The Spring Cleaning Guide for Sleep Deprived Parents

When spring comes around, there seems to be an innate desire for all things clean and fresh. But when you have young kids at home, it’s hard enough to keep up with weekly chores – let alone tackle the big stuff. That’s where overnight cleaning comes in! Debra Johnson, a cleaning expert, gave us some great suggestions for cleaning the tough stuff while you sleep. Here are a few ways to check the big things off your list while you get some zzz’s:

Baked-on Mystery Stuff in Oven

If the gunk and burnt pizza toppings trigger your smoke alarm when the oven heats up, it’s probably time for a deep clean.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp. Water
  • Spray bottle of white vinegar

Remove everything that's in your oven, including the racks and thermometer. Mix the baking soda with water until it makes a spreadable paste. Coat the entire inside of the oven with the paste. Pay particular attention to the grease and gunky spots, but avoid heating components. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe down the oven with a damp microfiber cloth to remove as much of the dry paste as possible. If there are some greasy spots left, use a spatula to scrape those areas. Finally, fill a spray bottle with enough vinegar to fully coat the interior of the oven and spritz over the areas with paste. The foaming from the baking soda and vinegar will help to lift off the gunk, especially in the hard-to-reach spaces.

Sticky and Gooey Oven Racks

Turns out dryer sheets have another purpose besides making our clothes soft. They’re also great for cleaning oven racks because the antistatic function breaks down the dirt and the softening agents lift them off. We love this DIY from Wellness Mama for making your own all-natural dryer sheets.

You'll need:

  • 1 gallon of vinegar
  • ½ cup dishwashing liquid
  • 8 dryer sheets

Plug the tub drain. Layer the tub with the dryer sheets and place the oven racks on top of the dryer sheets. Fill the tub with enough warm water to cover the oven racks. Next, pour the jug of vinegar and dishwashing liquid in. Let the oven racks soak overnight and wipe them clean using a clean cloth or the dryer sheets.

Greasy Stove Grates and Drip Pans

Sure, you can buy new stove grates and other cooking appliance parts, but when cleaning them is this easy, why not save your cash for take-out?

You'll need:

  • Airtight bag
  • ¼ cup of ammonia
  • Soapy wool pads

Take off the grates and other removable parts that can be cleaned. Scrub them with soapy steel wool pads. Place the grates (or other parts) in an airtight bag with the ammonia. The next day, wipe them with a clean cloth.

Sticky Cookie Sheets

Have you been thinking about retiring your cookie sheets and letting the kids use them to mix paints? Non-stick spray and spices like turmeric will leave your cookie sheets stained and gunky over time. Dryer sheets to the rescue again!

Place a dryer sheet on the cookie sheet and fill with warm water. The dryer sheet will help loosen stuck-on grime and stains. In the morning, wipe off with a clean cloth and rinse.

Spring Cleaning with Kids (The Basics)

For the chores that require a more hands-on approach, you can recruit the kids to help. Equip each child with their own cleaning caddy. Include a microfiber cloth, cleaning supplies and a bottle of water – because they will be ever-so-parched from cleaning after 15 minutes.

The key to kids doing chores well is to match their abilities to their age. For examples, toddlers can sort things into piles, like all the stuffed animals in one pile and all the cars and trucks into another pile. Kids 5-7 years old can gather all the throw rugs, bed linens, and tablecloths to the laundry room and wash down lower grimy cabinets. They're also capable of sweeping the floor and dusting. Kids 7 and older can vacuum, change sheets, clean the sinks, tubs and toilets.

Spring Cleaning with Kids (The Fun Stuff!)

You really can make it a fun day when you incorporate activities like these:

Set a Timer. Kids love to race against a timer and because they get bored quickly, a break will give them something to look forward to. When you break for a snack or lunch time, offer foods that you normally don’t eat too often as a special treat.

Pick Three. Write down the chores on slips of paper or popsicle sticks and have each child pick three chores to do. Give them a bonus treat/reward if they do more than three!

Finder’s Keepers. Debra Johnson gave us this great idea. Before the kids get involved, hide coins in places that need the most attention, like under the bed or sofa cushions. “Institute a “finders keepers” rule, letting them know that any money found while cleaning is theirs for the taking,” says Johnson. “After space is cleared of loose change, it will be easier to vacuum or dust before replacing the cushions and making the bed.”

A Job Well Done!

Give specific praise while the kids are working. “Nice job!” is okay, but saying “I really liked how you took the extra step to separate all the linens to be washed,” shows you noticed the details of their efforts. Reward the entire family with a movie and take-out. Who knows? Spring cleaning could actually become something the kids look forward to next year.

What are some of your favorite spring cleaning tips/hacks? Share them with us!

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