When spring cleaning your home, it's easy to focus on interior closets and drawers and forget the first thing any visitor will see: your home's exterior. But outdoor surfaces and fixtures need your attention, too. "Outdoor furniture can collect grime and rust during winter," says Alison Gutterman, president of Jelmar, manufacturer of CLR cleaning products. "It's important you clean them annually with an effective yet safe cleaner that won't harm your lawn or garden." Make sure your spring cleaning includes these outdoor dirt-magnets:
Whether you conscientiously stored your patio furniture for the winter or left it outside exposed to the elements, it's likely your outdoor table and chairs need a once-over before they're ready for use. When choosing cleaning products, make sure they're biodegradable so they won't harm your plants or lawn. Then rinse the furniture and the grass with your hose after cleaning.
You should also choose a cleaning product that's safe for furniture, such as CLR Outdoor Furniture Cleaner, which can be used on plastic, wicker, wood, wrought iron, canvas and other outdoor materials. Also look for UV protectants to keep your furniture from fading in bright sun.
Clean gutters prevent flooding and roof damage. The best way to check if your gutters need cleaning is to look up at the outside rim of the top of the gutter. If there is discoloration, there likely is buildup in the gutter, making it difficult for water to flow.
When cleaning gutters by hand, you can create a "gutter scoop" by cutting the bottom half off a plastic gallon jug with a box knife. Then, after removing any leaves, twigs or debris, flush the gutters with water to clean them properly.
Siding and windows
Use a power washer and start at the highest point to avoid washing dirt down onto clean areas. Pressure washers also make window cleaning easier. But be careful using them on wooden areas such as decks and window frames. The force of the spray often damages the surface of porous materials like wood.
Screens and filters
The best way to clean window screens is to lay them flat on a cloth or soft surface outdoors to keep the frames from getting scratched. Then, hose them down and scrub gently with an all-purpose cleaner. Finally, rinse the screens again and tap off any excess water.
Air-conditioning filters should also be changed as part of your spring cleaning, especially if anyone in your family has allergies. Always refer to the owner's manual to determine the location of the filter and the size needed to ensure the proper fit.
For more spring cleaning tips, visit www. jelmar.com.