1 Make it fun! Open the windows (or at least the curtains), and put on your favorite summer beach party music. The fresh air and sunlight will give you an energy boost and you’ll accomplish more!
2 For the major work, hire out or get friends and family to help. Window washing, air-conditioner maintenance, pressure washing, organizing, upholstery cleaning, tree pruning and painting often are better left to professionals.
3 For smaller tasks, assign a day for each task. Monday, get rid of clutter. Tuesday, do laundry. Wednesday, dust from floor to ceiling. Thursday, vacuum, mop and wax. Friday, go shopping for decorative items. Use the weekend to touch up paint, replace light bulbs and do other small tasks you identify during the week.
4 If you make a list of tasks you want to accomplish, you’ll be more likely to actually do them.
5 Think vertically. Remember to clean in high places (over door trim, tops of picture frames and cobwebs on the ceilings), and don’t forget the vertical space in your home as a storage option.
6 Don’t forget the great outdoors. Spring-cleaning time is a great opportunity to prepare and organize your gardening supplies, do lawn mower maintenance and tackle yard projects. Keep a notepad in your pocket to write down items that need to be purchased.
7 Glass cleaner and newsprint are great for cleaning windows without leaving streaks.
8 Take leftover firewood out of the house and store it in a covered area in the yard.
9 To remove candle wax from table linens, scrape off excess wax with the back of a butter knife or a spoon. Cover the waxy area with paper towels and then apply some heat—an iron will melt the wax and the paper towels will pull it from the fabric.
10 To remove chocolate stains, pre-treat with a liquid laundry detergent or soak fabric in warm water and a detergent that contains enzymes. Difficult stains may require using bleach that is safe for the fabric.
11 To keep a wedding gown beautiful for years to come, have it cleaned within a few weeks of the nuptials. The longer stains and soil are left on your dress, the greater the probability of them becoming permanent. Take the gown to a preservation specialist or a specially trained dry cleaner.
12 To remove light grease stains, pre-treat with a spray stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or liquid dish soap. Launder in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Place heavy stains face down on clean paper towels and apply a pre-treat to the back of the stain. Replace the towels frequently. Let the fabric air dry, and rinse under running water. Finally, launder again in the hottest water safe for the fabric.
13 If working in the garden leaves stains on your clothes, follow these steps to remove the green. Pre-treat and launder the soiled garments as soon as you get inside for best results. If the stain still isn’t removed, don’t dry it—that sets the stain. Instead, try soaking the stain in a solution of liquid detergent and water then launder again.
14 To remove sauce stains, scrape off any excess sauce with the back of a butter knife or a spoon, and run the fabric under cold water. Soak your garment in warm water with detergent or color-safe bleach that contains enzymes. Wash the garment in the warmest water you can; remember to read the care tags.
15 Use specially formulated cleaners to clean your deck. The most common ones found contain sodium hypochlorite (bleach), sodium hydroxide or oxalic acid. Sodium hypochlorite is good for getting rid of mildew, but not for removing an old stain. Sodium hydroxide can break down and remove old deck stains, paint and oils. Oxalic acid is used primarily to clean redwood and cedar and to brighten other types of wood. (Do not use undiluted bleach on decks.)
16 To make a simple cleaning solution for siding, gutters, deck, fences and other outdoor surfaces, mix the following in a five-gallon bucket: 3 gallons of water, 1 gallon of bleach, 1 cup of laundry detergent and 2 tablespoons of tri-sodium phosphate. Spray the mixture on, wait 15 minutes and rinse off.
17 A great solution for general cleanup: Mix 2 teaspoons of borax and 5 cups of hot water. Add 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid and 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.
18 Clean with vinegar on its own or diluted with water. Add essential oils to the mix to mask the strong odor of vinegar.
19 Sprinkle baking soda on hard-to-clean surfaces and dishes. Mist with water and wait a couple of minutes before cleaning as usual.
20 To clean a plastic cutting board, sprinkle salt on the board, cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the board. Scrub clean, using warm water to rinse off the mixture.
21 Lightly sand wooden cutting boards every month or so, depending on use. Rub a small amount of olive oil into the board. Never immerse in water.
22 To make faucets shine, put a couple of drops of olive oil on a dry rag. Spray the faucet with club soda and wipe dry with the rag. It will show spots less, too!
23 Spring is the best time to perform a thorough inspection of your home, since spring follows the winter weather that can so often be the cause of wear and tear on a home. Do it now, with the help of a professional, before summer vacations, summer visitors and summer heat sets in.
24 Use a neighbor’s upper-floor window to inspect hard-to-view areas of your roof from the outside. Things to look for include missing, cracked or curling shingles; flashing at dormers; and problems in valleys, skylights and plumbing stacks. Check the underside of the roof from the attic for water spots. If you see any damage from the exterior or notice signs of leaks from the inside, call a roofer immediately.
25 To reduce moisture problems, check your gutters, downspouts, extensions and splash blocks when it’s raining. Look for leaks, rusted spots, loose areas and disconnected downspouts. Clean out any leaves and pine straw so gutters won’t get clogged. Make sure water flows away from the house.
26 While you’re looking at the gutters, inspect soffits for signs of cracked or peeling paint. This could indicate a moisture problem, which could lead to rot, mildew and fungus. Call a contractor to repaint or replace damaged soffits.
27 The attic space should be inspected for rot. Check to make sure the insulation is not wet. Make sure there is proper ventilation and that vents are not obstructed. Vents at the eaves often are plugged with insulation. Plus, birds often build nests in these vents. Watch for evidence of squirrels, raccoons and other pests.
28 Check the operation of attic fans and roof-mounted turbine vents. Attic fans run on little energy and can greatly reduce summer cooling costs.
29 Check your walls. Masonry should be checked for deteriorated brick and mortar. Stucco should be inspected for cracking and separating. Wood should be checked for rot, loose or damaged boards, caulking and wood/soil contact. Siding should be inspected for damage. Look at the paint and see if it is blistering or bubbling.
30 Look for evidence of deterioration, dampness and movement on foundation walls. Fill cracks and voids and then monitor the movement. Cracking due to settlement also should be noted and monitored. If you see dramatic changes, call your contractor.
31 The hot Georgia sun and intense heat take their toll on wooden decks. Walk around your deck and make sure the floor, railings, steps and stairs feel solid and are secure. Look carefully for rot and insect infestation. For maximum preservation, decks should be scrubbed and sealed, stained or painted.
32 Trim shrubs and trees so that they clear the foundation, exterior walls and roof of the house. Shrubbery that’s too close to the house can promote mildew, mold and algae, particularly during warmer weather. Make sure shrubs clear the HVAC units.
33 Be sure to have your air-conditioning units cleaned and serviced now. You don’t want to try to get air-conditioning repair service during the year’s first big heat wave—you will have to wait and you may end up paying a higher price.
34 If you have old-fashioned, single-paned windows, check the condition of the glazing. Glazing dries out, becomes brittle and breaks away from the glass over a period of time. Remove and replace old glazing where needed.
35 If you have double-paned windows and they appear foggy, the seal likely is broken and the unit may need to be replaced.
36 If you hook up the hose, turn on the faucet and get no water, check for insects and debris that may have become lodged in the hose over the winter. If you have a shutoff valve, usually found in a heated area, turn the valve back on to be ready for that car wash and other outside needs.
37 To replace a slat in a blind, leave the blind installed in window, in the down/closed position. Remove the plastic plugs underneath bottom rail and cut off the retaining knots, pulling the cord up through the rail and slats until the damaged slat is free. Leave the ladder cord intact. Next, slide the damaged slats out of the ladder cords and reinsert newly purchased slats. Thread the pull-cords back through the slats and bottom rail, securing with the new knots. Replace the plastic plugs and adjust the level if necessary.