We've been programmed to believe that spring is the time for a complete, deep house cleansing. But the practice of spring cleaning arose out of necessity in the cold regions of Colonial America, when the early settlers found their walls, floors and furnishings covered in soot and ashes after a long winter spent burning wood for warmth. While March and April still might be ritual months for a top-to-bottom cleaning, fall is when we're preparing for the holidays and, in many cases, the arrival of visitors and overnight houseguests.
As a bonus, by cleaning thoroughly in autumn, you'll eliminate dirt, dust and pollen that blew in through your open windows during the summer and improve the air quality in your home when it's sealed up for the winter.
Here are six tips for getting - and keeping - your house clean before the in-laws arrive, from Todd Borom, owner of a Glen Cove-based Molly Maid cleaning franchise that serves the North Shore of Nassau County.
1. Stocking feet
"One of the biggest tips from my cleaning experience is not wearing shoes in the house," he says. "It really makes a huge difference in terms of the cleanliness of the home and how much dirt is tracked throughout. It makes cleaning the home much easier."
2. Work from top to bottom, and left to right
Moving around the room in one direction ensures you won't miss anything; dusting from top to bottom means dust from upper surfaces won't land on newly cleaned items.
3. Remember the sash
Wiping out the window sash - the inside part of the window frame in which the window slides open - helps keep the rest of the house clean, Borom says. "A lot of dirt sits in the window sash and blows into the house, attracted by static and electromagnetic rays from the television." Wipe it once a week with a microfiber cloth.
4. Let it sit
When cleaning countertops and glass shower doors, Borom advises against simply spraying and wiping. "Spray on an all-purpose solution and let it sit for a few minutes. You need to let the chemical penetrate, so leave the room and do something else for two minutes. It makes a big difference."
5. Improve your reflection
Mirror streaks aren't always visible while you're cleaning, so Borom recommends standing to the side and turning off the light to get the best view.
6. Squeegee the bath
To prevent mold from growing and soap scum from building up on shower tiles, run a squeegee over them. "Wiping down the shower is huge," Borom says, but he adds that you don't have to get neurotic about doing it every day. "Just wipe down all the tiles after every few showers. It goes a long way."