Spring is the time of year when homes often get a thorough cleaning. Using the right tools, techniques and products for different surfaces and types of dirt, from windows to counters to floors, is key to doing the job easily and effectively, said Debra Johnson, training manager for the Merry Maids housecleaning company in Memphis. • Begin with the rooms or areas that seem the dirtiest, suggested Carolyn Forte, director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. • Johnson and Forte offered the following advice for effective spring cleaning.
Windows: Use an ammonia-based cleaner and microfiber cloth, Forte said. Make sure to use plenty of cleaner to remove the dirt. Change the water and cloth as necessary. Avoid washing windows on sunny days because the cleaner will dry too quickly and leave streaks.
Window blinds: Close plastic blinds and wipe with a damp cloth, Johnson said. Reverse the slats and clean the other side of the blinds with a clean, damp cloth. Use a tool designed for blind cleaning to clean between the slats. For cloth blinds, use a vacuum attachment to remove dust and dirt.
Wood floors: Wash floors with a cleaner designed for wood surfaces, Forte said. Choose the cleaner that's appropriate for the floor's finish, either wax or polyurethane. Use a microfiber cloth on a mop with a swivel head.
Laminate floors: Since laminate is a very durable surface, it can be cleaned with a variety of cleaning products, including hot water and a mop, Johnson said.
Rugs: Send area rugs that can't go in a washing machine to a professional cleaner. Set smaller rugs outside for a good airing. When vacuuming a rug in a doorway or other high traffic area, turn the rug over and vacuum on the underside, too, Forte said.
Dust: Work from the top down to avoid dirtying areas that were just cleaned, Johnson said. Use a vacuum attachment to remove cobwebs and dust in corners. The vacuum also is a good way to remove dust from lamp shades and upholstered surfaces. Wipe furniture with a damp cloth because dust can scratch wood surfaces, Forte said. Spray a microfiber cloth with a small amount of furniture polish.
Tile: Spray a foaming bathroom cleaner on tiled surfaces and leave it on for a few minutes. Remove with a clean rag or sponge. If the grout has mildew, use a product designed to remove it. It may take several applications and a lot of scrubbing with a grout brush, Johnson said.
Bathroom sinks and counters: Foaming cleaners or those designed to remove soap scum will work best. Make sure the cleaner you choose is safe for any special stone or countertop in the bathroom.
Kitchen sinks and counters: Use cleaners that are more acidic or antibacterial in the kitchen, Johnson said. Make sure the cleaner is appropriate for the counter material.