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Time to get ready for spring cleaning

Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer

It isn’t spring yet, but it’s coming and so is the cleaning, an American tradition if there ever was one. As a bachelor edging into senility, this writer is hardly an expert on the subject of cleaning anything, not to mention a whole house. So like many of the inept and ill-informed, he turned to that modern omnibus of information, the Internet. You could do the same thing, but as a service, here is a digest of several batches of advice for spring cleaning, all from Internet experts. And it isn’t political, so you can be fairly sure it’s accurate.

First off, Rome wasn’t erected over a weekend, and spring cleaning doesn’t have to be done in one day. Some experts suggest making a timeline (fashionable word these days) for it all. Day one, the kitchen, day two the living room, day three the bathroom and so on.

That doesn’t mean you’ll be spending a whole day on one room. Knock it off in half a day and you can spend the other half looking through seed catalogs and dreaming of a green garden. All it means is breaking the task into small pieces so it won’t loom so large and daunting.

Start-off ideas:

• Wear comfortable, old jeans that have seen duty and can take a little dirt. That old college sweatshirt will do fine.

• See what cleaning supplies you have on hand. If not, lay them in – everything from oven cleaner (if you have a self-cleaning oven, give yourself points and take a break) to baking soda. Put the supplies in a bucket or a handy-carry. Add rags, paper towels, furniture polish and glass cleaner. (Ammonia, mixed with water and detergent is a homemade substitute for commercial stuff. And the myth about cleaning windows with old newspapers is just that. Instead, use a squeegee and paper towels.)

Important: Take a couple of garbage bags along. Use one for garbage and one for stuff to get rid of that you find along the way. We’ve all got too many unneeded things around that perhaps others could use.

Whistle while you work is a cleaning mantra, but a soft FM music station can substitute. Dance along with the music, but don’t let it slow you down. No TV, and turn off the phone. They can call back later.

Follow your timeline. Do a room and call it a job well done. There’s always tomorrow.

And open up the house. Windows, doors – throw them open and let the fresh air in after a winter of tightly closed home (to keep heating costs down), get rid of the old smell for a fresh scent.

During cleaning

• Put away everything you don’t use. Less junk makes dusting easier.

• Remember that second garbage bag? Gather the superfluous items and give them to FISH., or sell them at a yard sale.

• Work around the room in one direction, either left or right. Then there won’t be any time wasted in criss-crossing the room or vacuuming that same spot twice.

• Clear things off. In the living room this means putting away books and tossing old magazines. Remove items tucked under the bed. In the kitchen, take everything off counters. In the bathroom, clear away flower holders, magazines and waste baskets. Take down the shower curtain and liner for laundering.

• Don rubber gloves. It is worth wearing them to protect your skin from the harshness of hot water and drying chemicals.

After cleaning

• When things are nice and clean, put some of the things back where they were. But consider each item: Do you really want it on display? If keeping items, shift positions so you get a fresh look.

• Art pictures. It’s a cliché in the decorating world that pictures hanging in the same place for a long time become invisible. Move ’em around, using the new laser levels to align them nicely.

• The only needed appliances on kitchen counters are the ones you use daily. Stash anything else in the garage. Cook books you rarely use you can discard. You don’t need them. Watch the Nevada Appeal for recipes to try instead.

Strategies for each room

Here are some spring cleaning guide lists:

For the living room

• Dust and vacuum corners and crevices from high points to low. Dust falls downward so you want to clean from the top to the bottom.

• Vacuum furniture, lampshades and pictures. Remember all those gadgets that come with your vacuum cleaner? Use them.

• Vacuum or wash curtains.

• Dust wood furniture. Use those little sheets of anti-static chemicals you toss in the clothes dryer after they’ve done the laundry job. They pick up dust just fine.

• Dust mop floors.

• Vacuum carpet.

• Take plants to the patio for a gentle bath with a fine spray from the hose. Plants and their pots get dusty over the winter. Also clean up where the plants were resting.

Bedrooms

• Wash or dry-clean curtains. Drapes may need to go to the dry cleaner.

• Take blinds outside and wash them with a mild ammonia solution. Rinse with the hose.

• Strip the bed and dust ruffle.

• You may need help here. Vacuum your mattress and box spring. Turn it over and rotate the mattress, then put on new sheets. Keeps the mattress from sagging.

• Polish wood furniture and dust knickknacks.

• Vacuum every place – behind and under the bed, lampshade and pictures.

• Clean mirrors and wipe down light fixtures and lamps.

Kitchen

• Spray your oven with cleaner the night before cleaning the kitchen. Makes it easy to sponge off the grease and grime.

• Microwave cleaning tip from the Internet: Fill a paper cup with water and a few tablespoons of baking soda. Nuke it for about 30 seconds, or until you see the contents explode. Then just take a paper towel and wipe it off. The explosion spreads the cleanser over the entire area, and you can even use the moistened rag or paper towel to wipe outside the microwave and its surrounding area.

• Vacuum stove vents, refrigerator coils, floor and counters.

• Defrost the freezer. A hair drier aimed at the ice will speed up the process. Get rid of things you thought you’d like to cook but never did.

• Clean the inside of freezer and fridge with a mix of three tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water.

• Clean outside of fridge with glass cleaner.

• Clean counters, appliances and stove top with an all-purpose glass cleaner or the baking soda solution.

• Wash out the garbage can and spray it with a strong disinfectant before putting in a new lining. (Leave it outside the kitchen for the next step.)

• For linoleum floors, spray a foaming tile cleaner and take a five-minute break. When (or if) you come back, just sponge mop the floor.

Bathrooms

• Spray shower and tub with strong cleanser.

• Pour a mix of baking soda and vinegar into the toilet bowl. Let the chemicals do the cleaning while you do the next steps.

• Clean mirrors, chrome, bathroom scale, and light fixtures with glass cleaner. (See how much money you saved by mixing your own glass cleaner?)

• Vacuum everything. This will get dust and hair that is so hard to pick up when surfaces are wet.

• Clean the wastepaper basket.

• Scrub the sink and wipe off the cleanser you already applied to the shower and tub.

• Working from the top of the toilet down, clean the outside, and brush and flush the inside.

• Scrub the floor with a powerful cleanser. Tile floors can be easily cleaned by hand with the scrub-brush side of a bathroom-only sponge.

• One more tip: Spaghetti mops are more efficient at getting into tough corners than sponge mops.

Got all that? Sounds a little overwhelming? Don’t have time to spare? Call a maid service and make a lunch or movie date instead.

— Contact Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.