Spring-Cleaning That Won't Take Over Your Life: 8 Hours, Start to Finish
Clean the refrigerator and freezer. Empty the contents, store them in a cooler, turn off the fridge, and let the shelves and drawers come to room temperature before you wash them, since glass and ceramic parts could crack if they come into contact with hot water when they are cold. (You can move to the next task while you're waiting.) Once they've warmed up, wipe with a mixture of 2 tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water. Rinse and dry. Go over the door seals with hot water and mild dishwashing liquid, and pluck out crumbs and other debris. Dry them well.
Degrease cooking appliances. Take off stove grates and other removable parts, and scrub them with soapy steel wool pads (if the grease just won't come off, try letting them sit overnight in an airtight bag with a quarter cup of ammonia; the next day, wipe them with a clean cloth). Clean the oven. To get stuck-on food particles off the inside of the microwave, put a microwave-safe bowl of water with some lemon juice inside and heat it to boiling for 2 or 3 minutes. The steam will loosen gunk, and the lemon's acid will help lift grease.
Clean window treatments and wash the insides of windows.
Wash surfaces and cabinets. The tops of cabinets and the fridge may be sticky from grease, so a solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid will work best. You can also use the mixture in drawers and on shelves (and spray antibacterial cleanser inside the cabinet where you store trash). Pay attention to the utensils drawer and the pantry, since they collect the most crumbs.
Sweep, vacuum and mop floors.
Next: The living room—and the trick to safely cleaning your electronics
Illustration: Florie Duhau/OWN