As I gaze out my window, I realize I am yearning for spring, for the soft green fuzz on the trees when the leaves start to unfurl, for the greening of grasses in the fields, for the first tender leaves of perennials in my garden.

The only problem is I can’t see a thing through my smudged, winter-weary windows.

Which brings me to the topic of spring cleaning. And let me assure you, I’m not normally one of those people who get excited at the prospect of madly scrubbing down the house every spring. But those grimy windows always get to me.

I’ll start with the windows, and then be drawn to other areas that have been accumulating dirt.

The problem with spring cleaning is that the urge grows, and leads you to new places to clean and reorganize. Soon you’ll want to clean from stem to stern, and to reorganize every drawer and cabinet, so that everything is spotless and perfectly organized.

But those good intentions are often left abandoned, partially finished. It’s a big job and it overwhelms. Let’s face it, almost every house has places where dirt creeps, where dustbunnies grow and where single socks accumulate. The problem is that, for many of us, there is no end to things that could be cleaned, reorganized, laundered and polished.

To make the job less daunting, try to keep clutter to a minimum year-round. That way, it is easier to clean on a regular basis, minimizing the level of dirt and dust that accumulates before spring cleaning time. And do establish a weekly cleaning routine and perhaps a list of less-frequently needed chores to complete on a monthly basis. That way, you are not stuck with a huge depressing mess when you decide to tackle the winter’s dirt.

And when spring rolls around, do yourself a favour and strictly define the scope of the job. Limit yourself to cleaning away the winter from your house. Put away the coats, hats and mittens and for now, tackle mostly the grime associated with wet boots and the accumulated dirt of a season in which we spend more time indoors. And go after those areas that are not part of your weekly cleaning routine.

Finally, do only what you think is important and not what your Aunt Zelda insists should be done. Spring cleaning is all about welcoming the sunny season with open arms. Here is my list which you may embrace, use partially, or not at all.

1. Launder and put away winter clothing. (But wait till the winter has definitely departed.)

2. Clean those windows and let the glorious sun shine through.

3. Put on your favourite music and do one room at a time:

• Start from the ceiling and work down. Dust the ceiling and ceiling fan, if you have it, the corners between the ceiling and walls and spot clean any dirt on the wall, cabinets and the backsplash in the kitchen;

• Wipe down switchplates, door knobs and do not forget to wipe air vents;

• Wipe baseboards and the corners of the floor. Pay special attention to closet areas where winter coats and boots were stored;

• If dirty, spot clean rugs or carpets or have them cleaned;

• Dust art and wipe with a slightly moistened cloth the frames and glass covering pictures or photos;

• Also wipe down lamp bases and dust shades, and any knick-knacks;

• Vacuum upholstered furniture and if dirty, spot clean;

• Gently wipe or take down light fixtures and carefully wash and dry before replacing;

• Take down curtains and drapes and dust curtain rods and hardware. Launder curtains and drapes or have them cleaned, and wipe down blinds. Also wipe down window frames and sills, and then replace the window treatments.

Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design;