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How to spring clean your home

As the days are getting longer and the mercury is rising, we look at the best way to tackle deep cleaning your home to get it sparkling.

So why spring clean? Well, there’s nothing to stop you cleaning at any time of the year, but there is a tradition of spring cleaning. Some say it comes from the Jewish tradition of cleansing the home before the spring-time feast of Passover. Others think it dates from the Iranian tradition of cleaning before the start of the Persian New Year – there are similar cleaning traditions in Chinese culture, too. It may be as simple as the fact that we have more energy as the days get longer, plus the dust is more obvious!

Where to start?

Make a plan of attack. Spring cleaning means going above and beyond the standard onceover you usually give your home. It’s all about getting into those hard to reach, forgotten corners, plus tackling the big jobs – oven cleaning, freezer defrosting and window cleaning – that can get left out of your normal routine.

Make a list of tasks for each room in your home, then divide it up. Maybe take a room at a time, or even just a few jobs in one room. You don’t have to do everything in a day, a weekend or even a week (let’s be fair, most of us don’t want to spend our entire week cleaning). That way, you don’t run out of energy or enthusiasm.

Get the right products in place

Make sure you’re fully kitted out before starting your deep clean. Tools of the trade matter – when was the last time you bought a new broom or a mop? It can take twice as long to sweep a room with a worn-out broom. You should use a broom with fine bristles for inside the house – wider bristles are better for outside.

There’s nothing more annoying than clearing a room ready to give it a good scrub, and finding out you’re out of cleaning products. At a minimum you’ll need:

  • an all-purpose cleaner
  • a window or glass cleaner for windows and mirrors
  • oven cleaner
  • specialist cleaners, such as those for wood, silver and brass.

Check the Which? guide to the best cleaning products for advice on which products to buy.

You can also use traditional household items including baking soda and white-wine vinegar instead of commercial cleaning products. Which? tested vinegar against some popular limescale removers and found that it does work, although it can leave your kitchen smelling like a chip shop. Baking soda is an excellent choice for oven cleaning, and Which? Trusted trader Mark Woollard specifically recommends it as part of his tips on cleaning your cooker’s extractor hood and filter.

Organised cleaning

There are some general cleaning tips that apply to all rooms in your home, despite their individual challenges.

Start at the top and work your way down. There’s no point having a spotless floor if you’re then going to cover it with dust from your shelves. Starting with the highest point means all dust and dirt will drift downwards, and you can finish by cleaning the floor.

Pick a spot and work your way around from there systematically – that way you won’t miss bits. Move dirt towards the centre, where it’s easiest to collect up and remove.

Start with dusting. Clear all ornaments, books and so on from your shelves, then clean the shelves by removing dust, then wiping with a damp cloth. If they’re really dirty you may want to use an all-purpose cleaner. Wipe down the ornaments etc before returning them to your shelves. Lamps, picture frames, mirrors and blinds will all need dusting too. Microfibre cloths work well on dust and are an eco-friendly option, as you need to use only the cloth and water.

Follow the dusting by using an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down walls, doors and skirting boards.

Take down any curtains and wash or dry-clean them. Then you can clean the windows themselves using glass cleaner, newspaper and white vinegar, or you could use a steam cleaner. Which? reviews can show you the best steam cleaners.

Kitchens

Kitchen sinks can contain more bacteria than your toilet. Give yours a good scrub with soap and water, then use a spray of vinegar to finish off the cleaning.

White goods in your kitchen all need a deep clean every now and again. Prevention is better than cure, so regularly scrubbing your hob or cleansing your oven helps prevent the build-up of grease and grime. You can try using baking soda to clean your hob, extractor hood and oven. For more tips check our guides to how to clean your hob, and how to clean your oven.

It’s a tough job so, if you’d prefer to give it a miss, you could always try using a Which? Trusted Traders accredited oven-cleaning specialist.

Don’t forget your fridge and freezer, which you should empty out and wipe down once a quarter. This is a great opportunity to check whether any foods have passed their sell-by date. You can use a solution of baking soda and water to clean the shelves.

Washing machines need cleaning out, too – do this by using a service wash. If there isn’t a service wash program on your machine, just set it to run empty on a short wash. The hot water will clear out any lingering detergent and grease that can build up in the drum. Check our  tips on making your washing machine last longer.

Clear out the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher. This can get clogged with bits of food. You can use a dishwasher cleaner that’s released during a cleaning cycle, or do the job yourself – vinegar and hot water can work here too.

Bathrooms

Hopefully your bathroom gets a pretty regular going over anyway, but a spring clean is a good opportunity to clean or replace any grout that has gone mouldy.

Rub a teaspoon of lemon oil on shower doors to prevent water stains. Alternatively you can use windscreen treatments designed to help rainwater roll off.

Wash your shower curtain together with your towels, and clear out your bathroom cupboard and replace any medications that are out of date.

Living rooms

Upholstery needs a thorough vacuuming, using the appropriate attachments. Take out all cushions and wash the covers if you can. If not, use a stain or odour remover, particularly if you have pets, to freshen up the fabric. Check out our stain remover reviews  for the latest Best Buys.

Be careful with stain removers on carpets – although most will be better than cleaning myths such as using white wine to remove a red wine stain. In Which? tests, washing-up liquid and water was effective on carpet stains - even better than some chemical stain removers. You can find out more in our guide to carpet cleaning without chemicals.

When vacuuming carpets, start in the furthest corner and work your way towards the door. Check the Which? carpet cleaner reviews to find out about the best models available. Steam cleaners are great on tile or vinyl flooring, but you shouldn’t use them on wood or laminate.

If you would rather get a professional in to tackle the bigger cleaning tasks, Which? Trusted Traders has specialist upholstery and carpet cleaners who can take this on for you.

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