Trick everyone into thinking your whole house is clean.

The windows are open, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping. The last thing you want is to be stuck indoors cleaning your home from top to bottom.

I’m with you. Starting now, I plan to be out among the flowering trees and cool breezes as much as possible. Of course, I still have a guilty conscience, and a mother coming to visit at some point, so I’ll have to do SOMETHING. But I’d like to believe that if I tackle only one major offender in every room, it will be good enough. I hereby give you permission to do the same, beginning with…

ENTRY WAY: Baseboards

Let’s be honest. At least two separate times a day my home looks like it’s been hit by a tornado, so this whole spring cleaning charade isn’t for us—it’s for guests. Show them you pay attention to detail by giving those dingy baseboards a little TLC. As tempting as it is to go the easiest possible route and just hit them with a dryer sheet, promise to lug out the vacuum cleaner and use the brush attachment to suction away loose dust and dirt before sponging with a mixture of warm water, vinegar, and dish soap.

LIVING ROOM: Windows

Who cares if your sophisticated sectional has a yogurt stain or there’s orange marker on your Eames coffee table? It’s spring and the view is spectacular! Keep the focus outside the damage you’re powerless to control with sparkling-clear windows courtesy of Windex, lint-free cloths, and a little elbow grease.

BATHROOM: Mirrors and medicine cabinet

Continuing the “we’re only out to impress guests” theme (and keeping in mind that you’ll be swiping the toilet with Clorox wipes an hour before they arrive anyway), let’s focus on the other two things they’ll care about in there: how they look and what you may be hiding in the medicine cabinet. Find that Windex, grab a garbage bag, and weed out expired meds, old nail files, and empty bandage boxes. Restock it with stuff guests may be grateful to find like dental floss, ibuprofen, and breath mints.

BEDROOMS: Under the beds

Remember those aforementioned flowering trees? They could be causing allergies. Which don’t improve by sleeping with teddy bear-sized dust bunnies. Move the beds, haul out the vacuum and go over the floor and nearby baseboards with a damp cloth and bucket of water/vinegar. Extra credit: consider wiping down any ceiling fan blades. Because when you see what’s hiding there, you are going to understand why you wake up choking all the time.

KITCHEN: Refrigerator

This is the part where I plead with my dad, an HVAC mechanic, to clean the coils across the bottom of the fridge for me. It’s actually not that hard—you can google step-by-step directions on how to do it with a vacuum. As the daughter of someone glamorously “in the biz,” I know this is actually a very important thing to do at least 2X a year. The more clogged the coils, the harder the fridge has to work, which is bad for the appliance, and bad for your electric bill.

Now show the fridge and freezer interiors some love. This includes removing the drawers and shelves, (which can usually be washed in the sink with dish soap and water), tossing out anything old or expired, and leaving behind an open box of baking soda to freshen and deodorize. Pay extra attention to the rubber gaskets on the door sides, which can be wiped down with mild soap and water on a cloth or even a soft-bristled toothbrush. (Clean gaskets mean the best possible seal, and you want your fridge and freezer sealed tight, amiright?)

There you have it. Now that the house is cleaner than it was, get yourself and everyone else outside to keep it that way!

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