Charlotte Hannah
March 26, 2013

Spring Cleaning in 30 Minutes: 4 Things Even the Laziest Housekeeper Can Do

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to get serious about freshening up your apartment. Yes, the dreaded spring cleaning is here, and there are some tasks you need to tackle if you want to keep your abode looking (and smelling) decent.

I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill cleaning tasks like vacuuming and wiping down the counters – that’s stuff you should be doing regularly. Nor am I talking about your fancy-rich-people spring cleaning tasks like steam cleaning the carpets (yeah, right), polishing the silver (LOL!) or dusting the valances (what the heck is a valance?).

I’m talking about the down and dirty chores even the laziest housekeepers can manage to do every 12 months. The nitty gritty stuff you wouldn’t normally think to do, but should force yourself to deal with occasionally to avoid living in filth. Hey, think about it this way: if you do it now, you won’t have to do it again until next spring.

Dust the tops of things that are above eye level

This is a dust mite.
Via Wikipedia

If you hate cleaning as much as I do, you probably subscribe to an “out of sight, out of mind” policy when it comes to domestic chores – if you don’t frequently come into contact with it during an average day, it might as well not exist. Your apartment may look clean(ish) to the untrained eye, but secretly, you’ve got a thick layer of dust building up on every surface that’s higher off the ground than you are.

First of all, what are you going to do if you meet some sexy stranger who just happens to be seven feet tall, and you invite him to your house for coffee and he sees the secret shame that lurks atop your tallest shelves? What would that fictional guy in that highly unlikely situation think of you? Probably that you’re some kind of nutso dust collector, that’s what.

Also, living in a house full of dead skin, pollen, dust mites and fecal matter (yeah, really) probably isn’t all that great for you.

So, grab a microfiber cloth (not a feather duster, which, despite its popularity among sexy French maids, is surprisingly ineffective at actually removing dust) and give the tops of your cabinets, fixtures, cupboards, refrigerator, ceiling fan blades and shelves a good wipe-down. And remember to be thorough. Dusting around the stuff that’s sitting on top of your fridge isn’t good enough.

Toss out things that have expired

It’s a good idea to go through your apartment at least once a year and trash anything that’s expired. By doing so, you free up valuable cupboard space and get a handle on what needs to be replaced .

It doesn’t take long to rid your apartment of stuff that’s gone bad. A fast five-minute scan of the medicine cabinet is all you’ll need to locate any expired prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Make sure you dispose of them properly, either by following the disposal instructions on the container or by bringing them to your local take-back program. Never flush medicine down the toilet unless the instructions tell you to – the fish don’t need hormonal birth control or anti-nausea pills.

Then, take a look through your cupboards and fridge for food that’s no longer good, which includes both stuff that’s past its expiration date and stuff that’s so moldy it’s unrecognizable. Write down the names of anything you want to replace so you won’t find yourself two weeks from now halfway into making a cake only to discover you have no flour. Oh, and next time, try to use your food up before it goes bad.

Clean the damn microwave

The inside of your microwave is home to a detailed history of your most banal culinary adventures. Remember that time you nuked yourself a bowl of chili after a long day at work? Or that time you were too lazy to put the kettle on for tea, so you just zapped some water instead? Ah, sweet memories.

Alas, there comes a time in a woman’s life when she must let go of her past and start anew with a clean slate microwave.

To get that microwave sparkling clean, start by filling a microwave-safe container halfway with equal parts water and white vinegar. Set the microwave for five minutes and let it run, keeping an eye on it to be safe. The goal is to get the water to start steaming. If you’re concerned about the possibility of superheated water (though this phenomenon doesn’t occur nearly as often as chain emails would have you believe), leave a wooden spoon in the container with the mixture.

When the time is up, use oven mitts or a folded dishtowel to carefully remove the container from the microwave. Then, simply wipe the insides of the microwave with a clean cloth or paper towel. The steam will have loosened the gunk (sorry, the memories) so it’s easy to remove. If the turntable still has any stubborn stains, a quick hand-wash in some warm, soapy water should do the trick.

Wipe down your disgusting keyboard

You use your keyboard, phone, mouse, headphones and other tech-type devices every day, but how often do you actually clean them? Probably not often enough. Why not take this opportunity to liberate your favorite gadgets from the coating of dirt, Doritos dust and various biological materials that’s spread across their surfaces? It’s best if you don’t think about this one too much – just do it, before you give yourself a panic attack.

If you’ve got a desktop keyboard, buy yourself one of those nifty cans of compressed air and blow all the gross crumbs and dead skin out from between the keys. For laptop keyboards, a soft-bristled brush should be enough.

To remove the grime that accumulates on top of and in between keys, use Q-tips and paper towels dampened with an isopropyl alcohol solution. This is also a good way to clean your phone, earbuds, mouse and a number of other electronics (but do your own research first; I take no responsibility for any broken devices). Make sure that before you clean any of your electronics or peripherals, you unplug them and remove the batteries.