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The Big Clean

Do you get excited at the prospect of giving your whole house a thorough seasonal once-over? Or does the prospect of a solid spring cleaning send you into total avoidance mode? Either way, it can’t be denied that keeping your abode spic-and-span is a must. For those of you who just want to get it over with quickly, we have your clean-up shortcuts right here. And for those of you who can’t get enough of cleaning, we have ideas on how to really dig deep into the detail work.

Windows

  • Clean windows on a cloudy day; otherwise the sunshine will dry your cleaning solution too fast and leave streaks.
  • It’s the outside of your windows that get the dirtiest. Get a concentrated window cleaner that attaches to your hose and spray them down, then rinse thoroughly and let them air-dry.
  • On the inside, wipe your windows down either with glass cleaner or a vinegar-water solution. Pro tip: To avoid streaking, use newspaper instead of rags or paper towels.
  • Use a handheld duster and go over each panel from the bottom to the top.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • Remove all of your screens (be sure to label them first with a bit of masking tape and a marker), lay them out on the driveway, hit them with some all-purpose cleanser and hose them off.
  • Really get into the window tracks (and sliding door tracks) with a bucket of soapy water and a toothbrush.
  • If you have curtains made of heavier fabric, you can vacuum them with the hose attachment. Lighter curtains can get a once-over using the soft brush tool. You can also go over your drapery with a lint brush to get rid of extra dust or pet hair.
  • Lace or sheer curtains can be taken down and tossed into the dryer on delicate to get rid of wrinkles and freshen them up.

 

 

Carpets and Rugs

  • You’ll probably need to pay the most attention to entryways, play areas and places where people eat. Start by vacuuming thoroughly. For area rugs, get under the edges and corners, too.
  • Use a carpet cleaner/stain remover and hit any stains. With a clean cloth, blot the cleaner from the outside of the stain towards the center. You might need to repeat this step.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • Move your furniture out of the way before vacuuming everything.
  • Rent a carpet cleaner and thoroughly shampoo everything (just be sure to use ¼ to ½ of the soap the machine recommends). Let your carpets dry for up to 8 hours before replacing the furniture.
  • Take your area rugs outside and beat them with a broom -- you’ll probably need some help with this. Small cotton or polyester rugs that don’t have rubber backing can be tossed in the washing machine.

 

 

Living Room

  • Control the clutter by regularly going in with a laundry basket and take out anything that isn’t supposed to be there.
  • Use microfiber cloths to dust your electronics, coffee/end tables, shelves and knick-knacks.
  • Make a huge visual impact by fluffing pillows and folding throw blankets.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • Got an extra beer in the fridge? Use that brew to polish up your wood end tables. Pour the beer on a clean cloth and wipe down wood furniture with it; then buff it to a shine with another clean, dry cloth. (Bonus: It’s a great, green way to clean sans chemicals.)
  • Remove the cushions on your couches and chairs and vacuum underneath to get rid of whatever’s been lurking under there.
  • If you have huge, unruly stacks of CDs, DVDs and/or books, now’s the time to go through them. Donate the ones you don’t read, watch or listen to anymore, and organize the rest in a way that works for you.

 

 

Kitchen

  • If you have non-kitchen-related stuff cluttering up your countertops, gather it up and put it back where it belongs. Then you can give your counters a good once-over.
  • Time to clean your oven. If it has a self-cleaning option, use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions; otherwise, use an oven cleaner.
  • Clean out your fridge, tossing out anything that’s past its prime or that you’re never going to use. Wipe down the shelves, door and handle with a mild disinfectant. If your fridge has coils, vacuum them off.
  • Run your dishwasher while it’s empty, then make sure its food trap is clean.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • Go through your cabinets and get rid of dishes, containers, pots, pans and utensils you don’t need or use anymore, are missing lids, etc. Wipe down the insides and shelves and line them with fresh shelf liner.
  • What about your stovetop? If you have burners or coils, remove them and clean the catchers underneath (they might need soaking).
  • Clean out your pantry, toss items that are stale or past their best-by date, donate items that are still good but that you’re never going to eat, wipe down the shelves with warm, soapy water and reorganize everything by putting the newest items in the back and the oldest items in the front.

 

 

Bathroom

  • Grab a laundry basket and toss in any towels, linens or clothes that are hanging around in there. If there are any non-bathroom items on your sink -- jewelry, coffee cups, etc., put them back where they belong.
  • Wipe down your sink and vanity with a disinfectant and be sure to hit the drain, the handles and any crevices.
  • Scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and toilet cleanser; use a washcloth or sponge to get the seat, tank and outside.
  • Give the bathtub a good scrubbing, too. Wipe down glass shower doors or wash (or replace) your shower curtain.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • If your towel storage is starting to look a little sloppy, take everything out, re-fold and reorganize.
  • Take a look inside your medicine cabinet and under-sink storage. Time to get rid of expired meds, old makeup, almost-gone hand soap, ratty sponges.
  • If your grout is looking a little dingy, try cleaning it with baking soda, vinegar and a scrub brush. Sprinkle baking soda on grout, then spray with vinegar. After the foaming reaction has slowed down, attack that grout with a brush to clean.

 

 

The Laundry

  • Your washing machine is used to clean stuff, but it might need a little help itself. Run white vinegar through a warm-water cycle (no clothes this time!), which will get rid of soap scum and disinfect the inside.
  • Wipe down the inside of your dryer with a damp cloth moistened with a bit of dishwashing liquid.
  • Clean out your laundry sink with a mild cleanser. If you’re feeling really ambitious, buff the faucet to a shine.

 

 

Getting Deep:

  • Take a toothbrush and scrub any lint residue from your dryer’s lint trap.
  • Clean out the inside of your dryer vent with a telescoping duster to get rid of any lint that’s stuck in there.
  • Vacuum the backs of your washer and dryer and the floor underneath them.
  • Clean your iron with a baking soda-and-water paste, which will get rid of mineral deposits and spray starch residue. Those little holes can be cleaned out with cotton swabs.