Spring Cleaning

The Spring Cleaning Challenge Starts Today—And Your Journey Begins With One Small Step

published Mar 30, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Spring Cleaning is a free guided cleaning program from Apartment Therapy designed to help you show your home some love. Sign up now if you want to join. (It’s free!)

Welcome to Apartment Therapy Spring Cleaning! This is the inaugural assignment of our 2020 spring cleaning program, and I have truly never been more excited! I’m sitting at my dining room table writing this with a lukewarm coffee next to me right now (Hi! I’m Taryn), really thankful for not only my home and my health, but also feeling lucky that we get to have this moment online together, but apart.

The editors at Apartment Therapy were planning our fourth annual Spring Cleaning program when all of our daily lives were shaken up by the novel coronavirus. We heard from so many readers—suddenly stuck at home—that you wanted a project to work on. Something innocuous (maybe even productive?) to keep your mind and heart occupied for a little while. So we kicked into overdrive to bring this year’s Spring Cleaning program together.

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Here’s how it’s going to go: Starting today, and every weekday for the next two weeks, I’ll help you tackle a series of 10 spring cleaning assignments. I’ve created a plan for what we’ll work on each day—jumping around our homes and tackling different types of tasks to keep us all engaged with the process—and all you need to do is check your inbox for each day’s assignment, ready to clean something each day. We’ll hit hot spots in the kitchen and bathroom, tackle your clothes closet, and even prepare a list of things you can accomplish on your own when Apartment Therapy’s Spring Cleaning program is over. But you’ll end these two weeks with a guaranteed cleaner space, plus the confidence and spirit to carry on with your homekeeping goals and make your home an even happier place to be.

I’ll try to be mindful of what you have access to at home, and give you plenty of substitutions for the tools and products we’ll use. And, as always, if you can’t complete an assignment—because you’re not ready to do it, or you’re just not feeling it that day—no sweat! This whole effort is about progress, not perfection. Just open up the next day’s email and hop back on the wagon.

Without further ado….

Credit: Liz Calka

Day 1 Assignment: Clear One Small Surface

This whole one-day-at-a-time thing is about momentum. And if we started with a task like “deep clean your oven” I feel like we’d all burn out before we began. So we’ll get the journey going with a single step: Choose one surface, somewhere in your home, and give it a thorough cleaning.

Your surface can be the top of a console table, one shelf on the wall, or even an entire bookcase, if you’d like. But make sure you choose something finite, and make sure it’s not an overwhelming task: “the entire bookcase” is great if you mean a small IKEA piece, but not the built-ins in your 18-foot home library.

First take everything off the surface. If the bare surface looks visibly dusty or has debris, give it a once-over with a microfiber duster or your vacuum cleaner. Then give the surface a wipe-down with a rag and your favorite cleaner. All-purpose cleaner works great for many surfaces, but you can also use soapy water (mix a bit of dish detergent or castile soap into water—it’s less a science than an art), or a half-and-half mix of white vinegar and water. Let the surface dry.

As you go to replace the objects on your shelf, dust and/or clean them off one by one as well. You can take this opportunity to re-arrange the objects, if that would make you happy. But if it feels overwhelming, you can just toss them back on in any old way (quite bohemian, actually) and marvel at this one impeccably clean area of your home.

That’s it for today! Stop here and gear up for tomorrow’s assignment.

Keep in Touch!

The Apartment Therapy community (that’s you! and me!) is what keeps programs like Spring Cleaning going. So feel free to leave comments here to share how your assignment went each day. You’re also welcome to discuss your spring cleaning efforts with other Apartment Therapy fans in The Apartment Therapist Facebook group. If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, use and follow the #ATSpringCleaning hashtag—new this year, so please help us fill it up with clean-home goodness! And I’m always here to personally help you through it on my personal Instagram page, too.

Here are a few more things that might help: