Katie Howard, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Spring is in the air, and it is a time when consumers can be inundated with messages to buy the latest cleaning supplies and redecorate their homes in the quest for renewal. Both tasks can be gratifying -- if you don't spend too much money.
Stores, websites and catalogs showcase new looks for the home in spring colors. It seems decorating is becoming as seasonal as clothing trends, but it is more of a commitment -- and expensive -- to buy a new couch for the season than, say, a new top.
So those itching for a new look for their home don't have to look far. Why not try breathing new life into existing pieces in the home instead?
New looks for old pieces
I recently needed new dressers for both my daughters, but I didn't want to dig too far into my purse for storage options. I already had two wood dressers from IKEA priced at $34.99 each that would work well for their room but were in need of a new look. I gave myself the challenge of spending under $25 to spruce up the set of dresser drawers.
I bought a quart of Martha Stewart paint from The Home Depot in a shade of pink called Carnation for less than $12. I found some dresser knobs in a fun cupcake shape on clearance priced at 99 cents each from a children's furniture store Great Beginnings in Germantown, Md. I painted both the dressers in the new paint and switched out the knobs.
The before and after changes were well received and appreciated by both my daughters. They love the new look, and I enjoy that I tried my hand at breathing new life into pieces I already had in my house.
Sage advice for spring cleaning
When it comes to spring cleaning, it is tempting to dig into existing stockpiles of products in lieu of buying new ones. Still it is wise to check the expiration dates. The Department of Health and Human Services provides health and safety information about household products and tips to spring cleaners in their quest to rid confined spaces of winter's germs.
The agency's healthfinder.gov and its online news outlet, HealthDay News, offers expert tips for spring cleaning. The most important tip of spring cleaning, proper and thorough cleaning of bathrooms, is imperative. The website is also home to a household products database.
Tips from HHS HealthDay News, which is based on information from Saint Louis University Medical Center, include:
- Avoid using too many cleaners, and dilute the products sprayed in the bathroom. The fumes in cleaning products can affect the lungs so open windows or turn on a fan while cleaning to avoid breathing in fumes.
- Try to do basic cleaning such as removing visible dirt routinely so that spring cleaning to remove scum, mold and lime scale, which can breed bacteria, isn't as big a challenge.
- Read cleaning product labels carefully and be sure to follow the manufacturers' directions on how they should be used.
- When someone is sick in your home, surface areas should be cleaned more frequently. Paper towels should be used to dry hands rather than a cloth towel to prevent the spread of germs. Toothbrushes should also be dried and put away.
- Bleach is effective against germs, but it isn't safe for children or pets. Try using a 10 percent bleach solution; wash surfaces with hot, soapy water afterward. The solutions should also be made fresh and used within 24 hours.
- Vinegar can also be an effective surface cleaner. Mix one part white distilled vinegar with nine parts water to create a safe and inexpensive cleaning product. Undiluted white distilled vinegar mixed with baking soda can also be used to remove scum.
Whether you invest in giving your home a solid good cleaning or invest in a new look, either way will shake off the winter doldrums.
Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog "Good to Go."