Winter wipe down

Who says spring is the only time for cleaning?

Instead of wasting the gorgeous springtime, scrubbing down the shower walls or organizing those mismatched Tupperware, save the sorting and buffing for winter (aka, the dreariest season). 

We’re forced to stay indoors and face the facts — our house is a mess. So, as soon as temperatures start to drop, grab your sponges, put on your favorite music, because this is the Winter Wipe Down. Your house is no match for this year’s wipe down; no surface will be left unsanitized and no closet unorganized.

Getting started:

Starting your Winter Wipe Down can be stressful. There is so much to get done but you have no idea where to start. Take your Wipe Down step by step.

What needs your attention most? Is there something you’ve been meaning to get to this year but haven’t? Maybe the linen closest looks like it exploded or the windows could use a little Windex TLC.  Pick one part of your home and focus on making it as organized as you can.

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Living Room:

“Bins and baskets are my best friend,” said Angela Jeroloman, a mother of two from South Blooming Grove. “They’re perfect for quickly storing clutter when guests stop by during the holidays.”

Home Goods has a variety of baskets in all different designs and colors to ensure that you can store all that mess in style. Set aside one basket for throw blankets for those chilly nights.

Take a look at the things in your living room. What’s taking up the most space? Get rid of the old magazines that sit untouched on your coffee table and replace them with holiday fragrance candles.

Before your guests arrive for holiday partying, pull out the couches and arm chairs and make sure to vacuum behind those tough to reach spots. Don’t forget to reach floor and ceiling corners and shampoo rugs and carpets.


With the holidays, comes the food, which means chances are you are going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Make sure all your Tupperware is organized, tops with their proper bottoms, so you’re not searching in a rush for a matching partners when leftovers need putting away.

Pull everything out of your pantry, every can, every box, and see what’s expired or what can be donated to a food pantry. Make note of the ingredients you already have at the same time so you know your inventory before shopping for holiday dinner and dessert.

Nothing gets your guests’ appetite going better than a clean and sparkly kitchen. Wipe down walls, backsplashes and cabinets with a dampened cloth. Use a tooth brush and powdered cleaner to scrub those tough-to-reach spots in the sink and rout out dirt around the drain.

The oven is going to see the most action with all that cookie baking and turkey-making. Wipe the surface of the stove; take off the control knobs and show them some love by washing them with mild dish soap. A soapy cloth will do just fine when scrubbing the vent hood. Just make sure to get all the excess soap off.

Fill a tub or bucket up with warm water and let the oven grates soak. Soaking will allow any grease, grim or food to loosen, making it will be easier to scrub off later. It’s important to clean the inside of your oven every few months. Try using a ¼ cup of salt, ¾ cup baking soda, and ¼ cup water cleaning mixture. Cover any bare metal or openings with foil so they don’t get damaged by the mixture. Spread it all over the inside of the oven and leave overnight. Use a plastic spatula to wipe the remains off and wipe the oven clean with a rag.

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Got kids?  Each one should be given some responsibility, no matter how big or small,  for their own bedroom. Give them three garbage bags. Tell them to use one for the clothes and toys they want to donate, another for trash, and the third for items they want to keep. The last thing kids want to do on a snow day is clean, but make a game out of it. Play, “Last one to finish their room has to shovel the driveway,” a sure winner!

Dusting is a never-ending chore. But the worst part about dust is the more you set it aside the more it accumulates. Dust is mostly made up of shed human skin cells but it can also contain flame retardants, heavy metals, and toxic byproducts of cigarette smoke. It’s impossible to completely rid your house of dust for good but the Winter Wipe Down is the perfect way to make a dent in the year’s build up.

Make sure all clothes, shoes and other objects are picked up off the floors. Strip the sheets off the bed to make sure no excess dust falls onto the clean sheets during dusting. Start off in one corner of the room and move clockwise to ensure you reach every corner. Use a disposable or washable microfiber cloth. The cloth can be used without the need for polishes or oils and won’t scratch furniture or wood. Ceiling fans can attract the most dust so invest in a ceiling fan cleaner to eliminate the use for a ladder or step stool, and the extra long reach will make dusting much easier.


Organization is just one part of the Winter Wipe Down. Being organized and being clean are two different things. The season that harbors yuletide cheer and holiday spirit is also the same time of year that harbors runny noses and scratchy throats. Between the kids bringing germs home from school and that sick co-worker that shares a stapler with you, your family is bound to get sick.

Having worked in schools across the Hudson Valley, Jeroloman understands that germs spread fast. “I try to keep up with keeping my house organized but the one thing I ensure I keep on top of is germs,” she said. “In each one of my bathrooms I keep Lysol wipes by the sink so my kids and husband know they need to wipe things down when they’re done.”

Devote a shopping trip to just purchasing bathroom cleaning items. Make sure that your arsenal includes a shower, glass, toilet and counter cleaner, and be sure that they can disinfectant as well. Set aside one pair of rubber gloves for each bathroom and stick with disposable cloth wipes rather than a mop when tackling the floors.

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Calling in the Big Guns:

Between tackling the linen closet and the bathroom that needs sanitizing, this Winter Wipe Down can be stressful if work and family commitments prevail. Then, don’t hesitate to  call in backup. Hiring a local cleaning service for a winter cleaning once or twice during the season, will ensure that not only the bathrooms are thoroughly wiped down and germ-free but that the grime caked on the stove burners are history.

Karen Tensfeldt of Monroe has been helping Hudson Valley families clean and organize their home since 1987. She has noticed that over the years, people start to get the cleaning bug during the winter season.

“Winter months are my busiest because of the holidays,” Tensfeldt said. “People need the extra help so they can focus on other things like organizing their decorations and shopping.”

Tensfeldt explained that heavy duty cleaning is best kept for right before the holiday season. “You are going to have guests over all the time,” she said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to move the furniture and get those tough to reach cleaning spots.”

Tensfedlt suggests taking your Winter Wipe Down slow, one room at a time. “Once you get one room going, you’re going to feel so good about it that you’re not going to be able to stop.”

Don’t hibernate during the winter but rather use those snow days productively. Get a head start on spring cleaning and create your own Winter Wipe Down plan. But don’t forget to take some time out of your Wipe Down to hit the slopes with the kids, drink some hot cocoa and curl up near a fire. The winter is good for some things!

Jillian is a recent graduate of Oswego State University. She is an avid runner and pizza lover who lives in Monroe with her parents and two brothers.