With the Easter weekend upon us [I wish I could say Spring weather too, but I am afraid it just isn’t like that around here yet], for those lucky enough to enjoy an extra long-weekend, this is the perfect time to do [get over with] Spring cleaning! While it would be nice to think that the routine maintenance-cleaning that we do is good enough, there are some things that are nearly impossible to do on a regular basis, simply due to time-constraints. Instead of forgetting about these things until they jump right out at you screaming to be cleaned [or someone else asks you to please clean], why not choose a seasonal schedule to do a few of those household chores that don’t require weekly, bi-weekly or monthly attention. With this lower frequency, but still semi-regularity, the cleaning is less difficult to keep ahead of and by establishing a Spring or Spring/Fall schedule, it will become second nature. The following are a few household jobs that I always do in the Spring and Fall, with, of course, periodic touchups throughout the year. I am no expert on cleaning, nor am I insinuating that you need to know what I am about to describe. This is just what I do. If you have any tips, tricks, ideas or suggestions, please share them!
Windows and screens. Not just the inside. All sides. Unfortunately for me, our window systems have two sets of sliding panes each. That means that each window has 4 panes/8 sides, plus a screen. It always amazes me how dirty windows are, without noticing it until they are freshly cleaned. Then, it makes you wish that you could do it more often! I use a mild, white vinegar solution to wash my windows, but windex is my second best choice. I like that vinegar is natural and it works quite well for window cleaning (not as well, in my experience, for mirrors or other surfaces, unless you make quite a strong solution). The ‘recipe’ I use is 2 cups water, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of Method dish soap. Pour this into a spray bottle, shake and spray. Spray window surface [a little more sparingly than windex] and wipe with your desired towel, paper towel or newspaper until dry. I always use a dampened cloth and gently wipe both sides of all screens. It is amazing how much dirt and dust accumulate on these too.
Light fixtures, light bulbs and ceiling fans. Not just dusting either. Dusting these should be [somewhat] routine. Light fixtures with covers often accumulate dust and even dead insects [who are attracted to the light and heat; they don’t say ‘like a moth to a light bulb’ for nothing]. Remove the covers, empty any ‘contents’ into the trash and wipe all surfaces with a clean, damp cloth. Same with any exposed light bulbs. Remove from socket and wipe clean with a damp cloth before returning. Ceiling fans can be a little more labour intensive. It is easiest if you remove all dust with your vacuum hose and brush attachment first, then wipe down all parts carefully with a damp, soapy cloth.
Filters. Any system in your home that contains a filter [unless it is on a more regular schedule or a different schedule] should be changed at least in the Spring and Fall. Your furnace, water system, etc. This may, however, require a technician. So, it you can’t [shouldn’t or don’t want to] do it, then call someone in who can.
Blinds and curtains. Like every other surface in our homes, blinds and curtains are like magnets for dirt and dust. Being that they cover our windows, however, when we open them up for some fresh air, if there is a layer of dust on our window covers, guess what is carried on into the house on the gentle breeze? Depending on the material of your window coverings, they can be quite easy to clean. Many curtains can be machine washed in cold water (gentle cycle) and hung to dry. But, don’t do this unless you know that they are machine washable, or if you don’t mind taking a chance. Vinyl blinds can be pretty easily wiped down with a warm, soapy cloth. Cloth blinds are a little more difficult to clean, but most can easily be vacuumed with the hose and brush attachment. Having said all this, you could also take this as an opportunity to switch out your window coverings for something new! Save on cleaning and update or freshen up your decor.
Fridge and freezer. Do a good deep clean of your fridge and freezer. Take everything out of both the fridge and freezer. Throw away that outdated half empty curry paste and old, freezer burnt food, and whatever else you forgot about in the deep recesses of your cold food storage devices. In the fridge, wipe everything out with a wet, soapy cloth. Use a dry cloth to soak up any soap or water residue. In the freezer, you an avoid a full out unplugging to defrost it by gently chipping away frost buildup. I use a dull butter knife and small mallet. I said gently. I haven’t damaged my freezers like this, but I am extremely careful. Only do this if you are comfortable, not on my advice alone [this is my disclaimer, that I won’t be held responsible for any damages you cause by chiseling the ice in your freezer]. I scoop up all of the ice, then wipe out the inside with a damp, soapy cloth. Again, I go over it with a dry cloth to remove any residue. Time is of the essence, so put your food back in before any spoilage or thawing occurs. If you are worried about this, use a big cooler to store items while cleaning.
Carpets. If you have time [I know, by now you should either be running out of time, patience or energy], take any area rugs you have outside and give them a good beating [which could also work as a frustration release]. If you are fortunate to own a carpet shampooer, and have the time, now would be a great time to clean your carpets. Or, if you can afford it, there are a number of carpet cleaning companies, who drive their van-that-is-actually-a-giant-rug-doctor-on-wheels right to your door, drag a long hose attachment into any room in your house and quickly steam clean your carpets. In fact, their rates are generally quite affordable.
The key to a big seasonal clean is to take your time and do a thorough job. Keep reminding yourself how lovely and clean everything will be once you are done and that you won’t have to do it again until Fall [or next Spring, if that’s your preference]. If you have children old enough to help without their being a liability [having to go over everything they do again], many hands make light work. Play your favourite music. Have refreshments and snacks handy. By refreshments, I mean alcohol. Just don’t get too tipsy. Otherwise, you may be your own liability.