Spring Cleaning. It’s Spring again! It makes my heart happy just to write that. The earth is exploding with color and the dark, cold days of winter are behind us, for awhile. Spring abounds with so many exciting opportunities – from planting in the garden to walking, unbundled, on the beach or in the woods. Spring is also an opportunity for refreshment – of both the spirit and of the world around us. And there is no better place to start this Spring refreshment than the environment most near and dear to you: your home.
You can renew your surroundings easily by simply taking part in the time-honored tradition of Spring Cleaning. Did you know that “Spring Cleaning” has been a thing for more 3000 years? I know… pretty amazing, right?
Historians debate the origins of the concept. Some attribute the rite of Spring Cleaning to Iran and the practice of khaneh tekani . In Persian, this literally means “shaking the house”. This Spring Cleaning is done just before the Persian New Year, where everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning the drapes to the furniture. Other researchers date the practice to the ancient Jewish tradition of cleaning prior to Passover. Either way, it’s safe to say that people have been Spring Cleaning for a long time! So, now it’s your turn.
There’s always a lot you can do Spring Cleaning-wise. Some of the most over-looked but important tasks you can find in my previous blog: My Spring Cleaning Checklist. Today I’m adding 4 jobs to the 7 already on that chore list. I am either sorry, or you’re welcome, depending on your viewpoint. These often-overlooked tasks will be make your home sparkle even more so for the effort.
Give Your Baseboards a Scrub
If you are not in the habit of dusting your baseboards regularly, you may be very unpleasantly surprised when you tackle this task. If you do dust them, at least on occasion, the job will be easier, but is still very beneficial. The first step is to get the loose dirt off, so dust or vacuum the baseboards thoroughly. Then, simply make a cleaning solution in a small bucket. I use a small amount (less than 1/4 cup) of mild dish soap (like Dawn), 1/2-1 Cup of distilled, white vinegar and 2-4 cups of hot water. Then, use a rag (ringing out and refreshing as you go), and wipe down the baseboards. The hot water helps to loosen the grime, so, as the water cools add more hot water to the mixture. It’s that simple.
Please note that if your baseboards lack paint or varnish (in other words are raw wood) you may want to simply vacuum, as any water on untreated wood could leave a stain.
Detail Your Ceiling Fans
I live in Southern New England. When it’s hot here, it’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not really Texas hot, except for those few days a year when you’re going to a wedding and really care how your hair turns out or you have to attend an outdoor barbeque for your neighborhood association. So, for the most part, you can get by in Rhode Island without central air-conditioning. Ceiling fans, however, are a godsend for the hot days that we do have, and can even be a blessing in winter, when you can run them in reverse. Ceiling fans, unfortunately, can be a depository of the most disgusting filth imaginable – maybe because we don’t think of cleaning them often? I’m not really sure about the cause.
Anyway, Spring Cleaning these babies is a bon mot to your personal health as well as the health of your home. First, turn off the power at the wall, unless you’re looking for a free perm. Then, just as with the baseboards, get the big dust and dirt off with either a dust cloth or a vacuum attachment. Next, use the cleaning solution detailed above and a well-rung-out rag to wipe down the blades, the housing, and the glass shades. Lastly, whilst you’re up there, change out the lightbulbs so that you don’t find yourself needing to do it at a most inconvenient time.
Make Your Light Fixtures Shine
When I was getting ready to sell my house, my realtor gave me a “cleaning-before-selling checklist.” Number one on her list was “clean the light fixtures.” Yup, you got it, the light fixtures. She said that everyone wants great light when purchasing a new home, and cleaning the fixtures just ups the wattage in this department – sorry, that was an oh-so-bad pun, but it felt a little pithy none-the-less. The best way to get these fixtures to shine is to go back to the cleaning solution of the first two suggestions. You should remove the glass on ceiling-mount fixtures (turned off) and clean it thoroughly with the solution on a rung-out rag. Chandeliers can be wiped down, in a similar fashion, without being taken apart.
Sweep Out Your Fireplace
Maybe you had lots of warm, cozy fires in your fireplace this winter? Maybe you had just one? Either way, you’ll want to give your fireplace the once-over this Spring. Broom out the ash and bits of wood really well, and then get the finer bits with your vacuum. Do not, as my friend Mary tried, do this in reverse. Vacuums are not meant to pick up large amounts of ash and spent firewood, unless you are planning to replace yours in the very near future. You can, as a last step, wipe the walls down with the cleaning solution, but it’s not essential. Have fun with this one, singing Chim-Chim Cher-ee the whole time you’re doing it.
Your Upholstered Pieces
Upholstered pieces, like baseboards, should be wiped down and/or vacuumed, every time you clean. Spring Cleaning of these pieces involves a more thorough “look-see” under all the cushions, under the skirt or legs and on the back. I hate to admit it, but in the not-too-distant past, I was cleaning my loveseat in this fashion when I actually found a brick of cheese. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, my daughter Charlotte, now a full-fledge, independent adult, was snacking in the living room and forgot all about said cheese (in a plastic bag, thank God). Into the crack of the loveseat, affectionately known as the abyss, it went, only to be found by my Spring Cleaning a week later. This, my friends, is why we deep clean the upholstered pieces. You could have a Charlotte amongst you.
To accomplish this one, simply strip off the cushions, excavate the pennies (and cheese) and then vacuum your silly head off. When this is done, you can spot treat any stains with the solution we’ve been speaking of or an upholstery cleaning product. You can wipe down most leather upholstery with orange oil. I also highly recommend having a professional cleaning service steam-clean upholstered pieces (not leather) at least once a year. I love Griggs and Browne in my area, but there are lots of great service providers for this sort of thing, just be sure to Google their approval ratings before choosing one.
A Final Thought Before We Go…
Spring Cleaning may be a more than 3000 year old tradition, but it doesn’t have to take 3000 years to accomplish. The tasks above can all be accomplished in an average-sized home in less than 1/2 a day. Do it when it rains; it’s always doing that in Spring anyway. You’ll be glad you did.