April showers bring May flowers, but those showers also bring a perfect reason to stay indoors and launch into some annual spring cleaning. While you’re transitioning your wardrobe from winter to spring and summer, grab those supplies and spend a weekend of deep cleaning.

Before you get started, and before you begin feeling overwhelmed by the task, it’s a great idea to organize your spring cleaning plan of attack. To add a little extra strength to your elbow grease, consider these four strategic methods to make that spring cleaning more effective.

Begin by Decluttering

Deep cleaning is always easier when you’ve already managed to clean away all the clutter that tends to pile up on all the surfaces of our homes. The kitchen counter is typically the dumping ground for mail, keys, and grocery receipts; the entryway is often overflowing with shoes, coats, and hats; and the coffee table in the living room might still have popcorn remnants from last night’s movie marathon.

Before tackling the biggest cleaning projects in your home, be sure to gather up all the clutter and put everything back where it belongs. Empty and refill the dishwasher, toss out the old mail, relocate all those shoes back into your closet, and hang up the clean-yet-discarded clothes you toss on that bedroom chair. One great idea for getting this must-do task out of the way is to set a timer for each room. Give yourself just ten minutes to declutter before you can move onto the bigger cleaning tasks.

Clean Room by Room

Spring cleaning, no matter the size of the home, can be intimidating. You might start to question your plans: Where do I start? How much time should I spend in one area? What is considered cleaning vs. organizing?

Before getting completely overwhelmed, create a simple task list divided by room with specific details of the things you expect to clean. In the kitchen, for example, the stove, fridge, and area behind the fridge might be high priorities. In the bathroom, you might need to focus time on removing soap scum from shower doors and the hard water stain in the toilet bowl. The closets and dresser drawers in your bedroom might need some serious Marie Kondo-style tidying, too. By organizing your cleaning list by room, you are more likely to thoroughly clean each room in its entirety.

Work from the Top Down

Have you ever vacuumed your floor but then decided to wipe down that dusty ceiling fan, only to have to vacuum a second time? Save yourself time and energy by organizing your cleaning from the top down. Start by clearing cobwebs from the ceiling, wipe down light fixtures and ceiling fans, and wash walls and windows. That way, any dust not captured will eventually be dusted off furniture or swept, mopped, or vacuumed up off the floor.

Don’t Overspend on Products

Did you know that nearly all of your spring cleaning chores can be accomplished using just five basic products that you might already have in your cupboard?

  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil

Whether in combination or alone, these products are extremely effective in safely, economically, and environmentally cleaning your home. For example, a one-to-one solution of vinegar and water is ideal for cleaning and refreshing your entire bathroom. One cup of olive oil mixed with a half cup of fresh lemon juice creates a perfect furniture polish. For a scrubbing paste, mix together lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. Borax is a great way to enhance your carpet cleaning. Simply add half a cup per gallon of water in your cleaner’s reservoir.

With some prep work and strategic planning, and by using thoughtful methods and choosing the right product for the right job, your spring cleaning weekend plans can be a bit less daunting.