Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning

7 Cleaning Habits to Get Into Now, Not Later

Avoid frequent deep cleans by doing these things daily.

April  1, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a monthlong series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than 5 minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: Clean less, go outside more.

Cleaning can sometimes (most times) feel like a never-ending battle, and no matter how well you scrub during your monthly deep clean, the grime still persists. Particularly with all the time spent at home this year, I’ve found myself resentful of the dust buildup in my bedroom, the sticky cooking residue in the kitchen, and the dishes that just seem to keep multiplying. And unfortunately, I’ve also found that the only way to prevent an out-of-control cleanup is to incorporate some cleaning habits into my everyday routine.

I know, I was in denial about a lot of these things for a long time (and some I’m still not totally habitual about), but the sooner you take a deep breath and accept it, the cleaner your home will be in the long run. Just like checking off a hyper-detailed to-do list helps you feel accomplished, doing certain tasks every day can also help take back (or establish) a sense of control.

Ready to work on incorporating some habits into your daily ritual? Right this way…

1. Doing Dishes? Wash the Sink, Too

This is a piece of advice I picked up from Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space. As part of her video on deep-cleaning the sink, she mentioned that sinks should be wiped down each time you use them, and that once you’re in that habit, you’ll start to notice friends’ sinks and how they’ve let gunk build up. Well, that certainly struck fear into my heart, and was enough for me to never let the sink go unwiped again. You’ll be shocked how much better you feel about the kitchen when the sink is maintained, I promise.

2. Clean Out the Shower Drain Every Time You Shower

The shower drain is a vile place, made even more revolting by hair building up to the point of a clog. If you’ve ever stuck a drain snake down your tub’s innards, you know just how scarring the experience can be. Don’t be like me, hunched over the tub, flinging black, hairy goop around in an effort to mitigate a monster clog—wipe up hair each time you shower. I’ve also found that a very simple drain protector has worked wonders in preventing the hair from slithering down the drain in the first place.

3. Wipe Down Your Cooktop Every Night

I am baffled each time I watch someone do the after-dinner dishes and not wipe down their cooktop. To me, it’s been ingrained as an integral part of a kitchen cleanup (can you guess who tried to skimp on their chores as a child?), and truly, we’re all better for it. Letting food crust up on the burners and stove past the first day is a recipe for not only for a grimy-looking kitchen, but a potential fire hazard.

4. Wipe Down Plant Leaves When You Water Them

So, depending on your plant species and watering schedule, this might not need to be done every day, but I’ve found it’s a great habit to get into. Plants are magnets for stray household dust, and the buildup isn’t great for your plant’s health or your clean aesthetic. A damp cloth does the trick, though, no problem.

5. Oil Your Utensils Each Time You Wash Them

I am, right now, staring at a crock full of dried-up wooden utensils, and therefore am admitting this is a “do as I say” moment. But seriously, your utensils need just as much love as your cutting board or cast iron. Instead of leaving them out on the dish rack to shrivel and crack, take an extra two minutes (seriously, it’s that fast) to give them a nice swipe of mineral oil.

6. Squeegee the Shower Each Time You Bathe

I once stayed in an Airbnb that requested we squeegee the shower each time we used it, and my immediate reaction was “uh, that’s pretty nitpicky.” But when it comes to shower doors and walls, the same water that’s getting you clean is also a breeding ground for mold and nasty bacteria. By removing as much water as possible from the walls of the shower each time you use it, you’re eliminating the ability for the nasty stuff to colonize in the first place, making a serious shower clean much less serious.

7. Spritz Your Bed Every Time You Make It

You already know the benefits of making your bed every day, right? Suffice it to say that getting back into a made bed is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and if you aren’t in the daily bed-making crowd, you should give it a go. Beyond just making the bed, though, I’ve taken to giving my pillows and sheets a spritz with naturally-scented spray each time I make it, and each time I get into bed. Sometimes my clean sheets have been sitting in a drawer for too long before use, and sometimes I forget and let them hit the two-week mark (experts say they should be laundered weekly), but I keep them smelling straight-from-the-laundromat-fresh this way.

Do you do all of these tasks every day? Are there any others we missed? Tell us below!

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  • Johnstob
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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Johnstob January 11, 2022
Keep Clorox wipes in/near the bathroom. Ask your boys to wipe down the toilet rim daily. (Changes behavior too!)
Dagmar N. January 11, 2022
At home, ask them to sit down on the toilet even for the small stuff. Whatever hits the rim of the toilet will disperse to other areas in your bathroom and you really don't want to wipe the floor and cabinets after each toilet visit, nor do you want to step into that stuff.
Tom S. January 11, 2022
Caroline: You are a brave person to honestly offer suggestions on a relatively sensitive topic on a relatively public forum. Regards, Tom
Caroline M. January 11, 2022
Lol, thank you Tom! Who knew how personal things could get when I admitted I don't always change my sheets weekly. Oh well!
Pfreemanlynde April 27, 2021
I"m sure it's obvious, but I am constantly waging a battle against not putting things away. Anytime you get something out and use it, put it back! I'm talking to other people in my house here. When I go upstairs, I take my clean laundry. It doesn't need to sit around waiting for...I don't know what! When you fix something (thanks!), put the hammer or screwdriver back, so you can find it next time!
Fig April 25, 2021
Boy, snotty is right, commenters. Have any of you given thought to all the water and energy you're using laundering your sheets? We all have to stop being so intolerant of anything less than perfection (and I detect more than a hint of unconscious shame in all the clucking about cleanliness) and realize we're making the planet and ourselves sicker by trying to be perfectly "clean."
CJ April 25, 2021
Fold your bedding down, open the window and let the fresh air revive your bed. I do this at least once a week in between stripping off and washing sheets. No chemicals.
janet V. April 22, 2021
Keep the shelves of your refrigerator sparkling clear and clean by wiping the bottom of containers when you bring them home from the store. Dairy products especially have residue from spillage that will leave cloudy smears and milky specks on your glass shelves. Doing this will keep your glass shelves clean between wipe-ups.
LionToes April 18, 2021
Thank you Caroline for legitimizing daily clean-as-you-live habits! About to share with my man (and also my son) —coming from me they’re daily nags! ;)

On the daily spritzing of sheets...I never did until I found Fabric Fresh from The Laundress. It’s plant-based and not meant to sub washing, just extend that freshly-laundered feeling longer. I copied and pasted from their site. Maybe I could make my own by mixing lavender essential oil and water in a super fine mister, but this ready-made is one of life’s little luxuries that I choose to indulge.

“Our start-to-finish laundering collection is scented in Classic, the ultimate “clean laundry smell,” blending lily of the valley and jasmine with sweet musk, sandalwood, and a touch of citrus.
Ingredients: Deionized water, alcohol, essential oils, and fragrance.

Color and texture may vary with natural ingredients.

Free of petroleum, phosphate, phthalates, and artificial color.

Cruelty-free. No animal by-products.

All The Laundress products are tested on Gwen & Lindsey.

Made in the U.S.A

Caroline M. January 11, 2022
Yes, this is actually the spray I use! I'm a sucker for all things The Laundress.
Dagmar N. January 11, 2022
As natural as it sounds, you are still breathing in stuff that does not belong in your lungs, essential oils and all. Same with scented candles. I am using perfume, but this is an occasional treat, not a daily habit. To stay safe, treat scents like sugar.

Also, as long as you are not sick, your bed sheets' smell is created by your own bacteria that already live on your body. Unless you have a compromised immune system, daily bedsheet laundry is not required either. Just my two scents.
Ruth April 18, 2021
One comment on wooden utensils: Drying them right after you wash them will keep them from drying out. I can think of many things that don't mind being air-dried, but wooden utensils will thrive if you dry them and put them away as soon as they're washed.
LionToes April 18, 2021
Yes! I don’t know why I never knew this before. I read it in the maintenance instructions that came with (yet another!) new set of wood utensils, this time olive wood. Drying them immediately after washing was a game-changer!
marie April 6, 2021
I own only one set of sheets for our bed. I wash them once a week and put them right back on the bed. No folding, no storing. No getting stale in a closet or drawer.
Stovetop W. April 5, 2021
Can you recommend an alternative to mineral oil. I'm not a fan of using petroleum byproducts.
Caroline M. April 5, 2021
Caron & Doucet makes a coconut cutting board oil that's 100% plant-based! I haven't tried it, but it gets great reviews.
Marla K. April 5, 2021
'Tis a far, far better thing...

To change your sheets every week (rather than twice a month--ewww) than spray them with chemicals to disguise the funk. I don't mind a bit of aromatherapy every now and then, but not as a substitute for doing regular laundry.

Caroline M. April 5, 2021
Not by any means a substitute for laundry, just a little luxury to treat yourself to when making the bed each day.
miriam S. April 6, 2021
I totally agree.
Somewhat shocked by this article. Filled with gunk and grime. How about liking your home to be clean. Change your sheets every week. Spraying cologne over soiled sheets - ugh.
Wash your dishes and wash thoroughly. You don’t need to “manage dishwashing.” This is really unreal as needing to be taught.
LionToes April 18, 2021
I agree it shouldn’t have to be taught if you love a clean home, but also think it’s a must-read for any millennial. Not everyone naturally gets the concept :)
Sarah April 5, 2021
I think it’s fine to use an all natural linen spray and I try to change my sheets every week. I take them out of the linen closet and give them a spritz. I just use water and a couple drops of essential oil. I don’t see how that’s bad.
Caroline M. April 5, 2021
Same here, Sarah!
Cindy April 4, 2021
#5 Oil Your Utensils - I, too, have a crock on the counter full of dried/drying out wooden/bamboo spoons and spatulas. But rubbing them with mineral oil and leaving them in said crock will have them covered with floating cat hair, dust, etc, won't it? It sounds a little gross.
Caroline M. April 5, 2021
Ah, I've thought of this as well, but if your utensils are as dry as you say, they'll likely suck up all that oil with nothing to spare.
Cindy April 6, 2021
I'm going to give it a shot on a couple of the worst cases and see what happens - if it works I'll give the whole lot of them mineral oil massages!
Jeanne S. April 2, 2021
Why on earth would I spray my pillowcases and sheets with some scented spray. Added chemicals are not what I want in my life. All scents and fragrances have chemicals in them that, when inhaled, is a problem.
Caroline M. April 2, 2021
Oh, Jeanne, have I got great news for you: we're publishing an article tomorrow on the easiest, naturally-scented spray. It'll be linked in this article once it goes live.
Leigh April 4, 2021
That's still a high concentration of added chemicals you're exposing your skin and lungs to for eight hours at a time? Everything is made of chemicals, even natural things. And it's generally a good idea to give your body a break same as you shouldn't sleep in makeup. Maybe buy a second set of sheets for when you're feeling too tired to do a whole laundry cycle? Changing sheets doesn't take that much effort.
Ruth April 5, 2021
I have to agree with this one. Sheets should be changed weekly, and the last thing the bedroom needs is artificial scent, even the kind that claims to be all-natural.
gingerarie7 April 10, 2021
Many people are becoming much more conscious about artificial scents due to the pretty sketchy chemicals hidden in products so caution is definitely valid. I just think people should give this gal a break, I am sure we all need a little grace from day to day. I strive to be able to get all the cleaning done, but her tips are great suggestions, I think griping at someone for not changing their sheets weekly is a little snotty which is far more unbecoming than unwashed sheets.
Dani April 18, 2021
Not a word from me on the author's laundry schedule. That's her business, but fragrances of any kind in my bed - natural or otherwise - would get a big NO from me (and my DH). To each her own.