Time to freshen up the home

Help­ful ideas to make spring clean­ing less of a dreaded chore

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Michelle Hop­kins

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.

Win­dow cov­er­ings

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.

Clean green

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.

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