The quote above makes me laugh! As someone who’s been in tears more than once over cleaning for Passover, it certainly can feel that way.
Picture Spring Cleaning on steroids; that’s what cleaning for Passover is like. We’re supposed to go room by room, eliminating Chametz (leavened food) with zeal. Nothing can be missed—not a drawer, not a closet, nothing.
First things first: Step back, take a big gulp and admit this is a monumental task. Don’t think you can do it the night before by yourself. Try to enlist other family members. If you can afford a cleaning lady, by all means, call one! If you’re stuck doing it alone—as I am—you’ll need to be extra diligent.
Step One: The Master List
Make a Master List of every room in your home. Depending on size, this will vary person-to-person, but generally we all have bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, foyer, and a living/family room.
Bedrooms: Unless you’re having overnight guests for the holiday, go easy here—especially with little ones underfoot. Start at the top and work your way down. Dusting comes first, floors are last. I do a quick once-over in each bedroom. Wash the windows, wash the bed linens, mop/sweep/vacuum the floor and closet. Make the room presentable not perfect—nothing on the floor, no dirty laundry, etc.
Bathrooms: Everything should be scrubbed—tub, toilet, sink, counter, tiles, mirror, floor. Again, we start at the top and work our way down the room so that everything only has to be cleaned once. Have extra paper products available. Don’t ever allow a guest into a filthy bathroom!
Living/Family room: These rooms tend to be extremely cluttered. Toss the old papers, put the toys away, get rid of the useless junk. Polish furniture, if you can. Definitely do the floor. Fluff up the couch pillows.
Foyer: This is the first thing guests see and it sets the mood for the home. Check your coat closet. Make sure it’s not totally trashed and there are extra hangers. Don’t have anything piled up by the front door. If it’s raining, put something out for umbrellas.
Kitchen: I’m saving this for last because it’s the biggest job! If you have an extra set of Passover dishes, bring them out. If not, you have two choices: wash every single item you own or use disposables. I go for a mix of my everyday dishes and disposables. (FYI: I don’t keep a kosher home, so this isn’t super-important. For those who do keep kosher, you’re facing a ton of dishes!)
Step Two: Assemble Supplies
Using the Master List, determine what cleaning supplies you’ll need. The photo above shows what I use (Windex, dish soap, Comet for scouring, an all-purpose cleaner, and a bathroom cleaner). Try to schedule extra time so you’re only tackling one room per day. (You’ll need to do a final run-through of each room the night before Passover, but it should be quick.)
I enjoy cleaning more when I’m prepared. I gather my supplies, I put on some old clothes, I turn on some tunes, and I just zoom through it! If you truly lack all motivation, set a timer for 15 minutes. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish when focused, even in a short time. When the task is completed, give yourself a treat! Get a Starbucks.
If you need more detailed cleaning advice, check out http://www.flylady.net/. This is a wonderful site that offers the most detailed cleaning instructions imaginable.
Step Three: Protecting your work
Once a room is cleaned, try to seal it off in any way possible. If you have a formal dining room that’s only used for holidays, don’t let anyone in before the holiday! (Simple, right?) The kitchen is the last room I do since it must be “turned over.” Usually, I’d suggest starting with the most complicated task, but it makes no sense here. Most of us are eating Chametz right up until Sundown, so why do it twice?
Step Four: Giving yourself grace
We all have the best of intentions, but sometimes real life gets in the way. You can craft a “perfect plan,” and buy every cleaner on the planet. That won’t help if you’re working overtime and up all night with a new baby. Just reading the list of what needs to be done can seem unbearable, let alone actually finishing.
Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. I promise it will be good enough!
Does cleaning for Passover make you cry?