March 29, 2023
Some parts of your home can go months without a deep clean: Window treatments and the oven can get by with light cleaning from week to week. But when spring rolls around, remove months of dust and grime from these forgotten spots (without blowing your entire weekend) by following three rules of efficient cleaning.
1. Get multi-function supplies: Microfiber cloths, a microfiber mop, non-abrasive cleanser (like Bon Ami), baking soda, white vinegar, vacuum with long-bristle and edger attachment, and steam cleaner.
2. Start simple: Spring clean a low-traffic space like a dining room or office first—your speed and success will motivate you to keep going!
3. Go top-to-bottom and back-to-front: Avoid backtracking by working with gravity—when you dust high surfaces like ceilings and furniture, it falls to the floor. Likewise, start mopping or vacuuming opposite the entrance to the room, so you don't track dirt through clean areas.
If the floor is particularly dirty, start by sweeping or vacuuming to remove crumbs and debris. Then, grab a mop, like the Libman Wonder Mop, that makes quick work of cleaning the floor. When you're done, toss the reusable mop head in the washing machine.
Pro Tip: Always start mopping at the far corner of the room and work your way toward the door, so you don't accidentally trap yourself in the corner and have to walk back across your freshly cleaned floor.
Swipe ceilings and walls with a clean, dry microfiber mop. The wide mop head removes cobwebs and dust, and the long pole helps you reach every corner and behind furniture, says Boston-based housecleaning veteran Leslie Reichert, "The Cleaning Coach." This speedy technique is ideal for painted or wallpapered surfaces. For textured ceilings or stucco walls, use a feather duster instead.
Oven: To clean the oven, prepare a paste of baking soda and water, apply inside on the walls and floor of the oven, then spritz with vinegar in a spray bottle and wipe down. Grease and cooked-on food should come right off, says Reichert.
Refrigerator: Wipe the top of the refrigerator with a water-dampened microfiber cloth—for greasy dust, moisten the cloth with cleaner. If possible, move the refrigerator away from the wall and clean the coils with the brush attachment on your vacuum—removing dust will help the appliance run more efficiently, says Reichert.
Dishwasher: Put your dishwasher to work: Run the range hood vent screen and non-wood dish drains through a cycle to clean and disinfect them. Then, show the dishwasher some love: Add non-abrasive cleanser (like Bon Ami) to a damp microfiber cloth and run it along the inside rim of the dishwasher door to remove any food build-up. Spritz with water and wipe dry.
Microwave: Caked on food can be hard to clean in the microwave—but the microwave itself can help you do the job so you get a deep clean. Just microwave a bowl filled with two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar for three minutes, then let the bowl steam and sit in the microwave for 15 minutes to help soften the crumbs. Use a microfiber towel and the water-vinegar solution to scrub away the dirt on the interior, then wipe the exterior with an all-purpose cleaner.
Give your windows a one-two punch of sparkle with this multitasking trick: Strip fabric treatments from every window in the room and tumble them in a cool dryer for 15 minutes. While the dryer shakes dust from your curtains, dampen an eyeglass-grade microfiber cloth with water and use it to clean windows, streak-free. Swipe a water-dampened regular microfiber rag over the woodwork trim, then remove window treatments from the dryer and hang immediately to avoid wrinkling.
Remove mildew and soap scum from your shower curtain liner with little effort by throwing it in the washing machine with a few fluffy towels and laundry detergent. Put it in the dryer on low heat for 10 minutes to soften and remove wrinkles. Hang it back up, looking like new.
For hard-to-reach stains around the toilet, faucets, and other tight spots, aim the steam cleaner nozzle at the area and watch dirt and grime you never knew existed get flushed out. Wipe the newly sanitized area with a microfiber cloth and move on.
Run a clean microfiber cloth over wood headboards, footboards, and mattress frames. For upholstered pieces, systematically vacuum with a long-bristle attachment, working from the top-down. Pay extra attention to tufted or pleated areas. Then, sweep a long-bristle attachment along the sides of the mattress and box spring, focusing on the welting at the edges, where dust can get trapped.
Using the long-bristle vacuum attachment, circle the top and bottom band of the lampshade to suck up dust without catching or disturbing the trim, says April Lane, owner of April Lane's Home Cleaning in Seattle and a board member of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI). Run the brush up and down the sides of the shade to clean the entire surface.
When it comes to wall art and framed mirrors, Reichert suggests pulling down pictures and running a microfiber cloth over the front and back of the frame as well as the wall.
Pro Tip: Never spritz glass cleaner directly on glass, she notes—moisture can seep behind the glass and ruin your photos or art. Instead, use a fine microfiber cloth to remove dust from glass or spray your solution directly on the cloth, then apply to clean the surface.
Your upholstered furniture can use a deep clean, too. Remove the cushions (if you can) and vacuum them on all sides, and use the crevice tool to get into the nooks and crannies of the couch. If your sofa needs a deeper spring clean, you can use a teaspoon of dish soap in a gallon of water for washable fabrics, and leather cleaner to revitalize leather furniture.
Working from top to bottom, run the long-bristle attachment on your vacuum horizontally along pleated or honeycomb shades to remove dust and dirt. The gentle bristles protect the material while the vacuum's suction does the work, says Lane.
For wood and faux wood blinds, says Reichert, close blinds so that slats lay flat, facing down, and wipe each one with a dry microfiber cloth from left to right, top to bottom. Open and close the blinds so that the slats face up and repeat the process. Finally, with the blinds still closed, run the microfiber cloth along the back of each slat to catch any dust at the edges where the slats overlap. In the kitchen and bath, where grease and steam makes dust adhere to surfaces, dampen microfiber with water before wiping blinds.
No need to empty a room completely before vacuuming, says Reichert; simply move furniture out of the way—and then replace—as you go. Roll area rugs and vacuum beneath to remove dirt and debris. In a room with wall-to-wall carpeting, use the edger attachment of your vacuum to clean the space where the baseboard meets the floor. While you're at it, use the long-bristle attachment to clean the baseboards.
On carpeted stairs, use static electricity to make your life simpler: Put on a rubber dish glove, then run your fingers along the edge of each step to bring out dirt caught in the crevices (this works especially well for picking up pet fur). With a handheld vacuum or vacuum attachment, suck it up as you go.
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