It’s that time of year… the sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and we finally feel motivated to turn off Netflix, get off the couch, and good ol’ fashioned spring clean! This notion is exciting for some and a simply a chore for others. Whichever boat you’re in, we have some spring cleaning tips for places to consider and ways to get your house feeling clean, organized, and ready for summer.
Deep Cleaning and Maintenance
Luckily for all of us, there are many things that we only need to visit once (or, at most, twice) a year. Spring is a great time to tackle that as the rainy mudboots of winter are gone and the beachy sand of summer is still to come. Below are some things around the house that you might have never even realized needed to be cleaned or maintained, as well as some products we love to help you get the job done.
Rugs and Carpets
Synthetic carpets and rugs that have waterproof backings can be deep cleaned at home with a unit specifically designed to shampoo carpets. We love the Hoover FH50150 Carpet Basics Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner or its slightly more powerful brother, Hoover FH50251PC Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner. Be sure to get the accompanying carpet cleanser and deoderizer and, if necessary, the pet stain and odor remover.
Rugs that don’t have any backings will require professional cleaning. And if you’re like me, then professional steam cleaning throughout the entire house is the way to go. There are a lot of great, all-natural companies out there now.
Vinyl and linoleum tend to lose their shine over time. They can be waxed with a polish designed specifically for these surfaces. Most stone and tile floors can also be treated with either a paste or a liquid wax. We love Pro Shot Industrial Re-Newing Floor Restorer, which works like a dream on vinyl, linoleum, stone, and tile.
Wood floors should mostly get cleaned with just a damp cloth throughout the year. Once or twice a year you may want to preserve your wood floor’s finish, and keep it from drying out and cracking. A great product for that is Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner.
Stainless Steel Appliances
To get your stainless steel appliances looking like they did when you first purchased them, use a polish specifically designed for stainless steel. A leading brand, Weimann, makes their polish in both spray bottle and aerosol versions. Just be sure not to use too much, or you’ll get a grimy finish. This can be done once or twice a week, if you feel up to it, or just occasionally to get that sparkly stainless steel shine back.
Granite and marble are beautiful natural stone surfaces that we love in our kitchens. They do, however, require that you reseal them once a year. StoneTech BulletProof Sealer will work for a wide variety of natural stone surfaces, including marble, granite, limestone, slate, saltillo, bluestone, flagstone, travertine, and sandstone. So you may want to purchase this product and use it both inside and in your yard. You’ll know the surface is sealed when water beads stay on top of the surface.
If you’re anything like me, you love to cook but hate to clean. After cooking big family meals, at least a portion of it ends up on my countertop and stovetop. It gets a cursory sponge wipe down, but hardly ever the deep clean it deserves. To get rid of that stubborn grime and grease, we love Grab Green Natural Power Degreaser Cleaner. It’s made with naturally-derived ingredients and a non toxic formula without any solvents, phosphates, or ammonia. It comes in three beautiful scents, and it works on more than just your stovetop. You can use it to tackle messes on your granite and stone surface, range hood, microwave, sink, sticky cabinet, and backsplash without worrying about how the cleanser is affecting your health or the environment.
Kitchen and Bathroom Tiles
Use a cleaner that has a “neutral pH” such as StoneTech All-Purpose Daily Cleaner for Stone & Tile. Or, you can make your own cleaner at home: Pour a ½ cup of baking soda into 2 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. Using a string mop or sponge, clean the tile floors, backsplash, and bath tubs. You can also use this mixture on the grout to clean it well before sealing.
The cement-based material between wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily. After cleaning them thoroughly (see above), protect it with a penetrating grout sealer. Try StoneTech Heavy Duty Grout Sealer, which you can apply with a small foam brush or a small paintbrush. There are options that come with an attached paintbrush and even super quick aerosol spray options.
Walls, Ceilings, and Cabinets
Use a vacuum to remove dust from walls and ceilings. Wall stains can be treated with a damp cloth. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent on kitchen cabinets, with a solvent-free degreaser like the previously mentioned Grab Green Natural Power Degreaser Cleaner. Just be sure to first test it in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface.
Windows & Window Treatments
To achieve the crystal clear clean of spring, wash the inside and outsides of your home’s windows. If you can, wash the outside of the windows on a cloudy day to avoid the cleanser drying on the windows before you have a chance to wash it off. For professional quality cleaning using your own elbow grease, try Ettore 30130 Squeegee Off Window Cleaning Soap. You may also want to invest in the accompanying bucket and squeegee.
For the screens, use water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush, and then rinse thoroughly. You may also consider hiring a professional window washing service; for just a couple hundred dollars you can have the insides, outsides, and all screens power washed.
Many draperies and curtains are machine washable; be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions on the label. Fabric shades should be dry-cleaned. Wooden blinds can be wiped with a damp cloth, If you have metal or vinyl blinds, it is safe to clean them with a rag dipped in warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid soap.
Bedding & Mattress
Be sure to first check the manufacturer’s care instructions on the label. Try to run your pillows and comforters through the wash two to three times per year. (Pillow cases and duvet covers should be washed every couple of weeks). At this point, you may want to lay your head on your pillow and take a nap; if that’s the case, Vogue’s got you covered with some tips on energetically spring cleaning your abode.
While all of your bedding is in the wash, use your vacuum’s crevice tool on your mattress. Clean the surface and sides with your vacuum. Spot-clean any spots with an upholstery cleaner. Since mattresses are slept on by you and your family, we like Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner Spot & Stain Remover. It’s made with natural enzymes, making it safe for the family and environmentally responsible.
You can finish the yearly cleaning process by lightly spraying with a disinfectant spray. Keeping with the all-natural theme, we love Violet Twig Aromatics’ Dust Mite Spray, which kills dust mites on mattresses, pillows, and stuffed animals using only essential oils and without any harmful chemicals.
Sofas and Upholstered Furnishings
Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are stains, check the pieces for the manufacturer’s care instructions on their label. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions. You may also want to disinfect using the previously mentioned Violet Twig Aromatics’ Dust Mite Spray. You may not find any coins underneath your couch cushions, but USA Today explains that spring cleaning can still bring wealth (and health).
Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. To preserve the wood’s finish, and keep it from drying out and cracking, try Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. But be sure to check the specific maintenance requirements of each piece from the manufacturer (who may have a preferred product). If you do use your own conditioner or wax, do it in an inconspicuous corner first to test it.
Books, Shelves, and Other Hard-to-Reach Spaces
Take everything off the shelves and brush shelves and books with a feather duster (we love the Swiffer 360 Dusters Extender Kit, which can have a short handle or extend up to 3 feet). Use the dust-brush or crevice tool on a vacuum to reach into tight spots. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books with a clean, soft cloth. Be sure to dues all of the hard-to-reach places, like the tops of ceiling fans and window casings. Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor. Avoid using dusting sprays.
Disinfect your washing machine using white, distilled vinegar. If you have a top-loading machine, use one quart (4 cups) of vinegar; for front-loading machines fill the detergent dispense to 3/4 full. Simply pour white vinegar into the same place where you typically add laundry detergent. Be sure that you are putting the vinegar in the detergent slot if there is a separate slot for fabric softener.
After adding the vinegar, simply select the hottest water setting—the water should be hot as possible to kill any lingering bacteria—and the longest cycle available on your washing machine. Then just let your washing machine run a complete, empty cycle (make sure there no stray socks in the wash). This vinegar will fully disinfect the inside of your washer without the extra chemicals found in many store-bought cleaners!
Wipe down the non-cushion portion of the chairs with a mixture of warm water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid detergent. Then hose down the mixture and allow to air dry in the sun. For the cushions, check the manufacturer’s label for care instructions.
Change Air Filters
If you have central air conditioning, you have an air filter in place that traps contaminants as air passes through the ductwork. It’s easy to neglect something you never see or give a second thought to, but it’s important to change the filter in order to enjoy better indoor air quality, longer equipment life, lower energy bills, and a smaller impact on the environment. Spring is the perfect time to change out the filters, since the long, hot days of summer are ahead.
Some air filters can be cleaned and reused while others are disposable and won’t work well if you attempt to clean and reuse them. If you have a disposable filter, plan to replace it every one to three months, or when it begins to become clogged with dust and debris. In order to change the filters, first turn off the air conditioner. Then remove the old filter, paying attention to how it fits in the slot. Check the measurements of the filter size and purchase an exact replacement. Insert the new filter, close the vent, and you’re good to go. If you’re interested in a reusable air filter, consider WEB Eco Filter Plus Adjustable Air Filter, which can accommodate vent sizes from 14x20x1 inches up to 20x25x1 inches.
Change batteries in smoke detectors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units are free of dust. Most smoke detectors require 9 volt batteries. Stock up so that you can change a battery in a pinch throughout the year and avoid the insanity caused by middle-of-the-night beeping.
Organizing and Purging
Sometimes “cleaning” just means putting things in better order. And other times it means donating or recycling—or whatever method it takes to get it out of your house.
With a best friend in the fashion industry, I heard over and over that the two worst mistakes we make with our clothing are: not dressing for our body type and keeping clothes too long. She even goes so far as to pack away her fall and winter clothes for the spring and summer seasons, and vice versa. While I don’t think I’ll ever get quite there, we all can benefit from a little closet detox. Take out the pieces that no longer fit and/or you hardly ever wear. And if you’ve had it since high school and you’ve already graduated college…it’s time to say goodbye.
Your Junk Drawer
We all have them. And what makes them amazing is the fact that you never actually have to deal with them. But once they are brimming over the edge or no longer close, they become completely ineffective. For that reason, it’s a good idea to go through them once a year and get rid of the things you really don’t need—old bills and receipts, expired coupons, Aunt Edna’s birthday card from last year. If you’re feeling really ambitious, it may be a good time to invest in a drawer organizer so that your junk drawer will feel a bit less junky.
Your Pantry and Fridge
Once a year it would be a good idea to take everything out of your fridge and give everything a good wipedown. There have undoubtedly been sauce spills, fruit juice leakage, and other stickiness that needs to go. Check expiration dates on all sauces, baking mixes, and other perishable items in both your fridge and pantry. I had a really unfortunate run-in with expired pancake mix in my mom’s pantry (imagine rotten fish smell); don’t put your family through the same torture!
Your Spice Rack
Exactly how long a spice will last and have maximum flavor depends on the type of spice as well as how they are stored. They don’t actually spoil—so you need not worry about safety issues—but they do lose their potency and their flavor can change into something that you aren’t expecting or intending. As a general rule, whole spices (those not ground yet, like a whole nutmeg) will stay fresh for about 4 years; ground spices stay fresh for about 2 to 3 years; and dried herbs stay fresh for approximately 1 to 3 years. Many chefs, who have the highest of standards, recommend replacing your spice rack every single year.
In order to extend the life of your spices, be sure to only store them in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight. They tend to retain their flavor and potency when stored in containers with tight-fitting lids that you close tightly when not is use. Since we’re all about organizing in this Spring Cleaning frenzy, it may be a good time to invest in a spice rack for your cupboard. We love Rubbermaid’s Pull Down Spice Rack. It fits perfectly into any cupboard, keeps your spice bottles organized, and you can pull it down to see and reach all of your spices easily.
If you’re not sure whether a spice is still good, you can test it by rubbing or crushing a small amount in your hand and then tasting and/or smelling it. It should be replaced if it gives off only a weak aroma or bland flavor.