Take It Outside: 8 Spring Cleaning Projects That Are So Much Easier Outdoors

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Ah, spring: when a young man’s fancy turns to beating rugs and scrubbing the crisper. And no, those aren’t euphemisms, but chores that are infinitely easier to accomplish now that going outdoors won’t result in certain death. Some of these require access to a hose, but there’s hope for apartment-dwellers, too…

1. Wash Indoor/Outdoor Trash/Recycling cans

I am stupidly excited about finally getting to scrub down the recycling can we keep in our pantry. I wipe it out with all-purpose cleaner once our twice a week all winter, but I can’t really wash, rinse, and leave it out to dry when it’s -20ºF.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

2. Wash Refrigerator Drawers/Shelves

Yes, I clean the refrigerator in the winter, but it’s not the same as giving all of the removable elements a proper, brutal scrubbing followed by a nice long air-dry. If you have any sort of outdoor space, give it a try— you’ll have every bit as much fun as Haleigh is here.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

3. Beat The Rugs

Why oh why don’t I own one of those delightfully loopy rug beaters? I suppose baseball bats will have to do. Even with regular vacuuming and a lack of pets, it’s incredible how much dust and what-not flies into the air whenever we beat or even just shake out the rugs. I also like to leave them outside to air out— something to consider if you’ve got a sturdy clothesline or an acceptably clean fence or balcony.

(Image credit: Community Import)

4. Hang Large Blankets/Quilts/Duvets Outside To Dry

Drying large, thick, and or puffy bedding can cost a ton of money and time at the laundromat (if you’re lucky enough to live near one—we don’t) but often don’t fit in home dryers. I make sure to wash and line-dry all of our quilts and comforters at least once at the beginning of spring and once at the end of fall so they’re as fresh as possible. Even if your dryer accommodates your bedding, an airing out is lovely.

(Image credit: Abby Stone)

5. Scrub Window Blinds

Our rental fortunately came with mini-blinds, but unfortunately they hadn’t been cleaned in a while. Last summer I spent a serious amount of time scrubbing them in the yard, and they looked good as new by the time I was done. I’d like to think that a yearly once-over will make it possible to avoid another arduous day of scrubbing.

(Image credit: Jenn Deese)

6. Air Out Pillows/Couch Cushions

Yes, I am obsessed with airing things out. If you live in a climate that necessitates keeping your house sealed shut for at least half the year, some deep freshening is necessary. This can be done by hanging pillows/cushions from a clothesline, laying them out on a clean, old sheet on the fire escape, or letting them bask on a picnic basket in the yard.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

7. Scrub Anything That Could Use a Good Scrubdown

I wipe down all bathroom and kitchen surfaces constantly, but there’s no substitute for a proper scrubbing on kitchen carts, freestanding kitchen shelving, bar carts, and bathroom carts or shelves. If you have access to a hose, so much the better, but even a good scrubbing on the fire escape followed by a wet-towel wipedown will work miracles on stubborn grime.

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

8. Spray Paint Everything!

Aren’t you sick of looking at your stuff all winter? Don’t you wish everything was a different color— probably gold? It’s finally possible to let spray paint work its magic without accidentally poisoning your family or painting your pets/floor/walls. If you’ve got a ruinable alley or garage, go to town, otherwise use my patented “paint objects in a large cardboard box on the fire escape” method.

What projects are you excited to tackle once it’s finally safe to go outside?