For The Big Spring Spruce-Up, we’re throwing our windows wide open and letting in all that fresh air. Follow along for handy tips and game-changing tricks—cleaning and organizing to-dos, home decorating projects, and more.
As we well know, the power of five minutes is real. You can chop a heck of a lot of garlic, you can make your own home scent—you can even make some tiny breads. Truly, you can get a surprising amount done in this very focused, short period of time. And these days, with time being the most precious commodity, I'm always looking for smart ways I could be using it more wisely.
A friend just told me about an interesting thing that she does. She activates a timer that caps her Instagram usage to just 15 minutes a day. A day! A recent feature can now tell you how much time, on average, you're spending on the entertaining, but highly addictive, app. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this function isn't enabled on my phone yet; but asking around, it seems anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes per day is the norm among my peers.
A 45- to 60-minute chunk of my day can go far. I can make a meal (or two), start a load of laundry, or give the bathroom a scrubdown. Admittedly, the thought of diving deep into a cleaning project after a long day of work is not only intimidating but physically daunting (at the end of most days, the only project I'm capable of is changing into loungewear and maybe getting a Korean sheet mask on my face). That's where the concept of micro goal-oriented cleaning tasks comes in.
Micro goals, as I'm calling 'em, are just that. Small but effective tasks whose end results are quite noticeable. This time of year, when we're still deep in the throes of winter, and spring seems close (but juuust out of reach), you can start chipping away at these more manageable cleaning projects. You'll feel like you're accomplishing something, and come real spring, you won't have to start from ground zero.
Below, your room-by-room checklist, for whenever you have just five minutes to spare:
If you're reading this, chances are you're the type to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. With so many appliances, gadgets, and parts, you can easily break down the cleaning and organizing into compartmentalized tasks:
- Organize your fridge: Time this right before your next grocery run to maximize efficiency.
- Clean out that junk drawer: Dun Dun DUNNN. I know. It's scary. But you can do it.
- Clean your cast iron pan: Repay your trusty pan for its service with a quick lil' scrub.
- Give your sink a spa day: Chances are, that lingering (not entirely pleasant) smell could be coming from your sink. Here's how to give it some love.
- De-gunk your microwave: Just three tools separate you from a sweet-smelling, splatter-free microwave.
- Load the dishwasher (and then unload it): Simple enough!
- Declutter one pantry shelf: The thought of tackling your entire pantry in one go can be a daunting one. Start small with just one shelf or area (lackluster spices of unknown origin, I'm coming for you).
- Wipe down the kitchen counter and/or backsplash: This can be an oddly therapeutic way to end the way.
- Clean cabinet/drawer/refrigerator/or appliance fronts: Grimy, grubby hands and fingerprints have a tendency to get on those shiny stainless fixtures and handles. Don't forget to degrease these often forgotten areas.
- Empty all garbage, recycling, and compost bins, and replace the linings: Don't let the smells linger; try to make this a daily habit if you can.
Listen, I'll readily admit to haphazardly "placing" my clothing atop dressers and chair backs. And I fully recognize this is not a good look for your bedroom. Take just a few minutes to tidy up your sanctuary; it'll make all the difference.
- Pick up any clothing: Get everything off of the floor, off of any surface, and into the laundry hamper.
- Separate your laundry: While you're in the neighborhood, take a sec to sort through the piles (you'll save time when laundry day does come around).
- Make the bed: Give everything a fluff, a taut pull, and if you're due, a sheet and pillow case change.
If any room requires attention first, the bathroom would be it. Devoting just a few moments here always makes a world of palpable difference (and it's the first place I clean when last-minute company's already on the way).
- Spray it down: So many surfaces, just waiting to reach their gleaming glory! Don't forget the faucet and toilet hardware, as well as the cabinet mirror.
- Clean the toilet: Scrub inside the toilet itself, of course, but also the seat (under/over) and the tank.
It's easy to make the room everyone wants to kick back in as welcoming as possible. Start by giving the entire space a quick sweep or vacuum, then tackle it section by section.
- Do a quick pick-up: Put away any wayward books, toys, and kids' stuff that have migrated out to the living room.
- Clean your gadgets: Your remote controls, phones, and gadgets can all use a little spraying and disinfecting.
- Say bye to dust: Grab a duster and go over everything that has a surface. That includes tops of fans and window sills. You can also remove sofa cushion covers or throw pillows, and take them outside for some airing and beating.
A clean and clear entryway promises more clean and clear spaces ahead. Wrangle those keys and random winter accessories to start.
- Tackle the paper: Do you have a growing pile of junk mail making itself at home near your door? Winnow down that pile of bills and miscellaneous paper down by tossing most of it, and filing the rest.
- Empty your purse/work bag: Over the week, my work bag seems to accumulate more random goods than I care to admit. Take a few minutes to declutter the inside of your cavernous bag, turn it inside-out, and give it a good shake.
It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.Grab your copy