If you want to spring clean but don’t have hours to dedicate to the task (really, who does?), there’s good news: a bit of dedication can go a long way.
Follow along to tackle these 24 sprucing up jobs that take 15 minutes or less. Tackle several of these and you’ll notice the difference in your home throughout the coming year.
1. Declutter a Small Spot.
Set the timer for 15 minutes and go through items in one area, such as a kitchen drawer or a shelf in the laundry room.
“If you don’t love it, need it or use it, let it go,” says Bridget James, a senior professional organizer at The Organizing Professionals in Philadelphia. “The less you have in your home, the more peaceful and organized it will be.”
2. Look For Items to Donate.
Grab a bag and head to the garage or a closet. Spend a quarter of an hour filling the sack with items you haven’t used in the last couple of years. Then put the bag in your car so it’s ready to go to charity.
3. Clean a Bathroom.
Rather than wiping off the usual surfaces, look for areas that could use extra attention such as the baseboards or the back of your cabinets. Spend 15 minutes scouring those spots.
4. Refresh Your Bedding.
“To kill the dust mites and bacteria, wash your sheets and mattress covers in hot water,” says Harriet Jones, a cleaning and maintenance supervisor for Go Cleaners London. Add a half cup of vinegar to get rid of any odors.
To deep clean your mattress, sprinkle some baking soda over it. Let the powder sit for a few minutes and then vacuum it up.
5. Replace Batteries and Light Bulbs.
Grab watches, toys, and flashlights that don’t work and put in new batteries. Change the bulbs of any lights that are out. If you don’t have the right batteries or light bulbs on hand, use the time to order more.
6. Clean the Garbage Disposal.
“To clear away any unwelcome odors and built-up residue, and to keep your sink drain working properly, drop a cut-up lemon, some salt, one tablespoon of vanilla and a few ice cubes down your disposal,” says Jones.
Run the disposal and wipe off the sink.
7. Vacuum Your Refrigerator Coils.
Unplug the fridge and take out the base grille if needed. Then use a vacuum to remove dust from the coils.
“Doing so makes the fridge run more efficiently,” says Allen Michael, editor of HomeViable.com, a website offering tips for around the house. “This increases the life of the fridge while simultaneously saving you money on your monthly power bill.”
8. Replace Filters.
Change the HVAC filters; then vacuum the intake areas. You’ll freshen up the air circulating through your home.
“In addition, your heater and AC units won’t have to work as hard to pull in air, making them more efficient,” adds Michael.
9. Dust the Overlooked Spots.
“Remove all of the dirt and dust that’s accumulated on the top of shelves, cupboards and door frames,” suggests Jack Prenter, owner of Chore Bliss, a professional house cleaning company in Toronto.
Use a step ladder for high spots, and suck up the dust with a vacuum hose. If you have a large home, choose a room to dust in 15 minutes.
10. Clean Out Shower and Sink Drains.
Take an old clothes hanger and clean out bathroom drains as best you can. You’ll reduce the buildup and avoid a plumber call in the future. You can also order an easy to use drain snake to do the job.
11. Remove Rust.
If you have a patch of rust in the kitchen or bathroom, make a thick paste of salt and lemon juice.
“Using equal parts, you’ll get a solution that’s acidic enough to scrub away the rust without scratching your metal surfaces,” says Kathy St. Croix, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing in Syracuse, New York.
12. Remove Sticker Remnants From Glass Windows.
Wet a rag with rubbing alcohol and rub the residue to remove it. For tough areas, let the alcohol sit for several minutes and then scrub it off.
13. Organize a Clothing Drawer.
“Take 15 minutes to sort old underwear and socks,” suggests Rebekah Saltzman, a personal organizer at Balagan Be Gone. “Discard what is threadbare and has holes.”
14. Remove Soap Scum.
Take a new or used dryer sheet and sprinkle it with water. Wipe off the shower door to remove accumulated dirt and grime.
15. Clean the Shower Head.
“For shower fixtures made of stainless steel or chrome, or those with coated metal, turn to white vinegar,” says St. Croix.
Fill a sealable plastic bag with vinegar and place the shower head in the bag. Seal it and secure it with rubber bands. Leave the bag on overnight, and then take it off and run for a minute before showering.
16. Straighten a Bathroom Cabinet.
“Take 15 minutes and sort out the under-the-sink cabinet,” Saltzman says. “Pull everything out and discard anything that smells bad, has changed color, or you simply aren’t using.”
Put back what you want to keep.
17. Clean Your Blinds With Socks.
Make a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. Dip an old sock in the solution.
“Swipe the sock over each section and the embedded dust and dirt will come right off your blinds,” explains Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority.
18. Simplify Knick Knacks.
Look through a room to spot any mementos that look cluttered, are broken, or no longer hold special meaning. Give the pieces away or put them in storage to make the area easier to clean.
19. Wash Your Windows Smarter, Not Harder.
Spray one window with cleaner, and then spray a second window. Return to the first window and wipe it, and then wipe the second window.
“By washing a couple of windows simultaneously you’ll reduce your cleaning time by half,” says Merin Jay, a window cleaning expert at Top Window Cleaners in London.
Want to save even more time? You can use the Tyroler Bright Tools magnetic glider to scrub both the interior and exterior of your window at the same time, even through double panes.
20. Clean Air Vents.
Dip a small rag in hot water and wrap it around a butter knife. Use the knife to get in between each shingle in the air vents.
21. Polish Electronics.
Coffee filters work well for removing dirt from electronic equipment. Use them for TV screens, computer monitors and tablets.
22. Steam Clean the Microwave.
“Try putting a bowl with lemon juice in the microwave for five minutes,” says Stapf. “The steam will loosen any food remnants and will steam away odors too.”
23. Clean the Refrigerator Door Gasket.
“Over time, the gasket may become so grimy that it glues the door shut, causing the gasket to tear when you yank the door open,” says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance.
Use a damp sponge to clean it thoroughly.
24. Wipe Off the Laundry Machine.
Use a vinegar spray or cleaning solution to get rid of grime on the machine’s surface. Then wipe out the tub and detergent tray.