Wondering when spring cleaning officially starts?

The first day of spring is March 20, but as warmer weather approaches you might be tempted to break out your cleaning supplies and start scrubbing. Go ahead and get a head start, as there really is no rule as to when to start spring cleaning.

And for you procrastinators out there, if you want to wait until April or May to commence your springtime house cleaning, we won’t judge.

Whenever you start your spring cleaning is up to you. And whether you are raring to get started or waiting until it gets a little warmer still, we’ve pulled together a smart list to help you make the most of your busy schedule.

We turned to the pros to find out what tasks you absolutely have to do during your spring cleaning routine—and which ones you can probably skip (though you might want to book it in for another time).

Spring Cleaning Must Dos

Early on, Americans naturally chose spring as the time of year to do a top to bottom cleaning because they just spent the last several months cooped up inside. Before modern plumbing and heating, they kept the fire place going all winter. That caused soot and ash to cover everything, like the floors, the windows and the rugs. Once it was warm enough, homemakers endeavored to clean everything inside and out.

Modern Americans don’t live under the same conditions as our ancestors, so its easier to keep up with your home all year round. Still, every Spring we get the impulse to wipe down and declutter everything.

We recommend focusing your energies on these tasks:

1. Tackle the Entryway.

Chances are good it’s overrun with mittens missing their mates, hats and boots. Put all the winter wear in its place, then turn your attention to the floors, recommends Cristina Miguelez, remodeling specialist at Fixr.com.

“If you live in an area where it snows, you’re liable to have tracked in salt, which can damage hardwood or stone floors and leave behind a white residue on tile; and sand, which can scratch floors and build up in corners.”

A deep clean will help eliminate these damaging substances and create a great first impression of your home when people walk through the door.

2. Vacuum Furniture.

Be honest…you’ve been hibernating on the couch, eating popcorn for much of the winter. That’s why now’s the time to freshen up for spring. Remove the cushions and vacuum up all the dust bunnies lurking underneath. Spot clean fabric cushions and give leather furniture a good cleaning, as well, says Marty Basher, home organization expert with Modular Closets.

(Bonus: you might find money under the cushions, mingling among all those popcorn kernels.) Don’t forget to wash those cozy blankets you’ve been huddled under.

3. Clean Behind Furniture and Appliances.

This is another area where you probably do a “good enough” job all year round, but spring cleaning is the perfect time to really pull back all the furniture and vacuum under and behind it, says Basher.

Same goes for appliances like your stove and refrigerator. Pull them out from the wall and get behind there with a vacuum nozzle. Scrub the in-between area where your appliances contact your kitchen counter with an old toothbrush to remove any stuck on food. You can use an all-purpose cleaner if you want, but a little warm water and white vinegar will do the job just the same.

4. Wash Your Bedding.

Strip the bed, flip the mattress, then wash it all, recommends Greg Shepard of Dallas Maids.

Hopefully you wash your sheets regularly, but this is the time to take care of the mattress cover, duvet and pillows—even the decorative throw pillows, which can collect dust and mites. As a bonus, washing all these pieces will help keep allergies at bay since dander can get caught in linens. Same goes for your window coverings…if they are not washable, at least vacuum them, recommends Basher.

5. Clean Bathroom Baseboards.

While you probably regularly scrub your shower and counters (and toilet, we hope!), Marieta Ivanova, home improvement expert for Fantastic Services, says the baseboards tend to get super-dirty due to the moisture in the bathroom, combined with toilet paper lint and hand-towel drippings.

Hit them up with a crevice tool to get any grody junk stuck between your baseboard in the wall out of there.

6. De-germ Everything.

While it may not be obvious, everything you’ve been touching for months is pretty dirty, says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority.

“After months of playing with the remote while eating buttery popcorn or seeing sick family members touch every door knob in sight, it’s time to disinfect,” Stapf says.

She recommends a disinfectant wipe for door knobs, light switches, electronics and even your cell phone to help protect against any illnesses.

Another hot spot is the trashcan.

“As one of the most used-kitchen items, trashcans can house a lot of germs and odors,” Stapf points out.

While the bag is out, take a solution of half vinegar/half hot water and wipe the can down inside and out. If you have a stainless steel trashcan, remove the interior liner and clean that with the same solution. This will eliminate germs as well as any lingering odors. Now that it is warmer outside, you can put your cans out in the sun to dry.

7. Change your Water Filter.

Whether you have a filter on your tap or in your fridge—or even use a filtered water pitcher—it’s time to change it to keep your water free from elements and fresh tasting.

“Most filters need to be changed at least every six months, so this is a good time to make sure you are up-to-date,” says Stapf.

8. Dust Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans.

Any lighting at eye level typically gets a good dusting a few times a year, but ceiling lighting is often neglected, Basher points out.

“Spring is the perfect time to knock down the cobwebs, remove the bugs, clear the dust and de-scum,” Basher says.

He recommends turning the lights off to remove the fixtures, then gently bathing them in soapy water. For recessed lights, get rid of the dust and cobwebs with a damp towel, and use a duster wand or microfiber cloths for ceilings fans.

Spring Cleaning Tasks to Leave for Later

Spring cleaning can seem like it is never-ending. To avoid this, it is important that you set out the specific tasks you need to get done and save some for later. Some “traditional” spring cleaning tasks are better suited for other times of the year, and others should be spread out in regular intervals throughout the year.

1. Decluttering

Is Marie Kondo making you crazy? We get it, she seems to be everywhere. And if adding a decluttering project to an already-lengthy spring cleaning list is sparking anything but joy, we’re with you. While decluttering is important—seriously your stress level will fall when you open an organized closet—it probably doesn’t have to take place during your spring cleaning ritual.

“Save this for a calm weekend; this mess can wait,” Stapf says.

2. Fridge/Freezer Deep Clean

“This can be a time-consuming task best left to a separate dedicated day,” Basher says.

Plus most of us tend to at least lightly clean out the fridge and freezer when we put groceries away, so they may not be in dire need.

3. Exterior Areas

Don’t worry about the porches or yard, says Shepard.

“Spring cleaning is all about creating a clean, healthy indoor living environment after a stuffy winter; you’ll have time to do your outdoors areas, like your deck, patio and driveway later, and probably in better weather.”

4. Clean Windows

Windows are an exterior item, too, but we wanted to deal with them separately as this is one of those tasks that many people feel are a spring cleaning must do. But take it from us, you are better off waiting a few weeks before you go crazy scrubbing your window screens.

“It’s best to wait until the summer when you can take advantage of all the sunshine to really point out the streaks and smudges,” Shepard says.  It’s especially best waiting if you live in a rainy region, where spring showers continue to dirty the glass.

5. Non-Living Areas

Don’t waste the little time you have on cleaning out an area that you rarely use and aren’t looking at all the time, like the garage, attic or basement. Again, not the point of spring cleaning, says Jack Prenter, owner of Chore Bliss.

“Prioritizing high-traffic areas like bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen and living spaces will have a greater impact on the ‘feel’ of your home,” he says.

Can’t Decide? This Tip Will Help

Finally, it’s important to point out that everything on this list is extremely subjective and even personal. A must-do for you might be a total skip for someone else.

One rule of thumb that can help you figure out which spring cleaning tasks belong on your list comes from Ivanova.

Assign each task to one of these categories: “What I clean regularly,” “What I clean occasionally” and “What I rarely clean.”

Focusing on the last and middle categories will illuminate where you should invest your efforts during the spring-cleaning exercise. Parts of the house that are maintained on a regular basis—such as the kitchen sink and bathroom shower—shouldn’t need too much attention, she says.

“But areas that you regularly ignore could use some TLC, particularly considering they probably won’t get touched again until the next deep cleaning.”

And focus on high-traffic areas like the living room or dining room, to avoid getting mired in an endless task.

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Cathie Ericson