Putting ‘spring’ in your steps for cleaning house

Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune Some tools for combatting the sometimes daunting task of spring cleaning
Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune

Some tools for combatting the sometimes daunting task of spring cleaning
Shoshanah Siegel

The idea of doing spring cleaning has always felt overwhelming and daunting. In order to relieve the anxiety, this year my husband and I have started tackling a few cleaning projects each weekend.
Ready to tackle your projects? Where to begin?
I would suggest tackling the interior first. Your list may differ from mine, but it will give you a starting point. You might be reminded about places that may have not made it on your list. I hope that my article will give you a game plan, and in the end you will feel like you have lightened your load and can see your home sparkle.

A room with a view
Wash your windows. I suggest that you pick a cloudy day to wash them. If it is too sunny, the cleaning solution will dry too fast and you will have streaks. My office is south-facing and gets bombarded by heat. Last weekend we put a film on the windows to reflect the sun’s rays. The job took a little longer because it was not a cloudy day and the solution kept drying out. I am happy to report that my office was a lot cooler and I didn’t need my window air conditioner even though it was hot outside.

Don’t let it slide
Your sliding glass doors are probably not the first spot you’d think about cleaning, but you’ll appreciate that you have done so once outdoor entertaining begins. One tool I use to clean many surfaces is a dry toothbrush to loosen debris, then a vacuum hose to remove it and, finally, a wet sponge to finish the job. Now your doors are shiny-clean. For safety, you might apply a fun decal so that your guests can see that the door is closed.

Refresh your window treatments
To really feel like spring is here, change out heavy fabric window treatments for ones that are lighter and brighter. However, if you have the same window treatments year round, you can either have them cleaned professionally or clean them in your own washing machine. They might only need a good going over with a vacuum. For the sheer curtains, Donna Small, the author of Cleaning Plain & Simple, suggests putting them in the dryer on low with a fabric-softener sheet. For window shutters or blinds, I suggest cleaning them first with a duster or vacuum, then for a finishing touch, use a damp sponge.

Surfaces that may need yearly TLC
Take this opportunity to really clean surfaces that you may not have done on a daily basis. These include baseboards, door frames, walls and hard-to-reach places. If they are really worn and damaged, after a good washing, you might need to repaint the surface.

Down under
Unless I am moving or need to replace a new appliance, I usually don’t see under my refrigerator or stove. Spring cleaning might be the time to address those areas. I have found the lost sock and even money under my washer and dryer. While you have someone to help you move your appliances, it might also be the optimum time to get help cleaning under sofas and chairs.

Refresh where you sit
Restore your leather and fabric furniture with the suggested cleaners. Rotate seat cushions and replace those that have seen better days. This is a time to really clean your wood furniture. However, be sure to check that you are using the right product for the job.

No need to tread lightly
From the foot traffic of winter, now is the time to refresh carpets, rugs and floors. Wash or dry-clean rugs, hire a carpet-cleaning service or do it yourself by renting the equipment you will need from a home-improvement store. Replace any worn pieces of wood or tile. Wash and wax floors.

Lighten it up
Use micro fiber or lint-free cloth to dust fixtures and bulbs. An extendable duster is great for hard-to-reach places, like ceiling fans. To clean grimy bulbs, make sure they are cool to the touch. Use a lightly dampened cloth with vinegar to do the job.

Making the switch
Clothing: Consider sending items that you will not be using until next year to the cleaners and/or store them away, leaving room for spring and summer apparel.
Bedrooms: Rotate and flip mattresses. Wash blankets, duvet covers, mattress pads and bed skirts. Have pillows professionally cleaned or think about replacing them if needed.

Clean areas that you use most
The two areas that seem to get used the most are bathrooms and kitchens.
For bathrooms, go through your medicine cabinet and safely discard any outdated products and medications. Clean out drawers and rearrange items. Replace worn bath mats, shower curtains and liners, or if they don’t need replacing, they may benefit from a good wash and dry.
To avoid purchasing duplicate items in your kitchen, take the time to empty out drawers and cabinets. We recently cleaned out our catch-all utensil drawer and found about 30 pairs of corncob holders, cutlery we forgot we had and knives that were dull and worn. Wipe the areas out and line with fresh shelf paper. Store what you use infrequently and donate items that you no longer use. Discard old spices and items, like baking powder. Clean the refrigerator and freezer. Throw away those items that are covered in frost and you are not able to identify. We call these items UFOs (unidentified food objects). While you have the refrigerator pulled out from the wall, this is a great time to dust or vacuum the cooling coils behind the refrigerator.

Safety first
If you have difficulty remembering when to change the various filters in the house, or the last time you checked the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the day you change the clocks for daylight-saving time might be the perfect time to do these tasks.

Take your cleaning tasks outdoors
The first task I would conquer is the gutters. Spring usually brings showers. So clean out gutters and downspouts, allowing the water to have a place to go to, other than staying stagnant on your roof or down your walls. Clean and repair patio furniture, your deck, porch, barbecues, and other items you will be using in the upcoming seasons.

My wish is that you feel a little more confident about your spring cleaning. Take it step by step. Your goal is to have a healthy and happy environment for family and friends to enjoy.

Shoshanah Siegel provides color consulting as well as space planning, remodeling, upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440, shoshanah.siegel@gmail.com, and at her new website, yourcolordiva.com .

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