From floor grout to HVAC vents, here are 7 often-overlooked parts of your abode that could use a good scrubbing or dusting this season while you engage in the yearly ritual of spring cleaning (…just when you thought you were done with house cleaning).
We’re all spending a lot of time at home right now. Like, a lot. That means not only are our houses and apartments getting dirtier quicker, but that we’re noticing more the parts that we may not have been paying enough attention to lately. Ever hear the adage “a day without cleaning is a day without meaning?”
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When you tackle spring cleaning, be sure to carve in some time daily to check off these mini-projects that we’re prone to forget:
1. Kitchen Cabinets
Rosa Nogales-Hernandez, head of home cleaning at Valet Living, a full-service amenities provider to the multifamily housing industry based in Tampa, Florida, suggests tackling these from the inside out. Donate or recycle items you don’t need and dispose of any ingredients that are expired; once the cabinets are empty, vacuum them out with the handheld hose and then wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth. For hard-to-reach surfaces above cabinets attach a microfiber cloth to a Swiffer Mop with an extension rather than standing on a chair.
Check to make sure any products you use on the surface of the cabinets don’t contain ingredients that will harm the finish; while you may be able to use all-purpose cleaners on synthetic materials, a gentler product like Bona Cabinet Cleaner Spray or Murphy’s Oil Soap Spray Wood Cleaner works better on wood.
Murphy Oil Soap Spray Wood Cleaner, $2.98 at Walmart
This gentle wood cleaner is derived mostly from plant-based ingredients.
For extra oomph, make a paste first with baking soda and water (or vinegar), gently rub onto cabinets and wipe off with a sponge. Again, spot test first to make sure it won’t harm the finish.
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No matter your best intentions, the refrigerator can get pretty grungy quickly. Nogales-Hernandez suggests working shelf by shelf starting on the top one, removing all contents on the current shelf and disposing of expired items. Wipe the bottoms of jars, cartons, bottles, and containers as you remove them, then keep them on the kitchen counter while you clean each shelf. Spray a microfiber cloth with a plant-derived disinfecting like GreenWorks Natural All-Purpose Cleaner which is safe around food surfaces, wipe the surface, and then dry with another microfiber cloth.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, 12 for $9.99 at Walmart
A washable, eco-friendly alternative to paper towels.
For stuck-on sticky spills like honey or syrup, Hunker recommends making a cleaner with citrus peels macerated in vinegar, spraying it on the stubborn offenders and letting it set for twenty minutes before wiping it off. You can also try pouring a little hot water onto the spill to melt it then wiping it with a damp paper towel. After you tackle the shelves, repeat on the doors.
Finally, remove and vacuum the vent at the bottom, and clean the outside of the fridge, using a stainless steel cleaner like this one from Weiman if applicable.
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3. HVAC Vents
Look up, look down: You may not have noticed all the dirt and dust in the slats of your heating and air-conditioning vent. It’s okay, you’re forgiven. To give them all a good cleaning, use the handheld tool or brush on a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and then wipe them down with a microfiber cloth, Nogales-Hernandez says.
For stubborn dirt that might be stuck on because of grease or grime try a cloth sprayed with a bit of all-purpose cleaner. For a more thorough cleaning you can remove the duct cover and vacuum the surrounding area, or even attempt to clean your entire air duct system instead of leaving it to the pros with these tips from Housewife How-To’s.
4. Shower Door or Curtain
For a glass shower door, Nogales-Hernandez suggests a mixture of hot water, vinegar, and Dawn Dish Soap in a spray bottle, applied with a metal sponge that won’t scratch the glass. Keep a glass shower door looking good by using a squeegee and spraying it daily after showering with Method Daily Shower Spray Cleaner.
A cloth or even plastic shower curtain can be washed in a washing machine on the gentle cycle and then hung back up to dry; throw in a washcloth or two which will add texture to help scrub off mildew.
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5. Mattress and Box Spring
Start by removing the sheets, dust ruffle, and mattress to vacuum the box spring. Then with someone else’s help, stand the mattress on its side and vacuum all sides of it using the maximum suction setting. If the mattress isn’t a pillow-top, flip it so it wears evenly.
“To upkeep your freshly-scented mattress and bed, spray them with fabric refresher during cleanings,” Nogales-Hernandez says. “It comes in many different scents…and unlike the typical air freshener it’s designed to help with fabric odors.” You can also spray it between the sheets, which she says will not only add a fresh scent but actually combat wrinkles.
6. Floor Grout
Spills and foot traffic can make the grout in your bathroom and kitchen floor prone to staining, especially if it’s lightly colored. You can either spray on a mixture of vinegar and water followed by a baking soda paste or reach for a commercial spray-on grout cleaner. Either way, let it soak in before scrubbing with a toothbrush or other small brush and then rinsing with a sponge and warm water.
To prevent grout from getting dirty in the first place, apply a sealer right after installing floor tile or after a thorough cleaning.
To shutter your fireplace for the season, first make sure all embers have been extinguished for at least 12 hours, Nogales-Hernandez says. (You can choose first to burn this Creosote Sweeping Log as your last fire of the winter, which will help clean your chimney.) Once the ashes have cooled, sprinkle damp coffee grounds on them to minimize dust.
Sweep ash or soot from the floor and walls and gently dump them into a waste bin to keep the dust from flying around. Finally, vacuum or dust the hearth area, and make sure the damper is fully closed to prevent any birds or wildlife from attempting to sneak into your chimney.
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