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CHOICE's best spring cleaning hacks

Make this the year that you get on top of your spring cleaning while it's still spring

assorted cleaning equipment
Last updated: 07 September 2021

For some of us, spring cleaning feels like more of a punishment than a way to embrace the new season. (I feel you!) So, even if you hate it, why not make it as easy as possible for yourself?

We've asked the CHOICE team to share their top tips for making spring cleaning almost as easy as making the mess in the first place. (Almost. We're not miracle workers!)

Before you get cracking though, we have some wise words from CHOICE household expert Chris: "Do whatever you can – better to tick something off the list than do nothing." 

How to plan your spring clean

First things first, give yourself something to look forward to. "Work to a reward," says CHOICE staffer Daniel. "Promise yourself a nice dinner or food delivery once it's all done."

While you might have good intentions of knocking it all over in one day or weekend, be realistic about what you can achieve. Better to under-promise and over-deliver, right?

One way to avoid the overwhelm but still get things done is to set yourself an achievable time limit – an hour, for instance. An hour of cleaning is better than no cleaning at all.  

And delegate, delegate, delegate. Split up jobs between household members so it's less overwhelming. If you have a friend who lives for reorganising kitchen cupboards, invite them over to attack your pantry. If you don't have an equivalent secret skill you can trade, offer to babysit or dog walk for them – or just buy them a thankyou gift. 

Prioritise high-impact jobs

Some spring cleaning tasks are thankless and definitely don't spark joy. Just spent an hour dusting the tops of picture frames? Chances are no-one in your house will notice. 

But some jobs give you an instant boost. CHOICE kitchen queen Fiona recommends cleaning the outside of your windows to give your home a quick lift. 

"It makes such a difference for months. Your home feels clean – not to mention the difference it makes looking through them!" she says. 

Try 'chore-snacking'

Doing smaller chores daily, rather than a deep clean once in a while, will help you stay on top of cleaning. 

"I try to keep a list of those extra cleaning jobs that don't need doing every week and then tackle one or two each day through the week – things like cleaning baseboards in the kitchen or dusting the top of picture frames," says CHOICE managing editor Marg. 

"Then I can just do the bigger jobs over the weekend when I have more time."

Another CHOICEr, Wendy, swears by doing a decent clean every month or so: "it saves on having to do a mega clean in spring."

person cleaning living room and listening to music on headphones

How to use technology for spring cleaning

CHOICE technology expert Alex was a little *too* excited to tell us about his spring cleaning tips. "Ooooo I love spring cleaning! Especially decluttering," he told us. (Surely no-one likes cleaning that much!)

But he shared a fantastic tip for organising your spring cleaning plan of attack: "I use an app like RoomSketcher to make it less intimidating and plan ahead what I'm going to do in steps," he says. 

"I use it to make a relatively accurate floor plan of my apartment and I circle areas that I'm going to tackle. Having that bird's eye view is really helpful."

It makes the job more do-able as he can focus on a specific area of the house, rather than the overwhelming feeling of having to clean the entire house all in one go, he says. And you can allocate specific rooms or tasks to family members or housemates to keep track of who's doing what.

"Plus, you can tick off areas once they're done which gives a nice sense of accomplishment and lets you track how much you have left to do," he says. 

How to use vinegar for spring cleaning

Vinegar is the quiet achiever of the cleaning world. There's not much it can't do. 

CHOICE staffer Daniel says he finds a mix of water and vinegar to be excellent for cleaning. 

"But it's worth rinsing off with plain water afterwards, otherwise it can make your home smell like a fish'n'chip shop," he quips.

Here's a few ways to use it:

  • Use it to clean and descale your kettle and coffee machine
  • Pop some in your dishwasher to give it a thorough clean
  • For streak-free windows, try white vinegar and water in equal parts with newspaper, paper towel or a dry cotton cloth
  • Use it as a cheap and effective alternative to fabric softener (which we've found doesn't do the job anyway – seriously, just stick with the vinegar!)
  • Kill mould (see below for a how-to)
  • Freshen up kitchen gear like pressure cookers, multi cookers, Dutch ovens and stainless steel

How to banish pet hair

If you're a dog- or cat-lover, you've probably come to accept pet hair as an inevitable part of your life. But if you're trying to keep on top of the dog hair tumbleweed and the cat hair adorning every surface in your house, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Lightly dampen a pair of rubber gloves (the kind used for dishwashing) and run them over your soft furnishings. This creates static energy, attracting the pet hair. Rinse off and repeat. 
  • Buy an effective vacuum cleaner. Not all 'pet' vacuums actually do a great job of sucking up the pet hair, but we've compiled a list of the best vacuum cleaners for removing pet hair that'll sort out the fluff in no time. 
  • Sweep your hard floors with a rubber broom, and get yourself a smaller rubber broom for furniture and clothing. The electrostatic charge they create helps to pick up pet hair.
  • Try a lint roller, sticky tape or anti-static spray to keep clothes and soft furnishings hair-free. 

For more tips, read How to get rid of pet hair at home

How to clean your appliances

Your house will only be as clean as your cleaners: your washing machine, dishwasher and vacuum cleaner. So you need to show them some love too. 

Washing machine

Whatever you may have seen on the internet, do NOT use dishwasher tablets to clean your washing machine. 

"Washing machines aren't designed to deal with highly caustic dishwasher detergents, so doing this may damage seals and hoses over time," says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley. 

You can give your washing machine a quick clean by occasionally running a very hot empty cycle with just a bit of detergent. This will help keep scrud (a build-up of detergent) at bay. And ditch the fabric softeners – they don't work anyway, and they can add to the build-up. 

Want to know more? Here's how to clean and maintain your washing machine

Dishwasher

To give your dishwasher a little TLC, pour a cup of vinegar into a bowl on the top or bottom rack of your empty dishwasher, then run a full cycle. This will help remove soap build-up and odours.

Vinegar is the quiet achiever of the cleaning world

Just check your manual first: some manufacturers advise against using vinegar to clean certain models. 

Does your dishwasher need a deep clean? Here's how to clean your dishwasher, according to our experts. 

cleaning vacuum cleaner filter

Vacuum cleaner

Spending most of its life sucking up all the icky stuff from our floors, the humble vacuum cleaner could be one of the dirtiest appliances in the house. But if you give it a good clean, it'll give you a better clean in return – and it could even extend the life of your vacuum. 

Our vacuum experts have put together a full run-down of how to clean your vacuum cleaner to help you get the best clean from your cleaner. 

Everything else

Want to know how to clean the rest of your household appliances? We've got you covered. 

using toothbrush to clean grout between bathroom tiles

How to kill mould properly

A simple solution to mould is good old-fashioned vinegar. Who would've thought? 

Bleach just bleaches the mould, but doesn't usually kill it – so even though it looks like it's been taken care of, it's still lurking there. And before you spend a fortune on dedicated mould-cleaning products, give vinegar a go first. 

Don't mix bleach and vinegar – it can create dangerous chlorine gas

A solution of 80% vinegar, 20% water, three buckets and a microfibre cloth are the best tools for the job. (Just don't mix bleach and vinegar – it can create dangerous chlorine gas.)

How to declutter your unwanted items

CHOICE staffer Helen shared some excellent advice: "Never organise what you can declutter." There's no point re-organising and cleaning around stuff you don't really need. 

Alex has yet another hack for decluttering. "We always have what we call our 'Vinnies Bag' on the go," he says. 

"It's an old travel bag that we pop things into to donate as soon as it comes to mind. That way you can just do a drop-off whenever the bag gets full."

Cable management can make a huge difference to how cluttered a room looks

CHOICE tech expert, Alex

While you may be limited as to where you can donate unwanted items during lockdown, other options include council pickup and local buy, sell, swap groups (there are plenty of these on Facebook). Just make sure to be Covid-safe if someone is coming to your house to pick something up. 

If you're hoping to offload some things via council pickup, make sure you book it first or check when it's coming up. "There's nothing worse than accumulating a pile of stuff and not being able to offload it," says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona. "It's even worse seeing junk left out on the street for weeks."

How to clean your electronics

Tech head Peter likes to give his electronics like soundbars, games consoles, computers, etc a thorough clean each year. Here are his cleaning tips:

  • Dust is the enemy of electronics so it's worth lifting them up and giving the area under and around them a solid clean. 
  • Clean out the ventilation and fan ports as well. You can dust them or gently vacuum them. 
  • Keep an eye out for dead insects too. Cockroaches love warmth and they're known to crawl into electronics then die, which can cause heating issues and even cause them to short out. 
  • If you're feeling confident, and the warranty allows it, unplug your electronics and take the case off. Sucking up the dust and dead critters will extend the longevity – and they'll probably run a lot more quietly too. 
  • A feather duster and gentle vacuum should do the job, but cotton-tipped ear buds are also really handy for getting into the hard-to-reach places where dust can accumulate. 

"Cable management can make a huge difference to how cluttered a room looks," adds CHOICE tech expert Alex. 

"Re-usable velcro cable ties are more useful than plastic ones, and more environmentally friendly too."

And if they're at the end of their life, don't forget to recycle your electronics. 

"It's really important not to throw them in the bin. Just remember to format or factory reset any devices with data storage like phones, laptops, etc," says Alex.

How to give your mattress a spruce up

You spend a third of your life on it, so it's worth showing your mattress some love. 

Our mattress experts recommend cleaning your mattress around twice a year. And you'll probably only need some regular household items to do the job. 

"A hefty handful of bicarb can help keep your mattress smelling fresh, and most people will have a box of it at home," says Peter, one of CHOICE's mattress experts. (You'll need to vacuum it up afterwards, obviously.)

Read our article on how to clean a mattress for more tips for a deep clean. 

How to use power tools for spring cleaning

"On the weekend, I was thinking 'If someone hasn't invented a cleaning brush that I can use with my power drill, then I should do it myself!'," says CHOICE TV expert Scott. 

Turns out they do exist. (Sorry Scott – you won't make your fortune as an inventor with this idea.) 

This drill brush set from Supercheap Auto will only set you back $19.99, and for that you'll get three round brushes of varying sizes and one cone brush. This Ryobi hex shank drill brush set from Bunnings costs $29.98 but comes with soft, medium and hard nylon bristles, making it suitable for a range of household cleaning tasks. 

They're best suited to cleaning hardy surfaces like grout, shower screens, bathroom tiles and the like. You could also use them on outdoor furniture, car wheels, windows, and BBQ plates. 

Just make sure you don't pick up a wire brush set – they're designed for stripping paint and rust from metal, so they'll probably damage your household surfaces instead of cleaning them!

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE