Spring Cleaning in Korea

With the arrival of spring comes spring cleaning! The chance to prepare your home for ultimate summer fun and comfort. This post talks about specific cleaning tasks that help you get into the flow of life in Korea and makes managing your home a little easier. If you don’t do the following things, life may feel hard and gross pretty fast.

Clorox Warning

WARNING: The following combinations can cause death

Since many people moving to Korea may be living on their own for the first time, we want to begin the Spring Cleaning with a warning. Be VERY careful when cleaning with Clorox. You can kill yourself or your pets. We have met numerous young people who became sick mixing these Clorox in these ways while cleaning mold or pet messes.

Spring Cleaning Shopping List

Before you start your spring cleaning you need to have your cleaning items on hand. Much of what we recommend on this list can be found at Daiso or a Korean neighborhood house supply store. After 12 spring cleaning sessions, here is what we have on hand:

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  1. Magic erase sponges
  2. Microfiber cleaning cloth
  3. Mold cleaner for bathroom tile
  4. Mesh bags for kitchen sinks
  5. Window screen patching kits
  6. Industrial-size lint, hair, and dust rollers
  7. Bug traps
  8. Storage containers for storing blankets and clothing
  9. Odor eliminators (we use charcoal-based ones)
  10. Wash machine drum cleaner
  11. De-humidifier boxes for damp areas of the house and in closets to protect clothing.
  12. De-humidifier pouches to put into boxes and bags with stored clothing and blankets.
  13. Bucket for holding water (optional)
  14. Carrier for cleaning supplies (optional)
  15. Rubber cleaning gloves (optional, but you should use them)
  16. Caps for unused outlets to protect from dust and buildup (HIGHLY RECOMMEND)
  17. Compressed air for cleaning outlets
  18. New extension cords with surge protection to replace damaged cords.
  19. (not pictured below)Preferred cleaning products like Windex, bathroom tile cleaners, and things for the kitchen counter. (Available at Daiso.)
  20. (not pictured below)Swiffer style floor cleaner with wet and dry clothes (Available at Daiso.)
  21. (not pictured below) Large plastic bags for storing blankets and coats (Available at Most Daiso.)
  22. (not pictured below) A long-handled scrub brush for bathroom walls, floors, and ceilings. (Available at Daiso.)
  23. (not pictured below) Vinegar white (Try Emart or Homeplus.)

Below you will see a visual shopping list that we have prepared to help you find the items listed in the shopping list above. You can match the number of the photo below to the English item/explanation above.

Estimated Daiso Spring Cleaning Budget

If this is your first time setting up for spring cleaning and you plan to go to Daiso, you should budget about 50,000 KRW to get everything you need. It’s likely going to be less than this if you stick to the basics, but make that the budget to make sure you aren’t tempted to skimp.

Check Your Window Screens

The first thing you want to do is check your window screens for holes and tears. Warm weather brings out the bugs and you don’t want to have holes in your window screens when you clean. If you do find a flaw in your screens, you can find patching kits at Daiso, Emart, Homeplus, and other home stores across Korea. Do NOT skip this very important part of making sure you are ready for summer.

The tape for fixing window screens might look different depending on the manufacturer. Look at Image 5 in the shopping list to see how they look at Daiso.

Air Out the House

If it’s not a fine dust day, keep your windows open! You can use an air quality app to help you plan for the best days and times for filling your home with beautiful spring air.

Airing out the house is important for several reasons. First, it can help improve indoor air quality by removing pollutants, allergens, and other harmful substances from the home. Second, it can reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth by increasing ventilation and reducing humidity levels. Third, it can help eliminate unpleasant odors, such as cooking smells or pet odors, and create a more pleasant living environment. Finally, airing out the house can help circulate fresh air, which can be beneficial for respiratory health and overall well-being.

Use Damp Cleaning Tools

For surfaces, use a damp cloth or microfiber cloth to prevent the particles from becoming airborne. Dust and dirt can accumulate on floors, countertops, and other surfaces, so it’s important to clean them regularly. Since South Korea has a fine dust problem, you want to take this seriously when doing your spring cleaning. Make sure you do all you can to keep dust from rising into the air while you clean.

For floors, use a dry and wet Swiffer to trap the dust before you use a broom or vacuum. You want to avoid sweeping and vacuuming for your first run across the floors in order to pick up as much fine dust as possible.

Clean Your Washer Drum

Do NOT skip cleaning your washer drum. You will buy Item 10 세탁조 크리노 on the shopping list, dump the entire thing into your wash machine, and then run a full wash cycle with nothing in the machine. Such a process deep cleans your washer to help remove the odor-causing residues and grime that can form in machines over time. Do this at the beginning of the day BEFORE you wash your winter blankets and clothes to store for the summer.

Manage Seasonal Mold

Korean homes have the most mold issues in spring and fall when homes transition from heat to AC. A big part of spring cleaning in Korea involves keeping mold from spreading in your home. During this time you need to make sure no mold has grown in places that you may not think to look such as:

  • Behind sofas
  • Behind bookcases
  • Behind headboards
  • Behind dressers
  • Under beds
  • In closest
  • On clothes, you haven’t used

Leave no furniture, dark corners, damp places, or piles of things unturned. You need to inspect everything and add dehumidifying tools as needed. You can read the South of Seoul post about managing mold in Korean homes.

Example of dehumidifier tubs for managing moisture in the Korean home.

Keep in mind, mold can also grow on furniture, especially particle board furniture. This means you may need to look at the back of your mirrors, dressers, etc. This means that just because you don’t see mold on a wall doesn’t mean it’s not on the back of the furniture against the wall. Check it all very carefully.

This is also the time to treat your bathroom grout and calk with mold treatment like the one from Daiso pictured in Image 3 of the visual shopping list.

Check and Clean Outlets and Extension Cords

Korean homes require an over-reliance on extension cords. Overuse of extension cords coupled with dust, animals, and everyday life can create serious fire risks that can and HAVE killed people. Everyone should prioritize inspecting the outlets and extension cords in their home regularly, including during spring cleaning.

NEVER CLEAN OUTLETS WITH THE POWER ON! Each apartment has a fuse box. Go turn off the power before you clean anything.

The image below shows an extension cord that is too dirty and shows signs of being too overloaded. The extension cord should be fully replaced. If the lights were still working well, the extension cord outlets could simply be cleaned by 1) unplugging them from the wall, 2) blowing clean with compressed air, and 3) being wiped with a clean, dry cloth. Never clean while plugged into the wall.

Please take outlet safety seriously in your homes.

Clean and Prepare Drains

Korean homes have many drains throughout the home that need to be cleaned and maintained. In the spring, you will want to prepare the house for ‘drain bugs’. In fact, this cleaning task is so important that we have a full article about maintaining sicks and drains. You don’t want to open up your drains after a year of not cleaning them to have them look like the following image.

Clean Fan Blades

Before turning on the fans for summer, clean the fan blades. Take your standing floor fans apart and wash them from top to bottom. With the ceiling fans, we wipe down completely with wet microfiber clothes. An amazing amount of dust accumulates on the fan blades during winter and you don’t want that blowing into the air. You also don’t want to leave this for when it’s already hot and you are dying to cool off. Be ready for summer.

Clean or Replace Filters

Spring cleaning in Korea means staying on top of maintaining all the filters in your home. A dirty air filter can’t trap dust, dirt, and debris that circulate in your home, making the air quality poor and increasing the risk of allergies and respiratory problems. For example, when the air filter in your AC unit is clogged, it can’t circulate air efficiently, causing the AC unit to work harder and increasing energy bills and wear and tear on the system. To prevent this, changing the air filter in the spring is necessary to ensure that the AC unit runs at peak efficiency, helping to prolong the lifespan of the AC unit and avoid expensive repairs or replacements in the future.

Common Appliances That Need Filters Changed

In your Korean home you may find the following appliances need their filters changed each spring.

  • Air Purifier
  • Air Conditioner
  • Wash Machine
  • Dryer
  • Vacuum
  • Hood Range
  • Refrigerator

Get Your Air Conditioner Serviced

After not using your AC unit during the winter, it’s important to have it professionally serviced in the spring. Please don’t ignore your AC because a good is AC is a key part of cleaning in Korea year-round since it helps manage humidity. Mold and dust can build up in the AC tubes and units during the winter. Starting them up in the spring without servicing them can exist as a health risk.

Additionally, servicing your AC unit in the spring is important for several reasons:

  1. Improved Performance: During the winter months, your AC unit can collect dirt, debris, and dust that can clog the system and reduce its performance. By servicing your AC unit in the spring, you can ensure that it’s clean and ready to run at peak performance when you need it most.
  2. Prevent Breakdowns: AC units that haven’t been serviced can be prone to breakdowns, especially during the summer months when they’re working hard to keep your home cool. A spring service can catch any issues early on, preventing more serious breakdowns from occurring later in the season.
  3. Lower Energy Bills: A well-maintained AC unit runs more efficiently, which can help lower your energy bills. By having your AC unit serviced in the spring, you can ensure that it’s running as efficiently as possible, saving you money on your energy bills.
  4. Prolonged Lifespan of Your AC Unit: Regular maintenance, including spring servicing, can help extend the lifespan of your AC unit. By catching and fixing any issues early on, you can prevent more serious damage from occurring, which can help your AC unit last longer and avoid costly repairs or replacements.

You DO NOT want your AC to break in the summer or run inefficiently. If it breaks down you often can’t get a replacement for weeks (because folks are BUSY during the high season) and it’s going to cost you a LOT of money. Staying on top of your AC maintenance can make your life go much more smoothly.

Wash and Store Winter Bedding

Clean and put heavy blankets away for the summer season. Take them to a local laundry mat to get them nice and clean, then store them in large plastic bags. Making sure the blankets are clean and safely stored will help ensure they don’t get moldy and ruined while they are stored in a dark, out-of-the-way place during the summer. Additionally, it means the blankets are ready to be used when winter rolls around again.

Make sure to store your clothing and blankets with Item 12 on the shopping list. The dehumidifier pouches will help protect your items in storage.

Clean Out Your Closet

Make sure to get rid of all the winter clothes you didn’t use over winter! None of us need old things hanging around for next year. Clean out the closet and make room for summer! Since closet space is quite minimal in some homes, we actually have boxes for our winter clothes that we keep under the bed and change out our clothing for summer and winter. It means we only have what we need for the season. It’s a great way to keep life simple.

Additional Resources

Of course, don’t just read our tips and tricks for spring cleaning in Korea, makes sure to read a few articles before you get started. Here are a few additional cleaning articles we recommend reading: