Ah, spring: A time of torrential rain, wicked allergies, and the oh-so-pleasant ritual of cleaning your house.
Okay, so maybe it's not everyone's favorite season, but there's something to be said about really digging in and doing a good cleansing once a year. You'll feel better afterwards, I promise. Plus, this is the tech age, which means there are plenty of tools to help you get the job done.
Deep clean your house
When it's time to start fresh, the first order of business is to scrub your home silly. If you're the type that would rather procrastinate than perform the necessary tasks to do that, check out Unfilth Your Habitat ($2; Android and iOS). (Disclaimer: The app itself uses a word a bit filthier than "unfilth"). This cheeky app takes a unique approach, with "terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes."
As with many cleaning apps, you can set standard to-do lists by task or room as well as recurring chores, but Unfilth Your Habitat uses guilt, shame and a little swearing to motivate you to actually do them. Arguably the best feature are the Challenges, which provide five, ten, or 20 minute intervals for you to complete certain tasks. You can also use the integrated timer to reward yourself with breaks for any given amount of work.
Don't do it yourself
Not all of us have a penchant for cleaning, which is totally understandable. (And really, who can really say they "enjoy" getting down on their knees to scrub a toilet?) If you really can't handle the mess, Homejoy (free) can help you find a network of people you can hire to lend a hand. This web app features a customized cleaning module that lets you specify your zip code, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and whether or not you want to add extra tasks--like interior oven cleaning, laundry, or wall washing. You can also select whether you'd like to provide the cleaning supplies, or you can ask the cleaner to bring them for an additional five bucks.
Once you've selected the services you want, Homejoy provides you with a choice of available appointment times based on your address. You'll then get an estimate, and secure the appointment by inputting your credit card info. For a three-and-a-half hour cleaning in Oakland, my estimate was $70--very reasonable for a bonded and insured cleaning service. Currently, Homejoy is available in more than 30 markets throughout the United States and Canada.
Organize your closet
Now that your house is spic and span, it's time to tackle the closet. First, go in and get rid of anything you haven't worn in the last six months. Then, download a good organization app like Stylitics (free; Android and iOS). Stylitics lets you create a virtual closet so that you can easily view all the items you have and create outfits without having to take the clothes off the hanger. Plus, there's an integrated calendar that tracks the last time you wore an item or outfit, making it easier for you recognize when to donate or sell the stuff you don't use.
Sell your stuff
Remember, clothes aren't the only things you can donate or sell. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get rid of everything from electronics to furniture. For anything that's not too worn out, try listing it using the CPro Craigslist Client (free; Android and iOS).
You can take photos of your items, create a listing, and respond to interested buyers all within the app itself. CPro also lets you edit posts and makes it easy to re-list items after an ad expires.
Clean up your phone
No cleansing is complete without addressing your digital life as well. It's easy to forget that our phones suffer from clutter as well, and considering how much we use them, it shouldn't be a surprise. There are many, many apps out there to help you de-clutter your device, and most of them are free. For Android, one of the most popular is Clean Master (free). This app is extremely simple and limited on options, but it gets the job done. It identifies junk files in your cache and cleans them with one touch, lets you uninstall bloat-ware, and offers a one-tap memory boost feature. It also includes a security scan option that helps keep your personal information safe.
iPhone users will be well served by Cleaner (free), another simple app that provides limited but useful features. The app shows you the speed performance of your device and how much memory is in use, and then let's you clean it up with one touch. There's also a one-tap cache cleaner that's recommended for once- or twice-a-month use.
Keep your home tip top
Cleaning will be even easier in the future if you keep everything in order on a regular basis. To that end, Android users can check out FlyHelper (free). This app offers a simple, well-structured main menu that gives you access to several useful features. Routines let you set repeating tasks, Zones help you control how you keep your house clean and Menu Planner prompts you to plan weekly meals. The Day Plan feature loads your daily routines and which zone you need to clean, and provides a "flight plan" with general tips and prompts to keep your day organized.
For the iOS set, there's HomeRoutines ($5), a feature-packed checklist app that rewards your accomplishments with gold stars. With HomeRoutines, you can set the recurrence structure of your tasks anywhere from daily to seasonally, or just use the integrated to-do list for one-off tasks. There's also a timer for speed cleaning challenges, as well as a "Focus Zones" section, which includes detailed cleaning lists based on areas of the home.
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