The Big Spring Spruce-Up

20 Small-but-Mighty Spring Cleaning Projects You Can Tackle in 5 Minutes

You can get a LOT done in that short period of time.

February 27, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

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.

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Top Comment:
“I’m continually puzzled by posters who click on something, are unhappy with it, then spew nastiness in the comments. Have you never been taught that you made the choice, ergo if you dislike it, click it off. Also, your language is unnecessary to the rest of us. Be more polite. ”
— Granna

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.

Living Room

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.

What do you clean first when you have just a few spare minutes? Let us know below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Hana Asbrink

Written by: Hana Asbrink

Hana is the senior lifestyle editor at Food52.


Cea March 14, 2019
Your suggestions encourage me to actually do, rather than just read. More than anything though I thank you for introducing me to Daft Punk (in your fridge cleaning article.) .
Mary T. March 4, 2019
Clutter is the nasty word. Junk mail goes straight into the recycling bin. Never hits the counter. The sink area is my obsession; dirty dishes right into the dishwasher, sponge the counter to keep it clean and neat, and reconsider every package I buy. We have bought a lot less pizza since the kids left and the cat’s food is in envelopes, no more cans to clean etc. Maybe take a look at what makes you distressed and figure out a way to keep it under control😀.
Lori March 3, 2019
IMHO- Why don’t we just “pretend” to remove the word Spring And change it to “Weekly” and go for the tie.
Put down your phones and maybe you’ll gain even more than five minutes!
Granna March 1, 2019
I’m continually puzzled by posters who click on something, are unhappy with it, then spew nastiness in the comments. Have you never been taught that you made the choice, ergo if you dislike it, click it off. Also, your language is unnecessary to the rest of us. Be more polite.
Isabella March 1, 2019
Hmmm...I guess the same could be said about your comment. No? The author of this article was paid as a staffer or contributor for a professionally researched and prepared article. In some individuals’ opinion, the content of this article was not a match for the content. I am a consumer who chose this product based on the title about “spring cleaning”. As a consumer, I chose to use the forum to express dissatisfaction with the product. It was a waste of my time. Presumably, it made it through the writer’s scrutiny and a copy editor as well. This would be amusing if it wasn’t such a sign of sloppy work. I am certain there are talented writers and editors out there who could do a much better job. However, maybe with feedback, this author and copy editor will be more thoughtful next time.
Jonny March 2, 2019
Politeness is a thing of the past. I'm all for opposing thoughts and some of these are on point. This really isn't spring cleaning, but meh.
Jonny March 2, 2019
"the content of this article was not a match for the content."
Ranita R. March 1, 2019
Ewww what kind of slob life considers these tasks spring cleaning??!! You should be doing most of these things every DAY!
Jonny March 2, 2019
Some of us are not slobs where all of this is required every day and others work 40+ hours a week and don't or can't clean every day. I wipe most things down and put things away as I go but there really is no need to do most of this every day.
Isabella February 27, 2019
What an inaccurate title for this article! Yes - these tasks can be accomplished in five minutes or under each. But spring cleaning? If you only do these tasks when spring cleaning, then take my advice and burn it down because five minutes with a blow torch is about the only thing that will get it clean. Isn’t spring cleaning all about the deep dive??! Drapes, upholstery, baseboards, closets, windows, and cabinets? You wasted my time by reciting my weekly cleaning list.
Diana P. March 1, 2019
Yes, Isabella!!!