Ah, spring cleaning. Winter wears off, and you slide your windows open and pick up a mop. Or, so you intend to do before you realize the sun is showing and you could be outside. Sure, the lemon-and-sparkle ritual sounds like a lovely idea but if you're like most, spring cleaning isn't something you've kept up on throughout the years. After all, is anyone really going see to the crumbs beneath your stove?

Well, yes, if you've decided to  to put your house on the market. If you're getting ready for a home inspection, filling the mop bucket is one task you won't be able to put off any longer. You're not the only one for whom the task seems daunting and near-impossible. If the stress of selling a house is overwhelming, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. If you're the type who'd rather offer up your own elbow grease in order to conserve funds for other home repairs, spring cleaning needn't be frightening. Grab a pair of gloves and start here:

A proper dusting

If dusting normally means taking twenty minutes to run a dry rag along visible services, you'll want to think a little more deeply this go-round. Those windows have been hiding behind curtains all winter, so it's possible you've forgotten to clean sills and blinds. If you try to clean these with a dusting cloth, you won't get much dirt. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum is far more effective.

When you've finished with the window coverings, take a look up. Is your ceiling fan coated in enough gray fluff to make you feel sheepish? Don't feel too bad - it's easy to forget about things that are regularly out of sight, and the job of cleaning a ceiling fan will never be pretty. Luckily, it should only take you about fifteen minutes. Start with a spray bottle of diluted vinegar and mist the inside of a pillowcase. Stand on a ladder tall enough to give you the necessary reach - you don't want to be teetering. Slip the pillowcase over each blade and wipe off the dust. Protect your floor from flying dust motes with newspapers or drop cloths. 

What about lamp shades or light bulbs? Chances are, each is harboring a good amount of dust. A simple lint roller will clean the shades. Use a damp microfiber cloth on bulbs - unscrew them first and take care to keep the metal bases dry when screwing them back in. 

Radiators and vents are commonly neglected spots. If you haven't replaced air filters in more than three months, do so now. Don't forget that brush attachment on your vacuum - it'll be your best friend for grabbing cobwebs and other things that are out of reach.

Tackle the pet hair

Carpet or not, if you own animals, you've signed up for a little extra fuzz in your space. You won't have any luck convincing potential home buyers that the fur is a design element. Even if you regularly remove the pet hair from your home, you're probably doing it wrong if you have hardwood floors. Mopping with microfiber will grab more fur and dander than a vacuum cleaner, which tends to move hair around just as much as pick it up. 

Wipe down walls

When it comes to cleaning walls, you're not so much looking for dust as fingerprints and smudges. Many of us don't think about how easily light switches accrue grime with daily use. So, take a damp cloth and get to work. Pay attention to baseboards and molding, as well.

Keep clean and carry on

Now that much of the oft-ignored things are out of the way, the rest of your cleaning list should feel more intuitive.