It's the time of year when the weather is mild and pleasant. Open the windows and doors and let some fresh air in. It's also the season for the spring cleaning bug. • "The dirty secret of spring cleaning is that it sort of inspires us to channel Doris Day or June Cleaver, then all of a sudden reality hits," says Julie Edelman, author of the best-selling The Accidental Housewife (Ballantine Books). "I'm more about doing a little bit. We don't have to kill ourselves in one single binge." Edelman is a serious subscriber to Oscar Wilde's diss on cleaning. "Remember," she says, quoting the 19th century Irish poet: " 'Man was made for something better than disturbing dirt.' " • Ah, but come springtime, it's so hard to resist.
Tips from the pros
Thelma Meyer: Real-life inspiration behind Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products
Dirty secret: Please don't peek at the tops of her books, because Mrs. Meyer nearly always forgets to vacuum up there. And here's her cure to the spring cleaning blues: "Kind of look forward to it. Think, 'Oh, I'm gonna get this house fresh as new.' "
Heloise: One-name sensation of Heloise's Household Hints fame
Dirty secret: "I have absolutely fallen in love again with my vacuum cleaner and the microfiber cloth." She's also big on baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Together, they will tackle most every cleanup.
Sara Snow: Discovery Channel green-living expert
Dirty secret: Just pull out the lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, olive oil and simple soap. Snow's litany of kitchen supplies will do everything from shine the dining room table to lift the ketchup out of the carpet. Check out her new book for how-tos.
Julie Edelman: Modern-day homemaking maven
Dirty secret: Someone comes to your door and you haven't gotten around to spring cleaning? Always have get well cards ready. Put the cards on the mantle, then let in your guest, sigh, and mention how of course you would have cleaned by now but for that nasty bug.
Three no-fail cleaning tools
Vinegar: It's cheap, and it won't hurt the Earth. You can use this for just about any cleaning task; try a half-and-half vinegar-to-water solution, or dilute it — one part distilled white vinegar to two parts water, and have at it: windows, mirrors, walls, even floors.
Microfiber cloth: This little miracle puts the ol' schmatte (that's Yiddish for rag) to shame. It gloms on to every stubborn speck of dust. You don't need one spritz of spray. Maybe just a wee dab of water and the whole dusty world is your oyster. And nearly every cleaning whiz we talked to is crazy for these cloths.
Vacuum: Honey, why wipe when you can suck up the dirt? Nearly every pro in the book is hooked on his or her dust-slurping weapon-on-wheels. These days you can find 'em in wake-me-up colors. And with some rock 'n' roll tunes plugged in your ears, you won't even mind the ol' vacuum whine.