Butler County Times Gazette
  • Through the Front Door: Spring cleaning time!

  • This is the perfect time to rid our world of the grit and grime winter left behind
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  • Spring Clean!
    Well, it is time to tiptoe through the tulips! Wahoo—spring is making its shining way into our lives. This is the perfect time to rid our world of the grit and grime winter left behind. So get out the rubber gloves and the vacuums, get into action with some good old elbow grease and let’s clean!
    Not sure where to start? Don’t worry: I have a “honey-do” list for you along with your very own “you-do” list.
    Start with Your Boxes
    As you’ve heard me say, your rooms are like boxes for displaying your possessions. To start your spring cleaning, you’ll start with the boxes: walls and wall hangings, ceilings and floors. I suggest starting at the ceiling and moving to the floor. I have found my fair share of cobwebs at the ceiling line. If you have crown molding, this is the perfect time to use the extended Swiffer for these areas. Moving down the wall, give your artwork a good cleaning! Certainly give the frames a good dusting and clean the glass of framed art. As for any oil paintings, a light-handed feather dusting will do the trick.
    Now, down to the floor. First, a damp cloth does the trick to wipe down baseboards. To prevent blisters on my knees, wear soccer knee pads! This is the best time to give area rugs a really good vacuuming. If possible, move them to clean underneath, and rotate your area rugs for consistent wear. Consider having the carpets cleaned, either on your own with a rented machine or by a professional (check for coupons). This top-to-bottom plan of attack works for all rooms.
    Focus on Furniture
    Now, let’s start with the contents of your boxes, er, rooms. Sofas and chairs could use a good cleaning. Remove cushions and vacuum under them. Vacuum the cushions and upholstery, and then plump and flip the cushions when you put them back. (Actually, I think you should vacuum under cushions at least once a month—take yourself out for coffee with the money you find, gorgeous!) This is a great time to add some new decorative pillows and a throw.
    Bed Check
    While on the subject of soft items, this is the perfect time to flip and rotate your mattress and vacuum the box springs. Take a peek at the manufacturer’s recommendations for details. Wash the mattress pad as well. This is the ideal time to wash the bed pillows to eliminate allergens and dust mites. When laundering pillows keep the following in mind:
    •    Read the tag on the pillows for specific care and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Yes, this is why it says, “Under penalty of law this tag not to removed except by the consumer!” Follow the instructions on the tag—if it’s still in place.
    Page 2 of 5 - •    If the tag is gone, wash pillows in hot water on the delicate cycle. Wash two pillows at a time to keep the washing machine in balance rather than dancing across the laundry room.
    •    Regular detergent is perfect!
    •    Run an extra rinse or even two to make sure all the soap is removed.
    •    Run the pillows through an extra spin cycle to eliminate as much water as possible.
    •    Put the pillows in the dryer with several clean tennis balls. This little trick helps speed the drying, squeezes out more water and fluffs the pillows. (This tennis ball tips works on comforters, mattress pads and ski jackets, too!)
    •    Continually check pillows for dryness; run the dryer until they are completely dry.
    •    If necessary, set the pillows out in the sun for a few hours to finish the drying process—but keep a close eye on them. If someone in your family has seasonal allergies, place them in a sunny area inside as putting them outside will just load them with pollen.
    Spring is the ideal time to undress your bed and store the heavy quilts and blankets for the season. Body oils actually attract moths and insects, so be sure to store your bedding in airtight boxes or vacuum-sealed storage bags. Add some luscious rose or cedar sachets for some additional fragrance. Next fall, you will thank yourself for your thoughtfulness.
    Lighten the appearance and feel by adding lighter-weight cotton blankets and maybe a coverlet instead of a quilt. Contemplate adding a fresh, bright bed skirt if that strikes your fancy. (If the skirt is too long, just move it into the proper position and safety pin it to the box springs.)
    Buff Up the Bathroom
    Give your bathroom a thorough cleaning, starting with the shower curtain. Follow the washing instructions on the curtain and liner—or opt for replacements if they are old and icky. A new shower curtain may be in order to brighten the room! As I’ve mentioned, try using two rather than one for a much fuller look. If your bathroom hardware is looking a bit sad, first wipe it down with a wet cloth then vinegar. Next, soak a cloth or paper towel with vinegar and wrap it around the faucet. In about an hour, remove the cloth or paper towel and give the hardware a good polishing with a clean cloth. Brilliant!
    A Careful Kitchen Cleaning
    Now is the time to get the kitchen organized. Empty out the refrigerator, remove all those fridge magnets and artwork, then do a thorough cleaning, inside and out. Wipe down any sticky condiment jars and toss anything past its prime. Everything will be bright and shiny the next time you open the door!
    Page 3 of 5 - Go through your food pantry and dispose of out-of-date canned goods, cake mixes and spices…you know the drill. (How sad, the amount of food we toss!) Clean the flatware drawer and wash the tray. Have you ever thought about this: How in the world does this thing get so dirty, when you are putting clean silverware into it? It’s a real mystery! Maybe splurge on some new shelf paper. To celebrate, place a set of daffodil yellow juice glasses on a newly papered shelf for a nice fresh touch.
    Coffee pot need a little freshening? If you still have the manual that is your best form of information for cleaning. If not try this method:  Wash the carafe and lid on the top rack of the dishwasher. Next, pour warm water with a tablespoon or two of white vinegar in the coffee maker and start the machine. Perhaps repeat a couple of times. This will clean the brewing aspect of the coffee maker.
    Smelly disposal. I learned this trick recently: Run 4 cups of ice through the disposal with no water running. This does a couple of things. It cleans and sharpens the blades and gets all of the goop out of the disposal. Once the ice has finished chopping all it can chop, it might have even  frozen. Run hot water through to melt ice. Run the disposal with some hot water and a 1/2 cup of bleach down it. Fresh as a daisy!
    While you’re busy cleaning, also think about starting an herb garden in the kitchen so you can put it outside in May. You can start basil, chives, dill, fennel and parsley from seeds. Oregano, rosemary, sage and tarragon do better when started as small plants. Start them in egg cartons or check out the most delightful ceramic egg holders I found at Michaels from the Country Home Collections. So fabulous. Plus, you can use these same holders for unsteady appetizers for a dinner party. Buy one thing that serves several purposes. Aren’t we smart, gorgeous.
    Basement Busting
    Head down to your basement or cellar. Start by opening the windows and giving the area a good breath of fresh air. Sweep and vacuum, using the attachment to get the baseboards and corners. This is most likely the area you and your family take cover in during a tornado threat, so get prepared. We do live in Kansas. Preparations include:
    •    Food such as peanut butter and crackers (store boxed items in rodent proof containers)
    •    Bottled water
    •    Blankets
    •    First aid kit for minor cuts
    •    Prescription medication
    Page 4 of 5 - •    Extra clothes
    •    Flash light and fresh batteries
    •    Candles and matches
    •    Photo of everyone who lives in the home
    •    Battery-powered radio (your cellphone may or may not work)
    •    Cash (ATMs don’t work when the power is off)
    Moving Outside
    Would you believe that 75–80 percent of household dust is tracked in from the great outdoors! So removing the grime from winter is super important. First, wake your hoses, nozzles and sprinklers from hibernation and get them ready to use. You’re going to be putting them to work!
    Sweep driveways, porches, sidewalks, patios and the garage to help keep the dirt out. Clean your deck to remove dirt, pollen and maybe even mildew. Scrub the surface with a deck cleaner or try this homemade concoction: 1 cup of powdered laundry detergent to a gallon of hot water plus 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach. This will kill moss as well as mildew. (I do caution you about your clothing, though. This stuff will strip the color from that that T-shirt you love, so be sure to change. Make sure to wear rubber gloves as well.)
    Once the surfaces are clean, give those doormats some attention so they’re not culprits either. Give them a good cleaning or maybe replace them.
    Give your flower boxes a little care. Dump out the dirt and clean them thoroughly. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Make sure your boxes have drainage holes, and then fill them with fresh potting soil. Nothing adds charm to a home like beautiful full window boxes.
    If you have the luxury of owning a pool, this is the time to check the equipment. Make sure your water testing kits are complete and ready to go, stock up on chemicals, and fill it to the water line if necessary. And don’t forget, all the fun pool gear needs to be cleaned for the upcoming season.
    Make an appointment to get the AC serviced for the season. Call early because contractors book quickly!
    Window Workout
    Now for the final sparkle: Time to clean the windows! Nothing makes a house look brighter than pristine window and door glass! I suggest you tackle this on a cloudy day (not rainy, just cloudy) as the bright sun dries the glass too quickly, causing streaks. For the best results, clean the glass inside and out. Here is a smart suggestion I just learned: Wipe the insides with horizontal movements and the outsides with vertical movements. Then, if you see a streak, you know which side of the glass it’s on!
    Page 5 of 5 - Here’s my final spring cleaning tip: A literal life saver. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (if you didn’t when the time changed). If you don’t have either detectors, get them now! Well, my dear friends, enjoy all your hard work with a lovely drink on the porch. I will be here next week for coffee, make that ice tea!

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