Spring Cleaning Guide: How to Spring Clean Your Whole House

published Mar 25, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition with deep cultural, religious, and historical roots. Whether you and your household personally subscribe to the beliefs and practices that underpin this centuries-old tradition, your drive to spring clean taps into a time-tested, passed-down custom.

Spring cleaning also ties back to the history of keeping winter houses warm and lit with fires and kerosene. These methods filled houses with soot and grime that was an inevitability as people stayed shut in against the cold winter, but that eventually (needless to say) had to be cleaned. Warm weather and longer days meant being able to stop generating all that soot and that windows could be opened to air out the house as residents scrubbed all that literal darkness away.

These days, the practice of spring cleaning is so ingrained in our heritage that even if we don’t follow the practice because of a long winter of burning coal, we feel that pull to throw open our windows and remove all the long-settled dust and dirt from our home environments. As we welcome warmer days and the golden rays of sun that tease buds from barren branches, we want a new start, too. Spring cleaning gives it to us.

Why is Spring Cleaning Important?

Spring cleaning is a chance to reset everything in your home. It’s a chance to catch up on all the cleaning tasks you’ve been meaning to get to or to do the ones that niggle at you. Instead of laying awake wondering when you last cleaned your mattress, for instance, spring cleaning is the nudge you need to get it done and get the idea out of your head. In addition, deep cleaning once a year staves off bigger problems, like a mold takeover of your grout. You can clear dust and grime from areas that hardly ever see the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner attachment. By the time spring cleaning is finished, your home will feel so fresh and clean—a state of habitation that will serve you well, both in mind and body.

Spring cleaning is also a good opportunity to make sure that certain maintenance chores that only need to be done once or a few times a year get checked off the list. When these types of tasks are tied to spring cleaning, it’s more likely you remember to do them. Some of these tasks make a big difference in the longevity, usefulness, and look of your home, such as polishing and sealing granite. Others, such as cleaning out your dryer, are a safety issue.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

When Should You Start Spring Cleaning?

There are two ways to answer this question: Subjectively, you should start spring cleaning when you sense that new-start spring freshness start to come in on the warm afternoon breezes. When you start feeling like you want to throw open the windows and begin to wonder how the deck furniture is doing under its covers, you know spring cleaning is around the corner. Tapping into the feeling of newness that ushers in the season grounds you in the uplifting spirit of rebirth that will help you clean with purpose and momentum.

Objectively, you should start spring cleaning when you can clear out a solid day or two in your schedule to devote to the task. For many, this may be the weekend. Keep the weekend or your day clear and dedicate it to giving your home the love and care it deserves so it can love and care for you. Although you may be tempted to spread out spring cleaning tasks over a longer period of time, keeping the project more concentrated focuses your efforts and pays off with that squeaky-clean-house feeling that only spring cleaning gives.

How Do I Start Spring Cleaning my House?

Spring cleaning is a wonderful concept, but it’s not going to happen in your house unless you do it. Making that leap from “that’s a great idea; I should do that” to actually spring cleaning involves a few stepping stones. First, decide that you are going to spring clean and tell someone so you’re accountable. This can be your spouse, housemate, mother who lives across the country, you Facebook friends, whatever. But publicizing your commitment will help you keep it.

Next, make a plan. The details don’t matter when it comes to galvanizing you into action. But having a rough outline of what you’ll do, whether it’s a room-by-room list of what needs to get done or a whole-house checklist of tasks you want to accomplish brings substance to your goals and functions like a map that will get you where you want to go: a spring cleaned (past tense) house.

Spring Cleaning Checklist: 29 Things You Can Deep Clean

The gallery below contains some spring cleaning tasks to get you thinking and get you going.

1 / 29
Bedding: You wash your sheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers regularly, but your pillows, comforters, and blankets need a refresh too. Read care instructions, but most can be washed in the washer (with care) and even dried in your machine as well.

How Can I Clean My Whole House in One Day?

Cleaning every inch of your home in one day would be an incredible feat, but it’s probably too much to undertake. It might help to reframe your goal: Instead of aiming to clean your whole house in one day, decide you’re going to devote an entire day to spring cleaning. The former goal sets you up to fall short, while the latter goal allows you to measure by effort instead of impact. Rather than than committing (and maybe failing) to check every single thing off a list, you’re going to spend the time you have focusing on the most important tasks, and leaving the rest undone for another day. It’s a more thoughtful and attainable route to take.

So if you can’t do it all in that one day, how do you choose? What goes into whittling down a giant list of intimidating house chores into a manageable affair that still delivers a big impact? Here are some tactics for doing just that:

1. Choose whole-house cleaning tasks for the biggest effect.

Go through the spring cleaning checklist above and choose tasks that involve more than one room or item in the house. For instance, washing the pillows and bedding of all members of your household leaves everyone with refreshed bedding. While the task may not produce a visible outcome, knowing that everyone has bedding that’s as clean as it can be feels really good.

Other whole-house tasks you could select include cleaning all the doors or tackling all the windows. Doing these rarely done chores mean that you’ll “touch” every room in the house with that spring cleaning magic and it will show.

2. Select chores that you procrastinate.

Cleaning tasks that you dread probably don’t get done very often. However, if you determine to accomplish these with your spring cleaning momentum, not only will they get done (hurray!) and be clean, but you’ll be relieved of the guilt that comes from knowing it’s something you really should do and then putting it off.

These dreaded, procrastinated chores will be different for everyone, but they could be deep cleaning the shower, cleaning the windows, or finally getting that oven clean. Choose your own adventure and be really, really proud of yourself when you get to the finish line.

3. Pick the tasks you want to do.

No, this doesn’t mean to forget the whole thing because you really don’t feel like doing any spring cleaning! (That’s not you anyway, since you’re here.) The sentiment underlying this method of selecting what you’ll spend your spring cleaning day doing is that certain things on the list will pop out at you as things you’ve been wanting or meaning to do but haven’t been able to get to. Maybe it’s sorting through closets and cleaning your refrigerator. Do these.

4. Make choices based on time.

Some of the items on the spring cleaning list require time that may or not be hands-on time. For example, washing everyone’s bedding and cleaning all the mattresses doesn’t take that much hands-on time, but it does require waiting for wash and dry cycles to finish. This is a great task to undertake while you’re cleaning other things because you’ll be around to switch loads as soon as they’re ready and you can use the in-between time to check other tasks off your list.

5. Put labor-intensive items at the top of your list.

If you’re having a hard time choosing what you’ll do and what you’ll skip, try putting the most labor-intensive tasks (I’m looking at you again, window-cleaning) at the top of the list. This way, the chores that require the most out of you are getting done on a day you’ve dedicated to cleaning and you won’t feel as much like you’re missing out on something fun.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Sample Plan for Spring Cleaning in a Day

If you need a jumping off point to plan your day of spring cleaning, this checklist—for morning, afternoon, and evening—will get you on the right track.


  • Strip the bedding from all the beds, including duvet covers, and gather all the bedding. Sort like with like and begin laundering sheets, blankets, pillows, and comforters.
  • Refresh mattresses while the bedding is away from the beds.
  • Empty every garbage can and recycling bin and bring them outside. Hose them down, scrub scuffs with a Magic Eraser, and get gunk out of crevices. Leave them to dry in the sun.
  • Put bags of vinegar around shower heads.
  • Slather the interior of the oven with a baking soda paste.
  • Change bedding wash and dry cycles as needed.
  • Scrub your oven interior.
  • Remove vinegar bags and scrub showers and tubs and clean the bathroom.


  • Spot clean upholstery and rugs.
  • Dust every area you’ve decided to tackle today and start at the top. This could include bookshelves, the tops of cabinets, light fixtures, light bulbs, furniture, door frames, picture frames, etc. The idea is that you’re taking your duster and using it on every inch of dust down to the baseboards.
  • Polish wooden furniture. Just like you focused on using one tool while you dusted, focus on one product here: wood polish. Hit every wooden item in your home.
  • Wipe down cabinet doors. Murphy’s Oil Soap is great for wooden cabinets and an all-purpose cleaner and rag is fine for other materials.
  • Clean doors. You’ve already dusted the frames. Now take a damp microfiber cloth (and maybe a Magic Eraser for stubborn spots) to the doors themselves, including knobs.
  • Continue changing bedding loads as needed. If you finish your loads, take down your curtains and begin washing those.
  • Clean your windows. Take down screens or use a lint roller on them, clean window tracks, and shine those windows.
  • Clean the rest of the glass in your home. You’ve already dusted picture frames. Now take it to the next level and hit the glass with a lint-free cloth and glass cleaner.


  • Replace bedding.
  • Hang curtains if you were able to wash them.
  • Return garbage cans to their rooms.
  • Vacuum under furniture and under rugs.
  • Vacuum the floors throughout the house now that the dust you stirred up from dusting has had time to settle.
  • Clean your phone.
  • Choose one small area to declutter. You don’t need the sunshine to help you see what to declutter (like you would with spot cleaning your armchairs, for instance), and ending with a decluttering session sets you up for a very visual win and, with any luck, the urge to do more when you can.
  • Make a list of tasks you wish you’d been able to do and make a plan for finishing them up during your regular cleaning routine.
  • Enjoy your spring cleaned house!