Spring is a rebirth. When the plants start pushing out of the cold ground and the buds appear on the trees, it's time to air out the house and do some spring cleaning. But where do you start?
After a winter of using your furnace and fireplace (if you have one), the first thing you'll want to do is clear the air. Clean the ashes out of your fireplace. The longer those ashes sit there, the more they'll float through your home, settling on furniture as dust. Don't forget to vacuum after you carefully scoop the ashes into a trash bag.
Then, change the air filter on your furnace. You should do this each season. Upgrading to a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter will also improve the air quality in your home. Depending on your heating system, you may also want to deactivate your heat system humidifiers and drain any sediment from your water heater. While you're in there, ensure your air conditioning unit is working correctly. You don't want to wait until it's 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) to find out your A/C is busted.
Wash the windows, inside and outside. Vacuum the dust out of your drapes and soak your mini-blinds in the tub to loosen and remove any caked-on grime.
Bring your warm-weather clothing out of storage, or move them to the front of your closet. While you do this, sort through your winter clothing for anything you don't wear anymore, that needs repair or doesn't fit. Donate the extra clothes to your favorite charity. Most towns have clothing drop-off boxes all over the place.
Pull out the vacuum and really give the house a good cleaning. This means pulling out all the furniture (including the refrigerator) and vacuuming beneath. Who knows what you might find under there? Another place dust and dirt tend to collect is your walls. Dusting them with a Swiffer-type mop will remove loose dust -- if they're very dirty, you'll need to wipe them down with a moist sponge. Don't forget to dust the rest of the house, especially knick-knacks and bookshelves.
Now it's time to move outside the house. If you have a garage, take a hard look at it to see how you can reorganize and remove clutter. Consider a family yard sale. Move your spring and summer equipment -- sports equipment, bikes, garden tools, camping equipment -- to an area that's easy to access. If you're putting screens in the windows, be sure to patch any holes in the screens now -- before the bugs come out.
Pull out your outdoor furniture, clean it and make any necessary repairs. Speaking of repairs, walk around your property and check to see if anything needs maintenance -- for example, loose drainpipes or broken shingles on the roof. Begin prepping your garden beds by removing loose foliage and anything else that may have settled there during the winter.
Next up is summer cleaning.