5 stages of spring cleaning with white powder, a pink sponge, yellow rubber gloves, and pink and yellow roses from a beautiful mess
DIY & Apartment Hacks

The 5 Stages Of Spring Cleaning

The 5 Stages Of Spring Cleaning Expand options

We live our lives in stages: childhood, teenager-hood, adulthood. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. See where I’m going with this? It’s all a cycle. Guess what else is a cycle:

Spring cleaning.

Yes, similar to grief, spring cleaning has five stages everyone goes through. The first is enthusiasm, before the reality of the day sets in.

Next, we have doubt and fear, two emotions you’ll feel when you’re on the downswing of cleaning day, after realizing this might be a harder task than you anticipated.

Then there’s reassurance, which pulls you out of the previous two stages. Lastly, comes satisfaction, which you’ll get once you finally conquer cleaning your place that probably hasn’t been deep cleaned for several months.

If you’re getting pumped up to clean your space soon, this might give you some insight into what to expect. And if you’re a seasoned spring cleaning professional, you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

Ready to go through this journey with us?

Keep reading below:

1. Enthusiasm

enthusiasm stage of spring cleaning

Today’s the day. You marked it in your calendar. You stocked up on all the supplies. And you mentally prepared yourself for the task of spring cleaning your whole home.

You also have plenty of snacks to sustain you, and a plan for rewarding yourself after the deed is done. This may or may not include wine and a bath in your sparkly clean tub. Or eating food off your floor because it’s so clean …

Okay, we don’t actually recommend the last one.

Like the well-prepared person you are, you’ve made a list of everything that needs to get done:

  • Clean stove
  • Scrub shower
  • Dust wardrobe
  • Vacuum everywhere
  • Windex almost every surface

You may have even written a physical list, which you’ll feel oh-so satisfied checking off as you go through each task.

The day is young. And you’re feeling confident that soon, your house will look just like the ones you read about in Dwell.

You might be going it alone. Or you may have enlisted the help of your significant other and/or friends in exchange for pizza and Netflix later. Trading pizza for cleaning help is always a smart deal.

2. Doubt


Okay … now that you’re looking around, did your home somehow get way dirtier overnight?

I mean, you knew it was due for a deep cleaning, but you didn’t think it was this bad. How many rooms do you have anyway? Did you always have this space under your sink? And since when was there mold in your shower?

You start going through boxes you haven’t touched in far too long. And you’re quickly realizing there’s a lot of stuff lying around that you’ve forgotten about.

What are you supposed to do with all of these old band t-shirts? Why are there so many single, lonely socks lost behind your headboard?

You might ask yourself these questions and many more while assessing the damage around your home.

This is when the doubt starts to creep in. Maaaybe it’s not going to be as easy as you thought. Perhaps you actually need several days to get through all this cleaning. Maybe a little autumn and winter cleaning in between last year’s and this year’s spring cleaning session would have been helpful.

3. Fear

fear stage of spring cleaning

This is when the fear sets in. It’s not uncommon to also feel dread and/or panic at this stage.

You might begin thinking things like:

  • There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to take on this mess.
  • I decided I hate cleaning.
  • I’m embarrassed of how dirty my oven, toilet, and shower have gotten.
  • I’m afraid to open my trash can.
  • My house is never getting clean.
  • My house *has never been clean*.
  • How do people even clean their entire homes in one day?
  • What even “is” cleaning?
  • Why don’t we have robots that do this for us?
  • I’m going to keep on avoiding my responsibilities forever.
  • I guess this is just my life now.
  • Maybe I should just move into a place that’s already clean.
  • Yep, I’m moving.

This stage is pretty much the lowest point. You may find yourself sitting in the middle of your bedroom, surrounded by boxes of memories, a few friendly dust bunnies, and lots of green cleaning products.

You could be feeling a little hopeless too. But don’t worry. It’s super temporary.

When you’re at your lowest point in your spring cleaning schedule, the only place you can go is up. Which leads us to …

4. Reassurance

Hold up. You’re better than this. You’re stronger than the monster that is spring cleaning.

Give yourself a quick pep talk and realize that it’s just one day of your life. And it’s probably way better than any given day you spent in middle school. I mean, middle school was rough, right?

And hey, once you’re done, you’ll have a brand spankin’ new place to revel in, which will feel awesome.

Maybe you can just do a speed cleaning, like YouTuber Elise Sheree:


Or maybe all you need to get through cleaning your house is a deep breath.

Come up with a new action plan once you’re in a calm space. Now that you’re aware of the depths of your responsibility today, take some time to get organized.

Turn on your go-to music for getting pumped up (mine is anything from Beyonce’s album 4), tie your hair up, and put on some clothes you don’t care about.

Declutter as your first step. Toss trash, put things back in their rightful place, and store or donate anything you don’t *need* to keep around.

Go through each room one-by-one and only do one task, like dust all the surfaces first. Once that’s done, clean up bigger messes, rearrange things if need be, vacuum, sweep, mop, and all that other jazz.

Of course, do cleaning jobs that are specific to certain rooms. Take the trash out (don’t forget to clean the trash can), scrub down your sink, sweep your porch, and clean off your stove. Basically, an all-purpose cleaner and a bunch of rags are going to be your new best friends.

And if, at this point, you’re feeling a little curious, try out some of these insane cleaning hacks with stuff you can probably find lying around your house.

5. Satisfaction


That wasn’t so bad after all, right?

Sure, it took several hours, lots of inner turmoil, and maybe an existential crisis or two, but you made it.

The best part:

You won’t have to do a deep clean like that for a very long time – but hopefully sometime before next spring.

If you invited friends over to help, make sure to reward them for their hard work. If you did this all by yourself, make sure to pat yourself on the back.

And maybe don’t invite anyone over to your home for several days so you can really take in how awesome and clean it is.

Top image via A Beautiful Mess

This article was written by Hannah Van Arsdale, a freelance writer and dog person based in Portland, OR.

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