This article by R. Yitzchak Berkovits may be what you're looking for.
Some key quotes (emphases are mine):
In cleaning for Passover, we are first and foremost fulfilling the mitzvah of biur chametz -- getting rid of chametz. Biur chametz is actually quite an easy mitzvah in terms of physical exertion. The Torah says: "tashbisu se'or mibateichem" -- make all your sour dough rest. The Torah commandment is that you can possess all the chametz you want, but in your mind it must be dust -- ownerless and valueless.
Now obviously we are dealing with something subtle and vague. What goes on in your mind, no one knows except you and God. It's quite easy to think you have considered everything "null and void," when in truth you can't wait for Passover to be over so you can partake of all those goodies!
So the Sages instituted a requirement to physically destroy chametz. This mitzvah is known as bedikat chametz. The Sages say it is not enough to emotionally write the chametz off as "dust"; you must actually search out any chametz you can find -- and physically destroy it.
The mitzvah of bedikat chametz is to be done on the night of the 14th of Nissan, the evening prior to the Seder...
However, our homes over the years have grown in size, and consequently are more complicated to clean. As a result, the ability to do bedikat chametz in a few hours on the night of the 14th is no longer feasible. Even if you stay up all night, chances are there are parts of your home you'll never get to. So we start our bedikat chametz early. So realize that when you start cleaning for Passover, you are doing bedikat chametz. This is important because there are specific rules for bedikat chametz.
When we do bedikat chametz, what are we looking for?
One crumb of edible chametz cannot remain in your house and you've got to destroy it. Also, anything that contains ethyl alcohol, since it can be distilled, is called "edible chametz" and must also be disposed of.
We are also looking for something that is more than a kezayit -- regardless of whether you would consider it food or not. If it's less than a kezayit of non-edible chametz, you don't have to get rid of it because you consider it dirt. Also, if it's something even a dog wouldn't eat, then even more than a kezayit is not problematic.
When you're cleaning for Passover, all the goodies in your freezer and cabinets -- bread, cakes, crackers -- all of that is chametz. You have to get rid of it one way or another. But aside from that, you probably won't find much edible chametz in your house. Bedikat chametz, therefore, is not so difficult. In the bedrooms, for example, you don't have to sit with a pin scraping the corners!
Even further: Let's say you have gook stuck to your chametz dishes. If the stuff is non-edible, then you can forget about it -- as long as it does not total a kezayit of gook. But there is no need sit there and scrub the dishes with steel wool. Just make sure there is no edible stuff on them, and no kezayit of gook -- and put them away.
One important point: If you feel like going beyond the limit and scraping the walls and ceiling, go right ahead. Of course it's not required, but the halacha is actually stated in Shulchan Aruch that no one is allowed to laugh at you. In the words of the rabbis, Yisrael kedoshim heim -- "Jews are holy" when they go beyond the letter of the law.