18 Summer Cleaning Tips for a Sparkling Home
Dust and Reverse Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can stir up dust and pollen if the blades aren't cleaned regularly. Before you turn on the fan this summer, remove dust and debris using an old pillowcase. Spray the interior of the pillowcase with an all-purpose cleaner and slip it over one of the blades. As you wipe, grime gets trapped inside the pillowcase instead of falling on furniture or floors. After cleaning, reverse the direction of the blades so the fan brings cold air downward instead of pushing warm air around the room.
Clean Out the Fridge
Make room in your refrigerator for fresh produce and barbecue leftovers. Working one section at a time, transfer items to a cooler and wipe down fridge surfaces with a damp cloth. Removable shelves and drawers can be washed at the sink with warm water and dish soap. As you restock, check expiration dates and toss anything that's past its prime.
Do a Clean Sweep
Stock front porches, decks, and patios with inexpensive brooms that can be quickly grabbed for all sorts of cleaning chores. Use them to brush spider webs from windows, screens, railings, porch ceilings, mailboxes, window boxes, and foundation plantings. Sweep porch and deck floors daily to remove debris deposited by wind, rain, incoming traffic, and critters.
Clean Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets, which are opened and closed frequently by messy hands, can get sticky if not properly cared for. Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified cleaning technician, shares her strategy for how to clean kitchen cabinets: Dip a cloth into a solution of 1/4 cup of Murphy's Oil Soap ($4, Target) and a gallon of warm water. Wring the cloth and wipe cabinet fronts, paying special attention to areas around the knobs. Dry with a clean cloth. Kuper recommends doing this monthly. Otherwise, grime adheres, and when you try to remove it, the cabinet finish could come off with the greasy residue.
Perk Up Patio Furniture
Refresh patio furniture for the summer with a thorough cleaning. Start by rinsing furniture with a garden hose fitted with a spray nozzle. Gently scrub using a soft cloth and a cleaning product designed for the material (such as a glass cleaner or oil soap for wood) or a solution of mild dishwashing liquid and water. Avoid using bleach, which can damage patio furniture and nearby plantings. Rinse and let air-dry.
Prevent Mold in the Bathroom
First, clean the shower while you're showering, using a Mr. Clean Eraser sponge ($3, Walmart) and a squeegee. Swish a brush around the toilet bowl daily; use a pumice stone to remove rings and stains. Wipe mirrors with a finely woven microfiber cloth, which won't leave streaks or lint, and use one sprayed with vinegar to wipe down countertops. Clean sinks with an eraser sponge; shine sinks and faucets with a microfiber cloth. Wipe floors with a damp towel or mop. And, since it's summer, hang wet bath mats and damp towels outside to quick-dry in the sun.
Get Ready to Grill
Clean grill grates so remnants of previous meals don't transfer to foods being grilled. To follow Reichert's method for how to clean a gas grill, turn it on and let the grates get hot. Place a cut lemon on a long-handled fork, dip it into a bowl of salt, and rub it across the grates. The lemon's acid will cut grease, and the salt acts as a scrubbing agent. Scrub especially dirty grates with a block of pumice, then wash grates well to remove pumice dust. Avoid using metal brushes, Reichert says, because the bristles can break off and can get into your food.
Prepare for Grass Stains
Kneeling to garden, sliding into first base, and simply relaxing on your lawn are likely to result in grass-stained clothing. Because of the chlorophyll in grass and plants, these stains can be difficult to remove if left to set. As soon as possible, brush away debris and treat grass stains with a prewash spray or a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water. Let the solution sit for 5 minutes. Machine-wash the stained clothing in an enzyme detergent and the hottest water safe for the fabric.
Freshen Window Treatments
Cleaning expert and author Mary Findley says summer is the perfect time for taking drapes and curtains outside for airing. Give window treatments a good shake to remove dust, and let them bask in the sun to expel stale odors. Alternatively, throw draperies and curtains into the dryer for 10 minutes to remove dust and kill mites; avoid having to iron them by promptly removing and rehanging.
Tackle Gutter Cleaning
To clean gutters efficiently and safely, equip your lawn blower or hose with a gutter-cleaning attachment so you can blow out debris while your feet are firmly planted on the ground. If you're hosing, wear rain gear because you are going to get wet, Reichert says. When on a ladder, use a four-prong garden tool in a plowing motion to push leaves out of gutters. Wear latex gloves under work gloves to keep hands dry and protected from odors. Finally, use a hose with a spray nozzle to flush all remaining dirt from the gutters and to clear downspouts of debris.
Ensure Cool Air Flows Freely
Have a heating-and-cooling expert check and clean your air-conditioning system before temps rise to peak summer levels. A professional will make certain your system is in good enough shape to keep you and yours cool through summer. To make sure your air-conditioning operates well, Reichert also advises using your vacuum cleaner and a blower attachment to blow out hard-to-reach dirt. Try using a dusting brush and a vacuum to remove caked-on grime. Use your vacuum to clean all interior heating vents of dust and dirt. Wash removable filters with hydrogen peroxide and let them dry before putting them back, or replace an old filter with a new one.
Tidy the Garage
With patio and deck furniture, summertime playthings, and grilling gear moved outside for summer, your garage might need a refresh. Throw out or donate unwanted tools, building materials, and other no-longer-used items. Wash windows and give the floor, walls, and ceiling a good sweeping. Put up racks and shelves to stow practical and recreational trappings.
Keep Floors Spick-and-Span
When determining how to clean floors, it's important to remember that different floor surfaces require different cleaners, Findley says. Mop all types of floors with cotton terry cloth or recycled hand towels, which can be tossed in the washer and reused. Clean linoleum and vinyl floors with a solution of 1 tablespoon baby shampoo or 1/2 teaspoon eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner and 1 gallon of water. You can also add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar for extra cleaning power. For wood and laminate floors, spritz a towel with a solution of 1 part distilled vinegar to 30 parts water until the cloth is just damp enough for mopping. Stone and tile floors can be mopped with cotton towels moistened with very hot water. Beware that cleaners and vinegar will pit and damage stone and tile finishes. Place mats at every entrance for wiping feet. Keep floors cleaner longer by asking guests to remove shoes as they come in the door.
Clean Concrete Patios
Use a push broom or a leaf blower to remove all debris from your patio. Kuper recommends renting or borrowing a pressure washer to give concrete a thorough cleaning. For hard-to-remove stains, pour straight white vinegar on stains and scrub with a stiff brush. "If that doesn't budge the stain, you may need to use a commercial rust cleaner like Whink," advises Kuper. An alternative stain remover? Reichert suggests using a stiff push broom and lemon juice; the acid in the lemon juice partners with sunshine to bleach out stains.
Banish Kitchen Odors
Along with hot, humid weather comes unpleasant smells at the sink and in trash cans and recycling bins. Soak sponges and dishcloths in a solution of 1/4 cup bleach and a gallon of water daily for 5 minutes to keep them clean and germ-free. Be sure to rinse well after soaking. Pour white vinegar down drains to banish yucky scents. On trash day, wash out garbage and recycling bins with bleach and water.
Towels stored in a closet or left to dry in the bathroom can take on a musty smell during the hot, humid days of summer. For an easy summer cleaning tip, wash towels in hot water and toss 1/2 cup of baking soda into the rinse cycle to eradicate stale scents. Dry the towels at the highest heat recommended for the fabric.
Clear Cracks of Mold
Keep outdoor surfaces mold-free. Findley recommends using a scraper to loosen mold in sidewalk, patio, and driveway cracks and sweep away the debris. Then, directly apply vinegar via a garden sprayer to the cracks to kill remaining mold spores. Repeat a few times a year to prevent new mold from growing.
Properly Wash Produce
Vegetables and fruits are fresh, flavorful, and plentiful during the summer. Ensure garden-picked and store-bought produce is as healthy as it should be by using these cleaning tips from the FDA: Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas; throw away outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads. Gently rub veggies while holding them under plain running water until dirt is gone. Always wash produce before peeling, as dirt can be transferred from knives and peelers. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers. Dry all produce with a clean cloth to further reduce bacteria.