Q: We don’t have the time or money to do a major renovation this year. Is there a quick and inexpensive way to provide some refresh to our home?
A: So, you want to get in on the action of the home-improvement season. Makes sense; after all, the flowers are waking up, the birds are back in action, and hope springs eternal once again — along with the restlessness of continual self and home improvement.
If you’re like most, you probably have a laundry list of home-related upgrades to be performed before BBQ-and-backyard-party time officially hits (including doing actual laundry). Thankfully, spring has shown up late this year. And I’m willing to bet that many of you have also been late on something frequently associated with the budding season: spring cleaning.
I know — it’s not glamorous or exciting. But a thorough scrubbing of the home can make it shine in ways unlike anything else can. However, good housecleaning is more than just dusting and dirt removal. You’ll want to get strategic about things to ensure that no ledge is left untouched. Here are a few easy cleaning solutions for common problem areas often left neglected.
Toilet tutorial. Throw an antacid or denture tablet into the bowl for hands-free in-between cleans. If it’s deep-cleaning time, pour a pot of water into the bowl to trigger a flush that doesn’t refill so you can reach all those hard-to-scrub areas typically submerged in water.
Bath-towel bliss. Your towels start to smell because you don’t allow them to dry properly between uses. Hang them in a well-ventilated area and toss them in the wash after two uses (three if you can get away with it). When washing towels, don’t add them to an already heavy load; give them room on hot, and skip fabric softener — better yet, hang them outside on nice days.
Rags, sponges, etc. Don’t neglect these kitchen saviors; be sure to allow them to dry after use, and clean them when necessary — most likely every day if your kitchen sees a lot of action. Sponges can be put in the top rack of the dishwasher, and rags go in the wash on hot.
Dealing with drains. Drains are simple, really: Make sure nothing is stuck in them, and you’re pretty much good to go. Run your disposal if any food items are dropped in, and then pour a dash of dish soap down there with some cold running water.
Washing-machine woes. Even your cleaning cohorts need to be tended to every once in a while. Clean your machine monthly, and leave the door or lid open between washes to help it dry out.
Mind the mattress. Your sheets are pristine, but underneath their sheer decadence lies a sleeping giant of dust, skin flakes, dust mites or worse. Put an end to the slumber party of sleaze by stripping away sheets and mattress pads (washing them as well), and vacuuming your mattress using the upholstery attachment. If there is a noticeable smell, sprinkle the surface with baking soda, rub it in with a scrub brush, and then vacuum again. Stains will require a more potent concoction containing hydrogen peroxide.
Also, check the manufacturer details to see if your mattress should be flipped or rotated seasonally.
Closet consciousness. Clearing out closet space is easy, but what about the stuff left in it? Old shoes, gym bags, and musky rain jackets typically just sit by themselves, waiting for an attentive owner to air them out every once in a while. If you’ve wondered where that nasty smell is coming from, these things may be the culprits — especially when thrown into storage unwashed or still damp.
Window awareness. Toss the wadded newspaper and reach for the strip applicator and squeegee. Create a cleaning solution by combining a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid and warm water, and wash away. Wipe clean with the squeegee by performing a backwards S motion, and be sure to clean the blade after each wipe. Finally, soak up any leftover water with a chamois, and clear the windowsill of any condensation.
It doesn’t have to take an extra floor or new kitchen to upgrade the look and feel of your home this spring and summer. Treat it like it should be treated, and it will give you its relaxing, cozy and clean embrace for years to come.
Originally written by Cameron Poague of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties.