha Stewart Milan Room Darkening Lined Rod Pocket Single Curtain Panel
Courtesy of Amazon

Vacuum and steam-clean curtains or have them dry-cleaned. If you'll be replacing heavy curtains with lighter ones as the weather gets warmer, it is especially important to remove dust and dirt before putting the curtains away for storage.

12 of 13

Replace Batteries

yellow batteries of different size
Erik Dreyer / Getty Images

You should replace the batteries in your smoke detectors every six months. Use the day you set your clocks back as a reminder, and you'll be unlikely to forget. Change the batteries again in spring, when you set your clocks ahead.

13 of 13

Don't Forget to Clean Your Machines

woman closing dishwasher in kitchen
Kate Sears

Cleaning powerhouses like your washing machine and dishwasher need some TLC, too. Be sure to add them to your spring cleaning checklist to ensure they stay in top shape throughout the year.

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