By Jane Lucas
As winter starts to fade away, or at least we’re beginning to start feeling hopeful about what’s to come once it truly does, our minds often turn to the big spring clean. After the dark, sometimes more dismal dullness of winter, it can be incredibly cathartic to have a really great deep clean of our homes to get them ready for the spring and the new life that it brings with it.
The problem is that, although this deep clean is something we generally do carry out - like switching winter curtains for summer ones, or maybe changing our blankets for thinner ones - there are still areas that go unnoticed and missed that could definitely benefit from a deep clean this spring. Read on to find out what they are and how you can go about ensuring you include them in your spring cleaning routine.
If you have a dishwasher, you might not consider it at all when it comes to cleaning, apart from, perhaps, wiping down the door once in a while. After all, the entire point of a dishwasher is that it cleans, so it should make the insides sparkling all the time, shouldn’t it? That logic does make sense, until you consider exactly how dishwashers work; they clean the items inside them, but in doing so, they wash away all the dirt and grime and food particles, many of which get stuck in the filter or at the bottom of the dishwasher itself. Every time you use it, your dishes are being cleaned... along with old bits of food, and bacteria can be covering everything. On top of this, fungi can grow in the dishwasher as it is a damp, dark space with plenty for the fungi to eat.
As you can see, it would be good to include your dishwasher on your spring cleaning schedule (and every month going forward to ensure it is entirely clean). The best way to clean your dishwasher is to run it on a full cycle when it’s empty. Clean out the filter first, and then use the hottest setting you have, and rather than including any cleaning solution or tablets, use a cup of vinegar instead. Also, sprinkle some baking soda inside before you run it. It will look amazing when it’s done.
If you have ceiling fans, you’ll know how much you rely on them, but if you use them a lot, you might not think about them at all when it comes to cleaning; they’re just there, useful – essential in some cases – but unremarkable and unnoticed. This is why they can so easily be forgotten when you are carrying out your spring clean and creating a list of everything that needs to be done.
Ceiling fans do need to be cleaned, however, as they collect a lot of dust. Like anything inanimate gets dusty when left untouched, as well as the fact that it also spins when in use, it also deposits that dust all around the room, meaning that anyone who is in that room will be breathing in those tiny particles. They probably won’t even notice it’s happening, but it most certainly is, and it can be bad for your health, especially if you have a lung condition or breathing problems like asthma or allergies.
You’ll want to include your ceiling fan in your cleaning schedule. Remember to take care when you do, however, as you’ll need to stand on a stepladder to get to the blades. To clean a ceiling fan, you’ll need a pillowcase (and you might want to wear a face mask too, just in case the dust escapes). Slip the pillowcase over each blade and pull gently towards you; this will remove the dust but keep it contained so that it doesn’t make the entire room dusty and give you more work to do. Once the dust is removed, you can wipe the blade down with a damp cloth.
This is the kind of job that, once it’s done, you’ll be glad you did it, but before it’s done, you’ll wonder whether it’s worth all the effort. We can tell you now; it is. You’ll need to take everything out of the fridge and freezer before you can start this job if you’re going to do it properly, so the best time to do it will be just before your next trip to the grocery store since there will be fewer items inside. Throw away anything that you can’t eat – anything out of date or unidentifiable – and put everything else into a cool bag or box so that it doesn’t perish. You’ll want to move quickly on this job, particularly when it comes to the freezer, but you don’t want to rush either as you’ll only have to do it again sooner than you would if you did it properly the first time.
Wipe down every shelf, all the walls, all the containers, even the rubber seals (food can get trapped here), and once it’s clean the fridge or freezer door will close more easily. Use a mix of water and vinegar to cut through any greasy spills and to kill off any lingering bacteria. Try not to use bleach if you can help it; it will do a good job and can be used in place of vinegar if need be, but it’s best not to use it near food products if possible.
If there is a lot of ice in the freezer and it needs to be defrosted before you can clean it, you’ll have to factor in this extra time. Leave the door open and let the ice melt on its own (into a container). To speed things up, you can leave a fan running by the open door, but do be wary of mixing water and electricity.
You probably make your bed every day. You possibly change your sheets once a week (give or take), but when was the last time you cleaned your mattress? Could it be that you’ve never done it? This might well be the case. Mattresses, despite being something we use every night and for hours at a time, are often ignored, but they do get extremely dirty. Dust mites can live there quite happily, for example, not to mention sweat and so on soaking through every night.
If your mattress is quite old, and certainly if it’s more than seven years old, then rather than cleaning it, you are probably best to buy a new one. Today’s mattress technology means that modern mattresses are designed even better than old ones, and the difference a good mattress will make to your life will be incredible. Start by checking out a review of mattresses like Puffy and others.
If, however, there is still life in your mattress (or if you want to extend the life of the new one you have bought, like the best flippable bed-in-a-box air foam mattress), you will need to clean it during your annual spring clean, and two or three more times throughout the year. To do so, sprinkle baking soda over the bare mattress and leave it for an hour. Then use your vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda, and it will lift off the grime with it.
Your washing machine is yet another appliance that you use at least once a week and probably more but that is easily forgotten when it comes to cleaning, possibly because, as with your dishwasher, it has a self-cleaning vibe to it.
Yet, as with the dishwasher, bacteria and muck can be left behind, and the longer it goes between a thorough clean, the worse it will become. If you’ve ever caught a nasty odor coming from your washing machine, this will be why. Just pull back the door seal, and you’ll potentially find a layer of mold in the worst cases, and plenty of dirty lint otherwise.
Wipe around the entire unit with a clean cloth doused in a mixture of vinegar and water, and make sure you get into the folds of the rubber seals as this is where the worst of the problem is going to be found. Don’t forget the dispenser drawer too. Once that’s done, run the washing machine on the hottest cycle you have after putting two cups of vinegar into the dispenser drawer. A little tip when it comes to keeping the washing machine smelling fresher in between cleans is to leave the door open a little, if it’s safe to do so (pet and small children might make this a bad idea).
The oven is perhaps something we are more aware of as we can see when it becomes dirty, and when more than a quick wipe over with cleaning chemicals and a cloth is going to be required. The problem is, by that tim, the grease and grime are so baked on that the job becomes much more of a chore, and it gets put off even longer, becoming harder with every passing meal cooked.
You can get an expert in to do the job for you, and the result is sure to be an impressive one. However, if you want to save yourself some money, there are ways you can do it yourself. If you need to clean the burners, for example, put them into an ammonia-filled freezer bag and leave it outside overnight. You don’t need enough ammonia to cover the burner, just a tablespoon or two is fine. In the morning, the grease will be easier to remove (remember to wear gloves when handling the burners though, and never mix ammonia with anything else).
For the oven itself, mix baking soda, lemon juice, dish soap, and vinegar. Spread this paste around the oven and leave it for a few hours, after which you can wipe away the dirt with a sponge.