Spring cleaning will be a little different this year, since we’ve all been stuck inside for weeks. On one hand, we’ve had more time to tidy up around the house. On the other, we’ve had a never-ending opportunity to make a huge mess. Either way, these spring cleaning tips will help get your home in order as the weather warms up.

1. Let there be light

After a long, dark winter, there are few things better for your outlook than catching a few rays. Studies show that sunlight can reduce anxiety, alleviate pain, and improve your mood; that’s why Maeve Richmond, founder and head coach of home organizing company Maeve’s Method, recommends washing your windows first, before moving on to other tidying tasks.

“If there’s only one thing you do during spring cleaning season, it’s windows — inside and outside,” she says. Take 20 minutes to wipe panes down. And if it’s too much of a chore, consider hiring a pro next year. “There are services that people can schedule for this, twice a year, autumn and spring,” and the attitude shift could be worth the investment.

2. Skim off the top layer of junk

“Most of the year, we spend time bringing things into our home — groceries, mail, etc. — and most of the time, we’re not so good at taking stuff out,” says Richmond. Use the new season to toss recently collected junk. “Life collects in layers. Remove things that aren’t relevant anymore.”

To do this effortlessly, Richmond suggests using the Top 5 strategy: “Go from room to room looking for five easy things you can let go, like expired foods and medicines, old magazines and catalogs. We encourage people to say ‘1-2-3-4-5’ out loud [as they work], because it helps the brain to know you’re doing a manageable project.” Carry a garbage bag with you expedite the process.

3. Do a surface cleaning

When it comes to invigorating the feel of your home, there’s something to be said about good, ol’ fashioned vacuuming, dusting, and polishing. There’s no deep clean necessary; even a short neatening session can refresh your rooms, making them feel less stale and more open to visitors.

“When our homes look clean and bright, we feel more excited about bringing people in,” says Richmond. “Think of it less as work, and more about preparing the home for family and guests.”

As for products, Richmond likes any of the small wipes that have a cleaning agent inside and Swiffer’s line of cleaning tools, which she calls, “super-safe, easy to manage, and designed to collect dust and dirt rather than spread it around.”

4. Stow your winter gear

You’ve removed the top layer junk and done a surface cleaning; now it’s time to throw all your snow-appropriate possessions back into storage.

Working room by room, collect heavy blankets, thick sweaters, and even your slow cooker, and place them in designated bags and boxes, to be left untouched until October rolls around again.

Don’t worry about completing this step right away, especially if the cool air lingers into May. Spring cleaning takes up to three weeks to complete, says Richmond, “because it’s a seasonal thing, a process. Allow yourself the season to take care of things, and not get it done all at once.”

5. Break out your spring stuff

Once those sweaters and wool socks are packed away, you can trot out your warm-weather possessions. Rotate your wardrobe, moving brightly colored dresses and light cardigans to the front of the closet.

Bust out those flowery decorations and pastel-hued front-door wreaths, but don’t forget your real plants, either.

“Indoor plants need a lot of TLC this time of year, because they’ve spent the winter months in dry heat,” says Richmond. “In addition to extra water, try to keep your shades open or move [plants] closer to your clean windows.”

6. Tackle that paperwork

After your taxes have been turned in, you can safely sit down and sort through paper stacks, with the intention of either A) getting rid of them for good, or B) organizing them into easily accessible files.

Richmond suggests you begin sorting only after you’ve undertaken other spring cleaning projects (since paperwork is a more difficult task to get into), and start with the smallest piles first, so you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you go along.

If you find that a large portion of your paperwork is junk mail or paper bills, take the time to cancel subscriptions and automate payments. “This tiny task will make your home feel lighter and less cluttered for the spring,” says Richmond.

7. Take it easy

Congratulations! You’ve earned some time to kick back and relax in your neat, newly revitalized home. It’s too all too easy to jump from one project to the next.

So, instead of rushing into yard work or speeding off to the car wash, give yourself a few hours to unwind. Open those gleaming windows to let some air in, grab an ice-cold lemonade, and read a magazine. You earned it.

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