It is normal to have a love-hate relationship with spring cleaning.
The advent of warmer weather and brighter days can make even the most uninterested housekeeper want to “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!” in the words of Allie Brosh, author of the blog Hyperbole and a Half.
But then come those spring cleaning checklists. You know the ones: room-by-room guides detailing all the things you have rarely, if ever, cleaned. Those checklists will have you washing windows, degreasing the vent hood, wiping light bulbs — yes, wiping light bulbs. (To be fair to the makers of such checklists, light bulbs do get quite dusty.)
Merely reading through a spring cleaning checklist can leave one exhausted, well before the cleaning has even begun. And while there is no getting around the need to perform deep-cleaning tasks, there are some ways to make common spring cleaning chores less labor-intensive — and more satisfying — by letting products and tools do the heavy lifting for you.
BRIGHTEN UP DINGY GROUT
Forget the toothbrush. This technique for cleaning grout will also have you down on your knees (or sitting on your rear end, if your knees can’t take it), but only for a very short time, because you are going to allow the cleaning solution to do most of the work for you. And what might this magic cleaning solution be? Oxygen bleach, like OxiClean or Clorox OxiMagic.
To use it for cleaning tile floors and grout, mix a gallon of hot water with a quarter cup of powdered oxygen bleach, which is different from chlorine bleach because it won’t lead to color loss in textiles, so you don’t need to worry about the damage if it splashes on clothing or towels.
Working in sections, starting from the back of the room and moving toward the door, pour the solution in an S-shaped formation on the floor. It can be helpful to use a small measuring cup with a pouring spout for this operation.
Spread the oxygen bleach solution in a thin layer over each section using a scrub brush. This should not be an elbow grease-intensive performance. You want to make a simple chh-chh-chh movement quickly with the scrub brush to distribute the oxygen bleach solution. Then let the solution sit for 30 to 60 minutes before wiping the floors clean with a water-dampened rag or a sponge mop. As the grout dries, it will brighten up, no toothbrush or heavy scrubbing required.
MAKE SHOWER DOORS SPARKLE
You have tried glass cleaners. You have tried calcium, lime and rust removers. You have tried ritual sacrifice involving squeegees and white vinegar. And yet nothing has worked on the stubborn hard-water stains and soap-scum buildup that makes your glass shower doors look frosted, and not in a nice decorative way.
The problem is that you have not tried using a dryer sheet, which is a totally obvious thing to try for cleaning glass shower doors. (It is not at all obvious — it is actually incredibly bizarre — but it works.)
Get the dryer sheet wet and, working in a circular motion, use it to scrub the glass door. The magic ingredients in dryer sheets that soften fabrics and eliminate static will break down the soap scum. If a milky white film remains, wipe it away using a squeegee or glass cleaner and paper towels, rags or a microfiber cloth.
PUT YOUR VACUUM TO WORK
Most people are probably aware that vacuums can be used to clean more than just floors. But far too many of us are not making our vacuums live up to their full potential.
Spring cleaning is a great time to break out of a vacuum rut and save yourself some sweat by making the machine do the work of cleaning furniture like sofas and wing chairs, mattresses, walls, window treatments, windowsills and casings, and even the windows themselves.
The trick is to get cozy with your vacuum’s attachments, and possibly even to invest in an add-on set of specialty attachments. The add-ons are where you will find help cleaning the windows, by using a squeegee attachment with a wet/dry vacuum.
Soft brush attachments, also called upholstery attachments, can be used to dust books, lampshades, window coverings and, of course, upholstered furniture. The soft brush attachment is also great for quickly cleaning window screens. The crevice tool is ideal for window casings, radiators and vents, the area around major kitchen appliances, and dryer vents.
Specialty attachments for dryer vents are also available. But if your vacuum comes with an extension wand that can be used with other attachments to extend their reach — it is especially useful for cleaning molding and window treatments — you can pair it with the crevice tool and skip the extra purchase.
WASH THE WALLS WITHOUT CLIMBING A LADDER
Washing the walls is a bear of a job, and while this tip won’t make it totally painless, it will at least save you from having to get up on a ladder.
To wash the walls just as you would a floor, use a broom fitted with a rubber band-secured rag over the rushes, or a sponge mop dipped in dish soap diluted in water or an all-purpose cleaner like Fabuloso or Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner. (Puracy is an all-purpose cleaner recommended by Wirecutter, The New York Times product review site.)
Wring it out so that it is damp but not dripping, and be sure that the cleaning solution you are using will not damage the wall’s finish by testing it in a small, inconspicuous area before going all in.
THE CEILING FAN TRICK
Ceiling fan blades pick up an astonishing amount of filth. If you have a ceiling fan in your home and you have never looked up at it, go ahead and do that now. Ghastly, isn’t it?
There is an easy way to clean ceiling fans, though. And it will not leave your bedroom or living room covered in dust that falls from the fan.
Use an old pillowcase, one that you can relegate to the rag pile after this job, to clean the blades. Spray the inside of the case with a dusting spray like Pledge or Endust, slide the case over a blade and, holding the opening of the case firmly over the top and bottom of the blade, slide it back along the blade to wipe away the dirt that has collected.
The brilliant thing, of course, is that all that grime will stay inside the pillowcase, rather than getting all over you or whatever is beneath the fan.
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