Springier Spring Cleaning

Everyone looks forward to spring. Not sure the same can be said for spring cleaning, but be you a lover or a dreader of the annual ritual, a good spring cleaning feels great once its done.

Spring cleaning is really three activities rolled into one—Organizing, Cleaning, and Discarding.

Organizing means taking on the closets, the personal office, the pantry, the medicine cabinet, the makeup case, and so on. You’re not so much looking for dirt as for unnecessary possessions that can be cleared away before intensive cleaning begins.  (Beware that it’s dangerous to the environment to simply throw away expired medications, and you should seek out a community medicine take-back program.)  If items usable by someone else, you can donate them.  Then you organize the necessary items that remain in a manner that makes access quick and easy.

Cleaning in this case means getting deep-down to areas often overlooked in everyday upkeep:

  1. Give priority to cleaning your cleaning implements.
    1. For instance, the inside of the dishwasher needs cleaning.   It’s a common fallacy that running the dishwasher alone always disinfects it.  If your dishwasher doesn’t have a sanitizing feature, run a cup of vinegar through an empty dishwasher to rid it of mildew, stains, and odors.  Use an old toothbrush and soap to scrub the rubber seal around the door.  Also use the brush for cleaning the soap dispenser.
    2. Your clothes washer needs cleaning as well, and vinegar can be used for that too.  (There are also commercial products for this purpose.)  For top-loading washers, simply select the hottest temperature, highest capacity, and longest cycle.  Add a quart of white vinegar to the water, close the lid, and allow the water to agitate for several minutes.  Open the lid to stop the machine and let the vinegary water sit for an hour.  (Some experts recommend initially using a quart of chlorine bleach and letting it sit for an hour, then repeating with vinegar—or simply using chlorine rather than vinegar.  You may be reluctant to take this step if you’re concerned about using harsh chemicals.)   After the hour, let the washing machine complete its rinse cycle.  For front-loading washers, select the hot-water setting, add two cups of vinegar and let the mixture run through the entire cleaning cycle.  To ensure that no vinegar remains, conclude by running a second rinse cycle.  (You may choose to run a bleach cycle and a follow-up rinse cycle as well.)
    3. Clean behind the dryer to avoid the accumulation of lint that may be a fire hazard.  Clean the dryer vent to the outside of your home.  Wash the lint trap.
    4. Clean the garbage disposal.  To do so, first turn off the fuse for the disposal to avoid its accidentally turning on during the initial cleaning process.  Then use tongs to remove any items stuck in your disposal.  Next, combine one quarter to one half cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar in the disposal for five to ten minutes (the mixture will foam and bubble) and then run very hot water down the drain.  Finally, run citrus peels through the disposal to leave a fresh scent.  (Alternatively, commercial products are available to clean the disposal.)
    5. Clean items that are frequently touched, such as faucets, keypads, computer mouses, light switches, door knobs, telephones, stair rails, and the TV remote.  (Although this is an important aspect of spring cleaning, it’s wise to repeat more frequently.)
    6. Clean above your head.  Ceiling fans and overhead light fixtures are often overlooked.  So is the top of the refrigerator.
    7. Clean at your feet.  Make sure baseboards are pristine.  Wash floor registers and vent covers.  Clean under the refrigerator and the stove.  Vacuum under your beds.
    8. Clean all the fabrics you can, not just the obvious ones like bedspreads. Vacuum your upholstered furniture, for instance. Wash drapes and blinds.

Finally, Discard and replace (or at least thoroughly cleanse) bacteria-laden items such as garbage cans, entry mats, cleaning sponges, shower curtain liners, and wash cloths.  And don’t forget to replace air filters.

Hope you find these tips helpful as you pursue the ultimate in clean homes!