A Spring Cleaning Guide
That often-dreaded, potentially monumental task can bring great rewards when launched with a plan in mind.
Before You Begin
Most of us tend to accumulate more things than we need or even use. When it’s time to clear out the clutter, consider donating those unwanted items or hosting a yard sale to convert your discards into dollars. Some areas have local centers that accept used sports equipment, or you might consider donating it to local sports groups or youth clubs that can keep it on hand for families who cannot afford to buy it new. Your donation could mean all the difference for a child who would otherwise not have the opportunity to play. Who knows—your donation could be instrumental in developing a professional athlete!
When planning your approach, the top-to-bottom method is recommended. Start with ceilings and high shelves, then work your way down toward eye-level surfaces and then lower shelves and upholstery before tackling floors. That way, dust and debris that settle on the floor can be vacuumed or swept at the end.
Hardwood & Laminate
Experts recommend mopping (or otherwise wet-cleaning) wood floors once every one to two months and spot-cleaning as needed in between mopping. Wet-cleaning wood floors more often could cause damage over time. Check furniture around the house and add protective pads to protect wood and laminate flooring from scuffs and scratches, and make sure houseplants have saucers or trivets under them to prevent them leaking onto surfaces.
Once cleaned, you can restore shine to vinyl and linoleum by waxing with a polish designed specifically for the purpose. Stone and tile floors can also be waxed with a specialty liquid or paste.
High-traffic areas may only need steam-cleaning three to four times per year, while less-traveled areas may only need cleaning once or twice per year.
Steam mop: Bissell Power Edge Lift-Off Steam Mop
A mop that scrubs for you: Bissell SpinWave Cordless Power Mop
A cordless stick vacuum: Dyson V7 Motorhead Cordless Vacuum in Fuchsia
A robotic vacuum: Neato Robotics Botvac Connected D6 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
For hard floors: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic Bagless Canister Vacuum
A steam cleaner: Bissell Deep Clean Lift-off Deluxe Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner
A vacuum for pet owners: Dyson Cinetic Animal Canister Vacuum
Walls & Ceilings
Before tackling paint chips and drywall gouges, clean painted walls with warm water and a sponge or cloth. For tough stains and imprints, use dish soap mixed with warm water. For the really persistent ones, add a few drops of dish soap directly to the sponge or cloth. When you’re done, rinse the cleaned areas with warm water to remove any residue from soap or grime.
Repair smaller drywall gouges and nail holes with spackle and a putty knife, making sure to fill the hole completely, then smooth the surface with the knife, removing all excess spackle. Wait until the spackle is completely dry to paint over it. For large holes and more extensive drywall damage, call in an expert.
For paint touch-ups, if you have more of the same paint color on hand that was used on your walls, touch up any offending areas after the wall is clean and completely dry. If not, you can chip off a bit of the paint color and take it to a hardware store to have them match the color. Make sure you know before making the trip whether the existing paint is glossy, flat, satin, etc.
Use a broom to remove dust on the ceiling, twirling it like you would spaghetti on a fork to avoid getting it stuck to the surface. Use a flat-head mop and a sturdy ladder to clean grimy areas after dusting. You can use warm, soapy water as a cleaning solution, or, if you use a solvent, test it on a small, unnoticeable area to make sure it won’t discolor the surface. And, don’t forget to dust ceiling fan blades.
Cabinets are often the unwitting receivers of life’s little messes. We all know how quickly dirt and grime can build up on cabinets, especially in the kitchen. A cabinet cream designed specifically for the task will clean what doesn’t belong and moisturize the wood (Parker & Bailey makes excellent cabinet cleaners).
Make sure to check the care labels to make sure window treatments are machine washable before laundering them. Dry clean anything that cannot be tossed into your washing machine, such as fabric shades. Clean wooden blinds with a damp cloth; metal and vinyl blinds can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a sponge.
Windows & Screens
Tackle dirty windows with a stack of newspaper at the ready (cleaning with crumpled-up newspaper eliminates streaks when used with glass cleaner) or try lint-free cloth, such as huckaback cloth or cloth diapers. Washing cloth with fabric softener can leave behind streaks, so running cleaning cloths through the wash without fabric softener before using them to clean is recommended if they have been washed with fabric softener.
To clean screens, simply scrub with soapy water and a cleaning brush, and rinse thoroughly when done.
For a natural, chemical-free solution, try using baking soda. Simply mix ½ cup of baking soda into two gallons of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved. You can use this solution to mop tile floors and to scrub grout.
Warm, soapy water and a sponge will do wonders to clean your refrigerator. Make sure to remove everything from the refrigerator first, then pull out shelves and drawers and then bring back that shine. After it’s clean, it’s probably a good idea to wipe down all surfaces with antibacterial wipes.
Before running a cycle with a specialty cleaner (we like dishwasher cleaning pods), make sure to remove food and debris from the bottom of the dishwasher. If your dishwasher’s glory days are over, consider replacing it with the Amana Dishwasher with Triple Filter Wash System. Its triple filtration system clears even the smallest food particles from the wash water.
In this case, you want to start at the bottom: first remove pieces of food (or what was once food) and debris, chipping them off with a tool, such as a spatula or putty knife, if needed. For the really stubborn bits, spray with ammonia and let them soak for fifteen to twenty minutes (longer if needed). Then wipe up the ammonia and particles that can be easily removed, and sprinkle baking soda and white vinegar onto the bottom, letting it bubble up before wiping it with a sponge. Wipe down the sides and top with vinegar and baking soda.
Looking for a replacement stove? We love the GE 30" Electric Double Oven Convection Range’s extra-large capacity and warming zone.
To disinfect your washing machine, add two cups of distilled white vinegar to the detergent dispenser and run a complete cycle. Then add ½ cup of baking soda to the drum and run another cycle on the hottest water temperature and at the highest speed. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, we like the GE 4.9 Cu. Ft. Capacity Washer with Stainless Steel Basket for its Smart Dispense feature, which holds as much as 75 ounces of detergent and automatically delivers the right amount for each load.
The key word here is organization. Start by clearing out clutter and anything you don’t want or need anymore. Having trouble deciding what to keep? You can make this task easier by asking yourself one question: Have I worn or used it in the last twelve months? If the answer is no, consider donating it to a thrift store, making exceptions, of course, for formal clothing and other items that are used on special occasions. Once the clutter is cleared out, don’t forget to dust shelves and clean walls, flooring, and ceilings, if needed, before putting everything back.
After washing sheets and pillowcases, comforters, duvet covers, and mattress covers (if washable; check labels), tend to the surface of the mattress. Vacuum crevices using vacuum cleaner attachments and address any spots with stain remover or a handheld spot remover like the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner. Spray the mattress with disinfectant afterward and let dry completely before restoring the covers.
The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every seven to ten years (because nobody wants bed bugs). For a mattress that will send you off to dreamland in no time, try the Sierra Sleep by Ashley 11" MyGel Hybrid Mattress. A good mattress cover is the MyPillow Mattress Topper, which will help protect your mattress for the long haul.
Remove cushions from furniture and launder removable covers and throw pillows, if they are washable (make sure to check the care labels before washing). For non-removable cushion covers, take the cushions outside and beat them to remove dust, then use a stain remover to restore upholstery to its prime condition. Make use of your vacuum’s crevice and upholstery tools to clean under the cushions.
For a powerful upholstery cleaner, we think the Bissell Little Green Proheat Portable Carpet Cleaner is aces. It uses the Bissell cleaning formula and water to remove stains of all stripes.
Before waxing wood furniture, wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth then dry with a cotton or lint-resistant cloth. Paste wax can be applied with a cotton cloth or rag. When the wax has dried, buff the surface with a clean cloth. Polish as usual with a wood cleaner between waxings.
Rug restoration experts recommend cleaning area rugs once every four to five years, or even once every ten years for rugs that don’t see a lot of foot traffic. Cleaning too often can increase wear and tear. Between cleanings, club soda works wonders for spot treatments. It’s important to remove acidic stains quickly, as they are the hardest to remove (think red wine, orange soda, pet stains, and coffee). Oriental rugs and rugs without a backing should be cleaned professionally.
Much like the closet, the key to a clean garage is organization. Start by clearing out clutter and tossing out anything that is no longer needed or wanted, making piles for what you want to donate and keep, then tackle the messes. You can set criteria for what to keep and what to toss. If you’ve used it in the last twelve months, it may be a keeper.
Do you have boxes stored in your garage? Do you know what’s in them? Going through those and sorting contents into storage containers (keeping only what’s needed, of course) can save space. Labeling the containers will ensure you can find things easily later.
Small hardware items like nails and bolts can be organized in multi-compartment containers. Pots and gardening tools can have their own section on shelves or in a designated area of the garage, tools in another, and so on.
After you’ve cleared out the clutter, give surfaces a good cleaning. Going from top to bottom, dust cabinets, shelves, and other surfaces, then tackle them with a cleaning solution and a warm, damp cloth or sponge. Wipe down walls, the freezer (if you have one), and cabinet doors with warm, soapy water. Then, sweep the floor to clear it of dust and debris and mop it or hose it down. Let the floor dry completely before putting things away; use a floor fan to speed up the process.
The Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum is great for cleaning wet and dry messes, and can easily be used for your vehicle. It also does double-duty as a blower, and can be mounted on the wall.
- Spread cat litter over motor oil and let it soak up the oil. Then, sweep away the litter and use dish soap and a wire scrubbing brush to remove the stain.
- Clean garage walls with a sponge mop, then dry them with a flat-head mop (mops with microfiber cloth works best).
- Kill mold with bleach or a vinegar and warm water solution.
Cleaning your outdoor furniture may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easily accomplished with a mixture of dish soap and warm water. After wiping down furniture with the solution, spray everything down with a garden hose and let dry.