The Center for Disease Control currently recommends that we remain at home as much as possible, which syncs perfectly with the time of the year when three-quarters of us engage in some level of Spring Cleaning. These two elements are coming together to create a perfect scrub-storm that could result in sparkling-clean homes across the nation. If you’re one of those people who plans devote your down-time to house cleansing, here are some deep-cleaning tips that will come in handy.
LIVING ROOMS, DINING ROOMS, BEDROOMS, OFFICE ROOMS
Cleaning Overhead: Invest in a telescoping wand that can accept brushes and microfiber cleaning pads. This will come in handy for dusting ceilings and moldings. There are inexpensive dusters shaped for cleaning ceiling fan blades that make the job go quickly. Spray with an aerosol dust repellent for best results. To do the most thorough job eliminating cobwebs, I often use a vacuum on upper walls and ceilings. Use a brush attachment to make sure you don’t mark up the paint.
Tip: If you can’t see it, you might miss it. Consider wearing a headlamp while you clean so you can see every cobweb and speck of dust.
Different heaters require different tools. A microfiber brush is best for a radiator-style heater. You can find special radiator brush attachments for your vacuum that help control the dust as you work. If you have central air, the register grills can get pretty dirty. Did you know you can clean them in the dishwasher?
Walls are best cleaned with a damp, soft cloth or a duster. If you are gentle, you can clean walls with a wet mop dipped in a solution with a few drops of detergent mixed in. Take care and avoid scrubbing aggressively. You may scrub away all the paint down to the sheet rock or raw plaster!
Vacuum carpets with a beater attachment. If you have stains, you can make your own cleaner with by mixing 2 ounces of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 10 ounces of distilled water and a few drops of dish soap. Before you try the solution on a conspicuous, high-traffic area, perform a test in a corner to make sure the solution doesn’t discolor your carpet fiber. If you have pets, invest in an ultraviolet flashlight that will show you where any urine spots are hiding. Eliminate those with an enzyme cleaner - I like Bubba’s Super-Strength Commercial Enzyme Cleaner, but there are many choices on the market. If after that your carpet still looks drab, consider renting a stem cleaner or calling in a pro.
There are products you can mix with water to clean your wood floors, but you should stay away from them. Use a mop with a microfiber attachment, and make sure you use a cleaning spray with a neutral pH level (7). Zep works well and is available at your local home improvement store. If liquids no longer bead on your wood floor’s surface, it's probably time to apply a paste wax. For best results, wax every other year.
Clean your cabinet surfaces with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Make sure it’s the kind of vinegar that's designed for cleaning, not cooking! Pay extra attention around knobs and drawer pulls, where grime collects.
I’m on the fence about self-cleaning ovens. They work fine, they run your oven at super-high temperatures to burn off all the residue, which can drive up your electric bill. If you don’t want to use the self-cleaning feature — or if you don’t have one — try placing a half cup of ammonia in a shallow glass baking pan and let it sit in a cool oven overnight (no need to heat the oven for this). Remove the tray and wipe down the surfaces the next day. If that isn't thorough enough, try a commercial-grade oven cleaner.
For cooktops, there’s no substitute for hot water with a little Dawn detergent added. You an add a degreasing solvent like Krud Kutter. Iron grills can be cleaned with stainless steel wool, but don’t use that on the enamel-coated surfaces or silver drip bowls. For glass cooktops, first coat with soapy water and leave for 15-30 minutes. Then use a special single-edged razor blade (designed for cooktops) to scrape off cooked-on deposits. Clean with a sponge and if there is still residue, repeat these steps as necessary. Then, give it one more scour with a soft scrubbing pad and Cerama-Bryte. Wipe clean, use an ammonia spray, dry with a cloth, and your glass cooktop should look like new.
Vent hoods naturally collect lots of grease. Use a heavy-duty degreaser by adding 1 tablespoon of Dawn to a gallon of hot water. For the worst clumps of grease and muck, mix 1 part baking soda with 1 part Dawn and slowly trickle in vinegar until it is the consistency of paste. Rub the paste into the caked-on areas and allow to sit for 10-30 minutes before washing it off. To clean the removable vent hood filter, fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water and a scoop of Oxi-Clean laundry soap. Soak the filter for 15 minutes, then rinse clean.
Your dishwasher pretty much cleans itself, but because it’s always moist, it can attract mold and mildew. The most important task is to clean any dregs that have collected on the bottom and at the drain. If your dishwasher has a filter, remove it and clean anything debris caught inside. Check your owner's manual to see if it's time to either clean the filter or replace it. You can then use hot water and dish soap to wipe all the seals and any surfaces still showing discoloration. Then run the machine on a hot cycle. There are maintenance products available like Grainger’s Dishwasher Magic that will clean your dishwasher and leave it lemony fresh.
After applying elbow grease to your cooking appliances, cleaning the refrigerator will be a welcome break. Clean the inner surfaces and seals using hot soapy water with a tablespoon of baking soda added. It’s easier to remove shelves and drawers for washing in the sink. If your gaskets aren’t sealing as well as they once did, try coating them lightly with Vaseline. If you’re feeling ambitious, pull the refrigerator out from the wall and dust the coils and fins. You can purchase a brush attachment for your vacuum that is made especially for this chore.
Showers collect lime, rust and mildew, and must be approached differently that kitchen fixtures. Though there are many chemical-based cleaners available, many of them create fumes that should be avoided. There are natural alternatives you can use. You can remove the white residue on shower glass by spraying on undiluted white vinegar. Vinegar fumes are natural, but they can be strong, too, so make sure you allow for plenty of ventilation as you work. After the vinegar, rinse with soap and water.
Mineral deposits that collect on sink drains and faucets can be cleaned with lemon juice.
Bathroom sink drains can become clogged with all sorts of muck. If your drain has become sluggish, we recommend a non-acid pipeline cleaner named Thrift. Pour in 1 cup of Thrift, then add 2 cups of hot (not warm) water. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then flush with more hot water. For maintenance, add 1/2 cup of Thrift to your drains every month. If Thrift doesn’t open your drain, you will need to remove the U-shaped pipe under the sink and clean it out. Most PVC models have fittings that can be unscrewed by hand. Have a small bucket underneath to catch excess water. Once the pipe is removed, look down your sink drain, clear any obstructions in the drain pipe, too. Clean out the U-shaped pipe and reinstall. "Finger-tight" is fine.
If your toilet is becoming discolored, pour two cups of distilled white vinegar in the bowl, wait a half hour, then use a toilet brush. Don’t use bleach-based products. They can fuse stains to the porcelain, making them permanent!
Harmful bacteria can grow inside your washing machine, especially if you only do wash with cold water. To clean the drum, again mix a few cups of distilled white vinegar with a cup of baking soda. Dip a sturdy brush into the solution and and scrub the drum. Use an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar to clean the little compartments for bleach, laundry softener, etc. If the door seal is getting slippery, use hot soapy water to clean it. After you're done cleaning, run a heavy-duty cycle using the hottest water selection.
Your clothes dryer needs special attention if you use dryer sheets regularly. They can leave behind residue that can clog your lint filter and can make the motors in your dryer overheat and burn out prematurely . Remove the filter and scrub it with a stiff brush wet with a little vinegar. Clean the lint filter this way once a month. Wet a cloth with vinegar/water solution to clean the inside of the drum. If it’s been a few years since you’ve cleaned the exhaust duct, it is definitely time! to pull your dryer out from the wall, disconnect the duct, and clean it. Dirty drier ducts can be a fire hazard. It’s important to clean the entire duct from where it leaves your drier to the outside vent fixture. If your duct is relatively short, you can purchase what looks like a miniature chimney sweep kit with rod extensions. There are vacuum attachments available, too. If you have a long stretch of duct and can't reach sections of it, you may want to consider hiring a professional.
Whew! If you followed all the steps in this post, your house must be immaculate! Congratulations! You can binge-watch your favorite program as you gaze at your squeaky-clean home. If you watch Hoarders, your home will look even cleaner in contrast!