Spring is now in full swing. And for short-term vacation rental property owners like ourselves, it means the start of sprucing up and getting your cottage in “rental mode” (sorry, I really like making up my own words for fun).
Everybody has some sort of home cleaning guide and to-dos and what not. They are in every single home magazine and websites out there. Even the Wal-mart magazine I have grabbed the other day has one. But if you are like me, I read them and only make note of things that makes sense to me and make up my own to-do list.
Doing the work itself is already tiring and planning it is just as stressful. But in reality, the planning part, when done the right way, can help you do the job in no time and with less stress. I don’t really like to put a timeline on my routine. And I can never follow those “how-to’s ” from the “perfect” home maker (you know what I mean, those seem to be goody-two-shoes type of person in social media – are they for real??).
Anyway back to my real world here, the first thing you have to keep in mind, is to psych yourself that it does not need to be done all at once! One lousy job a day will do. The key for this plan to be successful is to start early. And that means today! The May long weekend (in North America).
I know, it’s hard. The May long weekend is the official “cottage grand opening” for those that shuts down their cottages in the Winter. And the will to pick up a broom or a rag is quite daunting. Grab a Swiffer duster instead and you will be done with goal number 1 on my list. And so without further ado, let me give you my Spring Cleaning How To sans the Stress! And I hope you can grab at least one helpful and useful tip from my list. It hurts if you didn’t!
Stress-free Spring Cleaning (The Rental Cottage Edition)
- Do not try to be a “full-on copy cat” – As I have mentioned above, there are lot of social media goody-two shoes out there. It could be your own social media “friend” or it could be just a random blogger like myself putting a pressure on you. So if you are feeling that, STOP right now! You are on your own missy. They will not see your efforts and your sweaty pants. So relax while you browse their how-to’s and just swing it! Even just one lousy job is better than nothing. And that on its own is an accomplishment!
- Divide and conquer – Split the job with someone (a.k.a your hubby or kids – but good luck with kids). When kids already have a life of their own, mainly when they are in their 20’s it is hard to expect them to do their 25% or whatever. So for us, we just scrap them out of the equation. There, stress free!
- Day 1 – Pick the easiest task – Although I don’t like setting a timeline, we have to. Rental season typically starts on July long weekend, 1st weekend. So we don’t really have much time to spread out our tasks. We do need to enjoy the spring long weekend too. And the easiest task for me on this list, is to dust the heck out of our cottage. And believe me, when you have have a cottage empty for a good 4 months, you better do a good dusting. And those spider webs are a pain! And you will need a long broom to reach that ceiling.
- Speaking of ceiling – Those ceiling fans need a good dusting too. Yes, I said dusting with good old swiffer duster. Not using that pillow case again to clean these babies! For one, I would need a ladder to reach them and do it properly. Why are we complicating things here for a simple job? Just make sure you are “swiffing” away from your bed if that ceiling fan is directly above it like ours.
- Tackle the Blinds – if you have one, it is best to address them now. Summer time also means dust accumulates more as the dusty road make its way inside your home/cottage. And you guess it right, all you need is a swiffer duster (they don’t even pay me for this!) One trick I found really helpful though is using lemon oil. Or Murphy’s oil (a lot of brands out there). I have wood blinds, and turns out, this wood furniture oil work wonders for my wood blinds too! Use a rag to wipe the oil top to bottom and both sides. This will keep the dust at bay and very easy and quick to handle. Not to mention it really gives your blinds a nice shine and smell.
- The dreaded Dishwasher and Washer & Dryer test – Well, well. I don’t know what to say, but this year another messy first season run test for a dishwasher. Back in February when I posted how we winterize our cottage, the dishwasher is considered our priority. You can never be 100% perfect in doing a winter check on appliances. So do this spring run right away, to save you time in finding and funding for new appliances, if ever there is a bursting pipe once again. We did had another one. Lucky for us this time, it is just a washer ring that has to be replaced. Not a new dishwasher! And BTW, we are still hanging on to the one that got away the first year. 🙁
- Floors – pick up a broom to clean up the dust that have all collected on your floor. Then do a dry microfiber mopping. Save the full polishing type of clean. You can do that right before the first renters come in. Remember you still have a lot to tackle in your list. This will do for now.
- Shower/Bath – I do a quick scrub on the shower floor and the whole bathroom floor. Takes about 5 minutes to do granted you do not have a massive bathroom! Spray the shower walls and around tub if you have one (we got rid of ours when we did a reno – not a tub person). Leave in for 2-5 mins. Put a cleaner in your toilet bowl – leave in. Clean your taps and sink with wipes. Wipe down the shower, tub and brush your toilet bowl. Done! 15 mins tops.
- Bedrooms – I do one day at a time. At the time of this writing, I have not started one bedroom. We don’t shut down our cottage for the winter, so our master bedroom does not need a major sprucing up. The other 2 bedrooms, really how much cleaning do you need? If you do a proper “closing”, grand opening is not going to be a big deal. The sheets and mattress covers should have already been laundered. And if not, take them off and launder the next day. Done in approximately 10 mins.
- Day 2 – Kitchen and the outdoors for hubby – Cupboards, and appliances clean up, big and small. In and around them. Spring is also “ants season”, so make sure they are not having a party down there! Day 2 is over for me. These are actually a very time consuming and tiring task. I’m not wonder woman :). And for the 50% of your team, the outdoor sprucing up must start now as well. Bunkie, beach area, deck, driveway and windows. The outdoors can also be divided into Days 2 and 3 depending on how much nature put a dump on your property. (Talking about leaves, logs, etc.)
- Day 3 – Pick a bedroom or two to spruce up. We have a small cottage, so for me 2 in one day is doable. And by the way, Days for us cottagers means the weekend. So time your to-do’s accordingly. Right now we are in week 3, meaning we are now officially in June.
- Day 4 – Finishing up. All areas must be checked twice now. Supplies, if you are providing them must all be stocked up by this time including your first aid kit. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm should have been tested as well. Floors must be shiny by now. Then you can enjoy the rest of the weeks left before your doors open for the first renters during the long rental season.
This may seem intense. And quite frankly, may not apply to you at all. And that is fine. I do hope that I have given you some fresh ideas on how to streamline your spring cleaning. When you have another property to handle, it could be overwhelming. There will be times that going up to our cottage is not fun during these times. I can’t do the same thing again. And worse, your house in the city will be left out to suffer in neglect (exaggerating here a bit!)
If you plan it like I do and stick to it, burn out is less than likely to happen. And you can still end up enjoying the nice spring/summer time at the cottage. I try to do a lot in Day 1 so I can enjoy more time during the hotter days at the cottage. Procrastination always equals stress in the end. So do as much as you can in Day 1 and the rest will be a breeze.
Finally, don’t forget that in cottage country, there are also a lot of cottage maintenance help for hire. If you find a reliable and a reasonably priced helper, use them. If it is part of your budget, don’t think twice. Stress is something you should not take lightly. And you can easily get overwhelmed, specially if you have major renovations happening around this time and when you are nearing crunch time, paying someone will be well worth it.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and have picked up one or two to add to your spring cleaning how-to’s. Have fun out there and don’t stress it out, but rather “stretch it out”!