A moment of transition, opportunity, and hope, the beginning of the new year is often seen as a chance for a fresh start – the perfect time to change everything you don’t like about your life and start anew. Whether you want to lose weight, learn to dance, find a new job, or create your dream home, the new year seems like the right time to start working towards your goals.
To be able to go through with your decisions though, you need a safe haven where you can relax and replenish your energy and your motivation – the sanctuary of your home. It makes sense then that one of your first new year’s resolutions should be to keep your place clean and tidy and welcoming at all times – to make sure that you have a beautiful, comfortable, and cozy home to return to after a long day of trials. And what your house or apartment really needs after all the parties and festivities of the holiday season is a good cleaning. Besides, you’re stuck inside during the cold weather anyway, so why not use the opportunity to tidy up your living space and get it in top-notch condition during the first months of the year?
Here are some new year home cleaning tips to get you started:
Step 1: Put Away the Holiday Decorations and Gifts and Assess the Storage Spaces in Your Home
The first thing to do in order to spruce up your home after the holidays is to take down the decorations and tidy up the rooms – make a resolution to do so by the second week of January, so that you can start the new year in a clean and organized home:
- Take down your holiday décor and pack it up – Wrap fragile items in soft, clean paper to ensure their safety; consider replacing the old cardboard boxes you keep your decorations in with water-resistant totes or plastic bins; seal the storage containers well to protect the items inside from dust, dirt, and moisture; etc. (Keep in mind that cardboard containers are susceptible to mold if stored in a wet area and vulnerable to insects and rodents. Totes and plastic bins are sturdier and more pest-proof than cardboard boxes, so they offer better protection to your belongings.);
- Tidy up the storage areas – Remove everything from the storage spaces where you keep your holiday décor. Inspect the area for damage and pests, clean it thoroughly, and air it out. Organize your belongings and assess the actual value of every item before putting it back in the storage space – the new year is the perfect time to get rid of anything you don’t really need or like anymore;
- Find every new item a suitable place – Sort out the gifts you and your family received during the holidays and put them in their rightful places – bookshelves, closets, toy chests, etc. When arranging your new acquisitions, take a closer look at your old items and set aside all the toys, clothes, shoes, accessories, books, and electronics that you and your family haven’t used in the last year – put them in your donation bin or give them away to friends and/or relatives who may need or like them. What matters is to declutter your home and make it look neat and tidy.
Bonus tip: While you’re at it, take the time to clean and organize all the storage spaces in your home – attics, basements, and closets:
- Take your items out and check the storage areas for damage – Look for wet spots, stripped paint or discoloration, crumbling plaster, cracked wood finishes, musty smells, leaking pipes, foundation leaks, etc. If you find (or suspect) any kind of damage, take appropriate measures to fix the problem before putting your items back in place – call a licensed plumber and/or professional mold removal and remediation specialists if necessary;
- Give the storage areas a good cleaning – Wipe all the surfaces with a mild soap-and-water solution or use an all-purpose cleaner to make them clean and spotless;
- Put back only items of high practical, aesthetic, or sentimental value – Throw away damaged items and items that are too worn out to be used ever again, donate no-longer needed items that are still in good condition, and make everything possible to keep your home free of clutter during the new year.
When everything is put in place, take out the trash, dust off the shelves, and vacuum the floors – your new year cleaning will gather full speed in no time at all.
Step 2: Clean the Bathroom
Without a doubt, your bathroom will have seen more traffic than usual during the holidays, so your shower and tub might need some extra attention:
- Disinfect the toilet and the bathtub – Wipe the surfaces with a bleach solution (or an appropriate cleaner), rinse them with warm water, and let them air dry;
- Sanitize the sink and the countertops – Use a solution of white vinegar and liquid dish soap to wipe the surfaces clean. Rinse with clear water;
- Clean the tile and grout – Spray the tiles with a solution of white vinegar and water, apply a baking soda paste or a hydrogen peroxide solution to the grout, let it sit for a while, then scrub with a toothbrush and rinse well;
- Wash the shower curtain and the bathroom rugs;
- Address the bathroom cabinets – Dispose of any expired medicines, dried out cosmetic products, and toiletries and medicines that have no labels (or the labels are illegible). Wipe down the shelves and drawers and clean the cupboards inside and out before putting the remaining products inside.
Step 3: Clean the Kitchen
The kitchen is typically the busiest (and messiest) room of a home during the holiday season. Most likely, yours was no exception, so now it needs a really good cleaning:
- Fridge – Toss any holiday leftovers and old food products that you haven’t used within the last month. Wipe off the shelves and door racks using an all-purpose cleaner and paper towels. Wash the vegetable bins and let them air dry before putting them back in place;
- Oven – Scrub the oven thoroughly with baking soda (mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water and spread the paste on the entire interior surface – just be careful to keep it away from the heating elements) or an appropriate commercial cleaner and wipe with a damp cloth after about 12 hours. Spray areas that are tough to clean up with vinegar – it will react with the baking soda and will make the grime easier to remove. Make sure you get the oven glass clean and shiny as well;
- Microwave – Place a slice of lemon (or several drops of lemon juice) in a bowl of water, put it in the microwave, and turn the appliance on high for several minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave interior clean with a sponge or a microfiber cloth;
- Sink and countertops – Flush the drain, scrub the faucets, and wipe the countertops clean with a microfiber cloth dipped in soapy water;
- Cabinets and drawers – Take out all the items and clean the kitchen cabinets and drawers with a solution of dish soap and water. Don’t forget to wipe the hardware and inside edges of the doors as well;
- Storage cupboard and pantry – Throw away any expired grains, spices, canned goods, and other old food items, give the cupboard a thorough cleaning, and use a system when putting things back inside – the items that will still be edible for some time should go to the back of the shelf, while those which will soon be past their expiration date should be put in the front, within easy reach.
Step 4: Take Care of the Rest of the House
Once you’ve dealt with the messiest areas of your home, it’s time to take your new year home cleaning a step further and spruce up your entire house or apartment:
- Clean your furniture – Dust polished surfaces, apply a fabric refresh spray (or leather conditioner) to upholstery, and wash throw pillows and furniture covers if necessary. Pay special attention to glass elements – glass tabletops, showcases, cabinet doors, mirrors and other glass surfaces in your home need to shine with cleanness (don’t forget to dust TV screens and picture frames, chandeliers and lamp shades as well);
- Tidy up the guest rooms – Air out mattresses, wash linens, and put everything back to its rightful place;
- Clean carpets and rugs – The carpets in your home are very likely to end up stained and dirty after the holidays. You may need to spot-clean some areas, steam clean the entire carpet, or use professional carpet cleaning services to ensure the excellent condition of your carpeting. At the very least, make sure you use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter (it traps microscopic particles like dust, pet dander, and various other allergens that regular vacuum cleaners can’t collect) to clean the carpets and use baking soda to deodorize them (sprinkle baking soda on the entire area and let it sit for an hour or two, then vacuum it up). Do not wash area rugs during the winter – they should be washed on warm, sunny days so that they can dry quickly (otherwise, you risk mold growth on them);
- Take care of the HVAC system – Check the air filter for your HVAC system and replace it if necessary. Clean the air conditioning vents – remove them from the walls (most just pop out of place or need a small screw to be removed), put them in a sink full of hot water with a few squirts of dish soap in it, let them soak for several minutes, wipe them with a rag, dry them, and put them back in place. It is also a good idea to have the ducts inspected and professionally cleaned at the beginning of the new year.
The above house cleaning tips are certain to help you start the new year with a clean and tidy home. Your home resolutions, however, should not stop here: make it a point to remove the lint from the dryer’s lint screen each time you use it, to clean the windows and blinds every couple of months or so, to dust ceiling fans and lamp shades every once in a while, to wipe doorknobs and furniture handles on a regular basis, etc. – anything that will help you keep your home in excellent condition at all times.
If it’s too much for you to handle on your own or if you just don’t have the time to complete all the cleaning chores on schedule, you can always use professional home cleaning services to tackle the most time-consuming and laborious cleaning jobs for you and help you keep your new year’s resolutions. All you need to do is call to experts and you’ll be able to enjoy a neat and tidy home all the year round without any effort on your part.