Monday, March 29, 2010

Design Tips: A Fresh Start to your Spring Cleaning!


Hopefully you don’t still have snow on your driveway… but by the calendar, spring has technically sprung. The days are definitely getting longer, and here in the Northwest, flowers are a good couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Daphnes and cherry blossoms are dead and gone, daffodils, forsythia, my little plum tree are in full swing, and so are the tulips.

Flowers aside, now with all the brighter light things sure look dirty around the house. Time for some deep cleaning. Here are some neglected secret places that don’t see a cleaning rag very often.

Just pick one area at a time, say, the kitchen, or, even just one appliance or the sink, and give it a thorough cleaning and you won’t spend all weekend cleaning. Hit other areas of the house later, maybe next weekend the bathrooms get the treatment. The next: windows. This way it’ll be easier to finish a smaller project.

Heavy duty messy jobs may require two passes: one to remove grime and one to polish or sanitize. I go through piles and piles of rags, I’m always swapping them out rather than

using the same rag for the whole job. One for countertops, one for sinks, one for the shower, one for the toilet, then one for the floor. Rags can be laundered. I personally don’t like to use sponges and mops because they don’t stay clean for long, really, not even past the first time you use them. You don’t want to be spreading around the dirt and grime from the last time you used the sponge!

Be sure to read the directions on all cleaning products, as some used in combination can create toxic fumes, such as products with ammonia (many glass cleaners) mixed with bleach (used in some bathroom clea ning products).

So here’s my Top 6 hit list:

1. Deep clean the oven and range top. Uck. I wipe mine down regularly, but the finish at the top just collects grease and discolors horribly. Patina, I explain. I’ve tried everything from Simple Green to a razor blade, but finally found a product that helps and doesn’t seem to mar the finish. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Power. It still took a good half hour of scrubbing, wetting the spongelike eraser and even tearing it into smaller pieces to keep a fresh part of the eraser exposed, but finally the stains relented. Yay!

2. Other cooking areas to hit while you have your rubber gloves on: the vent hood. It’s amazing what gets up in there. I have to dismantle mine and hand wash the parts in the sink, some can be washed in the dishwasher. Or, maybe you can just replace the filters and wipe the whole thing down. I like using Simple Green, full strength in a spray bottle to remove the dusty/greasy layer. I finish up with a spray product designed for stainless steel.

3. Kitchen and bathroom faucets. Hit the back with an old toothbrush and a cleaning spray, chip out all that funny gunk where the faucet meets the sink or countertop. Eew. Once all that stuff is gone, give the whole area a good wipe-down with a clean cloth and sanitizing cleaner. And unscrew the mesh screen at the water opening if it comes off, and clean that out too. Lastly, scrub out the rubber thing in the drain at the garbage disposer.

While you’re at it, wipe down the underside of the faucet, sink if it’s exposed, shower controllers, ledges, all the places you don’t normally look. Underneath the toilet bowl—on the outside.

4. The seals and filters in your dishwasher. Is your dishwasher smelling funny? Are your dishes feeling not quite as clean as they used to be? Your filters are probably full, so the water isn’t draining away properly. Talk about a fresh start! I need to clean mine out every month or so. Refer to the owners manual to figure out how to do this.

5. And check the filters and seals of your clothes washing machine, too. Loose hair and dirt can collect around the door, so it can prevent a good seal. My front-loader will actually leak around the door if I don’t wipe it down after every load!

6. While you’re thinking of filters, why not replace the ones at your furnace? You should do this twice a year anyway, more often if you have allergy problems.

If you're not sure how to clean all the different surfaces and materials, Kohler has a wonderful list and helpful tips available on their website. A cleaner that works for porcelain sinks might not be the best option for fiberglass showers. Take this into consideration, and you should always refer to the manufacturer's information or websites.

Fun times—yeah, I know! but accomplishing a cleaning project always makes me feel good. And most projects like these don’t need to be done often, some, once you think about it, can be added to your normal cleaning routines.

Until next time!

--Elaine Bothe


Resources:

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Power image courtesy of Mr Clean’s website.

Simple Green image courtesy of their website.

Kohler’s super-helpful cleaning tips (and source of photo above) are available by clicking here.



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