10 Spring Cleaning Tips for the Whole Family Top 10 tips for getting the whole family involved in spring-cleaning. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
To get the whole family involved in cleaning you need to get creative.
Spring is officially here. Daylight saving’s time is something you’re just getting used to, you’ve put away your heavy coat and the thought of bathing suit season has you a little nervous. But, what about your house? The winter has left behind its annual build-up and it’s time for the dreaded "spring-cleaning."
Perhaps you're thinking, "Those baseboards don't really need to be dusted just yet," or "maybe I’ll just enjoy some time outside instead of spending it cleaning the house."
But the brunt of cleaning falls on you. Alas, this year will be different because we’ve compiled 10 expert tips for getting the whole family—especially the kids (if you have them)—involved in your annual cleanup. Just make sure to get your supplies in order beforehand and book a whole weekend to do it. According to the experts, cleaning almost always takes longer than you’d expect.
1. Start with a plan. "Have a strategy for who is responsible for each task, zone or room that needs to be cleaned or organized," says Dana Korey, professional organizer and founder of Away With Clutter Inc. (awaywithclutter.com).
2. Put on a show. "Make a 'How to Clean video' starring your child," says Joni Hilton, founder of Holy Cow (holycowproducts.com), a company that makes an organic, kid-safe cleaner. It sounds sort of silly, but this’ll give your kids some good motivation, and you can play director, reminding the kids what needs to be done. And if you want play the role of Coppola and stay behind the camera, all the better.
3. Use squirt guns, not spray bottles. Think you can resist spraying each other long enough to get some cleaning done? "Fill a squirt gun from a solution of one gallon of water and a drop of dish soap," says Olson. "Let kids squirt windows and mirrors and wipe dry with paper towels." She swears it won’t streak.
Five bucks says your husband can't resist shooting the gun either or pulling up his shirt sleeve to make a "guns" reference.
4. Give kids their own cleaning tools. "Don’t expect kids to use adult tools to clean. Instead, create supplies that are kid-friendly," says Amy Olson of The Maids Home Services (maids.com). "Use an ice-cream pail for mopping chores or shorten an old mop handle or broom to make it kid-sized."
Hilton also offers suggestions for kid-specific tools. "Put together a kid-size tote," she says. "Check the home organizing aisle for smaller-than-usual totes. Often a makeup tote or tackle box will be the perfect size. Fill it with kid-sized cleaning tools: a super small squeegee, kid-sized gloves (garden gloves work great), a small scrub brush, a little sponge and mini spray bottles of kid-safe cleaner."
5. Make it a makeover. "We all know how bored teenagers become with the style of their bedrooms and we know how messy said rooms are by springtime," says Krista Watterworth, design guru and host of HGTV’s Save My Bath. "Get them excited by making spring cleaning the time they can change their room décor. Soon they’ll be looking forward to spring cleaning just to have the chance to upgrade their rooms."
Don’t stop at just letting your kids makeover their rooms, take the time to update your whole home’s look, or choose a new room to make over each year.
6. Put in the tunes. "Play upbeat music to get everyone moving," says Hilton. "Old, fluffy slippers can clean the floor as your child dances to the music." It’ll feel like you’re in your own movie montage if you do it right.
7. Don’t clean on an empty stomach. Korey advises to have plenty of good food and healthy snacks on hand for optimal motivation. Cranky, hungry cleaners won’t do a good job.
8. Motivate with sweet talk. Get your spouse involved in cleaning by mentioning to them a project you yourself don't have time to finish. "Tell your spouse you desperately need his or her help on this project," says Pat Simpson, host of HGTV's Fix It Up! , Room To Improve, and Before & After(patsimpson.com). "Tell your spouse that you can't do this project without him or her and that it's something you know he or she can do better than you can—and it will look fantastic when completed!"
9. Use money as an incentive. According to Coinstar (coinstar.com) representative Martin Pearce, families typically have about $99 in coins lying around their house. He suggests having a scavenger hunt. If you don’t think there’s much change that’ll turn up naturally, take your coin stash and hide the shiny treasures in must-clean areas like between couch cushions and under lamps. When the cleaning is done, you can use the change to buy your family a present.
10. Never underestimate the power of a little loving. If it’s your spouse, not your kids, who need some extra motivation to clean, promise them a little extra something for when the chores are all done, the kids are tired out and you can spend some time alone. It may feel manipulative, but it may also be the ticket to getting the house spic and span.