Spring Cleaning Tips: Should You or Shouldn’t You?
by Marjorie Dorfman

It’s that time of year, not as the Christmas song says, "when the world falls in love," but rather when the world looks around and queries, "where the hell did all this junk come from?" Apart from the possibility that you are actually in someone else’s house, the stark realization that you need to organize and cleanse is upon you. Restrain your urge to be merry and tackle it head on (if you can find your head, that is). Here we go, some spring-cleaning tips from someone who has some nerve writing about this topic.

A Clean Sweep
Let’s start with some general tips, which may or may not help your situation.

Make a checklist of chores to help get you organized before you begin. This can get a bit tricky particularly if you can’t remember where you put the list. For this reason, write the list in duplicate and always keep it tacked to your cleaning smock. Although you should write the list in duplicate, do not check it twice. If you do, you are sure to find some things you missed and your entire cleaning time will be absorbed in updating your list. Leave that job to that fat guy with the beard in the red suit.
Start at the top when you dust and work your way down. This is contrary advice to the suggested path when trying to climb the social ladder, but that can be dusty too, depending on how often you try to climb it.
Wash walls from the bottom up to avoid streaking. Do not confuse your walls with other pieces of furniture in which you must proceed in the other direction. Failure to follow instructions can be disastrous, not to mention rather dusty.
Avoid unnecessary trips back and forth by having all your cleaning tools with you at all times. Don’t forget that showing favoritism by leaving some tools behind for certain jobs can cause resentment among your collection and possibly eventual mutiny. Also, avoid cleaning after you have ingested more than a significant portion of roughage. Trips elsewhere can only confuse the cleaning issue, both for you and your tools.
Use old socks as mitts for cleaning difficult woodwork. The most important rule of thumb as far as this tip is concerned is to make sure no one is wearing the socks at the time. Results can be upsetting particularly if the wearer of the socks has somewhere else to go.
Clean as you go along because it takes less time to remove new dirt than old. Do not mix cleaning products. Ammonia and bleach are a fatal combination and have caused the demise of many a household cleaner (person).
Leave baking soda on carpeting overnight. This will allow enough time for the absorption of unwanted odors. Unfortunately, it does not work for unwanted relatives or relatives with unwanted odors. For the elimination of nasty neighbors and relatives, there is some hope with the ammonia and bleach mixture listed above, but if you decide to use this approach prepare to spend some time in prison.
Wash small knick-knacks. Don’t dust them. They won’t know the difference and this is not only more thorough it also reduces the chance that you will break them.

The next series of tips relate specifically to cleaning walls, both interior and exterior. Heed them carefully and watch out, lest you bang into one in your haste to clean well.

To remove heel marks, rub them off with the eraser from a pencil. Swear to yourself that you will never walk on that wall again!
For a really great wall cleaner, mix 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 gallon of wash water.
Nylon socks work better than sponges or cloth on textured walls.
Wallpaper needs to be dusted from the top down. (Otherwise, you will need an additional dusting when finished.) Tie a dust-cloth over your broom and distract the wallpaper and dust by whistling while you work. (Tip stolen from seven dwarves.)
An art-gum eraser works wonders on removing pencil marks and other non-greasy spots from non-washable papers.
For best results in cleaning exterior walls, use a water hose to spray the outside of your home. The force of the spray will remove unwanted dirt and cobwebs. (The spiders won’t come back and get you even if they want to, so don’t be afraid to destroy their homes. After all, they don’t pay rent, do they?)

Cleaning Windows
Make your own spray cleaner. Fill a spritzer bottle with 3 tablespoons ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar and the remainder with water. Wrap a cloth around a ruler, spray the cloth and run the flat ends across each blind. (Your blinds won’t master the art of measuring, but they will look a lot cleaner afterward!)
Save those old newspapers for when you do your windows. They will make them shine. (However, make sure the date on the newspaper you are using was a sunny one with no intermittent showers. Otherwise, all may be lost.)
Do not pick a beautiful warm day to do your windows (avoid rainstorms and blizzards as well). Overcast and average temperatures are best to avoid streaks.
Dry windows outside in one direction, and then inside in the other direction. This exercise will keep you on your toes in addition to being privy to the knowledge of which side is the offender if one of them is streaked.
Diluted rubbing alcohol on a cloth rubbed onto the entire surface will clean windowsills very effectively. Dust off the sill with a clean cloth.

The Bathroom
To remove the dull haze from mirrors, apply some rubbing alcohol. It will also remove spots from bathroom fixtures.
White vinegar applied to glass shower doors will make them sparkle.
An effective shower cleaner can be made from 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia. 1/4 cup baking soda added to 1 gallon of warm water.
To remove water spots on metal frames, apply some lemon furniture oil.
Use kerosene to remove rusty tile marks.
If you run the shower on hot for about five minutes, a lot of dirt will steam loose. (Too bad you can’t lose weight the same way. Or can you?)
Lighter fluid will remove most stains from porcelain sinks and bathtubs. In this case, cleaning may or may not be hazardous to your health.)
To clean grout, wash with two tablespoons of chlorine bleach mixed in one quart of water. After drying thoroughly, then apply several coats of lemon oil. Let dry thoroughly for one hour between coats.
An equal combination of water and vinegar polished with a dry cloth will make dull walls shine.

The Kitchen
For shiny and clean stainless steel sinks, countertops etc, apply some baking soda or club soda. Vinegar will also remove stubborn water spots as well as a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.
To keep white porcelain sinks sparkling, place paper towels across the sink’s bottom and saturate with household bleach. Let them sit for eight hours and rinse. Never apply bleach in colored sinks however, unless you are consciously attempting to ruin whatever color scheme you have selected.

The Refrigerator and Other Appliances
In addition to an open box of baking soda, a few droops of vanilla extract applied to a piece of cotton and placed in the refrigerator will eliminate all odors.
An application of vinegar wiped on the refrigerator will prevent mildew.
Dust and dirt on the front of the refrigerator coils is easily removed with a vacuum.
A mixture of 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup baking soda and 4 cups of warm water will stop the yellowing of white appliances. Apply with a sponge and let set for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Car wax will work wonders on large appliances, making them shine and removing small scratches.

Wood Floors
One of the best cleaners for wooden floors is a solution comprised of 1/2 cup white vinegar dissolved in 1 gallon of warm water. Use a damp mop squeezed almost dry.
To prevent grit damage is very important. Mats situated at doors collect grit and help to keep the area clean. Frequent dust mopping in high traffic areas is the best prevention. You can use the vacuum brush attachment to accomplish this goal and use felt and furniture protectors to help protect the integrity of the floor.
To remove water stains, rub the spot with No.2 steel wool and rewax. You may need to lightly sand with fine sandpaper if the stain is more serious.
For those nasty heel and caster marks, rub vigorously with a fine steel wool and floor cleaner. Wipe, dry and then polish.
To remove ink stains and other dark spots, use a No.2 steel wool cleaner and then thoroughly wash the affected area. If the spot is still there, sand with fine sandpaper, re-wax and polish but watch your tone of voice. The spot may go away if it feels you are being respectful of its presence and talk nicely to it. If it doesn’t and you are not in the mood, you may have to replace the affected area.

Vinyl Floors and Carpets
Use a gallon of water and a dash of dishwashing detergent to damp mop vinyl floors after first sweeping thoroughly.
To eliminate a greasy stain, sprinkle it with some baking soda, cornstarch or talcum powder. Then decide whether you are cooking or relaxing after taking a bath. Leave on 8 hours (leaving enough time to do those two other things) and then vacuum.

Odd Ends
That stuff you use in the dryer (Bounce) has many other uses for the Spring as well as other times of year. Consider these little known but very sweet smelling facts:
Eliminate static electricity from your television screen. Wipe the screen with a used sheet to keep dust from resettling.
One used sheet will dissolve soap scum from shower doors.
Eliminate odors in wastebaskets by placing a sheet at the bottom of the basket.
A sheet of Bounce will collect cat hair. Just rub the area with a sheet (not the cat) and watch how the loose hair is attracted to it! (This action is recommended only if you have done all of the above chores and have nothing else to do!)
Bounce is a great deodorizer too. Just place a sheet inside your shoes or sneakers overnight and they will smell wonderful in the morning.

So, dear reader, all of this should keep you pretty busy for a while. Let me know when you are done, and I will write out some tips for the summer, fall, winter and beyond!

Happy cleaning!

Did you know . . .

Copyright 2008