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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Doing Spring Cleaning in Winter

Winter seems to be a better season than spring for me to do a major cleaning. In winter, I'm not working in the garden, creating holiday stuff, shopping, cooking, and baking in a frenzy, or vacationing. Everyone in the house is back on their regular schedules, so I'm not as busy with them, either. 

I am still a pretty busy person, however. So, I tackle the "winter cleaning" in small chunks. Each day, I take on a new task or work on a different area of the house. While I don't get that great "doesn't the house just sparkle" moment with cleaning in bits and pieces, by Easter I have cleared out the cobwebs and cleaned up all of the little messes and stains so my home is pleasing.

Yesterday, I tackled one small section of the kitchen, wiping down the appliances, cupboard doors, and counters, editing out unnecessary stuff, and touching up nicks in the paint on the door and drawer fronts.

a small scratch that also had a stain next to it

We have several tiny nicks in the surface of our painted cabinets. Nicks in light-colored paint appear like small dark marks. 

I mixed a tiny bit of each paint until it looked about right

I used some acrylic craft paint and a craft paint brush to dab on a tiny amount of paint and camouflage these little nicks.

The scratch is much less noticeable, I think. Other nicks look much improved, too.

I'm very happy with how well this worked. While these things may seem insignificant, I like to take care of them as I find them. That way, the jobs don't pile up and seem overwhelming. Plus, it just makes me feel better about my house when I think it looks nice.

note: yesterday's cleaning was a bigger job than I take on most days. The day before, my cleaning task was to wipe down all of the light switches in the house with rubbing alcohol, and the day before that was to clean the washing machine. So don't get the idea that I spend lots of time cleaning every day.


  1. Good Morning, Lili,

    I also do winter cleaning but I will say I am not the best house keeper. I don't like it so I would much rather to light cleaning.

    I remember as a child that mom would take apart her entire living room to prepare for spring cleaning. Everything got pulled out and really washed well. Bedrooms would be washed from top to bottom and those nice cool crispy sheets every couple weeks were so delicious. Today, mom doesn't clean the house like she used to. In fact, it is very run down. Dad does a lot of shampooing carpets but the cobwebs on the ceiling will need elbow grease. They would be insulted if I suggested it so we leave it alone. Let them live in their home comfortably.

    This past weekend I noticed my oven was very dirty so I used the self cleaning mode (I tried with other stuff but did not clean like the self-cleaning did). I first cleaned the window with a scrubby and a razor blade--the smell was awful. But I got the oven clean. Then on to purging my cupboards and organizing them. I still need to tackle those cobwebs so may in the next couple days. Another forgotten thing is getting the dust from on top of the cupboards. The house doesn't have bulkheads so there is a top to all the cupboards that attract dust.

    Thanks for the gentle reminder to start "winter cleaning"!


  2. I am a clean a little at a time, also. However, I'm not so organized as you are. I basically clean or sort whatever is bothering me at the time. Recently, I have purged my sock drawer and coupon and catalog bins. The fridge got a good clean as well as the washing machine. Alice reminded me that the top of my kitchen cabinets have only been dusted once and I think that is when we first moved in. And the oven really needs some attention. That will probably wait for a warmer day so we can open the windows. My sister carries a dust rag in her pocket and dusts things when she notices them. Works well for her.

  3. We just moved to an older home, which was very well-maintained, but I still see some work for me here. First on the list will be touching up the white woodwork. Like you, I don't like to see knicks and scratches, and it is so easy to fix. Along with that will be removing the door hinges on most doors to remove the paint. They were a bit sloppy! These are 1938 brass hinges, and will be beautiful when shined up.

    These tasks will cost very little but will make a great improvement. Like "Live and Learn," I find that doing a little bit each day really adds up.

    Midwest Gal

  4. I'm also a winter cleaner rather than a spring cleaner for similar reasons to yours, Lili. I smiled when I saw this post since I just got done taking everything off my countertops, sorting through it and doing a deeper cleaning. I might also wash the indoor kitchen/dining windows. Usually I tackle the entire kitchen all at once but I'm not sure I have the mental fortitude to go through with that today. This is one of those aspects of house owning that I dislike, but I do know that I feel better about my home when it is well tended to. Question about the rubbing alcohol on the outlet covers--do you do that for germ management or does it also help with cutting grease? We don't do a lot of stovetop (greasy) cooking but it still seems to build up .

  5. Hi Alice,
    I don't care for cleaning much either. I try to choose tasks that will give me a good bang for my buck or that are necessary for good hygiene. I think a lot of women used to do a super thorough spring cleaning, but very few do that today. Most of us just don't have time or our time is taken up with many, many more distractions, often communication or relationship distractions, because we have such great technology now. Maintaining relationships is important, too.
    I think your choice to just ignore the cobwebs in your parents' house is very respectful. A few cobwebs never hurt anyone, but feelings can be easily hurt.

  6. Hi Live and Learn,
    When I first read your comment, I thought you meant that when your sister comes to visit your house that she carries a dust rag in her pocket. I was thinking, "wow, that's the kind of sister that I need!"
    Your recent cleaning work sounds great! I'm not all that organized about my cleaning. I just choose one task per day. I'm usually looking for what will give the biggest impression of clean in the moment.
    I took the easy way out with the oven yesterday and used self-clean. I don't like the chemicals for cleaning and don't have the elbow grease for a lot of scrubbing. So, if I have the option to use a self-clean feature, I will. The bonus was it made the house quite warm in the afternoon, so I could turn the thermostat down for a couple of hours.

  7. Hi Midwest Girl,
    You're going about your cleaning in the same way that I do. I look for what can give the biggest impression for least money and time. The brass hinges and woodwork will gleam when you're done with those jobs.

  8. Hi Kris,
    Good work on your kitchen. Kitchens and bathrooms seem to need more attention.
    Rubbing alcohol is both a disinfectant and cleans grease quickly, evaporates fast, and leaves no residue which will attract new dirt. Note: Contrary to what one might imagine, 70% isopropyl alcohol is actually better than 91% alcohol at destroying germs, so go with the cheap stuff. For an explanation why, see this page
    To clean doorknobs and light switches, I go around the house with a rag in one hand and the open bottle of alcohol in the other. It's a pretty quick job. The alcohol is great on light switches, door knobs, cabinet/drawer pulls, and faucet/flush handles. The influenza is supposed to be pretty bad this year, and I have 2 teachers in my household, so I'm doing this weekly.

    Can I tell you how we handle the stovetop? So, we have a gas stove that has these large, heavy grates that cover 2 burners each. To clean the stovetop, we have to remove all of the grates (3 in total), set them on the counter, then clean the surface of the stove. It's a pain, and especially so that we have to wait for the stove to cool after cooking. (When we had an electric coil stove, I could wipe it down each night no problem.) So, because we all cook and make messes on the stove, it needs to be cleaned each week. We each take a weekend of the month for this. It's never so dirty that it looks horrible or is difficult to clean. And having everyone take a turn at cleaning it reminds us all to be careful when we're cooking and try to not make such huge messes. This is making a big difference. To clean the stovetop, I use Mrs. Meyers. It seems to work pretty well without chemicals that make me feel sick. If there's something badly burned on, or grease that has cooked to the surface, I use a table knife to gently scrape it off. Seems to work for me.

  9. Did I mention before that I was low maintenance lol. The only time I clean is before our grands have a stay over. Otherwise, it is very surface cleaning. To be economical, I use leftover soap water from other tasks to scrub the toilet bowl, then touch up the seat with rubbing alcohol (not dumping soap water down the drain seems to be a better incentive than cleaning for clean sake). We recently bought ethyl alcohol, smells a bit different. It is supposed to kill a broader spectrum of germs. Also, eating only two meals a day, cuts out a lot of work. Recently, my husband and I decided to do less shopping and stay at home to do chores around the house. So yesterday, I started a list of <30 min, l hr, >2 hr chores. I will pick at least one from the list each day. So today, it was clean the Keurig coffee maker, and organize medical paperwork (decide what to keep/throw away). I'm going to continue weeding paper work until tax preparation time to get me into the mood to do pour taxes. I usually dread it so much. Now it is super easy, yet I still dread it.

    This year, I'm keeping a "planner", to record each day which chores I plan to do, and check it off. I still have last week's unfinished chore, which is to organize my fabrics. I haven't decided how I want to organize them, or where to put them. Once I take them out, it will be overwhelming, so I continue to procrastinate. The problem I continually face when I do stuff is I get sidetracked or I open Pandora boxes all the time. Maybe I have ADD.


  10. I, too, try to keep up on smaller cleaning projects rather than a couple of times a year. I kind of like the satisfaction of cleaning and love to see the end result. My sister used to work at an appliance repair shop - she told me that self-cleaning features on ovens shouldn't be used because they get so hot that they actually ruin the ovens. I had used that feature for years and I did have to replace my double ovens (right before Thanksgiving one year). Since then, I have cleaned the oven with elbow grease. I have also been much more careful about spillage, etc. because it is such a messy job!. I just thought I would share that tip.

    I love the tip you shared about cleaning with alcohol. That will be on my to-do list this weekend. Thanks, Lili!

  11. Hi YHF,
    you sound much more organized than me. I commend you on making a list of chores by hour long they take. That sounds like such a great idea.
    I hear you on dreading taxes. I'm trying to just get my foot in that door so I'll just be started. I know that will work for me, it's just getting myself to start that is hard.
    I find that I am spurred to clean just before any guests. It's exhausting, but a good thing -- gets the house cleaned, at least on the surface.
    Have a great day!

  12. Hu Ruthie,
    I once read that the self-clean was not good for ovens, but don't recall why. I still use mine, about 2 times per year, as I can't do chemicals any more and I just don't have much elbow grease left. I do try to prevent spills, though, using baking sheets under foods that can boil over. I do believe that helps a lot.
    Thanks for the info on self-clean ovens.
    Have a great weekend, Ruthie.


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