Don't look now, but spring-cleaning is rearing its ugly, little head. You can run, and you can probably hide, but the house won't look any better when you finally decide to come back out.
While we all have our own arsenal of cleaning tricks and routines, there always seem to be areas we'd prefer had a more thorough cleaning. Whether its lusterless, stainless, grime-coated tile or windows with a dreary haze, local cleaning experts have generously offered a host of tried-and-true secrets to ensure spring-cleaning not be suffered in vain.
Gather your basic tools, stock up on elbow grease and consider trying a trick or two from a pair of Rogue Valley pros who make their living turning dirty houses into tidy retreats.
Start from the Top! (Ceiling fans)
Always plenty disgusting by year's end, ceiling fans are often most overlooked and most in need of cleaning. Hardware and department stores offer a ceiling fan wand to attach to vacuum cleaners (about $10) or, popular in recent years, Swiffer dusting tools, combined with a quality degreaser like 409, remove grime from fan blades without sending it airborne.
Another contender on the list of least favorite chores, mini blinds not cleaned regularly are in dire need by spring. While a host of local services will pick up, clean and re-deliver your blinds for a price, save a few bucks this year.
One at a time, says professional Rogue Valley housekeeper Cindy Bradfield, take blinds down (fully extended and 'closed'), stand them sideways in a bathtub, spray with degreaser, wait a few minutes, rinse, then dry.
While a host of window cleaning products are available in most retail stores, Anna Chauffe, a professional Rogue Valley housecleaner since 1990, offers a little known secret.
"Everybody spends like $3-5 on, basically, Windex. People don't believe me, but all you need is hot water and a sponge," Chauffe says.
"Run it up and down the window, then take a paper towel and dry it off. There are no streaks. You don't even need vinegar like everyone says. I've been using that since 1990 and it's saved me a ton of money and done a nicer job."
For stainless surfaces like sinks and range hoods, Bradfield uses Barkeepers Friend. "That stuff is amazing on water spots," she says. "It works well on so many things and its less than two bucks!"
Porcelain and Tile
On to the bathroom! For dingy porcelain and tile, Chauffe gives an all-over cleaning with Softscrub (available with and without bleach).
"I like to go in and do all the ceramic type bases — sinks, showers — with Softscrub and a brush. It will clean just about anything."
To tackle water rings around toilet bowls and elsewhere, Bradfield offers a non-traditional approach. "Instead of the pumice stones that everyone swears by right now, I get drywall sanding screen — 180-grit," she says. "You can use it in the water and it doesn't scratch like the pumice stones do." Always test a small hidden area first and it's probably not best to use on colored toilets.
Another bathroom nuisance, don't waste your time tackling mold with anything other than a strong bleach product. "Clorox Clean-up is great," Bradfield says. "I spray it on, leave it for an hour and go back, and it's gone. You can even stick a sprayer in a gallon jug of bleach."
To remove trapped odors from carpet, opt for pure baking soda over strong-smelling commercial products. Sprinkle it on when you start cleaning and vacuum later.
Finally, for floors that never seem to come clean despite scrubbing and begging (a.k.a. vinyl), take a thick-bristled brush, some degreaser and scrub in circles.
"The trick is the scrubbing in circles," Bradfield notes. "[It] has so many grooves it's impossible to clean with a regular mop."
When the deep-cleaning is done, do some de-cluttering, set out some fresh flowers, then wait for friends and family to ask who you hired to do the spring-cleaning this year.