Here comes the sun! And you know what that means: It’s time to throw open your windows, bust out your cleaning supplies, and start that big spring clean of 2021.
No doubt the pandemic had you cleaning and rearranging your home in ways you never knew possible. (Who knew you could fit your child’s classroom and a home gym in your breakfast nook?) But now that the snow is beginning to thaw and some things are beginning to return to normal, we thought you might need a comprehensive list to help you get the place back in order. So whether you’re looking for some easy wins, to save money on your home in the long run, or remind yourself of a few forgotten items that haven’t been cleaned in ages (hello, lampshades), this list is for you. And so are these great apps made for spring cleaning.
Tips to maintain your home’s interior
Refresh your cleaning supplies
First things first—before you get started, give your cleaning supplies an overhaul. Toss the toxic supplies to create a cleaner, healthier and safer home. According to the American Lung Association, it's imperative to avoid air products containing fragrances, irritants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and flammable ingredients. Instead, replace them with cleaning supplies that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice requirements to keep your household happy.
Freshen up your wardrobe with a quick vodka spritz
Ready to swap your loungewear for your denim and light sweaters? If your clothes have been tucked away since the beginning of the pandemic, you can eliminate any mustiness with a homemade spray. Put vodka (don't use the good stuff; any inexpensive brand will do) into an empty spray bottle, then spritz onto clothes until damp to the touch. Let sit, then wash the garment as usual.
Vodka can be an excellent, eco-friendly cleaning solution for your accessories, too. Soak real metal jewelry, like silver and gold (avoid this process for costume jewelry, pearls, or precious stones) in a pure vodka solution, then use a small brush or soft cloth to clean away any debris.
Use old T-shirts, socks or newspaper to clean glass
The next time you’re doing laundry (or teaching your kids how to do it), set aside any old cotton laundry. These items are excellent for giving windows and mirrors a streak-free cleaning. To up your eco-friendliness even more, try a chemical-free, DIY cleanser. Mix the same parts white vinegar and water, then shake, spritz and wipe dry. No old tees? That’s fine. A newspaper will do the trick as a stand-in for paper towels, and is a great way to repurpose an item that may have ended up in the trash.
Erase wall scuffs
You can clear most scuffs with a light mixture of soap and water. For tougher scuffs, use a Magic Eraser. But for anything truly stubborn, don’t continue to scrub and further ruin your wall—just break out the paint.
Use coffee filters on device screens
Is your TV screen covered in fingerprints and smudges, affecting the picture quality? These very expensive gadgets require a delicate touch. For a quick clean that won't scratch, glide a coffee filter over the screen. This will also work on computer screens and tablets, too.
Dust your ceiling fans
Before you get started, protect the space from becoming dustier by placing a drop cloth or an old sheet over the area, about twice the blades’ span. Then use a duster to wipe the span of the blades. Once completely clean, pick up the drop cloth and launder.
Clean windows on a chilly day
Did you know that if you clean your windows when they are warm, the cleaning solution will streak? To cut down on possible scratches, soak the glass surface with a mixture of clean water and mild soap, let sit and then apply a gentle cleaning product and wipe with a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Purify the air
Sure, you can always invest in one of the super-expensive oscillating home air-purifiers, but maybe keep it simple and try leaving the windows open for a few hours. This releases any stagnant air and the breeze will move new air through your home.
Shelter in place has left us all sitting on our couches or lounge chairs more than we ever have before. This exposes the fabric to heat, sweat, dust and grime. Use a steamer meant for furniture and upholstery for a deep clean.
Don’t forget the carpets
The signs of mold can creep into your home completely unnoticed, and in the wet winter months, the likelihood increases. Now that it’s spring, get out your carpet cleaner to do a thorough cleaning to help remove excess moisture and clear out and eliminate any mold.
Change your HVAC filter
A dirty HVAC filter can lead to health concerns. An easy fix that anyone can do is to swap out filters every few months, usually when the seasons change, to maintain a functional heating and cooling system that keeps the air clean.
Leave your fireplace to the professionals
Fireplaces can become dirty, blocked and cracked, and chimney issues not only can be fire hazards but can also impact the air quality in your home. The safest course of action is to leave it to the professionals and make sure to schedule a routine annual cleaning and inspection. Still want to do what you can yourself? Check out these tips to maintain your fireplace between inspections.
Wash your pet's bed
Since your pets have been spending more time at home, too, you’ve probably also made your pet’s space more comfortable for them during quarantine. Unfortunately, a dust mite’s favorite hangout is most likely the bed of your pet. To kick the bugs out, clean the bed in the washing machine on the highest temperature setting and place the bed outdoors in the hot sun to dry.
Start small in the kitchen
If your microwave has stains and residue buildup, lemons can help give this oft-used kitchen appliance a thorough cleaning. Just pour the rest of your glass cleaning solution from above into a small bowl and add two tablespoons of lemon juice. Place it in your microwave and set on high for two minutes. Once it dings, wipe down with a damp cloth.
Soap down the fridge
According to studies, food-borne illness occurs more often in the home than in restaurants. The bacteria lurking in your fridge is partly to blame. To give this critical appliance a thorough clean, start inside. Remove everything, throw out any expired goods and begin washing all removable items like bins and shelves. Then wipe down the interior with either a clean soapy cloth or antibacterial wipes. The last step is to wipe down the outside, including handles and door seals, with soapy water or stainless steel spray.
Disinfect that knife block
Never put a wet or damp knife into your knife block—always thoroughly clean and dry your knives before returning them to storage. Even then, it is always a good idea to do a more thorough cleaning once a year. For this deep clean, submerge the knife block in a mixture of one gallon of warm water and one tablespoon of household bleach. Let the wooden block soak for two minutes, then dry by turning upside-down onto a dry towel to air dry completely.
Run white vinegar through your dishwasher and your tea kettle
Appliances meant to clean other items in your home need cleaning too—particularly if you have hard water, which can cause calcium buildup. To give your dishwasher a refresh, pour a couple of cups of white vinegar in the machine and run a hot cycle. This does more than make the appliance look better; it actually keeps it running longer.You can also use white vinegar to remove any hard water stains from your tea kettle. Pour equal parts water and vinegar (about one cup each) into the tea kettle. Boil for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for a few hours. Finish cleaning as usual with dish soap.
Deep clean your coffee maker like you would your dentures
If coffee is your drink of choice, this unexpected drugstore item can give your machine a perfect clean. Fill the back of the tank with water, then drop two denture-cleaning tablets in and let them fully dissolve. Run your coffee pot through a regular cycle, then repeat the entire cycle one more time, just using just warm water.
Disinfect your trash can
Cleaning this receptacle is so much more important than people think. For a quick DIY cleanser, mix one cup of white vinegar with two tablespoons rubbing alcohol and a liberal amount (20-40 drops) of your favorite essential oil in a bowl. Or you can always use your favorite store-bought cleanser to clean every crevice of your trash can. Make sure to get the hinges, the underside of the lid and the foot pedal.
Clean your washer and dryer
When we think of our washing machine, we rarely remember that it needs cleaning, too. You can quickly remove mineral and detergent residue by simply running two cups of white vinegar through a full hot water cycle. Make sure not to use any detergent and leave the clothes out. If you feel like that didn't quite do the trick, repeat. And don’t forget the dryer! Scrub the lint tray with a brush, then dig deeper and clean your dryer vent, vent pipe and hoses.
Flush all drains
Out of sight should never remain out of mind when it comes to your home maintenance, and drains are a #1 concern. To keep drains clog-free, pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down them a couple of times a month. Let the vinegar sit for about 30-45 minutes, then flush with cold water. When deep-cleaning the kitchen drains, don’t forget the garbage disposal. Disconnect the unit’s power, throw on a pair of rubber gloves, and wipe down the unit with your preferred cleanser until debris is removed.
Shower curtain TLC
We’re in the shower so often, we barely notice the gunk that can build up on the curtain. But about once a month, you should take down any fabric curtains and/or plastic curtain liners to toss them in the washing machine. You could also throw in a few towels for added scrubbing action. Run your cycle on delicate after adding a very small amount of laundry detergent. When washing fabric curtains, they can go in the dryer on low, but it is best to towel off and then rehang to air-dry your plastic liner or curtain.
Scour that grout
Grout is always a tough task, but you don’t need to use those harsh products to get it sparkling clean. Try a homemade solution of one cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup of your favorite liquid dish soap. Don't be tempted to abandon those hard-to-reach crevices and grout lines—try an extendable scrubber brush that can help you reach these germy spots without straining your back or overworking your knees.
Organize your medicine cabinet
The first thing to do is toss anything past its expiration date, including skincare products, makeup, soaps and other personal care items. These all do expire—generally anywhere from six months to a few years after purchase, based on product and usage. As a general rule, if it looks, smells or feels weird, toss it. Also, don’t forget to chuck any used travel-sized beauty products. Leaving these tiny plastic bottles open can cause bacteria to build up, so even though it reminds you of the last time you were on a trip before lockdown, it’s time for it to go.
Toss throw pillows in the dryer
Whether they are in a high-traffic area of your home or not, decorative pillows can be a breeding ground for dust mites. If possible, toss the pillows in a hot dryer to kill the dust mites. If they happen to be made of fragile materials, a good alternative is to place them outside in the hot sun or the freezer for a day.
Electrostatic dust your blinds
Blinds tend to collect a lot of dust and grime, and because all those crevices are such a pain to clean, they often get neglected. Use an electrostatic duster, which will attract the dust without sending it spinning off into the air. Then use a soft microfiber cloth to wipe your blinds clean with warm water and vinegar. Once dry, wipe your blinds with dryer sheets to help repel dust.
Vacuum your mattress
That’s right, vacuum your mattress. Once you have stripped all of the bedding off (including the mattress skirt), vacuum the mattress’s top and sides using the upholstery attachment. If your bed has any odor or shows signs of staining, sprinkle baking soda over the top of it and let it sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming up. Finally, rotate the mattress 180 degrees or give it a flip to prolong its lifetime.
Take a lint brush to your lamps
To clean your lamps, turn off the fixtures and allow them to cool completely, then unplug them and unscrew the lightbulb. If the bulb is dusty as well, give it a quick wipe with a dry rag. Then vacuum the lampshade using the angle or upholstery tip. Alternatively, a lint brush is another excellent option for dust. Just roll it over the entire lampshade.
Get your cell phone while you are at it
It may not be obvious, but studies show that your phone is dirtier than both your toilet seat and the bottom of your shoe! That’s not only gross but concerning, considering how easily COVID-19 is transmitted. Once a week, take the case off of your phone, swipe a disinfectant wipe over the entire surface and do the same to the case before replacing it.
Tips to maintain your home’s exterior
Now that you’ve made sure the inside of your home is clean as a whistle, it’s time to extend that can-do attitude to the exterior. While getting maximum enjoyment from your outdoor living areas is very important, let’s not forget that routine home maintenance plays a major role in protecting the overall integrity of the structure and prolonging the life of your home. Ready to get started?
Inspect and repair your roof
Springtime is the perfect time to get out on your roof to check for any damage that may have happened during the winter months. Repairing minor damage can be a quick do-it-yourself fix, or you can always save yourself the time and leave it up to the experts.
Leaves and debris can build up in your gutter lines, leading to excess water that can seep through walls. This can eventually damage your drywall and moldin around the home. With the help of a ladder to access those tough-to-reach areas, check all potential points where clogging could occur, and using a pair of gloves, clear out any visible debris.
As beautiful as trees can be, faulty tree limbs can have damaging effects on your home, especially if there are high winds or a spring storm rolls in. With a hand saw or trimmers, work through the branches to remove anything that doesn’t look completely stable. If you have tall trees in your yard, consider hiring a professional tree-trimmer to take care of the hard-to-reach areas.
Refresh outdoor grills
Spring is when you begin to experience beautiful days, perfect for an outdoor BBQ. Before you bring out all of the fixings, make sure your grill is properly cleaned before its first use of the season. Grab a grill brush to scrub any visible residue from the grill plate and use a damp rag or wipe to clean off the exterior.
Check fire extinguishers and smoke detectors
Protect your home against household fires by ensuring you have a fully functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher. A 10-year smoke alarm costs between $15 to $20, and you can purchase a fire extinguisher for around $30-40.
Inspect and drain the hot water heater
Begin by draining whatever water is left in the tank (don't forget your bucket), then stir up the sediment at the bottom of the tank by opening the cold-water supply valve briefly. Keep repeating this process until the water comes out clean from the hose.
Give that mower a quick cleaning by removing the belt guards to make sure there isn’t any debris left over from the last time you used it. Check or replace the spark plugs, change the oil and fill it up with new gas. Inspect the blades and replace any that are dull or worn. Lastly, check the tires. Grease every fitting and make sure there aren’t any punctures. Repair or replace if needed.
Prep for spring storms
As you get ready for sunnier days, there is no time like the present to prepare for changing weather—-including hail and severe storms. Assemble an emergency kit and check that your insurance policy is up to date. Visit the Hippo blog for more expert advice.
Keeping your home clean, organized, and proactively maintained is a good thing. It not only benefits the home as a structure, but it actually helps homeowners feel better. So put on your preferred podcast, or crank up your favorite jams and sing and dance your way through your chores. And remember, as a Hippo customer, you can always reach out to a Hippo Home Care expert, free of cost, to work with you to identify and troubleshoot any home issue, 24/7.