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Coming Clean

With the following DIY tips and tricks, you can knock out your seasonal spruce-up quickly so you can once again have a picture-perfect home.

Article
Lindsay Morris
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
February 28, 2018

Spring is a popular time for house organization and cleaning. Whether you love it or hate it, spring cleaning is a good way to say goodbye to winter. So grab your yellow cleaning gloves and your favorite bottle of Windex, and prepare to meet germs head-on.

Rest assured, friends: You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to have your house looking spic and span this spring. But be sure to set aside at least a couple of days to tackle projects like the ones suggested here. Some cleaning experts even suggest dedicating 30 days for spring cleaning and handling a small amount each day.

Also, consider taking a holistic approach to spring cleaning. You shouldn’t only focus on the inside of your house when you’re spring cleaning; you should also focus on the outside as it may have gone through a brutal winter and is preparing for a hot summer.

In addition to cleaning, you should consider performing quarterly, monthly or perhaps even annual home maintenance tasks such as changing air filters and smoke and air quality detectors. With the following DIY tips and tricks, you can knock out your seasonal spruce-up quickly so you can once again have a picture-perfect home.

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Test smoke and carbon dioxide detectors
Your detectors should have a “test” button. If you press it and the alarm sounds, your battery life is good. If not, it’s time to replace the batteries. If it still doesn’t sound after you replace the batteries, you may need to check for battery corrosion or look into getting a new detector. It is also recommended that you change the batteries every six months, even if they are functioning.

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Check exterior drainage in your yard
Does rain water flow away from the house? Puddles should not stand around your house for more than 24 hours. If water stays, first check your gutters. They may need to be cleaned, or you may have a bad connection. Second, you may need to do some grading with dirt around your home to prevent water collection. The third option would be to have professionals install pavement around the house.

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Throw toys in dishwasher
Children are always spreading germs, which inevitably get to their toys. Cleaning toys is quick and easy if you just throw them on the top rack of the dishwasher, though. As long as they aren’t electronic, of course. Stuffed animals can go in the washing machine on “gentle,” with warm water.

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Clean carpets and upholstery
Fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dirt and germs (yuck!) will need a deep cleaning to get them ready for another year of wear. If you choose to rent a machine to shampoo carpets or upholstery, practice first in an unobtrusive area to make sure you have conquered the machine and that the treatment won’t discolor fabrics or cause dyes to run. After you’ve cleaned the carpets, open the windows to speed the drying process.

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Work from the top down
Dusting, wiping down counters, cleaning windows, etc., should be done from the top-down to prevent having to clean the same areas multiple times and to consolidate cleaning space.

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Protect your floors
To protect the floors in your kitchen and other areas from another year of wear and tear, wax or apply a sealer. The simplest method is a combination wash-and-wax floor cleaner. No-wax floors don’t need a polishing treatment, but an occasional makeover will keep them looking fresher and add a protective buffer that could help them last longer. You’ll be sliding in on those waxed floors like Tom Cruise in Risky Business in no time!

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Wash walls, baseboards, cabinets and woodwork
Use a sponge and dishwashing detergent to wash the surface of these areas in sections. A sponge mop will help you reach higher spots. Use two buckets: one for dishwashing detergent solution and another for wringing your sponge. Dry the walls and woodwork with a clean cloth.

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Don't scrub the microwave
Cleaning your microwave is as easy as heating up a cup of water and vinegar for a few minutes. The condensation will soften any food debris stuck to the walls or door and let you wipe it off easily. This will also work with a wet sponge, and will sanitize the sponge at the same time.

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Clean ceiling and light fixtures
Zap dust and dirt from ceiling fans and air conditioner vents with a cloth and a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment. A few minutes with a stepladder, all-purpose cleaner, a sponge and a polish cloth will help your home lighting to shine brighter. If your home has skylights or tall ceilings, you might want to invest in a stepladder and extended-reach dust-and-dirt-removal tools.

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Clean your fridge and its condenser coil
Unless you’re one of those weird people who keeps their fridge clean all the time, it could probably use a good scrubbing. The best refrigerator cleaner is a combination of salt and soda water. Also, you should clean the refrigerator’s condenser coil with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with an attachment hose to remove dust and lint. Built-up dust can shut down the unit by causing it to overheat.

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Invest in Magic Erasers
When in doubt, pull out the Magic Eraser. These things really are magic, and remove everything; including water stains, scuff marks, crayon on the wall, and grime around the sink drain. Keep a bunch of these handy, and they’ll make tough jobs simple and quick.

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Clean windows, blinds and screens
Wipe down your windows with a rag and soapy water, then dry them with a dry rag. You could also invest in a windshield squeegee from an auto-parts store. Clean window screens with a scrap of carpeting. You’ll be amazed what a powerful tool it is at removing all the dirt. Use socks to clean blinds.

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Inspect comforters, blankets and pillows
If they look like they need spot cleaning, a run through the laundry or a trip to the dry cleaner, then plan accordingly. Sometimes, however, bedding just needs to be aired out. If that is the case, hang them on a clothesline for a day.

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Get rid of unneeded items and donate quickly
Make piles of items you’d like to donate or sell. Then get rid of them quickly! If you plan to sell the items at a secondhand store, go there immediately. Give away the items you’re donating to a charity as quickly as possible. This haste will prevent you from leaving unneeded items in your house and free up space.

February 2019 Cover