9 spring cleaning rules professional organizers always stick to

Every home is unique, but there are a few spring cleaning rules professional organizers always stick to, regardless...

Eco-friendly bathroom accessories: toothbrushes, reusable cotton make up removal pads, make up remover and body lotion in glass containers, natural brushes, handmade soap and house plants against white wall.
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You’ll usually find that beautifully organized homes are also beautifully clean, but what’s the secret to achieving both? We’ve gone straight to the sources themselves and uncovered the spring cleaning rules professional organizers always stick to in their own homes. 

Of course, preparing for spring cleaning will vary depending on how big your home is – and how messy you are. But according to the pros, there’s a few cleaning tips and home organizing ideas that can be implemented in any space, with good results guaranteed. 

It’s not an endless spring cleaning checklist either (no pro has time for that, they’ve got a job to do, after all), it’s about being savvy with your time and putting in the elbow grease where necessary. 

Spring cleaning rules professionals organizers always stick to 

Cleaning is not the most motivating of tasks, we admit, but don’t be tempted to throw out the rule book – following those recommended by the experts should not only save you time, but should help you to get through spring cleaning without getting overwhelmed, too. 

1. Make a schedule

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(Image credit: Martha Brook)

Getting stuck straight to your spring cleaning session might feel like a productive approach, but it can have the opposite effect, leaving you feeling completely overwhelmed and wondering why you started the job in the first place.  

‘As well as organizing  cleaning supplies in advance, I like to make a list of the things I’d like to accomplish and in what order, so they’re not all floating around in my head. It makes the whole process feel a lot more manageable, and you’re less likely to give up halfway through’, says Andrea, Founder of home and lifestyle blog, Pine & Prospect Home. 

As well as being useful in terms of organization, a cleaning checklist (like this one, from Amazon) can help mentally, too. Finding the motivation to clean isn’t always easy, but crossing things off as you go means you can visually see yourself making progress. 

2. Tackle one room at a time

No professional organizer would attempt to spring clean their entire home in one go – and neither should you. It’s a big undertaking, particularly if you’ve not done it in a while. Instead, experts recommend breaking your house down into sections, either by room or by area, and tackling them one by one. 

‘This allows you to focus on the room at hand and adjust to any aspects that fall short of your current needs, whether that’s rearranging furniture or implementing new organizational systems’,  says professional organizer Shannon Krause, Founder of Tidy Nest. 

‘Make sure you finish one job completely (such as decluttering a closet when giving your bedroom a spring clean) before moving on to the next, and take regular breaks to prevent burnout’. 

3. Declutter first

Living room alcove with small gallery wall

(Image credit: Future)

One of the most important parts of a spring clean is the decluttering phase, and according to the experts, it should always be done first.

'Decluttering regularly is one of the best ways to maintain tidiness. The fewer things you have, the simpler and easier it is to clean and organize – it just makes sense! Arm yourself with two bags, one for rubbish and one for the charity shop, and aim to fill both by the time you’ve finished a room,’ says Michelle Urban, Founder of The Organized House. 

Although the name implies you need only ‘spring clean’ once a year, experts advise decluttering with the seasons to prepare your home for the warmer/colder months ahead. 

‘Set aside seasonal items and pinpoint anything that’s remained unused throughout the winter – you’ll be amazed at how much space you’ll gain by eliminating items you don’t need or love’, adds Shannon. 

4. Always work from the top down

One of the most efficient ways to clean a room is to work from top to bottom, an approach favored by professionals to ensure they don’t waste time cleaning the same thing twice! 

“Work with gravity rather than against it, and take care of higher areas first (like ceiling fans and the tops of bookcases. Work your way down, allowing dirt and debris to fall onto lower surfaces as you go. Floors should always be the last thing you tackle’, advises Gabriella Dyson, Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. 

5. Give cleaning products time to work

Cleaning supplies

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

When you’re short on time, a quick spray and wipe feels sufficient, but it may surprise you to hear that the average contact time needed to fully eliminate bacteria is around three minutes, at least. The pros always factor this into their routines, when cleaning a bathroom in particular. 

‘Spritzing down first gives the cleaning agents time to soften up and break down any stains while you do other cleaning tasks. When you get to them, they’ll be much easier and quicker to wipe away’, says Jen Stark, founder of homemaking blog, Happy DIY Home. 

6. Make it fun

Decluttering your home when your family isn’t on board can be a real challenge, so finding ways to make spring cleaning fun is definitely in your interest. Depending on your family, keep things light-hearted with the ‘roll-the-dice’ chore game, or try a challenge like ‘ski-slope’ decluttering. If you’re happier working solo, take the opportunity to listen to an audiobook or your favorite podcast. 

7. Keep things as natural as possible

checkered floor bathroom

(Image credit: House of Jade Interiors / Lindsay Salazar)

Whether you’re after cleaning tips for allergy sufferers or not, professionals will nearly always recommend natural cleaning products over chemical laden alternatives. They work just as well, plus they’re better for your health, and the environment, too. 

However, it is important to note that just because a commercial cleaning product is branded as ‘green’, doesn’t mean it is free from chemicals and additives. 

‘There is a lot of greenwashing that has happened in the cleaning industry over the last few years where brands will use green marketing terms on their packaging to make consumers think they are a non-toxic brand,’ explains health coach Yola Robert, Founder of Well with Yola. 

As a result, be sure to check the ingredient list thoroughly before purchasing, or opt for making your own DIY cleaning solutions instead, she recommends.  

8. Refresh labels

With busy lives to contend with, storage ideas can quickly become outdated. Whilst you’re clearing out cabinets and wiping down shelves, take the time to reflect on your current organizational systems and refresh labels where necessary. 

‘Are there areas that could be better organized with clearer, more specific labels? Could new categories help streamline your storage solutions? Updating your labels not only maintains the orderliness of your space but also ensures that your organizing systems evolve with your changing lifestyle and needs, making it easier to find items and maintain a clutter-free environment, says Michelle. 

To save yourself the hassle of replacing all-new labels every time, invest in removable chalkboard label stickers, like these from Walmart

9. Incorporate maintenance checks into your spring cleaning routine

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(Image credit: Roundhoue design)

A top priority for any pro organizer is ensuring everything in a home is in good working order, and spring cleaning offers the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

'It doesn’t take much in the way of extra effort; simply integrate a few tasks into your routine: replace batteries in smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, check electrical cords for wear and tear, vacuum out your dryer vent when cleaning a laundry room, and so on,' says Gabriella Dyson

Getting rid of paper clutter is worth doing as part of a spring clean, too. Renew/revise contracts, licenses and insurance policies where necessary, archive (or shred) old documents and start new file folders for the year ahead. 

The spring clean itself is often the easiest part; it’s maintaining good organization going forward that’s the challenge! Establishing a regular cleaning and tidying routine – and sticking to it – is a tip professionals swear by for successful spring cleaning year after year

‘Whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly tasks, a routine tailored to your lifestyle and priorities keeps you on track and prevents the overwhelming buildup of clutter and dirt, making your annual spring clean less daunting,’ says Michelle Urban, Founder of The Organized House. 

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.