Spring Cleaning Checklists

From Basic to Backbreaking

Last fall, we shared our belief that cleaning is like karate, since it involves various levels of skill and dedication. As Mr. Miyagi told the Karate Kid, "First, wash all car. Then wax... Wax on, wax off." For those who are white belts or people who long ago moved on from "wax on, wax off," here's our guide to the right cleaning checklist for you.

  • White Belt: I admit it, I'm a total white belt. For proof, see this post in which I outline my own spring cleaning rituals, which amount to a little decluttering, a quick repair project, and some window cleaning.
  • Yellow Belt: About.com's Room by Room Checklists all begin with a 15-minute cleanup, a sort of stretching exercise before you go into full-on deep cleaning mode. If you're lazy like me, you might just do the 15-minute workout for each room and then pick and choose any other projects that look appealing.
  • Orange Belt: At first glance, Woman's Day's room-by-room checklists seem complicated since there are so many of them, but once you begin to look more closely, they're pretty simple guides to decluttering and wiping down surfaces.

  • Blue Belt: Better Homes and Gardens provides a short list, but a few of the tasks involve a lot of decluttering, donating, and storing, which tends to take a lot of time and focus.
  • Green Belt: CasaSugar's downloadable checklist is a helpful spreadsheet that breaks down tasks into "dust, wipe, spray, wash, dry clean, tidy," etc, etc. Like the BHG list, it gets a little more complex when they get into decluttering, donating, recyling, and adding storage.
  • Purple Belt: The Seattle Times offers a short list that's more focused on home maintenance, like checking for drafts and changing heating system filters.
  • Brown Belt: Martha Stewart's checklist is excerpted from her 2006 "Homekeeping Handbook," which has a long list of tasks but keeps things relatively doable (wash the windows, wax the floors). It gets more complex when she slips in a few maintenance tasks, like resealing grout lines and patching storm window screens.
  • Black Belt: Real Simple blogger Erin Doland provides a lengthy room-by-room cleaning checklist, but reminds people to "approach this list as a guide, not a rule book. If you don't get to everything on the list, it's okay." If you've got the time it's a pretty doable list, and if you want to step up your ninja cleaning skills, you can always try her systems cleaning checklist, which is a hard-core workout that focuses on nitty-gritty stuff like furnace cleaning and lawn mower checkups.

RELATED: Fall Cleaning Checklists: From Basic to Backbreaking

Photo: Karate Kid (1984) via MovieScreenshots.com