Spring cleaning: simple tips to make a big difference

Summer is just around the corner, but for those who have been too busy shoveling sidewalks and drives and trying to salvage their outdoor plants from spring snows, it’s not too late to spring clean.

Housebeautiful.com offers these tips on how to give a home that “clean” look and feel again:

Closet organization

Organizing the closet is the first step to organizing the entire house. Give away unused clothes and accessories, and organize what’s left based by color and how you get dressed. Not only will the closet look better, it will make an everyday routine easier.

 

Keeping stainless steel shiny

To keep stainless steel bright and clean, Adam Kamens of Amuneal Manufacturing Corp. suggests using a light mist of wax-based aerosol spray once or twice a week, but not too much as it will soak the surface and make it greasy. Wipe the mist with a clean, lint-free cloth, and never use oils to keep away fingerprints — lint will stick to the oil. Also, don’t use cleaners with bleach after applying the waxy layer or it will dry out and lose some of the luster. Lastly, avoid using anything abrasive – even mild products such as Soft Scrub or Scotch-Brite pads – as they may scratch or ruin the surface.

Washing out stains and odors

Ruth Travis, president of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, tells Housebeautiful.com to blot up as much of the smelly mess as possible right away to remove a stain. Put a plastic liner or a garbage bag between the cushion and the fabric as to not push the contaminant into the cushion while blotting the upholstery. Then flush the stain with cold water , blot and flush again. Cold water doesn’t set stains as much as hot water. Portable spot cleaners or wet/dry vacs are also alternative methods to clean stains. If a residual odor remains, use a half-vinegar, half-water solution and rinse again. If that doesn’t work, call in the professionals.

 

Cleaning painted walls

Carl Minchew, director of Product Development at Benjamin Moore, tells Housebeautiful.com that to clean painted walls, start with a clean cloth or sponge and water. For more resistant dirt, dip the rag or sponge into water mixed with a little mild dishwashing liquid. If it remains stubborn, apply a few drops of soap directly onto the wet sponge or cloth you’re using or even apply a little soap directly on the stain. Stronger products such as Fantastik or Formula 409 have strong solvents in them that can soften the paint surface. Regardless, make sure to rinse the wall afterward with plain water.

 

Keeping the carpet clean

If taking off shoes when you get home isn’t yet a habit in your home, make it a new one, says Paul Iskyan, owner of Rug Renovating. But he suggests not taking socks off because bare feet leave natural oils that attract dirt. Try to vacuum every day and use a top-load vacuum (so the dirt falls inward) and HEPA filters. Change the filters often, so you don’t blow pollutants back into the air. For less-trafficked areas, clean the carpets once or twice a year, and every 18 months for a bedroom. But bring in professional carpet cleaners for higher-traffic areas three or four times a year, and more often when the carpets are visibly dirty.

 

Reorganize Bookshelves

Sort books by size and subject, discarding any ripped dust jackets (unless they might have value). Line books, some vertically, some horizontally, in a rhythmic pattern to relieve the monotony of rows.

 

Cleaning Done Right

Although digging in and really cleaning may take a day or more to do well, designer Joe Nye suggests making the most of it.

“Clean your house. And I mean really clean it,” he tells Housebeautiful.com. “Polish silver, wash windows, wipe down the light bulbs in your lamps, wipe down the walls. Everything will gleam and glisten. The effect will be cathartic and make you feel like you have accomplished something.”

 

For more tips about doing spring cleaning right, visit http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/organize/spring-cleaning-tips#slide-1.

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