By SUSAN CONDON LOVE
Like all big undertakings, it’s a good idea to make a plan. Yes, that means committing pen to paper. Or creating a spreadsheet, if that’s more your style. Spring cleaning is no exception. You should have a to-do list, and follow it.
Start by listing every room of your house, including the utility room, laundry room, garage and closets. Think about tasks like cleaning the baseboards, the walls, the windows and window treatments, as well as moving and cleaning behind and under furniture (and the furniture itself). Basically, things that you probably don’t clean on a regular basis. If it helps you, walk through your house or apartment while making the list.
Before tackling that first dust bunny, make sure you have all the supplies on-hand. And another important step: declutter. Be brutal. Throw things out. Donate them. Truly embrace your spring clearing and cleaning.
As you work on your battle strategy remember this: It’s best to start from the top down (ceiling, light fixtures, etc.). No sense in cleaning a floor, only to cover it in grime as you clean the blades of the ceiling fan.
Here is a step-by-step approach to this annual task. Try and include all the steps, but do it in an order (and timeline) that you find comfortable and realistic:
* Take all draperies down. Get them dry cleaned. Clean your blinds.
* Dust thoroughly.
* Wash out trash cans. To really clean garbage cans, spray them with a hose and dump out the water. Next, spray the inside with a disinfectant spray, scrub with a handled brush and rinse. Leave them upside down to dry.
* Move furniture
* Deep clean floors – carpets and hardwood.
* Vacuum upholstered furniture.
* Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners. Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion. Seal any open areas between the frame and the wall to keep out water, which can deteriorate building materials.
In the Kitchen
* If there’s lime buildup around the faucet, lay paper towels over the fixture and soak it with vinegar, letting it set for one hour. The deposits will soften and become easier to remove.
* To clean chrome, glass or stainless steel appliances, fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 50-percent rubbing alcohol and 50-percent water.
Organize the pantry. Throw out expired food.
* Clean the refrigerator.
In the Bathroom
* Spray a generous amount of bathroom spray or pine cleaner to the shower or bathroom walls. Allow cleaners to stand while other work is being done. Then go back and start scrubbing.
* To remove hard-water scale or mildew on showerheads, faucetheads and drains, soak them in vinegar. If the head isn’t removable, position a plastic bag filled with vinegar over it and tape it shut.
* Over time, mattresses can wear unevenly. Extend its life by vacuuming it and turning at least four times per year, alternating between end-over-end and side-over-side rotation.
* Launder bedding and pillows. If you change bedding for the season, air out the spring blankets before putting them on the bed. Store winter bedding after having it cleaned.
Outside the House
* Sweep porch and deck, as well as around doors and windows to get rid of cobwebs and debris.
* Wash outdoor furniture. Mild dishwashing detergent should work for most materials, but check your care labels to be sure.
“Good Housekeeping” magazine has been providing homeowner tips since our great-grandmothers first started struggling with that new-fangled device called a vacuum cleaner. This is their suggestion for “30 days of cleaning.”
Day 1: Load dishwasher with globes, toys, etc.
Day 2: Clean windows. Wait for overcast day so the sun doesn’t dry them too soon.
Day 3: Hose down and dry door mats. Use one inside and one outside.
Day 4: Dust forgotten spots.
Day 5: Use damp rubber gloves to clean up all pet hair, other debris from furniture.
Day 6: Revive your mattress.
Day 7: Degrease kitchen cabinets. Try Parker & Bailey Kitchen Cabinet Cream ($7 on Amazon Prime).
Day 8: Clean the dishwasher. Try Cascade Dishwasher cleaner.
Day 9: Stainless cleaner: 1 tsp of dishwasher cleaner, 1 quart hot water. Microfiber cloth and a lot of elbow grease in circular motions. Rinse with clean hot water only.
Day 10: Carpet dents – ice cubes.
Day 11: Clean … your vacuum cleaner. Change the filters, snip the fibers off the roller.
Day 12: Deep clean drawers. Be brutal. Toss out stuff you don’t wear. Re-organize the mess.
Day 13: Clean your broom. Warm soapy water or vacuum it.
Day 14: De-lint the dryer. More than 10,000 home fires start from this source.
Day 15: Clean grout: 3/4 cup household chlorine bleach, 1 gallon of water. Wear rubber gloves, eye protection. Use stiff brush. Let solution sit for a few minutes, scrub, then rinse.
Day 16: Clean washing machines. Run hot water to fill. Turn off machine. Add cleaning agent: Top loading, 3 to 4 cups vinegar to 4 tablespoons baking soda; Front loading – 1/4 cup vinegar to 4 tablespoons baking soda. Let sit 30 to 60 minutes. Restart machine to drain. Wipe down and air dry.
Day 17: Clean cutting boards by running cut lemon across the surface. Sprinkle with salt first for extra oomph.
Day 18: run re-usable grocery bags through the wash.
Day 19: Wash ALL your bedding.
Day 20: Clean microwave. 4-cup bowl filled with 1 cup water and chopped up lemon, lime or orange and tablespoon of vinegar. Bring to a lively boil to steam it all up.
Day 21: Clean that knife holder.
Day 22: Clean drains (not unclog): 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup salt. Pour down drain, followed by 1 cup heated vinegar. It will foam and bubble. Let it stand 15 minutes. Run hot tap water.
Day 23: Shine up copper. Rub red sauce with a pinch of salt on it.
Day 24: Purge – old magazines, etc.
Day 25: Clean oven.
Day 26: Clean vents. Soft brush with bristles.
Day 27: Prep patio furniture.
Day 28: Clean fridge.
Day 29: Declutter closet … and your purse.
Day 30: Run lemon rinds through garbage disposal.