While many cleaning tasks are done year-round, spring offers the opportunity to tackle projects that come once a year. Certain chores are best done in spring to keep your home fresh and organized and this can be a great time to open your windows, roll up your sleeves, clean up grime and clear out clutter.
These tips and strategies will help you tackle spring cleaning tasks with confidence and ease so you can enjoy the warming air and sunshine.
Storing Winter Clothes
Soon, the days of bulky sweaters and long johns will be behind us. It’s time to put away the clothes you won’t be using in a way that ensures they’re ready to wear when Jack Frost returns.
Pull out all those cold weather clothes you have been wearing to check them for fit, stains and needed repairs. If they no longer fit, set them aside for donation.
Finding stains or tears in clothing can be a challenge. Invite a trusted friend to visually scan items in person using safe physical distancing, or virtually using platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime, or a smart phone app like AIRA or Be My Eyes.
Check for stains and launder:
- Lay out the clothes.
- Start the app or platform you’ll use or show a sighted person the items.
- Ask the sighted person to tell you if there are stains or tears in the clothing. They will guide you to show them the garment in the app or platform.
- Put a safety pin on any stains or tears.
- Treat stains before laundering with a stain removal product. Apply the stain remover to the stained area and the surrounding area if you are unable to detect the stain’s edges.
- Remove the safety pin and use your fingers to work in the stain remover.
- After laundering, you may want to have a visual inspection done again to make sure the stain is gone.
- Use an easy-thread needle. There are two basic types, one with a V-shape at the top where thread pulls into the V and pops into the eye of the needle; a second features an S curve cut into the needle where thread folds over the needle and pulls into the curve.
- Another option is to use any regular needle and a needle-threader which pushes thread into the eye of the needle.
- If using the needle with the V-shaped top, stabilize the needle by sticking it into cork or a bar of soap before trying to pull the thread into the eye.
Once the clothing is clean, stain-free and repaired, fold or hang items in a spot designated for storage in your closet or dresser.
Tips on Washing Windows and Floors
What says clean better than sparkling windows and barefoot-friendly floors? Wash windows and floors thoroughly by picturing in your mind the surface divided into an easy-to-clean grid.
First, decide which cleaning product you’ll use. A homemade cleaning solution may be easier on your hands and surfaces, and you can find many recipes for cleaning solutions online. Make a window cleaner with equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the cleaner onto your cleaning cloth, rather than spraying directly onto the window, and you are ready to wash them.
Grid method for windows:
- Consider the size of the window and feel around the edges.
Start at the top of the window and move the cloth from left window edge to right window edge.
- Drop down just less than 7-inches, move the cloth from right window edge to left window edge.
- Drop down again and so on. Follow the left-to-right, down, right-to-left grid pattern from the top to the bottom of the window.
- Dropping down less than 7-inches provides overlapping swipes and ensures a clean window.
When cleaning floors, remove all movable items such as wastebaskets and chairs. Create an image of a grid on the floor cleaning each square before moving to the next. Start farthest from the exit door and clean toward the exit.
Grid method for floors:
- Square off an arm’s length from a wall or counter.
Using an arm outstretched to the left side, position yourself an arm’s length from that wall or counter.
- With a sponge mop and bucket or pre-treated mop like a Swiffer, follow a grid from your left side toward the wall in front, move the mop over to the right and pull down from the wall toward your feet, move mop to the right, push mop toward the wall and keep following the pattern.
- When finished with that square, take a big step to your right and repeat.
- When the floor next to the wall is clean, take a big step back and clean the next square, followed by big steps to the left until that area is cleaned.
- Continue working your way toward the exit.
Organizing Your Kitchen
Over the course of a year your kitchen can easily become messy.
When cleaning counters, carpets and other surfaces, Ericka Nelson of Madison finds it helpful to go over them with her hand to get a thorough clean. “I do a lot of cleaning by feel because my eyes can deceive. If you clean by feel you’ll catch stuff you’d miss and it’s always better.”
Whenever you find yourself spending time looking for items, it is time to reorganize.
One of the most helpful kitchen organization strategies Nelson uses is labeling spices.
“I label little jars like baby food comes in with braille labels and put spices in alphabetical order in a drawer,” explains Nelson. “You can’t always rely on your nose.”
Kitchen organization tips:
- Wipe down the cupboards, counters and back splash using the grid pattern method.
- Place dishes, glasses, cups and bowls used frequently in the cupboards directly above counters within easy reach.
- If you have a dinner service for 12 but only use half each week, put six sets on the frequently used shelves and the others on an upper shelf.
- Separate your bowls, pans and bakeware into those you use frequently and less-frequently. Place the frequently used items on the top shelf of the bottom cupboards within easy reach.
- Utensil drawers often hold two or three times the number of items regularly used. Sort them and keep only those you regularly use in the drawer. Others can go in a plastic storage bin on a shelf in your cupboard.
- Pantry items can be organized a few ways based on your preference. Place items in alphabetical order, organize by type of product or by purpose using plastic bins. For example, you can place ingredients for pasta dishes – noodles, marinara sauce, canned tomatoes – together in a bin. You can use labels in braille or large print or using a PenFriend labeler to mark grouped items or staples to locate them easily.
- A smart phone app like AIRA or Be My Eyes can always help to untangle items when organizing goes awry. Learn more about these helpful tools on the Be My Eyes website at bemyeyes.com or the AIRA website at aira.io.
- If contrast is helpful, consider using a shelf liner on the back wall of your cupboards that contrasts with dishes. A light-colored liner in the bottom of the utensil drawer may help you locate items.
- If light is helpful, consider using a battery-operated puck light inside kitchen cabinets.
We all miss spots when spring cleaning. Try your best, ask for feedback and use these tips this spring and any time of year to go on a cleaning streak!
- North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind Golden Guides videos: Independent living guides on cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, washing tables and more.
- Hadley offers a series of short and helpful instructional videos on topics including clothing, cleaning your house and organizing your home.
- The Life after Sight Loss website has many resources including videos and a podcast with tips on household chores, sweeping and other tasks. Find the videos on its YouTube channel.
- Hannah Fairbairn’s Vision Loss and Personal Recovery website also includes blog posts on cleaning by touch.
Adaptive products and services available in the Sharper Vision Store include:
- Easy Threading Hand Needles: No need to see the needle eye to thread this needle. Includes six needles. Item #HS105
- Infilia Needle Threader: Thread needles without seeing the tiny holes. Item #HS128
- PenFriend Audio Labeler: Creates audio labels for any item with a sticker label. Includes 127 colored labels and 10 magnetic badges. Item #HL670
Vision Services Training: One-on-one sessions are available by appointment to provide tips on how to accomplish daily tasks with low vision or blindness. Request an appointment on our website or contact Amy Wurf at (608) 237-8107 or AWurf@WCBlind.org.