It's spring cleaning time! Get the kids involved
Our house is destroyed during spring cleaning. The closets are emptied, under the beds are cleared, and all the "junk" drawers are removed and dumped. When it's complete, our house smells better and feels ready to open up to the warm weather and sunny days ahead.
As the scrubbing bubble-head of the house, I have two main jobs. One -- do the first round of spring cleaning and stuff removal (think closets, junk drawers and under beds) and two -- find and list jobs for the kids and the husband. (Think he will be a little less than excited to help? Pick up some tips on to get a man to do housework here.) It's important to choose tasks for them that they can do well, so that you won't need to do them over again.
Spring cleaning jobs for kids
Great choices for kids include jobs that involve moving things (getting all the cushions of the couches, rugs outside, picking up all the outside toys), sweeping, dusting, vacuuming -- and even polishing things. The man of the house gets the heavy housekeeping work -- and anything having to do with spiders. He'll move the furniture, flip the mattresses and help remove and replace the light fixtures.
So gather your cleaning supplies, including toothbrushes, rags and vacuum attachments and start scrubbing -- it's spring cleaning time!
Start at the top
Becki Harrold, 25-year housecleaning veteran who cleans with Miracle Workers Inc, in Grants Pass, Oregon, says it's best to clean "from top to bottom." This way, everything that you've cleaned off the ceiling and walls falls to the floor and can be removed as the last step in your Spring Cleaning Blitz.
She also says that to clean white (and only white) walls and ceilings, you might try a mixture of bleach and water -- a half-cup of bleach to a bucket of water.
Here are some other tips to make cleaning a breeze:
Give them a bath
Your washing machine just not big enough for some stuff? Use your bathtub to clean washable window blinds, curtains, fixtures, duvets, screens and washable rugs. You can also dust off your houseplants (real and faux) in the shower. Your real plants will love the water, and clean leaves will allow them to better soak up the sun.
Dust the area around the window before starting. Don't clean a window in the direct sun. Get a nice squeegee -- it'll make your job faster, easier and it'll last. Use a solution of white vinegar (one-half cup for bucket of water) and water to clean windows, glasses and refrigerator shelves.
Don't like the smell of vinegar? Club soda is also good for cleaning glass. Tough to clean spots usually come off with some rubbing alcohol. If you don't have a squeegee, use crumpled newspaper to dry and polish the windows.
If you've got scuff marks or crayon drawings on your walls -- but not wood, semi-gloss or glossy painted surfaces -- a little TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) in a bucket of water will get them clean. You can find it at your local hardware store.
And while they're not good for kids to use, lots of women swear by the "Magic Eraser" sponges to get fingerprints, crayons and other smudges off walls. (See one mom's Mr Clean Magic Eraser review here!!)
Of course you need to pay attention to the manufacturer's label on your clothing, but in general, these homemade stain removers should help.
- Blood stains can be removed by applying cornstarch or hydrogen peroxide.
- Let mud stains dry. Brush to remove the soil. Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse with water then let stand for several minutes.
- Rings around the collars of shirts can be cleaned with a little shampoo (designed to eliminate body oils) and some elbow grease.
- Get more tips in our article, Stain removal smarts: How to get stains out of your clothes.
More simple spring cleaning tips
- Marble stains can be rubbed out with salt or fresh lemon juice -- just don't scrub too hard. Then rinse the surface with soap and water. Note: Don't use vinegar on marble.
- Grimy, sticky cabinets and other surfaces: Use a solution of Simple Green or Clear Magic to get rid of the stickies. Combine half a gallon of water with one ounce of cleaner, and apply with a sponge.
- Messy BBQ: When you've finished this year's round of spring cleaning, why not reward yourself with a barbecue dinner outside? And if that grill's dirty, heat it up and clean it with some crumpled aluminum foil held with tongs!
- Wash doorknobs on all the doors in your house with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. (Think about all the hands touching those knobs... so do this regularly -- not just at spring cleaning time!)
- Shower curtain cleaning: Have a fabric shower curtain in the bathroom? Take it down to launder once a year. When putting it back up, make sure it has a clean shower curtain liner.
- Ceramic tile cleaner: Combine 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup ammonia and 1/4 cup baking soda with 4 cups of warm water. Store this solution in a spray bottle to make it easy to use to clean your tile.