April has arrived and with it all the random weather – t-shirts and flip-flops one day, parkas and boots the next. While we dream of days when we can open the windows to let the sunshine and crisp air in, it’s the perfect time to freshen up our homes with a thorough spring cleaning. An annual clean-out and scrub-down is a rite of spring. It makes your home look, feel, and perform better. Read on to jump-start your cleaning agenda with a few smart tips for every room in your house.
- Pull out your appliances. Pet hair, food and dust particles tend to gather in these areas. Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator. Sanitize your dishwasher using a product like Affresh or place a shallow dish of vinegar on the top rack and run it empty on the sanitize cycle. Give your oven and microwave a good scrub as well as your hood vent.
- Check your refrigerator, pantry and freezer for food items beyond their expiration date. Throw away items you know you won’t use, donating non-perishables. Check your spices, they have expiration dates as well.
- Give your coffee maker a thorough cleaning to remove mineral buildup and bacteria. Fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water, place a paper filter in the basket, and brew the solution halfway. Turn off the machine and let sit for 30 minutes. Finish the brew cycle, dump the vinegar/water solution, and rinse out all components. Put a new filter in and brew a full pot of clean water. You now have a clean coffee pot which makes for better-tasting coffee.
- Deep clean cabinet fronts. They tend to build up a layer of grease and grime that can be hard to remove. A combination of water and laundry or dish soap works well here, as does Murphy’s Oil Soap. Both are safe for wood and painted surfaces. Use a soft cloth and an old toothbrush for getting into the nooks and crannies.
- Start by clearing the clutter off your counter tops. Keep in mind every item you keep out will be a dust collector. Organize your vanity drawers and cabinets, utilizing clear bins for storage.
- Take a peek at your towels and rugs. If they are looking shabby and worn it’s time for some fresh replacements. Give the shower curtain and liner a wash. Clean out and organize the linen closet.
- Clear out the medicine cabinet, taking time to check the expiration dates on medicines and toss what is expired or not being used. Many health and beauty products also expire, so sort through those items as well.
- Clean your shower heads. Mineral deposits can build up and keep water from flowing forcefully. Fill a plastic bag about 3/4 of the way with white vinegar. Secure the bag over the shower head with a twist tie or rubber band. Leave in place for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight if necessary. Remove bag, turn water on to flush and finish by polishing with a soft cloth.
- Refresh the grout in your tiles. Cleaning the mold and mildew that tends to form in grout is a game-changer. Scrub those grout lines with a toothbrush and a simple solution of one cup chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. Be sure to test on an inconspicuous area before you begin. If this doesn’t prove to be effective, check with your local home improvement store as there are many grout cleaners available. If all else fails, it may be time to re-grout.
- Clean exhaust fans. A fan covered in inches of dust is doing you no favors. Your exhaust fan removes moisture, and prevents mold, mildew and odors. Remove the cover by pressing the spring clips to release and clean the cover with soapy water. Use the attachment on the vacuum to clear dust off the fan blades.
- Wash throw pillows and blankets. Take down curtains and throw them in the dryer with a damp towel – it will help remove dust. Run on the fluff (air) cycle for fifteen minutes. Rehang your freshened draperies asap to prevent wrinkles.
- Vacuum upholstery and condition leather furniture.
- Send out rugs for cleaning. Rent a machine to shampoo carpet, or better yet, hire a professional company to come and do it for you.
- Clear out the piles of paper. Recycle newspapers and donate magazines.
- Clean the remote control and gaming devices. Remove batteries and clean around buttons with dish soap and water. Use a Q-tip to get in to tight spots.
- Clean the blades of a ceiling fan by covering them with a coat of furniture polish. Wipe off the excess and buff with a soft cloth.
- Start with your linens. Dry clean or launder your comforter, sheets, mattress pad and pillows.
- Clean out the closet, dressers and nightstands. Donate or give away any items you no longer want or use. A good rule of thumb – if you haven’t worn it in twelve months, it goes.
- Vacuum your mattress and flip and/or rotate it for even wear.
- Don’t forget to check under the bed. It’s a spot we often put things to get them out of the way and then forget about.
- Check and clean your dryer vent and ducts to remove lint build-up. If the ducts are clogged with lint, it can be a fire hazard. Fabric softener sheets can leave a residue on the lint trap. Wash the trap with soap and water. Your clothes will dry faster as a result.
- Pull out the washer and dryer and clean the back side of the appliances to remove dirt and dust. Wipe down tops and sides with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Clean your washer. Run a cycle using hot water and distilled white vinegar to get rid of soap scum and mildew.
- Clean your iron. Use a paste of baking soda and water to remove any build-up from spray starch on the plate.
Spring is synonymous with renewal, making us eager to refresh our surroundings. Spring cleaning allows us to put effort into those tasks around the house that don’t often get attention due to the busyness of our daily lives. Take some time this month to utilize our ideas to declutter, purge, organize and rejuvenate the special place your family calls home.