Come on, get up. You've been tucked in here all winter, wrapped up in the same unwashed blanket staring at the television. Look at this place; it's gotten a little dingy, hasn't it? The stale odors alone are reason enough to get motivated to clean, not to mention the pet hair that's built up and the generalized deep funk that's settled over your house.
There's no need for further discussion; yes, you've swept and tidied up here or there, and the dead of winter's no time for doing much more around the house than that. But if you'll notice, there are buds beginning to sprout on trees outside and the sun's beginning to creep up earlier and stay around longer. Spring's coming and it's high time that you give your house a thorough spring cleaning.
Before you get started, though, take a quick inventory of what you'll need to clean. We've included some ideas for essential spring cleaning tools to help get you started.
5. Hand Duster
While it's true there are plenty of spray furniture polishes that put the smack down on dust, using too much can lead to a waxy build-up. Even worse, when sprayed directly onto wood furniture, some of the ingredients in aerosol dusting sprays can eventually damage the finish [source: Williams]. Liquid and semi-solid furniture polishes work and it's a good idea to keep some around the house for polishing from time to time, but they shouldn't be routinely used for dusting.
Instead, opt for a good feather duster during your spring cleaning to get the light particulate matter that's accumulated over the winter. If you can, spring for a feather duster made from natural materials. Ostrich feathers have a broad surface area and are finely woven, so they trap dust particles and hold onto them until shaken out. Lambswool is another great material for dusting; they, too, trap particles but don't create an electrostatic charge. You can get a good lambswool or ostrich feather duster for less than $10 [source: All Dusters].
4. Rubber Gloves
It's easy to overlook or avoid; putting on a pair of thick, hot gloves is not something most people go out of their way to do. It's a lot easier to just get to cleaning. These days, rubber gloves have gone much the way of the dinosaur.
When spring cleaning, though, it's a good idea to shell out the extra few bucks when you're stocking up on cleaning supplies at the store and don rubber gloves when cleaning. This holds especially true when you opt to go with strong chemical cleansers over green cleaners. Chemicals used in spring cleaning like bleach can irritate the skin, and gloves not only protect your hands from drying and cracking, they also provide a barrier from germs -- a good idea when giving the toilet a springtime shine.
3. A Good Mop
Sure, you've got one already. Check it out before you go to town on your floors; you may just spread dirt around. Is your mop a little too grimy? Are there dog hairs from the last holiday season stuck to it? Does it smell? Perhaps it's time to go ahead and get another mop head.
It might also be worth considering ditching a pattern of purchasing the cheapest mop available and invest in one with a little extra oomph. Look into microfiber mops, which use reusable microfiber cloth pads that can be soaked in a cleaning solution prior to use and dropped into a separate bin when soiled. Using several mop heads -- which can be tossed in the laundry after you're done cleaning -- means the mop head is never returned to the cleaning solution for another soaking. This prevents cross-contamination and the maddening circle of squeezing dirty mop water back into the bucket, only to spread it around again on the very floor you're trying to clean. Hospitals use them: enough said.
You know those little tools that look like windshield wipers found around the pumps at gas stations? They're useful not only on your windshield, but around your house during spring cleaning time, as well. Concerning yourself with streaky windows is a thing of the past with a squeegee, which hugs glass surfaces closely enough that no moisture remains after a pass. Squeegees also don't require spray glass cleansers, although you can use them together.
The all high authority on spring cleaning, Martha Stewart, suggests using a squeegee with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water to clean windows and mirrors. Drop sponge into the solution and wet the glass with it. From a top corner, pull the squeegee downward to the windowsill or bottom of the mirror and wipe the tool down with the sponge. Continue like this, overlapping over the last pass with each new one [source: Martha Stewart Living]. Presto, the cleanest windows and mirrors you've ever had.
You know that ad for bleach wipes where the woman wipes down her kitchen countertops with a raw chicken? It's a dig at using sponges, and it's not too far off. Using dingy old sponges for spring cleaning is gross at best and actually spreads bacteria at worst. Still, it's tough to beat a sponge for getting surfaces sparkling clean.
Since they're cheap, it's not a bad idea to stock up on a few good sponges before getting to work on spring cleaning your house. If you do, check out some of the newer versions on the market. Products like eco-sponges use friction instead of cleansers, using just water rather than harsh sprays [source: Daily Green].
It's pretty environmentally unfriendly (and kind of expensive) to just toss a sponge after one use. Fortunately, to combat spreading bacteria, you don't have to resort to this measure. Old sponges can be refreshed; microwaving them between cleanings on High for a minute kills germs, as does tossing them in the washing machine with chlorine bleach.
Lots More Information
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- How green are household cleaners?
- How Spring Cleaning Works
- Why do we traditionally clean our homes at the beginning of spring?
- Does it do any good to air out rugs and mattresses outside?
More Great Links
- Reichert, Leslie. "The tools you'll need for green spring cleaning." The Daily Green. February 19, 2009. http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/eco-friendly/green-cleaning-products-tools-460209
- Ryno, Tanya. "16 basic products (and tools) you need to clean everything in your house." DIY Life. October 25, 2007. http://www.diylife.com/2007/10/25/16-basic-products-and-tools-you-need-to-clean-everything-in-yo/
- Smallin, Donna. "Your toughest cleaning questions answered." MSN Lifestyle. Accessed March 7, 2009. http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-home/cleaning-organizing/articletkt.aspx?cp-documentid=8317182
- Williams, Donald C. "The problem with furniture polishes." Accessed March 7, 2009. http://alsnetbiz.com/homeimprovement/info5.html
- "Chlorine." Wisconsin Department of Health Services. March 2000. http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/chemfs/fs/chlorine.htm
- "Feather dusters, ostrich feather dusters and lambswool dusters." All Dusters. Accessed March 7, 2009. http://www.alldusters.com/
- "Spring cleaning checklist." Martha Stewart Living. April 2007. http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2007Q2/la_0407_spring_cleaning.pdf
- "10 reasons to use microfiber mopping." The Sustainable Hospitals Project. Accessed March 7, 2009. http://www.sustainablehospitals.org/PDF/tenreasonsmop.pdf