Time to freshen up the home
Helpful ideas to make spring cleaning less of a dreaded chore
THE flowers are in bloom, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining brightly — right through your dirty windows.
That’s when it hits you. Spring is in the air and it’s time to freshen up your home. If the task seems daunting, don’t worry: There are ways to make it less stressful and a little more pleasant.
There are a lot of things to consider before the cleanup starts. Get yourself into the right frame of mind, centre yourself, and have a plan in place before you begin. Don’t try to tackle the whole house at once. You’ll likely get frustrated and procrastinate.
Tote your tools
Motivation and organization
Most of us typically find housecleaning to be drudgery, so we procrastinate or get distracted.
However, there are some ways you can turn a chore you dread into a chore that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment, at the very least.
There are many ways to motivate yourself. Invite a friend for dinner, so you’ll have a cleanup deadline. Buy something new for the task at hand, such as a new cleaning gadget or product that will make the job easier. Light an essential-oil candle to make your house smell nice while you’re working. Redesign a room, buy new toss cushions or paint a wall, all of which will inspire you to clean a room. Put on some great music while you work.
Open windows and doors and get some air flowing through the house. Then recruit your children to help with the basic cleaning routine. Young children can pick up their toys or put dirty clothes in the hamper. As they get older, children can be given specific chores.
Although younger children will only last, on average, 30 minutes, try to make it a game and offer a reward.
One of the best ways to avoid wasting precious time is to make sure you have all your cleaning supplies together. Ensure you have new bags for your vacuum cleaner, and that you have your mop and bucket, rags and cleaning products together. Also, keep a plastic bag in your pocket for garbage.
Purchase microfibre cleaning cloths; they provide a better clean without using as much cleaning product. Not only do you save on cleaning products, but these cloths are also eco-friendly.
Then work your way through the house, one room or one chore at a time, whatever works best.
Spring is a great time to inspect and clean window treatments. Whether you need to wash blinds, send drapes and sheers to the dry cleaners, or throw washable curtains into the washing machine, getting your window treatments clean after a long, dark winter can brighten an entire room.
Then, be sure not to forget to dust down the window casing, wash window sills and crown mouldings, and clean your hardware.
Among the best, green cleaners for your hardwood floors are vinegar and water.
Get a bucket filled with hot water and a little vinegar and wash your floors with a barely damp mop. Vinegar cuts surface grease and brings back the shine to your hardwood floors.
To wash draperies, companies are coming up with detergents that are kinder to the environment.
“Every little green change we can make helps,” says Jillian McLaughlin, senior brand manager with Sunlight. “There has been a barrier in the past for consumers thinking that biodegradable products didn’t clean as well. Made up of plant-based materials that are renewable, green detergents clean as well as traditional detergents do.”
Most local health food stores carry safer, more earth-friendly products that clean just as well. Look at the labels for ingredients, such as biodegradable coconut oil, soybean and other nut oils, citrus essential oils, and plant-and mineral-based formulas.
If you really want to be eco-friendly, instead of using bleach, choose Borax, an effective alternative. Baking soda mixed with water is also great as a cleaner, deodorizer, scouring powder and more.
What needs to be done in each room
One of the quickest and most efficient ways to clean is from top to bottom, and left to right, in whatever room you’re cleaning. Start by moving furniture and vacuuming in each room, including the closets.
Besides dusting and vacuuming, springtime is a great time to wash mattress covers, pillow protectors and duvets in the bedrooms. Hang them outside for that fresh scent.
If it’s raining, throw your duvet cover in the drier with two clean tennis balls. They act like softening sheets and keep things moving around, so you avoid clumps on your linen.
The kitchen is the epicentre of your home — it’s here we eat, cook, do homework and entertain — and if we keep it clean and tidy on a regular basis, we’ll cut down on the big cleanse.
Clean your coffee machine and dishwasher with vinegar and water, and put it through a cycle. Give the oven a full self-clean; get rid of stale food in the refrigerator and clean the inner lip and seal of the door and frame; wipe all surfaces inside the fridge (including the inside walls and shelves), and clean behind the fridge and stove.
If you feel really ambitious, take everything out of each cupboard, clean the shelves and put things back in an organized fashion. That means getting rid of jars of food you haven’t used in months.
If they’re still good, give them to the food bank.
It’s also a great time to refresh your staples and date them.
If you aren’t baking anymore, give your pots and pans to a friend or charity, or sell them.
In the living room, family room and dining room, clean the lamps, vacuum the upholstery, clean the mirrors and pictures, polish wooden furniture and clean under the furniture.
Take your throw rugs to the dry cleaners and shampoo your rugs and upholstery.
In the bathrooms, scrub your bath mat, launder the shower curtain and clean all cupboards and mirrors.
Meanwhile, if your children are too young to help and your spouse doesn’t want to, consider teaming up with a friend and helping each other. Two vacuums and four hands will get the job done twice as fast — and you might actually have fun doing it.
— Canwest News Service
One of the best ways to avoid wasting precious time is to make sure you have all your cleaning supplies together.