Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Into Cleaning

If you're like me, the last thing you want to do when the weather starts to get warm is to stay inside and clean, but I always feel better when I finish a few key spring cleaning chores. It washes the winter out of my house, along with those stuffy, closed-up winter smells. If you don't know where to start your spring cleaning ritual, here are some ideas.

1. Start at the top. This time of year is a great time to clean your ceiling fans and light fixtures. Most light fixtures will unscrew with a basic flathead or Phillips head screwdriver. I usually suggest cleaning from the top first because dust falls as you clean, so why try to fight gravity?

2. Launder everything. Have you ever asked yourself "when was the last time I washed that?" Include washing draperies, pillows, comforters, and dust ruffles in your spring cleaning ritual. Pet-owners and smokers: you will be amazed at how washing fabrics freshens the air in your house. It's one of those old open house "staging" tricks. If you are lucky enough to get a particularly nice spring day, hang items on your clothesline. If it's too overwhelming to wash them all at home, spend a few hours taking up four or five machines at a laundromat. Or, better yet, get them dry-cleaned. Just don't forget to read the labels!

3. Shampoo the carpets. It's worth it to call a professional shampooing service because they will move the furniture and do the legwork. If you want to do it yourself, though, you can rent a shampooing machine from many supermarkets, home repair stores, or department stores. If you have pets, have kids, or smoke, think about purchasing a shampooer and doing it more often, section by section. I thought I had clean carpets until I shampooed them! Wow!

4. Get rid of expired items. Take time to look through your refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom cabinets for expired items. You may be surprised at items that have expiration dates. For example, did you know that sun block expires? So does bottled water. Feeling guilty about all the garbage? Take preventative measures: make a list of new items to buy, but only include items you actually used in the past year. Any other items can be bought or borrowed in an emergency.

5. Sort and purge before buying anything. I know, I know, all of the stores are having sales on organizing equipment. Resist the urge to buy new shelves, bins, boxes, and hangers before you actually go through your stuff. You will probably wind up buying eight bins in a sale, when you only really need four. Extra racks and bags become part of the clutter. I know it's tempting, but be