Texas Living

Spring-Cleaning Hacks for a Refreshed Home and Mind

By Annie Wiles 4.8.22

By now, you’ve probably heard the question, “Does it spark joy?”

It comes from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Illustrated Guide to the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The concept is fairly intuitive: If you look at something and it doesn’t spark joy, you don’t need it in your home, in your closet, on your bookshelf — anywhere. You can either throw it away or, if it’s still usable, pass it along to someone for whom it could spark joy.

Everyone experiences joy differently, so this will look different for every house. But everyone can appreciate the comfort and joy of a clean, decluttered space. Below, we bring you inspiration and options for a thorough spring-cleaning and a fresh start. Clear out the cobwebs (of your house and mind) with these spring-cleaning tips:

spring cleaning ideas
Photo by Elizabeth Lavin; food styling by Lisa Martel-Mohon; prop styling by Jamie Laubhan-Oliver.

12 Spritzes to Refresh Your Home All Year

Add a few drops of essential oils to a small spray bottle of water for an instant room freshener or pillow spray. For a 4-ounce spray bottle of water, you can add up to around 45 drops total. Try these blends:

  • Refresh: lavender, orange, geranium
  • Clear Head: rosemary, peppermint, pine
  • Cheer Up: mandarin, bergamot, clary sage
  • Tropical Escape: cinnamon, ginger, sandalwood
  • Energy Rush: ginger, juniper, orange
  • Worry Away: mandarin, chamomile, geranium
  • Harvest Time: cinnamon, clove, orange
  • Cold Away: tea tree, rosemary, geranium
  • Forest Cottage: cedarwood, juniper, frankincense
  • Winter Warmer: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, black pepper
  • Breathe Deep: eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme
  • Sleepy Time: chamomile, lavender, marjoram
spring cleaning ideas
Photo by Elizabeth Lavin. Food Styling by Lisa Martel-Mohon. Prop Styling by Jamie Laubhan-Oliver

6 Pantry Essentials

These humble heroes will quietly conquer all the dirt in your house.

1. White Vinegar: White vinegar is truly the white knight of the kitchen that can vanquish any foe. It disinfects without bleach, keeping your kitchen food-safe; it dissolves the gluiest gunk from surfaces, dishes, and appliances; it melts away hard water mineral buildup (useful in the state with the sixth-hardest water), defogging glassware and undimming faucets. It even cleans the things that clean, like dishwashers and washing machines. No task is too big or too small for the humble yet mighty vinegar bottle twinkling in the back of your pantry.

2. Baking Soda: Medieval people used to hold sachets of flowers and spices under their noses to avoid the smells of city life. If someone ever figures out time traveling, they could make a killing with baking soda. Baking soda can clean, refresh, and deodorize almost anything: dishwashers and sponges, garbage disposals and drains, mattresses and rugs, microwaves and mugs, and even toys — which are (fun fact) some of the dirtiest things in your home. It can de-scum your bathroom and polish your silver. What more could you want? Besides a time machine.

3. Cornstarch: Consummate kitchen thickener and friend to roux, stews, and stir-fries, cornstarch typically sits unused when you have no sauces to stiffen. But it could be doing so much more — like shaking mildew and must out of beloved books or dirt out of well-worn stuffed animals; polishing windows and wood; scrubbing stains from pots and pans and walls; detangling knots, shoelaces, and even pet fur; unsticking rubber gloves and deodorizing smelly shoes. Time to get this MVP off the bench.

4. Lemons: We all know about feeding lemons to the garbage disposal monster. But did you know you can throw them in your dishwasher to improve shine? Lemon juice unstains plastic; lemon rinds polish faucets and hardware; lemon water steams odors and grime out of microwaves and ovens; lemons de-rust knives and de-cheese graters and so much more. Best of all, adding lemon to your vinegar-based cleaning hacks will neutralize the smell.

5. Coarse Sea Salt: There’s a reason salt scrubs are so popular. Salt is an amazing abrasive that scours clean everything from wood cutting boards to cast-iron skillets. Salt water is a cure-all that can both ease congestion when gargled and dislodge scum from flower vases when swirled around (let’s not think about that too deeply).

6. Flour: Flour has range. It makes vastly varied dishes, so it should be no surprise that it also works such widely varied wonders as polishing brass and copper, absorbing spills, rubbing grime out of sinks, shaking oils out of playing cards, and forming a pantry border that ants simply won’t cross.

Find full instructions for how to clean with these pantry heroes here.

spring cleaning ideas

A Year of Cleaning

Ever wondered exactly how often you’re actually supposed to be cleaning something? Now you can refer to this handy annual home cleaning schedule (or tear it out and give it to your favorite college student). Get the checklist here.

Where to Donate

Knowing where and how to donate useful household items is important. For instance, bedding, towels, and linens can often go to animal shelters; books, toys, games, and arts and crafts to schools and children’s shelters; clothes, shoes, toiletries, and cosmetics to women’s shelters. Kitchen supplies, furniture, and rugs can often find second lives too. Learn more about where to donate here.

© 2022 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance