Spring Cleaning 101: Don't Miss These Commonly Forgotten Lifestyle Tasks

It's that time of year again, friends. As the weather warms up and everything seems to wake up from a very long sleep, you're probably itching to welcome the summer months and everything they have to offer. If you're anything like us, you want to have everything ship-shaped before summer arrives — and for most of us, that probably involves spring cleaning. It's time to pack up the plush blankets, trade out your winter gear for summer apparel, and clean the whole house from top to bottom in preparation.


Your to-do list is probably full of typical spring cleaning tasks. You'll be doing everything from dusting the baseboards to wiping down your fridge, scrubbing that tile grout in your bathroom, and even vacuuming crumbs out of your car in an effort to make everything look good as new.

We're sure your spring cleaning agenda is well populated and that you definitely haven't left anything out ... or have you? Your house may shine like the top of the Chrysler Building at the end of your cleaning day (or days), but you're probably overlooking some lifestyle tidbits that need a little TLC. So as you embark on your spring cleaning this year, don't forget to include these 14 commonly forgotten lifestyle tasks to your list.


Clean your makeup brushes

How long has it been since you've cleaned your makeup brushes? If the answer is embarrassingly long, don't be ashamed — we've all been there at one point or another. But makeup brushes can quickly become loaded with bacteria and buildup, especially if you use them daily. Hence, it's important to start cleaning your beauty tools regularly if you don't already (and time to add this task to your spring cleaning list ASAP!). 


You don't need a bunch of special materials to clean your makeup brushes; in fact, you probably already have everything you need around the house. You'll need some lukewarm water, a paper towel, and either mild dish soap or a makeup brush cleanser if you want to shell out a bit more cash.

Begin by wetting the brush bristles (staying away from the handle) and adding a small amount of soap to your brush. Then rub it on your palm in circular motions to get the makeup reside out. Rinse the brush head thoroughly and lay it to dry on a paper towel. How often you wash your brushes will depend on how much you use them and what products you use with them. Aim to wash them once a week; if you notice breakouts popping up, you may need to clean them more frequently.


De-gunk your hairbrush

While we're on the subject of beauty, when was the last time you cleaned your hairbrush? And we mean really deep-cleaned it (just pulling hair out after you brush doesn't count). If you brush daily — or regularly at all — your hairbrush is probably gross. Moreover, your own personal hairbrush isn't the only brush you should be cleaning. What about your pets' brushes? Pet brushes remove dander and dry skin along with your pet's fur, and you owe it to your furry friend (and yourself) to give those brushes a good cleaning, too.


The good news is you can probably clean your and your pets' brushes simultaneously. Soaking the bristles in a gentle soap or mild shampoo (if it has boar bristles, you'll want to use the latter) for 10 to 20 minutes. This will loosen any gunk that may be caked onto the brush head. Once it's soaked, take it out and use a toothbrush or your fingers to scrub between the bristles, rinsing the brush as needed. Once it's sufficiently clean, squeeze the head to remove any water it may have absorbed, and lay your brush out on a towel to dry. Cleaning a hairbrush with a wooden handle is a little different, though, as soaking it in water can ruin the brush. 

Declutter your phone

This is a task that probably isn't on your spring cleaning list, but it absolutely should be. We spend so much (maybe even too much) time on our phones on a daily basis, and digital clutter can pile up all too fast. Make your phone a calming space to connect with friends, stay up-to-date on your latest topics of interest, and mindlessly scroll in peace by decluttering everything you really don't need.


Start decluttering your phone by seriously looking at your apps, page by page. If you haven't used it in the last month, delete it! This is an easy way to free up storage and visual clutter on your phone. Then, start by going through photos and texts. Delete any duplicate photos you have and categorize the ones you do have into folders by year, event type, or in any other categories you want.

Scroll through your texts and delete old conversation threads or ones between you and people you don't keep in touch with anymore. Now's also a good time to go through any app notifications you may have — getting rid of those red notification bubbles can do wonders for your mental health. This is a great starting point for anyone decluttering their phone for the first time, and if you want to take it further, you can clear out old contacts or categorize your apps by function.


Free up your work and home computers

Speaking of digital clutter, we bet your home and work computers have more than you know what to do with. If your laptop has been lagging, it's probably because you have too much junk on it. So, do a digital declutter of your home and work computers to help them run faster and minimize your search the next time you need to pull up an old resume. 


We recommend starting your laptop cleanup by running an in-depth virus scan. Depending on the scan, it could take some time to complete (feel free to move on to the next tips while it runs in the background). Browse your desktop, document, and download files first, and delete everything you definitely know you won't need again, like PDF menu downloads or the cover letter you sent to a job application years ago.

If you're on a Mac computer, you can also use this process to go through photos and documents and add them to the cloud to free up space on your device. Go through any downloaded apps you may have installed and delete any that are no longer necessary. You can also clean up your browser by removing any previously installed plugins you don't use and clearing out any bookmarked items you don't need. 


Wash your throw pillows and blankets

Your area rug has been shampooed, and couch cushions have been washed, but we bet your cute throw pillows and blankets are teeming with bacteria from sitting on your couch (and coming into contact with your skin) for ages. When you spring clean this year, don't forget to include these little home accessories, too. Check the tags on your pillows and blankets for care instructions, as most of them will likely be machine washable, but some may not be. 


If your accent pillows and blankets are machine washable, the process will be pretty easy: Wash them on a delicate cycle with gentle detergent, and dry them on a gentle cycle as well. If your blankets and pillows aren't machine washable, which will likely be the case with down fillings or silk fabrics, there are a few ways to clean them. If your pillow has a removable (and machine-washable) cover, you can always just wash the cover. Dry cleaning is an option, of course, or you can give your fabrics a gentle sponge bath with some upholstery shampoo.

Go through your closet

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to take inventory of every single item of clothing you own and declutter your closet. This means getting rid of any pieces you don't wear enough to justify keeping. Sounds simple, right? Well, if you've ever tried cleaning your closet before, you know it's far from easy. You'll want to keep the dress you haven't worn in years because you know it looks stunning or those pants you've been holding onto and hope to fit back into one day.


There are many ways to declutter and organize your closet, but this one is our favorite. Begin by taking all the clothes out of your closet and drawers and separating them into two piles: clothes you wear regularly and those you don't. Clothes you wear regularly are automatic keeps (unless you want to get rid of any of them for any reason).

Next, go through the pile of clothes you don't wear regularly and ask yourself why you don't wear them. Be willing to be brutally honest: Does it fit right? Maybe the style is outdated, and you're keeping it for sentimental reasons; these are pieces you should consider getting rid of. Perhaps you have pieces that you don't wear regularly because they're reserved for special occasions, like weddings or galas. Keep these pieces if you still have these events popping up on your calendar.


Clean your mattress

Be honest: When was the last time you cleaned your mattress? If the answer is a resounding "never," no shade here — it's a big task that seems more annoying than necessary. But if you get your eight hours of sleep a night, you spend, on average, at least 56 hours in your bed per week (and more time in it being intimate or just lazing the day away). All of this contact with your bed makes your mattress something you'll want to clean, stat. 


If you've never cleaned a mattress before, don't worry — it's really not too difficult. First, spot cleaning is your friend here, as you never want to get your mattress too wet. Spot clean any body-related stains with an enzyme cleaner and a microfiber cloth; spray the cleaner on the cloth and rub it on any stains, and blot it off with some cold water.

Then to freshen your mattress, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the entire surface area. Let it sit for several hours (bonus points if you can open a window and get some sunlight on it) before vacuuming it up. Now's a good time to rotate or flip your mattress as well. 

Refresh your washing machine

Friend, we have some sad news: The trusty washing machine that cleans your clothes week after week is probably getting a little grimy. Maybe even a lot grimy. After all, your washing machine is constantly holding onto moisture, especially if you do laundry regularly, making it the perfect breeding ground for nasty bacteria. Also, your clothes are dirty when they go in the wash, and all that dirt has to go somewhere — whatever isn't draining from the washing machine is staying inside it. Gross. 


As with everything, the first step to fixing a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place, so we'd be remiss if we didn't give you this valuable piece of advice: Leave your washer door open between uses! This keeps moisture from staying trapped in your washing machine and can keep your clothes from getting that musty smell.

When you do need to give your washer a deep clean, we've got you covered. First, note that your washer may have its own cleaning cycle. If it does, it's best to use that. If not, you can clean your washtub with vinegar and baking soda. Start a cycle with large, hot water, and add 3 cups of vinegar while the tub is filling. Then, add 1/2 cup baking soda, agitate the washer, and stop the cycle. Let it soak for a few hours, and then run the wash cycle until it finishes. 


Scrub your glasses, keys, and wallet

On your spring cleaning checklist, you probably already have all the contact surfaces of your home written down (AKA, everything you touch on the daily), like fridge handles, doorknobs, sink handles, kitchen cabinets, and drawer pulls. But what about everything you touch regularly that isn't a home fixture? We're talking about all the little things you keep in your purse or on a side table: keys, sunglasses, wallets, TV remotes, and every other oft-overlooked but frequently-touched item you may have. Well, they're probably all pretty dirty at this point, and they're definitely items you'll want to add to your spring cleaning list. 


A couple of different general sanitizing methods should work on most of your small handheld items. For example, you can sanitize your eyeglasses with mild dish detergent and warm water. You could also grab some sanitizing alcohol wipes for items like keys or television remotes. For your wallet, handbag, or other items that may be made of delicate material, it's best to check label instructions or head over to the manufacturer's site for care and cleaning advice. In general, though, gentle dish soap and warm water applied via a damp cloth will do just the trick. While you're at it, scrub down all the cards you carry inside your wallet with an alcohol wipe as well.

Shine your jewelry

We wouldn't be surprised if some of your jewelry is starting to get a bit dull, especially if you wear it regularly. Regardless of whether or not your jewelry shows signs of tarnishing, though, it's almost definitely dirty. After all, it sits against your skin every day as you sweat, move, and shed skin cells. So regardless of whether your jewelry is a bit dull or still has the same sparkle as it did when you bought it, it's probably time to clean it.


First, do not go rogue when cleaning your jewelry! Seemingly innocuous items like paper towels can scratch gold jewelry, while surprising materials can help clean other metals (for example, aluminum foil is a great aid when cleaning silver jewelry). Place silver jewelry on aluminum foil in a shallow pan and sprinkle with baking soda and salt. Pour a layer of boiling water into the pan (enough to cover the jewelry) and let it sit until the tarnish is gone. Then, pat it dry with a microfiber cloth. For gold jewelry, place it in a bowl with warm water and a few drops of mild dish detergent. If needed, gently brush the jewelry with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Dry with a cotton cloth. 

Deodorize your shoes

If your entryway smells persistently funky, smelly shoes are likely the culprit. Odor in shoes can build up for various reasons, but general wear (especially if your shoes are well-loved) is likely to result in at least some odor somewhere down the line. Use your set-aside spring cleaning time to deodorize your shoes and scrub off any stains they might be sporting. 


Never cleaned your smelly sneakers before? Not to worry — a few simple solutions should have odors gone in a pinch. First, you could use the ever-popular household staple, baking soda, to neutralize the shoe smell. Sprinkle baking soda into your shoes and let them sit for 24 hours to see if you notice a difference.

If more elbow grease is required, mix a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray it into your shoes (let them dry in the sun for added odor-killing power). And, of course, prevention is the best tip when it comes to smelly shoes. Ensure you wash your feet daily and wear clean socks with your sneakers to mitigate odor issues. 

Sanitize your beauty tools

Your makeup brushes aren't the only beauty tools you'll want to clean this spring. When was the last time you sanitized your tweezers, gua sha tools, or eyelash curler? Whether you use these beauty tools daily or sparingly, they still amass some build-up each time you use them, which means you'll want to clean them at least semi-regularly — and there's no better time to start than when you're already spring cleaning everything else. 


When it comes to metal beauty tools like tweezers or curling irons, isopropyl alcohol makes a great disinfectant. You can buy alcohol disinfectant wipes or just opt for a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, then slightly dampen a cloth with it before running it over your beauty tools. Your gua sha tool can be disinfected with isopropyl alcohol, too, though we recommend giving it an initial wash with mild soap and lukewarm water first. Tools like a sharp derma roller can be disinfected with a quick dip in isopropyl alcohol; let it air dry after. 

Take inventory of your makeup

Yep, spring cleaning is here for your makeup bag. Any makeup aficionado knows how easy it is to let beauty products pile up on your vanity. Pretty soon, you're finding eyeshadow palettes you've had for years (but have only ever used one color of) buried deep in the recesses of your bottom makeup drawer. If that sounds like you, we can commiserate — we love makeup, too. Sadly, even makeup expires, and it's probably time to let some of your impulse purchases and binge buys go bye-bye.


What should you throw out? Luckily, there are ways to tell when your makeup is going bad. Check your makeup's original packaging (if you still have it) for the expiration date, and toss anything out of date. Depending on the ingredients, it could legitimately have gone bad, as that's the case with many liquid foundations.

Though they may not look past their prime, other products could be harmful to use if they've been unused long enough to build up bacteria. In general, solid makeup products (like pressed powder foundations, powder blushes, or solid lipstick) can stay good for over a year. Liquid eyeliners and mascara should be kept for a max of three months. Other liquid products, like liquid foundations or lip gloss, can stay good for about a year if stored properly. 


Wash your eye masks and hair wraps

If you haven't already heard of sleep hygiene, you're about to. Sleep hygiene is the practice of curating a calming, rest-enabling sleep environment and bedtime routine. It can include anything from a pre-bedtime nap to a journaling practice and even things as simple as keeping the sheets clean. Want to know what good sleep hygiene doesn't include? Going to sleep in a dirty eye mask and the hair wrap you've been wearing for months — that's a definite before-bed beauty mistake.


Even though you're just sleeping in them, sleep masks and hair wraps still collect residue from dead skin cells every time you wear them, and we'd venture to guess you're not washing them enough. If you aren't already, it's good to get into the habit of washing your sleep masks and hair wraps at least weekly. Start when you spring clean! Check the tags on each for specific washing instructions, though generally, a gentle wash and dry cycle will work for both. If you've opted for a silk eye mask, you'll probably have to hand wash it. To do so, hand wash the mask in a bowl with lukewarm water and some mild dish soap; then, hang it to air dry.