Make your home healthier and more efficient by checking off these tasks on our annual spring cleaning checklist.
Out with the old, in with the new: That’s how nature sees spring, and so should we—especially when it comes to our homes. Renew your home for the coming spring and summer by shaking out the dust and clearing out unwanted items. A deep clean that goes above and beyond our normal routines can help bring in more light, improve air quality and organize our homes. Here’s a rundown of the best spring cleaning tasks to tackle now.
Deep clean kitchen appliances: Although our appliances get used every day, they usually only get a cursory wipe-down. To keep them in good working order, deep clean each one. First, run cleaning cycles (per manufacturers’ directions) on the clothes washer, dishwasher and oven. Then clean the exterior including all seals and handles. Clean out the dryer’s vents and remove lint to improve efficiency and safety. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer; unplug them, then store good items in a cooler. Discard any old or unwanted items and recycle the empty containers. Next, wash the fridge and freezer interior from top to bottom (including seals) and pull the unit away from the wall to vacuum the coils and clean out the dust bunnies from underneath.
Wash windows & doors: Washing windows is never a fun chore, but clean windows not only improve our view, they also increase the amount of daylight inside our homes. Start inside by removing dust and cobwebs with a soft brush and then wash windows with a mild solution of white vinegar and water. To get streak-free windows, use a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to open the windows and clean the interior track. Afterward, head outside and first brush away the dirt, then wash the windows with a rag and a bucket of warm, soapy water. Finish off with your water and vinegar solution applied with the microfiber cloth, just like inside. Give your doors some love too by scrubbing them inside and out, wiping the handles and cleaning the seals.
Clean window treatments: Although our curtains and blinds see just as much dirt and dust as the rest of our homes, they rarely get cleaned. Launder fabric curtains based on what is best for that type of cloth. Be especially mindful about drying according to fabric type so you don’t shrink them lengthwise. Next, take down blinds, wash them with mild soapy warm water and let dry before re-hanging. While the curtains are down, be sure to dust any spots that aren’t normally visible.
Clean rugs and carpets: Rugs and carpets trap a lot of dirt and dust, and normal vacuuming only cleans them on the surface. Smaller rugs can be thrown in the washing machine and then air-dried. For larger rugs and carpet, the greenest way to clean them is using steam. Rent a steam cleaner, move furniture out of the room and follow the machine’s instructions. To keep unwanted chemicals out of your house, skip the steam cleaner’s branded detergent and use water and vinegar (1 cup vinegar to 2 1/2 gallons water). You can also add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the mixture for a fresh scent. If you have time, steam the carpets a second time. Let carpets dry thoroughly before moving furniture back in.
Launder bedding: Although most of us wash our sheets regularly, we might forget about the rest of our bedding. Most pillows, down or synthetic, can be washed in the washing machine using hot water. Afterward, throw them in the dryer with a tennis ball and run on low heat to get rid of moisture and fluff them up. Then guard pillows with washable protectors that can be cleaned regularly. Wash duvets, comforters, blankets and mattress covers per label instructions and then vacuum your mattress thoroughly and rotate (or flip) to even it out.
Deep clean furniture: Thoroughly wipe down hardwood and solid-surface furniture with warm, soapy water, then towel dry and wax, if necessary. For upholstered furniture, remove cushions and vacuum or beat outside to get rid of collected dust and dirt. Vacuum all the crevices, backs, sides and arm rests. Spot clean stains according to the material and stain type. You can make a good all-purpose spot cleaner by mixing one part laundry detergent and one part water in a bowl, then whip the mixture to a froth. Rub solution onto the stain and follow with water.
Dust thoroughly: Pull out a step stool or a ladder and dust those hard-to-reach places. Start at the top and clean ceiling fan blades, crown moldings, window casings, the tops of cabinets and upper shelves. You may need warm, soapy water to cut through a thick layer of accumulated dust. Work your way down wiping off shelves, tables, windowsills and, finally, baseboards.
Tackle these items monthly to ensure durability, health and cleanliness.
Breathe better: Change air filters in your AC or heating system.
Down the drain: Clean all drains with this simple procedure: Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into each drain, slowly pour vinegar into the drain and let it fizz for a few minutes. Follow with a gallon of boiling water down each drain.
Trash talk: Garbage odors can linger in cans and baskets. Take cans outside, spray the insides with all-purpose cleaner (or pure vinegar), wipe out and let air dry.
Grout grabber: Cleaning grout requires some elbow grease. Spray with equal parts water and vinegar and scrub with a sturdy brush. Use a paste of baking soda and water on especially dirty spots.
Cleaner coffee: To clean your coffee maker, first thoroughly wipe down all parts, then fill the reservoir with one part water and one part vinegar and turn it on. Let sit for an hour then run again, this time with just water.
Clean computing: Wipe down all computer surfaces—keyboard, mouse and surrounding table—with a soft cloth dampened with a mild vinegar solution. Then use a microfiber cloth to gently clean the screen.
During the year, we accumulate stuff. And when our homes get cluttered, we get stressed. Follow these steps to clear clutter from your home during your spring cleaning routine to keep belongings from piling up.
Reading material: Paper can stack up in our homes and take up a lot of space. Recycle or pass on old magazines and donate books you no longer want to keep.
Filing: File away your important papers, shred private documents you no longer need and recycle the rest.
Pantry: Just as you did in the fridge, clear out all the food in your pantry. Save the good stuff, discard any old or bad food and donate unwanted items. Wipe down all the shelves, then sort and organize the food as it goes back in.
Medicine cabinet: Clear out your medicine and bathroom cabinets by getting rid of old products, recycling empty containers and taking expired medicines to your local police station. Note: Do not flush medications down the toilet.
Closets: Go through all your closets and dressers to filter ill-fitting clothes or things you don’t wear. Donate these items to your neighborhood thrift store or charity.
Bridgette Meinhold is the architecture editor at Inhabitat and a freelance writer based in Park City, Utah. When she’s not writing about green design and sustainable architecture, she’s painting in her reclaimed shipping container art studio in the woods.
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