Spring-cleaning secrets

Lesser-known cleaning tips and tricks for each area of your home.

By Michaela Satterfield

Everybody knows spring means it’s finally time to clean out all the dust that settled during the dormancy of winter. The air is clearer, and the sky is brighter, so everyone is itching to make their homes a little more airy, too. Not to mention, living in the midst of a pandemic has left even the messiest among us more conscientious of how clean the spaces we inhabit really are. Vacuums and mops are enough to get you started, but what about those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies? We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves that will have your home spick-and-span in no time. 

The kitchen

Start by cleaning a kitchen staple you may not traditionally think to clean: the sponge. It’s bound to get grimy cleaning all those pots and pans. Fill the sponge with water and microwave it for two minutes – it’ll be good as new. Speaking of dirty dishes, what are you going to do about that bottle with the skinny neck that’s just been sitting there since you don’t know how to clean it? We recommend grabbing some rice. Add rice, water and a drop of soap into a bottle or jar that won’t fit a sponge, then shake it up to clean it. If you’ve nixed the old-school hand-washing method, you’ll need to clean your dishwasher. Fill a mug with white vinegar and place it on the top rack, then run a normal cycle. While that’s going, check your cooktop. If it needs some polishing, make a simple paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Use a damp cloth to spread it on your cooktop, then wipe it off. To polish stainless steel silverware, make another baking soda paste with water instead of hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to rinse it off thoroughly. Take care of any weird smells coming from the refrigerator by leaving some coffee grounds in a dish on a shelf until the odor goes away. Finally, grab a toothbrush to clean the grout between your tiles.

Make your own glass cleaner with white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and distilled water.

The bathroom

Hopefully you saved that toothbrush, because you’re going to need it again. You can use a toothbrush to scrub many things, such as faucets and drains. If the culprit is soap scum, scrape it with mashed eggshells. While cleaning all that, you may notice your reflection looks blurry in the mirror. Pour one part rubbing alcohol, one part white vinegar and two parts distilled water into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your mirror and wipe it off with a cloth. Once you have the surface areas looking shiny and new, it’s time to dig deeper. If your drains are clogged, pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down them and let it fizz. After ten minutes, wash it down with some boiling water. While you have it out, fill a quart-sized bag with some white vinegar and tie it around your showerhead. Let it soak overnight, then remove it in the morning. Grab some dirty towels and throw them in the washing machine with your plastic shower curtain or liner and some detergent. The towels will scrub the shower curtain clean. Hang it back in its normal spot to dry.

The laundry room

The washing machine may be used to wash other things, but sometimes it needs to be washed, too. Set the washing machine on the hottest, longest setting. Fill it with water and add one quart of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Run the cycle once, then run it again with plain water to rinse. This can work for front-loading machines, too. Just put the vinegar and baking soda in the detergent drawer. Make sure it doesn’t overflow. Before you close the door and move on to the next room, mix one cup of bleach and two cups of warm water. Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe down the door.

The bedroom

We’re not done with the washing machine just yet, though. Did you know you can wash your pillows in it? Place pillows in the washing machine and use a gentle cycle. After that, fluff the pillows in the dryer on low with some clean tennis balls. If your pillows are made of foam, though, skip the machine and handwash them. Spritz your mattress with vodka twice a year to absorb bad smells. An alternative is to sprinkle baking soda on it, then vacuum it up after letting it sit for an hour or two.

The other rooms

These tips apply to surfaces you’ll find in almost every room. To get rid of dust, wipe it away with a damp cloth soaked in water and a tiny drop of soap. If you use a dry duster, you’ll just be rearranging the dust. A lint roller can get dust off of cloth lampshades. Run a pillowcase over your fan blades to trap dust so it doesn’t fall to the floor. Speaking of the floor, after all the dust is taken care of, it’s time to clean it. Cover any carpet stains in a pile of salt, leave it for around three days, then vacuum it up. What about hardwood flooring? If you see any scratches, soften a crayon that matches the wood stain in the microwave, rub it into the scratch and scrape off remaining wax with a credit card. Last but not least, don’t forget your windows. Mix eight parts water and one part white vinegar in a spray bottle, spray your windows and wipe them off with a coffee filter. Now that the windows are clean, there’s only one thing left to do: enjoy the view outside your home as the world bursts into spring.

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