As the weather warms up and things start to turn green again, it's time to open up the blinds and dust off...well, pretty much everything. Spring cleaning is a monumental task that can feel super overwhelming if you've got kids running around behind you messing everything up. Cleaning with kids is not the easiest thing in the world, but it definitely beats leaving them to create a new trail of destruction in your wake.
Kids might not be able to get down and dirty cleaning small parts behind the refrigerator, but there are easy and fun ways to get them involved without giving them too big a job or handing them a bottle of toxic cleaner. Here are some safe and fun spring cleaning hacks that will help turn housework into family task instead of just a chore reserved for mom and dad:
1. Clean stainless steel with a lemon half.
Lemon is totally safe and it works like a charm. I use it on my stainless cookware to remove hard water spots. Just cut a lemon in half, give your kids brief demonstration, and let them go to town shining those faucets and fixtures. It's one less thing for you to do, and they'll think it's magic.
2. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water to make a glass cleaning solution.
Don't trust your kids with a bottle of Windex? I don't either. This solution is totally safe in the event that they accidentally drink it or spray it in each other's eyes or something. Let them clean their own fingerprints off of windows and mirrors for once. Only one drawback to this: it dries quickly, so don't let them use it in direct sunlight.
3. Dust with old socks.
Kids pretty much just want to run around and touch things anyway, right? Stick a couple of old socks on each hand and let them go to town. They can also dip their sock-covered hands in the vinegar and water solution from number two and use it to dust and sanitize the blinds once they're done with the windows.
4. Have each kid make a charity bag to donate old clothes.
Before you store the winter gear, have your older kids go through their things and pick out things that no longer fit or definitely won't fit by next winter. They can each fill a bag for charity and then you can all go drop it off together over the weekend. It reduces clutter and gives you less stuff to store, and it's a good way to ensure perfectly good clothes aren't going to waste.
5. Remove soap scum with dryer sheets.
Sprinkle a few drops of water on a used dryer sheet and scrub all over tub tile or shower doors to remove grime. It's a good way to get an extra use out of dryer sheets before you toss them, and as long as your kids are out of the chewing-on-everything stage, they should be able to do this without any mishaps.
6. Pick up pet hair with wet rubber gloves.
Give each kid a damp rubber glove and let them rub it over any upholstery with a Fido problem. The hair will cling to the glove and then they can rinse it off in the sink. Make sure you have a drain catcher or something in place so you don't have to end up with a clog.
7. Clean up the craft area.
Do your kids have a craft area or drawing table? Mine do, and it's a wreck. Baking soda on a damp sponge will remove crayon and pencil from painted surfaces. A cotton ball with rubbing alcohol will remove permanent marker from surfaces and walls (again, they must be in the not-chewing-on-everything age range for this). A lint roller will mop up excess glitter, eraser shavings, and paper scraps. Also, you can revive old, dirty erasers by rubbing them on an emery board.
8. Toothpaste and an electric toothbrush will buff scuffs out of linoleum tile.
An electric toothbrush and a paste made from baking soda and water will also clean between tiles in the bathroom.
9. Clean keyboards with q-tips or tape.
Kids might get a kick out of removing the dust between keys by sliding strips of tape between them. They can also clean between each one manually using a q-tip.
10. Declutter using a kitchen timer.
Kids may not be able to do all the nitty-gritty spring cleaning jobs, but they can still help pick up the big things. Go room to room, set a timer, and have everyone pick up and put away as many things as they can. Not only is it fun trying to beat the clock, but when you go in to detail clean you won't have to deal with a big mess first.