Spring cleaning can be an enticing idea, but planning to clean the house from top to bottom can turn into a never-ending task list. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get a lot of spring-cleaning satisfaction simply by targeting the often-neglected details of your home.
1. Clean your patio furniture. It would be nice if our patio furniture stayed as sparkling as the sea — or the bold blue seat cushions in this photo. But even the best fabrics need a little upkeep to stay looking lovely. For a basic clean of your outdoor cushions, dust off the dirt, then use a sponge or bristle brush to apply a solution of one-quarter cup of a mild detergent (such as Dawn or Woolite) in a gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly and allow the fabric to air dry.
Tip: This project is best tackled once winter weather has receded so your pillows can air dry and get that sun-fresh scent. That said, if you’re eager to jump on this project, you could dry the pillows indoors, as long as you don’t leave them in a room that smells musty.
2. Get spotless windows. Window cleaning can be a satisfying project to tackle in the spring, as the light from longer days floods into our homes and those windows become more noticeable. Houzz contributor Bonnie McCarthy spoke with Stephanie Lewis, customer experience manager at The Maids cleaning service, who suggested forgoing prepackaged spray cleaners in favor of a solution of warm water with a small amount of dish soap — a drop or two per gallon should be enough. Use the solution to scrub down your windows with a sponge, then clear the liquid with a squeegee and dry with a clean towel.
Tip: For extremely dirty windows, add vinegar or ammonia to your solution. Vinegar can cut through grease and built-up grime. To eliminate streaks after squeegeeing, Lewis advises using a dry cloth or newspaper.
3. Sanitize your butcher block. Strong chemical cleaning agents can leave unhealthy residue on your butcher block counter, but undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle can do the job — even ridding the wood of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, studies have shown. You can also use a steel scraper or spatula to remove debris, as well as more moisture than a towel would pick up.
Tip: To remove a stain, use a mixture of salt and lemon, baking soda or, as a last resort, a solution of bleach and water. (Keep in mind that bleach may discolor the wood.) If these methods don’t work, you might want to try sanding out the stain.
4. Hire a chimney sweep. Warm weather offers a good time to have your chimney cleaned, since the season for using the fireplace has probably come to an end. Although you could DIY the job if you’re knowledgeable about what’s involved, it’s generally not advised. Professional chimney sweeps know what to look for — and they can also properly handle surprises, like the occasional baby raccoon found tucked inside.
5. Clean your range and oven. The trickiest part tends to be the interior, and a good place to start is your owner’s manual. Certain ovens, including ceramic or high-end ones, may have special cleaning instructions. After that, a good next step is vacuuming out the crumbs, or wiping them out with a damp, nonabrasive sponge. Many people like to use a commercial oven cleaner, but the downside is that they contain chemicals that can be quite toxic. Instead, you can scrub the areas of caked-on debris with ammonia. Let it sit for half an hour, then wipe with water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly so your oven doesn’t smell like ammonia the next time you use it.
An alternative is to spread baking soda throughout the oven, then spray it with a solution of a quarter-cup of vinegar, two cups of hot water and a drop of dish soap to make a paste. Let that sit, then scrub off with a bristle brush or steel wool.
Tip: For stove-top rust stains, make a paste of cream of tartar and water and wipe it on in circles.
6. Invest in the power of natural ingredients. Since we just tackled the subject of oven cleaners, consider this: If you’re not a fan of strong-smelling chemical cleaners that can be toxic to both people and animals, use natural ingredients like baking soda or vinegar in your spring-cleaning efforts. You might even think of creating natural cleaning solutions as a detail of your home overhaul — after all, getting rid of toxic cleaners and replacing them with natural alternatives, perhaps stored in spray bottles, is a task unto itself. To start, a basic mixture of one-quarter cup of baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water will work for many home cleaning tasks.
Tip: Lemons are another great natural cleaning product. They have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and you can use them for everything from bringing copper pans back to a shine — using a little lemon and salt — to cleaning your cutting board and teakettle.
7. Clean your textiles. One satisfying way to perk up the details of your home is to tackle textiles. You can launder small items like shower curtains and washable slipcovers, take area rugs and removable pillow covers to be professionally cleaned, and steam-clean your drapery. Those items get exposed to a lot of use, traffic and dust — laundering them will help give your home new life.
Tip: After washing slipcovers, put them on while they’re still a bit damp for the best fit.
8. Rethink that garden cleanup. As spring rounds the corner, it can be tempting to address a neglected garden. But keep in mind that care must be taken not to act too early. After all, if you live in the upper portion of the United States, it’s possible you’ll still face some spring snows. Cleaning up your garden too early can expose insects, butterflies, moths and spiders, hidden inside hollow stems, to too much fluctuation in weather conditions.
Tip: Instead of letting your zeal get ahead of nature’s timeline, Houzz contributor Benjamin Vogt advises, follow this calendar for tackling garden cleanup:
- Zone 7 or warmer: Wait until at least March 15
- Zone 6: Wait until at least April 1
- Zone 5: Wait until April 15 or later
- Zone 4: Wait until May 1 or later
- Zone 3 or colder: Wait until May 15 or later
Article by Erin Carlyle, Houzz