Spring cleaning is one of those things most people have a love/hate relationship with – or just hate it. Those that find comfort in cleaning and decluttering (Martha Stewart calls spring cleaning “satisfying” in her 2006 book, “Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook,”) usually start out liking the culturally sanctioned “cleaning” season – while a few in the heat of the battle think they will never get to the other (clean) side. And then, of course, there are those that just plain do not like embarking on a major cleaning project – probably the majority of humans.

We here at Stop-Painting.com are advocates of visual organization and visual cues in the workplace  – it’s what we’re all about! Our products help thousands of plants and warehouses get organized and increase productivity and safety for employees. We believe one of the best ways to approach an organization management process is with 5S principles. Spring cleaning is a domestic organization process versus an industrial organization process. Getting your home clean and organized is just like what we advise in industrial settings – but minus the forklifts and pallets.

We’ve created a great mash-up of the basic tenants of the 5S organization theory with cleaning tips from some of our favorite organization gurus. What you get is a recipe for a successful large-scale cleaning process.


A 5S Review

To review, the 5S principles used in warehouses and plant floors around the globe are, SEIRI– sort, clearing, classify; SEITON – straighten, simplify, set in order, configure; SEISO – sweep, shine, scrub, clean and check; SEIKTSU – standardize, stabilize, conformity; SHITSUKE – sustain, self discipline, custom and practice.

Let’s get started.

Martha Stewart recommends you tackle one room/project at a time. If you want to start small, start with a small closet or room. If you want to start big, start with your master bedroom closet or kitchen.

The first step we recommend is to SEIRI – which means sort and throw out stuff. Create piles denoted “keep,” throw out” and “donate.” Every thing goes into one of the three piles, getting rid of things you don’t need or use. Once you have taken the “donate” and “throw away” pile out of room, it’s time to SEISO.

SEISO is all about cleaning, sweeping, scrubbing and shining. Clean the room or closet, from top to bottom before you put your things back in place.


The Cleaning

Here’s a list from marthastewart.com of basic techniques to help you clean your house:

Wipe walls and ceilings: Use a vacuum to remove dust. Use a degreaser to get rid of dirt and grime, especially in kitchens. Dust baseboards.

Reseal grout lines: The cement-based material between wall, floor and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily.

Vacuum and shampoo rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a shampoo machine and hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, (like Oriental rugs) have to be professionally cleaned.

Dust bookshelves: You’ve taken everything off the shelves (keep, trash, donate), now it’s time to dust them well. Dust books and other objects before you put them back on shelves.

Clean upholstered furnishings: Take cushions outside to beat and get dust off. Clean them if possible (check labels).Use a vacuum upholstery tool to clean under cushions.

More dusting: Dust the top of window casings, ceiling fans, furniture, baseboards. Start dusting from the top of the room, moving down.

Wax wooden furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dish soap. Apply a past like Butcher’s Wax with a cotton rag. Let dry, then buff it with clean cloth.

Wash window screens.

Clean window treatments: Wipe blinds with damp cloth. Wash curtains (read labels for instructions).

Wax non-wood floors.

Once  the room and items are clean, move on to SEITON, which is when you put everything in order. Since you’ve, hopefully, thrown out a lot of stuff, there’s plenty of room to apply some orderliness.

Next, is SEIKETSU, which is all about standardizing your organization techniques and using them consistently throughout your house. Does using cloth bins help keep things organized in your hall closet? How about using the same technique in the laundry room? Do you like how the utensil drawer is organized? How about using something similar in the craft drawer?

SHITSUKE is the hardest step – you have to keep up the organization and neatness. Shitsuke is about sustaining all the hard work you’ve done. That means when you’re run ragged from transporting kids to and from soccer practice and gymnastics and tutoring and you’ve had a long day, YOU STILL HAVE TO FOLD THE TOWELS AND PUT THEM UP IN THE CLOSET ON THE TOWEL SHELF.  You have to make the kids to put their toys and books and craft supplies up. You have to put the dishes away.

Dr. Nichole Huff, a professor of family science at N.C. State University, specializing in child development, parenting and family communication, says clutter can affect our mental health. Research shows that physical clutter overloads our senses, which causes us to be stressed. Huff says, “It can be a vicious cycle, the busier we are, the less time we have to keep things in order. The less time we have to keep things in order, the more chaotic our lives become.”

Some days SHITSUKE is hard, so don’t beat yourself up. Just do better the next day and carve out a few minutes as often as possible to keep up the decluttering efforts you’ve started.

A few more tips to help you tackle seasonal cleaning:

MarthaStewart.com suggests you do not plan on completing your entire spring cleaning in one day. Plan it out to take as long as necessary – even over the course of several weekends if necessary. You can find three-month calendars on her website to plan out a major seasonal cleaning effort.

Devote yourself to the cleaning project for an entire weekend, or for a set number of hours each day over the course of a few weeks, advises organizedhome.com.

Remember, to really clean and declutter, you will make a mess. So don’t stop half-way through, see it through to the end. Apartment Therapy’s website says the worst mistake you can make is to clean out your closet and quit half-way through when all the stuff is just sitting in your bedroom.

Get help. Give kids/spouses a chance to help and offer them specific tasks to accomplish.