Start fresh this spring. Begin with a deep-down spring cleaning, then focus on a few prime exterior projects, throw in a little organization, and your home will feel like new.
Ready to tackle your spring projects? Our handy guide breaks them down: Spring Cleaning & To-Dos (once-a-year tasks perfectly suited for spring), Exterior To-Dos (fix-ups and repairs for the outside of your home), and Room-by-Room Tasks (decluttering and cleaning tips for specific rooms).
Be sure to pick a cloudy day to wash windows. "If it's too sunny, the cleaning solution will dry too fast and you'll have streaks," says Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple (Storey Publishing, 2005). For a window-washing solution, Smallin combines 1/2 cup of sudsy ammonia (which is a specific type of ammonia), 1 pint of rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, and 1 gallon of water.
Sliding Door Tracks
Sliding glass door tracks probably aren't the first spots you'd think to clean, but you'll appreciate having done it before the outdoor entertaining season gets into full swing. Smallin suggests scrubbing the tracks with an old, dry toothbrush to loosen debris, then using your vacuum hose to remove it. Finish with a wet sponge.
You may overlook these surfaces on a daily basis, but once a year, give your baseboards, door frames, and walls a good scrub-down. Wash them with a sponge and a squirt of dishwashing liquid mixed in a bucket of warm water.
To maintain a new carpet's warranty, you may need to have it cleaned professionally every 12-18 months, Smallin says. Otherwise, you can do it yourself by renting a deep cleaner or buying a professional-style model designed for home use.
Come across some stains while cleaning your carpet? Here's what not to do when treating carpet stains.
Clean Under Furniture & Appliances
Grab a partner and move your sofa and chairs, roll up area rugs, then vacuum the floors. Move your kitchen appliances away from the wall as much as you can. "In some cases you can pull them out enough that a vacuum hose will reach," Smallin says.
Restore smooth leather with an upholstery cleaner and conditioner. Use a suede brush to perk up nubuck leather. For wood furniture, use Smallin's recipe to make your own all-natural cleaner and polish: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of vinegar or lemon juice in a plastic spray bottle; shake well and spray onto a microfiber cloth.
Refresh Window Treatments
Curtains and draperies aren't typically dirty enough to launder. Instead, go over them thoroughly with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. "To remove dust from sheer curtains, put them in the dryer on low with a fabric-softener sheet," Smallin says.
Dust Light Fixtures
Use a microfiber or lint-free cloth to dust fixtures and bulbs you can reach. For ceiling fans, skip the ladder and use an extendable duster. To clean grimy bulbs, lightly dampen your cloth with vinegar. Caution: Be sure bulbs are cool to the touch and your hands are dry.
-- Pick up and eliminate clutter in each room before you start cleaning.
-- Equip yourself with a few designated containers when you are picking up in each room: a box for garage sale items, another for items to donate, and a garbage bag for items to toss.
-- Put away the things you are keeping in their rightful places and rooms.
Make a Wardrobe Transition
-- Now that it's warm outside, have your winter clothes cleaned.
-- Consider storing clothes at a dry cleaner if you don't have enough space in your home.
-- Put away gloves, winter clothing items, and boots so you'll have plenty of space for spring clothing.
-- Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
-- Perform all required safety checks.
-- If you don't own a fire extinguisher, purchase one. Learn how to use it, and keep it in the kitchen.
Spring is the perfect time to freshen the face of your home with a new paint job. An updated color scheme can take your house from forgettable to traffic-stopping. The average exterior paint job lasts 10 years, so make sure it's done right. If your house doesn't require a full paint makeover, consider a touch-up, which can prolong the life of your siding and trim.
Having your home's exterior and windows power-washed won't just make your home look sharp, it also will prevent the growth of mold and mildew that feed on grime. If you're not comfortable deciding whether your home's exterior can handle the force that pressure-washing nozzles exert, hire a professional to do the work.
When you consider that your roof's drainage system diverts thousands of gallons of water a year from your house's exterior and foundation walls, you can see why it merits a semiannual inspection. Clean and repair gutters and downspouts every spring before heavy rains begin and late in autumn after leaves have fallen.
-- Rotate and flip mattresses.
-- Wash blankets and comforters, or take them to be cleaned.
-- Have pillows professionally cleaned, hang them outside in the fresh air, or freshen them with the air (no heat) cycle of your clothes dryer.
-- Wash or dry-clean rugs.
Clean Your Bathrooms
-- You may scrub your bathroom every week, but now it's time to battle clutter and refresh old products.
-- Go through your medicine cabinets and safely discard any outdated products.
Clear Your Kitchen
-- Take time to clear out your pantry, kitchen cabinets, and drawers.
-- Wipe them out and install fresh shelf paper.
-- Discard stale spices or dated items such as baking powder.
-- Clean the refrigerator and freezer.
-- Vacuum the cooling coils under or behind your refrigerator.