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It’s been a long winter and a slow start to the spring. Finally the days are becoming warmer and sunnier! This means you can open the windows to let fresh air into your home. But maybe that bright sun shining in your front window is putting a spotlight on some neglected, not-so-clean areas. And that fresh breeze wafting in seems to be swirling more dust around than you were expecting.
Dust, dirt and grime have a tendency to show up in some unexpected areas in your home. Here are some spring cleaning ideas to add to your to-do list.
When the nice weather arrives and you want to throw open the windows to let in fresh air, make sure your first smells are grass, trees and flowers... and not dust.
Air blowing through air vents, often placed by windows, circulates particles in the air and then settles on your fabric curtains. Clean them by taking them down and stretching them flat on a clean bedspread. Use the brush attachment of your vacuum to thoroughly remove the dust. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you may be able to run your curtains through a light laundry cycle. If not, you can spot-clean any stains and hang to dry.
Other types of window coverings can be cleaned with materials you have in your home. For vertical blinds, close them as much as possible. Take the brush attachment and vacuum top to bottom. If there are any spots left after the vacuum, spot clean with soap and water, or a cleaning solution following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use the same method to clean Venetian blinds. Vacuum from side to side from the top slat to the bottom. If your blinds are made from a material like vinyl or PVC, you can use a damp cloth to wipe off any marks that remain. A roller shade makes a prime candidate for the vacuum and wipe-down method as well. Roll it out as much as possible, use your brush attachment to get the big dust particles and wipe down with a damp cloth to finish it off.
While your curtains or blinds are down or out of the way, give your window frames a good clean, including the top of the frame. Dust loves to settle there, and the same breezes you want flowing through the window will kick up that dust, blowing it through your home. Reach up with your vacuum hose extender and clean the loose debris. After that, wipe the top of the frame with a damp cloth to get rid of the tougher dirt.
Your washing machine gets a lot of use during the year, and even the most efficient unit can get bogged down with dirt and grime from your clothes. Luckily, cleaning the inside of your washing machine is a simple task that can be done mostly hands-off and with items you already have in your house.
The only ingredient you need to clean the unreachable parts of your washing machine is white vinegar! First, run a hot cycle using two cups of vinegar in place of detergent. The benefits of using vinegar are two-fold – it is a natural deodorizer and it eliminates harmful bacteria that thrive in damp spaces.
After running through the first cycle with vinegar, wipe down the inside of your washing machine with a sponge or cloth. The vinegar will have loosened some of the grime. Be sure to get into those hard-to-reach areas.
Now, run one more cycle with hot water only, which will flush out any remaining dirt. You’ll now have a cleaner washing machine and fresher smelling clothes!
Maybe you’ve already fired up your grill or cooked in the kitchen with the windows wide open, and noticed how the smells of food are intertwined with those of spring. While you’ve given the bigger items in the kitchen some spring cleaning attention, it can be easy to forget some of the small, but very important, items in your kitchen: spices.
Spices that have gone stale have lost the kick we hope for when we add them to our food. And because spice packages can be large compared to the amount of spice used per recipe, they can sit in your kitchen a lot longer than you realize.
Different spices have different shelf lives – check the best-before dates. But if you’ve transferred containers and the package is long gone, how do you know what to keep? Most spices last between one and three years. Check the internet to help you, or if you trust your senses, do a smell and sight test. Fresh spices will look and smell vibrant; stale spices will be dull in comparison in both taste and color.
To revitalize your spices for spring, toss out the stale and faded spices, clean the containers, and replace with new spices as you need them. When you buy a new spice, make a note of the date and the best-before date. If possible, buy your spices at a bulk food store where you can choose the amount you’ll use in a reasonable timeframe. Refreshing and labeling your spices now will help you preserve their flavors for your present and future enjoyment.