It’s closer than we think: butterflies, patios, open jackets, and fresh air. And spring means, inevitably, spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning isn’t just an old-timey ritual. Changes in the weather mean changes in our living space as the temperature rises, and that gap between winter and solidly warm weather is our chance to get on top of those changes, stop seasonal issues before they start, and prep our home for maximum enjoyment through the summer.
So with that in mind, here are five tips to get your condo ready for spring.
Yes, everything: the corners of your closets, the gaps between your air vent slats, your furniture, your door knobs and light switches, your walls (with a lightly damp cloth), your washer and dryer, the backs of your appliances, your carpets, your pillows. Everything.
Winter—and the way it crams everyone indoors—means germs have a happy fun time in your house and dust bunnies frolic in your vents. Wiping down everything means making sure that you’re not still bringing last month’s TTC into your condo every time you touch the light switches.
Tidy up—so your building can do the work
The great thing about living in a condo is that a lot of the year-to-year maintenance that most homeowners do themselves is done for you: duct cleaning, filter changing, carbon monoxide alarm testing, common area painting, and more. Since you’re free of those particular burdens, making sure your panels, vents, and alarms are accessible—and your space uncluttered—is just the considerate thing to do.
Spring and fall are when most buildings will send their maintenance staff around for a check on the essentials. Do your proverbial spring cleaning—and move any obstacles to your vents and panels—before you get the notice of entry, and you’ll make maintenance day that much easier for both you and your condo’s staff.
Keep that gorgeous view clean
Is it a bird? A plane? Or just that dead bug from last winter? With so many Toronto condos boasting big, floor-to-ceiling windows, the dirt buildup that winter leaves behind on outdoor glass is pretty noticeable once spring hits, subtly but substantially getting in the way of all that natural light.
Most condo buildings will take care of inaccessible external windows, but the ones on the balcony are all yours. Invest in or borrow an extendable cleaner—if it’s tough enough, your Swiffer will probably do—and give your outside windows a good scrubbing.
Air quality in the City of Toronto has improved massively in the last two decades—we hit our first smog-free summer in 2014—but you’ll still want to come prepared for a fight. Invest in some heavy-duty paper towel or a handful of sturdy cleaning rags to wipe your windows down after a cleaning solution or vinegar-and-water mop.
Get at the grout
We all sweep, and we all mop, but frequently, we don’t get out a brush and scrub down every inch of bathroom grout. And there’s a reason: It’s time-consuming, it’s meticulous, and it’s a pain in the knees as well as the more proverbial places.
Bathroom and kitchen grout, though, is one of the more porous surfaces in rooms that see a lot of heat and dampness—which means it’s a great place for germs and mold to get started. And once the weather warms up and the ambient temperature of your condo goes from drier and colder to warm and damp, mold, mildew, and bacteria can expand out from there to create bigger problems.
A hydrogen peroxide and water solution or baking soda and vinegar are your winners when cleaning grout: they’re effective without containing chemicals harsh enough to damage your tiles. Turn up the radio, promise yourself a great dinner reward, and hit your bathroom and kitchen grout with a fine, stiff brush before the weather turns. It will suck. You will be glad you did it.
Seal, caulk, and repair
Even with a relatively mild winter behind us, temperature takes its toll on the things our homes are made of: glass, plastic, steel, brick, concrete, wood. Cold and dry weather causes materials to shrink, and if you’ve had any incipient cracks around your windows, at your baseboards, or anywhere else, it’s possible they’ve widened during the winter.
Spring is a great time to do a careful inspection of your condo for gaps, cracks, and wear, and ask your landlord to reseal windows or caulk around any gaps. It means a day or two of disruption and a bit of smell—keep the windows open—but those cracks and gaps create points of entry for bugs, as well as making your heat or air conditioning work harder by letting outside air in. Put in two days of sealing and upkeep now, and you’ll spend less time this summer fiddling with the thermostat or clearing out fruit flies.