With the warmer weather comes a lot of much better things: shorter skirts and spending time soaking up some Vitamin D in the sunshine among my favorite. But this time of the year also brings something not-so-pleasant: Spring Cleaning.

I've never been a huge fan of cleaning. I'll admit to having flurries of organizing fury but they rarely last long and I never seem to do enough to get things done. But when it comes time to sort through the house and do the deep cleaning that the move from winter-to-spring calls for, I follow my abuelita's advice for how to get spruce up the house in the most effective way with the least amount of effort. With her tips, you'll get your house in top shape in no time. 


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1. Start the cleaning by going through the closets: The first thing that every good Spring cleaning needs is sorting through clothes and getting rid of what's not quite right anymore. Make four piles: one of clothes to donate, one of clothes you're definitely keeping, one of clothes that need to be altered and the fourth for clothes that are "maybe's". Get a friend or family member to help you with the last pile, modeling everything and moving it into "to keep" or "to donate" piles.

2. Donate your old stuff but keep old socks as rags: Once your clothes are all divided up, contact your local Salvation Army or Goodwill to donate the clothes. Other things you can donate: electronics you haven't used in a while, books you always meant to read but never got to and shoes that are in decent condition but you never wear. The one big tip from my grandmother, though, is to save your old socks and use them as rags when you clean the house.

3. Wipe everything down before dusting surfaces: Dusting on its own isn't good enough, said my abuela. To really make sure that everything is thoroughly cleaned, remove items from surfaces in the living room and kitchen. Any lamp, trinket, book, candle and other things need to be removed from table tops and counters and thoroughly cleaned and wiped. Then, dust all of the surfaces before putting everything back in its place. This clears the dirt from top to bottom.

4. Use toothbrushes to clean grout and other corners: If you have tile in the bathroom or any other room in the house, once in a while the grout (the cement in between) needs to be cleaned thoroughly. For that and any other small corners throughout the house, save your old toothbrushes and use them for deep scrubbing. I've used mine for places like the top corners of my bathtub, around the oven knobs and the inside corners of my refrigerator.

5. A little bit of detergent and some water go a long way: Although my grandmother now relies on a little Mr. Clean with water in a large bowl, back in Cuba they didn't have as many options as we do now. If you're out of most cleaning supplies or are trying to save some money, mix some dried detergent (the kind you use for laundry) with water and use that as your main scrubber. 

6. Newspaper and water is great for washing mirrors: I could have never believed this tip if I hadn't seen how amazingly easy and effective it could be for myself. It somehow works better than Windex or your typical mirror and window cleaners. All you need is an old newspaper, soak it under some water and wipe everything down. It's a great way to save some money, recycle newspapers and even get a shinier sheen than you'd ever get with bought products.

7.  Finish by washing the floors with a wooden mop: I'll admit that I have a Swiffer mop for light cleaning once a week, but nothing can get my floors as tidy as a good old fashioned sweeping with a real broom, followed by washing the floor with a wooden mop. I don't know how others do it, but the best way to really scrub everything is by really doing a tough job with that kind of mop. Once you finish with it, you're done! And all of your hard for Spring cleaning is complete.

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What is your best tip for deep cleaning and organizing the house during Spring?

Image via Evil Erin/flickr