The birds are singing. The flowers are budding. Yup, it’s time for spring cleaning.
After a nasty winter, throw open the windows and let the sun shine in; but that’s just the beginning.
To tackle this big job, use a checklist to create a plan of attack, and don’t plan to get it all done in one day.
Most of these tasks take fewer than 10 minutes each, so give yourself smaller blocks of time with breaks in between so you don’t get discouraged or sick of it.
There’s no need for massive amounts of store-bought chemical sprays. You can clean just about anything with items you probably already have in your home, with mostly white vinegar, baking soda, and lemons or lemon juice.
One must-have is an empty box or laundry basket. As you clean, add any homeless or misplaced items in the container, and when you’re done cleaning, you can find a permanent place for clutter or paperwork.
Here’s how to not suck at spring cleaning.
•The sink: It’s one of the dirtiest places in your kitchen. Start by cleaning with soap and water, then create your own disinfectant with a mist of vinegar, followed by a separate mist of hydrogen peroxide (that stuff that stung when mom put it on your scraped knees). If you have a garbage disposal, put in a cut-up lemon, salt and a few ice cubes, run the water and flip the switch. The folks at Woman’s Day say it will get rid of residue and odors.
•The Dishwasher:You can kill bacteria by running the machine with 1/4 cup of ammonia. To get rid of grime on the outside and in the harder-to-reach edges, add baking soda to a damp rag and wipe. Use a Q-Tip-like cotton swab for any little spots you can’t reach with a rag.
•The Microwave: You have a few options here. To make stains easier to wipe away, put lemon slices in a bowl of water and run the microwave for 45 seconds. Or try the same with a water and vinegar mixture, and heat it for two to three minutes. The vapors will make the ugly stuff easier to wipe down.
•The Coffeemaker: Run the machine with equal parts water and vinegar, but shut the machine halfway through the cycle. After letting it soak for an hour, turn the machine on again.
The Refrigerator: Water and a damp cloth will get rid of most of the stuff mucking up your fridge. When you clean, don’t forget the coils, which will help extend the life of your machine and prevent overheating. Use your vacuum cleaner’s attachment to suck up dust and dirt.
•The Oven & Stove: If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, use baking soda and with steel wool — or create your own abrasive with crumpled up aluminum foil. Or try one of these recipes.
To clean your burners without scrubbing,place them in sealed plastic bags overnight with 1/4 cup of ammonia. Wipe them clean the next morning.
•The Toilet: There are lots of non-toxic ways to clean the throne. Woman’s Day recommends adding a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix. After it sits for a few minutes, the citric acid will get to work, and then you can use the good old toilet brush and flush. To get rid of limescale and other stains, some folks claim you can use good old Coca-Cola. Can’t say we’ve tried this one, but the video looks promising.
•Shower Doors: To get rid of scummy build-up, dampen a used dryer sheet and wipe. To clean the glass, put a few tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with water in a spray bottle, spray and wipe it down. If you want to prevent water spots on your shower doors, try rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on the glass. Spraying vinegar on the shower walls and curtains is supposed to prevent mildew.
• Shower Head & Faucets: To remove mineral deposits from the showerhead, put vinegar in a plastic bag and tie it to the shower head, letting it soak overnight. Rinse with water in the morning. For the faucets, rub with lemon juice or an actual lemon.
•Grout: If your tiled floors and walls are looking grimy, make a paste from lemon juice and a teaspoon of cream of tartar, which Earth911.com says is a natural bleaching agent. Grab an old toothbrush and get scrubbing.
•Moldy walls: Yuck. But if yours are growing unwelcome bacterial guests, spray with vinegar and rinse after 15 minutes.
•Couches: Sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum to get rid of odors emanating from upholstered furniture. You can do this on your carpets, too.
•Wood Floors: A few tablespoons of white vinegar added to water will clean your floors and help them shine.
•Wood Furniture: Make some homemade polish with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a pint of vegetable or mineral oil.
•Tile Floors: Half a cup of baking soda mixed with water will clean no-wax and tile floors without scratching them. When you’re done, you can use the same mixture to clean lawn furniture.
•Glass: Whether it’s windows or a glass table, mix a few tablespoons of lemon juice with water.
•Hard-to-Reach Spaces: To clean the crevices of tracks for sliding glass doors or windows, dip a Q-Tip into a little vinegar or dampen and dunk in baking soda.
•Vents: Take off your vents, wash them with soap and water, then add a coat of wax to minimize future dust build-up.
•Electronic Screens: Wipe your television and computer monitor with a coffee filter to remove lint.To remove dust between the keys of your keyboard, use a sticky-note or tape wrapped around a credit card.
•Blinds: Use an old sock, a feather duster, a rag wrapped around a ruler, a paintbrush or even a can of compressed air. To prevent dust build-up, wipe each slat with a dryer sheet.
ONE LAST TIP
Don’t ignore your closets. You can make room by getting rid of old clothes and donating them to charity (and getting a tax write-off at the same time, so get a receipt). If you’re not sure what to get rid of, try a year-long experiment. Hang all your clothes with the hangers facing the same direction. As you wear something, turn the hanger to face the opposite direction. Anything that’s still facing in the original direction after a year should be given away when you spring clean next year.
Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.
PREVIOUSLY ON HOW TO NOT SUCK:16 Ways To Not Suck At Making Mother’s Day Special10 Ways To Not Suck At Spending Your Tax Refund15 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Disability Insurance15 Things People Of All Ages Need To Know About Long-Term Care Insurance15 Things You Need To Know About Life Insurance15 Things Everyone (Including Renters) Should Know About Homeowner’s Insurance15 Things You Need To Know About Buying Auto InsuranceHow To Not Suck… At Going To Small Claims CourtHow To Not Suck… At Buying In BulkHow To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 5: Spending Your Wedding CashHow To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 4: The HoneymoonHow To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 3: The Costly Little ExtrasHow To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 2: The Stuff People Pay Too Much ForHow To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 1: The Most Expensive StepsHow To Not Suck… At Teaching Your Kids About MoneyHow To Not Suck… At Valentine’s Day GiftsHow To Not Suck… At Merging Your Money When You MarryHow To Not Suck… At Borrowing For CollegeHow To Not Suck… At Saving For CollegeHow To Not Suck… At Pre-Paying For Your FuneralHow To Not Suck… At Making Financial New Year’s ResolutionsHow To Not Suck… At Last-Minute Christmas GiftingHow To Not Suck… At Saving For The HolidaysHow To Not Suck… At Charitable GivingHow To Not Suck… At Disputing Credit Report ErrorsHow To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility BillsHow To Not Suck… At Home InspectionsHow To Not Suck… At Understanding Credit Card RewardsHow To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax SeasonHow To Not Suck… At Picking A Retirement PlanHow To Not Suck… At Deciding When To DIYHow To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of DebtHow To Not Suck… At First Year College Budgets
DISCLAIMER: Any websites, services, retailers, or brands mentioned in the story above are only intended as some of many options available to consumers, and do not constitute an endorsement by Consumerist, Consumerist Media LLC (CML) or its staff. Per Consumerist’s No Commercial Use Policy, such information may not be used by others in advertising or to promote a company’s product or service. In addition, this policy precludes any commercial use of any of CML’s published information in any form, or of the names of Consumers Union®, Consumer Media, Consumer Reports®, The Consumerist, consumerist.com or any other of CU or CML’s publications or services without CU or CML’s express written permission.