Bold Advice

Spring Cleaning for a City Apartment

March 5, 2018

The first day of spring is March 20 — in New York, springs means, among many other things, The Macy’s Flower Show, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The New York International Auto Show, the return of the Yankees and the Mets, and the annual Easter and St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

Before you head out and enjoy the city, we only ask one thing of you: make sure to get in your spring cleaning (hmmm, maybe we shouldn’t have tempted you with all of those New York activities first).

It won’t be as bad as you dread if you follow some of our simple tips:

Don’t try to do it all at once. Even if you have a small apartment, stretch out the spring cleaning into separate sessions (bathroom, bedroom, hallways, kitchen) over the course of a few weeks or a month. This will allow you more energy to focus and think, and you won’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged; you’ll ultimately do an overall better job when you don’t run out of steam before the cleaning is done. Make a plan and stick to it: which chore will take a whole afternoon? Half a day? Which chores are better to do on a weekend?

Who’s helping? Get with your roommate ahead of time and figure out how you will split the chores. Communal areas like the kitchen can be divided into sweeping, mopping, and spraying (who is better at what?). It can even be the start of a regular ritual! You can also ask friends to lend a hand — tell them it includes a free lunch and beer. If the spring cleaning appears to be beyond overwhelming — or if you have an uncooperative roommate or only fairweather friends — there are tons of cleaning services in the city that would love to help you, at prices you can most likely afford. Look for first-time discounts.

Make sure your cleaning supplies are earth friendly. You’re already eating locally produced food and avoiding preservatives. Be green when it comes to choosing your cleaning products. Take an extra moment to read the ingredients on the packaging. Look for natural ingredients and no chemicals. Choose brands that are bleach and phosphate free. No fragrance, preservatives, or dyes. Terrific natural cleaning products include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, Castile soap (made completely from plant oils), and olive oil (good for polishing).

Start with the windows. It’s psychological — bring in the new season and its brilliant sun directly from outside — the positive energy will bathe you as you clean going forward. Show your apartment that a city home can enjoy spring too. Wipe away the grime and gray of winter from your windows — both inside and out (be careful if you live above the first floor!).

Unload. Now is the time (if not now, when?). Get rid of all the menus, books, knicknacks, and even magazines and newspapers (if you still read them) that accumulated over the winter.

Make tough clothes choices. Weed out your closet — boots, heavy jackets, sweaters, wool socks, and more. Practice the two P’s: put away or purge. If any of your winter clothes need sewing, dry cleaning or tailoring, do it now rather than waiting until next winter — this way, they’ll be good to go when you need them again. If you have a small apartment, definitely learn how to let go.

Clear out the front hallway (if you’re lucky enough to have one). You don’t want to continue to see mittens, gloves, wool hats, boots and scarves when the weather is finally awesome. Pack them — and your winter memories — away, and you’ll have a clear path and some elbow room until next year.

Get a new doormat. The current one must be a real sight, from all that snow and sleet and salt. Now’s the time — and they really don’t cost all that much.

De-winterize your bedroom. Time for the quilt and the heavy, dark blankets to go into storage. Replace them with lighter, thinner options.

Bring in flowers. Nothing says spring like a fresh bouquet. You may not think of visiting your local florist during your busy day, but flowers bring a sense of spring to your digs, and that can spark all kinds of fancy feelings.

Check your smoke alarm batteries. It’s always a good time to do this — and you should do it regularly — but make it part of your spring cleaning ritual.

Get ready for the tax man. We didn’t save the best for last, but now is the time to clean off that desk, get your paperwork in order, sort and weed out your files, and put all of your tax docs in one place. We wish for you a big refund that you can use to celebrate spring in New York — or toward your next home!

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