Spring Cleaning Tips
It's Spring time!!! The fresh breeze, the birds singing, the warmth of a sun too long gone all combine to convince us that it's time to throw open the windows and doors, let in a little fresh air and shake winter off once and for all. For many, that also means giving the house a good once-over. The time-honored tradition of Spring Cleaning has arrived. If you're preparing to sell your home, the need to make things sparkle and shine is even more urgent, as a clean, uncluttered home is more attractive to buyers.
It's easy to feel so overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning your entire house, that you never even start. But don't be put off! You can do it, and it doesn't have to consume your life. Make a list of the rooms of your house, and then detail the things in each room that will need to be done. (Checking things off on a list can be so satisfying! So go ahead and list everything.)
Start with the areas of the house that are the least used, setting one project per day, or even per weekend, depending on how quickly you need to finish. Larger projects, like reorganizing the garage, or a closet, may take more than one day. But, if you look ahead and make a plan for getting everything done, you don't have to give up your life to have a clean and orderly home. One project at a time, and you'll get there.
Start high and work your way down. Dust light fixtures first, then move to the walls. Start by dusting around the molding, in the corners, and along the tops of the window casings. The dust will fall to the ground, and you don't want to have to clean it up twice, so leave the floor to last in every room. When wiping down walls, remember to start at the tops and work your way down, as to not drip dirty water on already clean surfaces. The same goes for windows.
Walls are an easy area to overlook in everyday cleaning. Be sure to thoroughly scrub walls starting at the molding and working all the way down to the baseboards. Be careful to wipe every surface, or you'll be able to tell when you stand back from the wall. The areas that are clean will stand out from the rest, and you'll be able to tell where you swiped and missed. While you're at it, be sure to thoroughly scrub all of your door frames, as well.
Carry several garbage bags with you into any room that is cluttered or needs a thorough cleaning. Designate one bag for trash and another for things that are cluttering up your house, but you don't really use anymore. Consider donating these items or holding a yard sale, to reduce the amount of stuff you keep overall. A cluttered home is always harder to keep clean. You can also take a box from room to room, collecting things that you don't need just now but you don't want to get rid of, either. These items can go into either long or short term storage, decluttering without having to give them up altogether. A good rule of thumb is: If you haven't used it in six months, store it. If you haven't used it in a year and can't pinpoint the next time you will use it, get rid of it.
Turn all the clothes hangers in your closet “backward.” Then, as you wear and rehang clothes, you'll automatically turn the hangers the right way. In a few months, you can easily see what clothes you seldom, if ever, wear. This can make knowing what to hang onto and what to get rid of much more straightforward.
Clean out your closets by removing everything first and then deciding what to put back in your closet. This give you a good opportunity to determine what to keep and what to throw out/donate/yard sale. Cleaning from inside a closet can be frustrating and claustrophobic. To really get the job done, drag everything out, sort through, clean the closet, and then put everything away neat and tidy. If you don't need something on a regular basis, consider storing it somewhere less frequently used. If you don't use it much at all, consider getting rid of it, altogether. Less is more when it comes to keeping things clean.
Spray down heavily soiled bathtubs and showers with a heavy cleaner designed to cut through soap scum, hard water, and rust stains. Then go clean something else for fifteen minutes. The solvent can work through the majority of the grime without you having to breathe in the fumes. When you come back, use a Magic Eraser sponge to finish cleaning off the spray and any remaining dirt. Use the same spray and sponge to clean hard water stains off of shower doors then finish with window cleaner for a sparkling shine.
Window cleaner will also make faucets, vanities, and even porcelain sparkle and shine, as well. Once you've used an antibacterial spray or cleaner to remove the heavy grime, wipe everything down with window cleaner for a professional finish.
Oven cleaners are great for getting off baked off stains. Be careful on flat top ranges, and follow manufacturer's suggestions for cleaning. Spray your non-heated oven cleaner on surfaces, then clean elsewhere for fifteen or twenty minutes while your spray does the heavy work. Use cleaning gloves to protect your hands when you come back to clean up the spray. Wipe the majority of the spray off with paper towels or wadded newspapers. They can be thrown in the garbage to make cleaning up much easier. Once you've wiped away most of the oven cleaner, finish cleaning with soap and water. Wipe down with a lint-free cloth for a beautiful shine.
Dust your refrigerator coils by turning off the fridge; either, unplug it or cut the power off at the breaker. Most coils are located at the bottom of the refrigerator, under the grill. Remove the grill. Using the crevice tool of your vacuum, or a specialty refrigerator coil brush, thoroughly vacuum your coils. This not only makes your home cleaner but saves you energy, as your refrigerator doesn't have to work so hard to keep cool.
Stainless Steel Don'ts:
- Don't use anything with bleach.
- Don't use oven cleaners.
- Don't use anything abrasive, like steel wool or scrubbers.
- Don't use abrasive cleansers.
- Don't clean it while it's hot.
- Don't use dirty or very hard water, as it can leave spots when it dries
Stainless Steel Dos:
- Read your owners manual for your stainless steel appliances. Some stainless steel has special coatings or polishes that have to be treated in specific ways; be sure to follow their instructions.
- Wash your stainless steel down with mild detergent and warm water, wiping with the grain. Start at the top and work your way down.
- For heavier dirt, use a paste of baking soda mixed with dish detergent, scrubbing gently with a toothbrush or nylon scrubber.
- To make your stainless really shine, use a stainless steel polish, lemon oil, or furniture spray. Polish with the grain, and use an additional, clean, lint free cloth to buff and dry.
Granite counter-tops make a beautiful kitchen truly gorgeous. But if yours has become dull, and lost that really eye popping WOW! you'll want to restore its shine. You can start with a polishing powder to remove surface grime and light etching. Around your kitchen sinks, soap buildup and other heavy grime may be dulling your counter-top's sparkle. Acetone can break down and remove this without damaging your stone. Rinse with warm water when you finish. Resealing your granite counter-tops may be a good idea, as well. Be sure to thoroughly clean the surfaces before applying the sealer, and work slowly with a rag or spray bottle, to ensure even coverage. Allow the sealer to dry completely. Up to four coats can be applied. Resealing your counter-tops each year can prevent fading and dulling of your granite surfaces.
Window Cleaning Tips:
Choose a cloudy day for cleaning your windows. This can prevent your cleaning solution from drying too quickly, leaving you to struggle with streaks and spots. To make the process easier, use a squeegee to clean the majority of the water off the window before you start drying. Finish drying with a lint-free cloth. Don't forget to clean the window frames and down in sliding door tracks, as well. A nice clean window will really show up the dirt around the frames.
Making your home sparkle and shine, whether for a potential buyer or yourself, is worth the time and effort that it takes. You'll be glad to have a house in order, and with any luck, you won't have to tackle it again until next year!