The Midwest is Best, But Spring Cleaning is the Worst
Spring cleaning is an almost universal experience, but it comes in a number of different local flavors. The Midwest, in particular, creates some of truly pressing, critical reasons for taking your spring cleaning seriously every year. But with the bright blue sky and deep, rich greens, this region also offers plenty of upside for those who maintain and revive their living space each spring. Between decluttering, sanitizing, and sprucing up the outside of your home, the process can take weeks to complete. Below is a guide to combating the Midwest’s harsh, sometimes damaging seasonal weather.
Public Enemy No. 1: Humidity
If you’ve lived in the Midwest for the summer season, you know how damaging the humidity can be. This climate not only affects you and your daily habits (avoiding wearing grey in the summertime, anyone?), but it can cause serious damage to your home in the form of mold and mildew accumulation. Indeed, as much as recovering from the detrimental effects of winter, spring cleaning should also include preparation for these sky-high humidity levels.
- Re-route appliance vents: Indoor humidity build-up is not entirely preventable, but you can take steps to mitigate the damaging climate. If you have a clothes dryer, stove, or kerosene heater in your house, ensure they vent outside where possible. These appliances produce water vapor and will increase indoor humidity unless vented outside.
- Repair your air conditioner or invest in a dehumidifier: Increased air flow helps fight humidity. If your air conditioner has been on the fritz, use spring cleaning as an opportunity to make necessary repairs. If you don’t have an air conditioner, consider investing in a dehumidifier. These devices are often inexpensive and can make a huge difference in the summertime.
- Check your insulation: Mold and mildew cannot exist without moisture. Do your best to prevent indoor moisture accumulation. Insulation is a big part of this equation. Without adequate ventilation, condensation can become an issue. And if the insulation itself gets wet, that will also reduce its insulating performance.
Don’t Forget the Outside
You shouldn’t restrict your spring cleaning—the outside of your house needs some attention, too! In fact, spring is the best time to tackle some of your larger outdoor tasks. The most important? Checking and cleaning your gutters and downspouts. Only New England can compete with the Midwest’s fall foliage. Though watching the leaves change color is enjoyed almost universally, dead leaves can wreak havoc on your gutters. Moreover, the Midwest’s rugged winters can cause further damage. Wind damage can render gutters useless, and ice can cause so much damage that gutters may need to be replaced.
To assess the situation, inspect both the insides and outsides of your gutters. If the gutter has pulled away from the house, or if any depressions have formed to create standing water, you may need to call a professional to fix the problem. If you don’t notice any damage, thoroughly rid your gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris—they’re likely to stay clear all summer and will be in good shape when autumn arrives.
Adjust Your Spring Cleaning Schedule
The Midwest has notoriously tough winters. In fact, this year, temperatures in Chicago were lower than those found on Mars. Cold temperatures are known to stretch well into spring. At O’Hare International Airport, temperatures as low as 7 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded in April, and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to remain in the 30s and 40s well into May.
To save yourself time, money, and stress, consider moving your spring cleaning timeline back a couple of months. If you start tackling deep indoor cleaning in early March, you might find yourself repeating the process again in late May. Indeed, two-step spring cleaning isn’t uncommon. Either way, pushing your timeline back will also create time to mitigate the effects of the Midwest’s wettest season—spring. April and May see the most precipitation, and beginning your spring cleaning after the wet season will give you a reason to address some of the damage caused by heavy rain, hail, and late-season snow.