Spring has arrived, with trees coming back to life, flowers beginning to bud and the sunlight stretching out and blanketing the sky a little longer each day. Another rite of passage for this changing of seasons is the purging of material things that are no longer needed and a thorough cleansing of living spaces everywhere.
No matter how in-depth you tend to get when clearing the dirt and detritus from your home, you probably missed some spots that many of us overlook on the regular. Cleaning pro Becky Rapinchuk, the genius behind the easy-to-accomplish Clean Mama system, shares eight hidden and not-so-hidden home spots that need attention and how best to spruce them up.
Meet the Expert
Becky Rapinchuk is the cleaning wizard behind the Clean Mama products and cleaning system.
Light Switches and Switch Plates
Think about how many times a day you and your family reach for a light switch in any room of your home. Then think realistically about whether anyone is actually doing that with clean hands. Chances are these high-touch surfaces are harboring germs and grime. "Keep it simple. Your best bet is to use a cleaning cloth or towel dipped into regular rubbing alcohol," Rapinchuk says. Wipe down the switch plate and switch, digging into the grooves around the switch where germs can hide.
The same thoughts apply to often-used knobs on exterior and interior doors. As many times as they are touched in any given day, most of us rarely think about the need for keeping them as clean as possible. This is another surface that benefits from a towel or cloth soaked with standard rubbing alcohol. "No need to get a fancy special cleaner," Rapinchuk says. "Rubbing alcohol works wonderfully for such tasks!"
Kitchen Appliance Handles
You might be noticing a sensory theme here. Not only do our appliances get a lot of hands-on time, the hands that are touching them are usually dotted with ingredients and such from whatever is cooking. Spray the handles (and surfaces if warranted) with your favorite all-purpose cleaner and let it sit a minute. "Wipe it away and then dry the handles and surfaces with a clean cloth," says Rapinchuk. "A sparkling appliance is a happy appliance."
If you ever climb up a stepladder and look at the top of your doors, both interior and exterior, you might be surprised to find a layer of dust and dirt taking up residence. Start your cleaning right here, taking a hand vac or a hose attachment from your regular vacuum to the top of the door and the door jam. Next, "wipe each door from top to bottom, left to right, with warm, soapy water and a cleaning cloth," advises Rapinchuk, and then let them dry.
After tackling those doors, take your vacuum to the air vents and remove as much dust as you can. If they are still dirtier than you would like, remove the vent covers and clean them by hand in warm, soapy water. Let dry and put back into place. A cleaner vent makes for cleaner air that your family is breathing.
A vacuum can make quick work of removing the bulk of the dust, pet hair and other dirt that settles along the base of your walls all over the home. Once you have taken away as much dirt as you can, grab a soft cleaning cloth, soak it in warm, soapy water and wring it out. Take the damp cloth and wipe down the boards. "Baby wipes do a great job here as well," Rapinchuck notes. You’ll be amazed at the difference sparkling baseboards make!
Window Sills and Sashes
You surely have windows on your spring cleaning list. But how about the sills and sashes? You don’t see through them, but you can see how dirty they are when you take a peek out of the glass, especially if you have cleaned that glass thoroughly but left the grime framing it. Get out that vacuum again and remove loose dirt, then dip a soft cleaning cloth in warm, soapy water, wring it out so it isn’t dripping everywhere, and wipe off the layers of dirt you might have missed the past year or so.
Your couch, recliner and other furnishings retain all manner of things you can’t even see, and none of which you probably want to hear about. If you have visible stains from kids or pets or even adults who might or might not have spilled a snack or two, spot clean with whatever is recommended by the manufacturer for the material covering the piece. Then vacuum each piece of furniture thoroughly, removing any pillows and cushions and getting underneath the couch and chairs as well.
Should You Have the Air Ducts in your Home Cleaned? United States Environmental Protection Agency.