Editor's Note: This was originally published in 2017.

Spring is the traditional time to clean up and clear out — but, besides dusting and airing out, what tasks will make a big impact?

Follow our map for chores that will leave your house, and you, ready for spring.



  • Pull the refrigerator away from the wall. Vacuum behind and underneath. Make sure coils and fan are free of dirt and dust buildup.
  • Clean the interior of the fridge and door gaskets with warm, soapy water.
  • Pitch expired condiments.
  • Change the refrigerator water filter, if there is one.
  • Wipe down stainless-steel exteriors with cleaner made for that surface; other exteriors, use all-purpose cleaner.


  • Clean out the filter at the bottom.
  • Run a cleaner like Dishwasher Magic through a cycle, or run a cycle empty except for a dish full of vinegar.


  • Clean the oven, using self-clean feature if available.
  • For flat-top stoves, use an appropriate cleanser, such as Cerama Bryte, to removed burned-on or boil-over residue.
  • Scrub gas-stove grates with hot, soapy water.
  • Degrease the range hood filter in a sink of boiling water and dish soap. Dry completely before replacing.


  • Boil water in a microwave-safe container, let it sit and steam, then wipe off food residue
  • Clean turntable with soapy water or in dishwasher.
  • Scrub stubborn residue with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.


  • Remove and clean bathroom fan cover with soapy water and an old toothbrush (turn power off first!) Use vacuum nozzle attachment to clean fan blades.
  • Wash plastic shower curtains and liners in a washing machine, with a few old towels to act as “scrubbers.”
  • Soak the shower head nozzle overnight in vinegar to kill bacteria, then rinse and reinstall.
  • Scrub shower grout with bleach; rinse.
  • Scour stubborn toilet stains with a pumice stone.
  • Clean toilet brush by holding bristles over the toilet bowl and dousing with bleach.
  • Lots of grime between the base of the taps and the sink? Try threading it out with dental floss.

General living areas

  • Spot-clean rugs and furniture. The safest technique? Water and a light-colored absorbent cotton or microfiber towel. Blot, don’t rub, from the border of the spot toward the center.
  • Keep in mind that high-sugar spills may wick up carpet fibers and reappear even after treatment. Spots caused by artificial colors — think orange soda or Kool-Aid — as well as urine, coffee, makeup and some other substances — may require professional treatment or even be permanent.
  • Clear floors under furniture, where dirt gathers — especially if you have pets.
  • Launder curtains, or use vacuum attachment to remove dust. Wash windows.
  • Dust baseboards and ceiling fan blades.
  • Use nozzle attachment to clean under couch cushions (check for money first!)


  • Go through closet and drawers; fill bag with unused clothes for donation.
  • Wash all bed linens, including mattress cover, blankets and comforter.
  • Flip or rotate mattress.
  • Dust, then vacuum. Pay special attention under bed and furniture.

Laundry room

  • Some washing machines have a cycle that cleans the washtub. Use that cycle or run a commercial cleaner made for this purpose through a cycle.
  • Leave the washing machine door and detergent dispenser open to air out to discourage mildew (do this on a regular basis).
  • Remove lint trap from dryer and run under water to make sure it’s clear. Dryer sheet coatings can gum up the trap.
  • Clear dryer’s extended venting between machine and wall. Clear outside vent.

Housewide systems

  • Water treatment systems: Change the filter, check salt levels. Fill if needed.
  • Adjust ceiling fans to run counterclockwise.
  • Change furnace and air conditioner filters.
  • Make sure the air conditioner drainage hole is clear.
  • Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Drain sediment from hot water heater (turn off water and electric or gas supply, and heater first).


  • Prep your vacuum cleaner for the big clean. Make sure the beater/brush bar is free of tangled hair and fibers, and start with a clean canister or empty bag.
  • Make sure you have a doormat, outdoors or in, at each entrance. Replace if the surface is too smooth to clear dirt from shoes.
  • Don’t use cleaning solutions that leave residue behind when cleaning hard flooring. It will attract dirt.


-- Joe Legenstein, Certified Carpet, Lancaster.

-- Trisha Townsley, LH Brubaker Appliances Inc.

-- ThisOldHouse.com.

-- RealSimple.com.

cleaning living room


If you still could use a little kick in the spring cleaning pants, here are the routines followed by some LNP staffers that save them time in the long run:

— For a deep clean, Valerie Marschka says, “go room by room. Empty the room, clean and then clean objects as you return them. Use this opportunity to sort out items to give away.”

— Don’t just shove extraneous stuff into closets, Marschka adds. Clear out those closets, too.

— If you have roommates: Lucky you! “For our spring cleaning, we make a list of tasks around the house, room by room. We hang it in the kitchen and cross off the tasks as we do them. A first-come-first-serve system, and it keeps the load lighter for all,” says staffer Lindsey Blest.

“Best case scenario, we coordinate a time to clean together, play music and drink wine in the process — makes it as fun as possible!”

— Place a basket or bin near the front door,” says Diana Abreu. You can sort mail into recycle or keep as soon as you bring it in the house. Also from Abreu ...

— Hate cleaning the shower? Get a squeegee (you can find them for under $10) and wipe down the shower after each use. You’ll still have to clean it, but not as often.

— If possible, “don’t share a closet. Or a suitcase. Or a drawer. It is impossible to keep your stuff in order if someone else messes it up on a daily basis.”

— Speaking of stuff: Keep like items together so they’re easier to find and you don’t have to go searching when it’s time to get down to that particular project.

— If it’s impossible to keep every surface in your house clear, perhaps pick one place — basement, mudroom, office — that you allow to get a bit messy. That may make it easier to keep clutter to a minimum elsewhere.