Spring cleaning. That dreaded annual event that everyone puts off until the last minute. These days, “spring cleaning” is more of an expression used to describe a deep scrubbing and purging of your home than it is to indicate a specific seasonal activity. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and once you’ve done it, you’ll be so glad you did.
Speaking of cleaning, when I was in college, I worked as a maid at a hotel during my summer breaks. It’s not that it was my dream job, it’s just that the hotel was in close proximity to my home, and since I had an irrational fear of driving at that time, walking was my only means of transportation. This hotel was not the Ritz-Carlton, it was a very outdated, stuffy, dusty, somewhat spooky place that was used mainly for “convenience” if you get what I mean. The manager, who also happened to be the owner, paid us under the table, and my fellow maids were “lifers” who could clean a room in a mere fraction of the time that I could.
I have a lot of interesting stories from my time at this hotel. There was a guest who stayed there long-term who kept a hotplate in his room and cooked all his food on it. Unfortunately, he just dumped the resulting grease into the bathtub. What fun it was to see that room number on my assignment sheet each shift. There was a different room where another long-term guest looked like he used that same cooking oil in his hair. The pillowcase was so transparently greasy each morning, that I considered throwing it, and the pillow, away instead of trying to salvage them. And, years after I left my job at the hotel, I heard a rumor that a homicide victim was found in one of the downstairs rooms. Good times, good times…
While I don’t look back too fondly on my tenure as a hotel maid, I did learn a lot about cleaning from that job. The hotel was gross, but the rooms I cleaned were as immaculate as I could make them. I actually took pride in my ability to spruce up those sad and dreary rooms, and at least give the guests some kind of hope in this lonely old world.
Here are five spring cleaning tips that I picked up at Hotel Hell:
1. Baking Soda for Tubs and Carpets
Nothing can clean a tub, and grout, like baking soda. Ditch the harsh chemicals and use this cheap, non-toxic alternative to make your bathtub sparkle. Add a little water to make the baking soda a paste and use a scrub brush to apply. Simply wash it all down the drain once you’ve achieved the desired results. Baking soda can also be sprinkled on carpets before vacuuming to remove odor. Easy and effective!
2. Vinegar for Mirrors and Fixtures
If you prefer streak-free mirrors and shiny chrome fixtures over those splattered with soap, toothpaste, and hairspray, use vinegar to shine those surfaces. Make a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, and voila! An inexpensive alternative to toxic ammonia-based products.
3. Remove and Replace Clutter
Whenever you’re sorting a junk drawer, or a cluttered closet, you might think that rummaging through and throwing out this or that is the easy way to do it. Not true. Take everything out and only put back what you want to keep. It saves so much time. When I cleaned rooms, I took all the trash, dirty sheets and towels, etc. out first to make the room a clean slate. This organizational technique works like a charm.
4. Mind the Details
People often overlook the details when it comes to cleaning, but spring cleaning is the perfect time to pay close attention and tend to all the nooks and crannies. When you’re a hotel maid, every time you clean is like spring cleaning. You want to present a pristine room to guests, so you make sure to check behind the toilets, scrub the baseboards, dust ceiling fan blades, and wipe down the walls. Attend to every surface when you’re spring cleaning, and your house will gleam from floor to ceiling!
5. Perform Maintenance
Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to replace burned out light bulbs, old smoke detector batteries, and dirty air filters. Schedule the water heater, dryer vents, HVAC, and other systems to be serviced by a professional if need be. If your house is due to be power-washed, inspected for termites, or the like, this is the time to do it.
No, I don’t regret my time as a hotel maid, though sometimes I do get dry heaves from time to time thinking about that bathtub-o-lard I had to slop up. I’m grateful that I learned so much about how to look at a room and make it spic and span and welcoming to the next hotel guest. Your home is your haven and the place where family and friends come to spend time and experience your hospitality. Spring cleaning is an excellent opportunity to get your home in the best shape for you and your loved ones to enjoy.