Spring cleaning: 7 fresh tips for making your home ‘organized and healthy’

WASHINGTON — Spring cleaning is not something one looks forward to, but it’s certainly worth the hassle.

“There’s some real payback to tackling spring cleaning now before you’re turning to spring and summer fun,” said Sara Morrow, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports. “You’ll have a clean and organized and healthy home.”

And while it requires time and effort, take heart: You can make the most of that time spent. Here are some suggestions for getting the big job done properly.

Tip No. 1: Don’t rush it

“Remember that you can’t just cram this in a short amount of time,” Morrow said. Instead, have a realistic plan and work deliberately through the home, room by room.

Tip No. 2: Start in the bedroom closet

You’re already switching to your lighter clothing, so take this opportunity to set aside those things you’re tossing or donating.

And if you’re feeling ambitious, consider installing a closet organizer. Consumer Reports recommends an Elfa Reach-In Closet Organizer (available at The Container Store) because it’s easy to install, Morrow said.

Tip No. 3: Clean those cleaning machines

You’ll probably want to wash those clothes, too, before you donate or store them. And believe it or not, a washing machine needs cleaning, too. Mildew, soap scum and even mold can develop in the machine’s interior drum over time, Morrow said.

“We rely on this machine to clean other things, but it can use a little TLC itself, and this is a great time of year to tackle that.”

Simply run a cycle with a cup of bleach (and without clothes) on the machine’s hottest setting.

While you’re waiting for that to finish, get your dishwasher ready for spring. Put a bowl of vinegar on the dishwasher’s bottom shelf and run it on a normal cycle (and leave out any dishes or detergent). That vinegar will sanitize and deodorize.

Tip No. 4: Freshen up that bed

“We spend a third of our life in bed, so this is definitely worth the time,” Morrow said.

Strip the bedclothes away, then vacuum the top surface with your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment. After that, sprinkle a box of baking soda over the mattress to freshen it up. You can leave it there for up to 24 hours before removing it all with the vacuum.

As for those pillows, use a fluff setting or hang them on a line for drying after you wash them.

Tip No. 5: Treat stainless steel with care

Scouring powders, steel wool, bleach, ammonia and harsh abrasives can damage the finish, so check the manuals and/or the manufacturer’s website.

That said, it’s best to keep it simple: Mix a mild dish detergent with some warm water, dip a soft cloth into it, and wipe down the surface. Rinse the cloth and wipe down the surface again, then dry with a towel.

If there’s baked-on food or grease, make a paste out of warm water with baking soda, gently rub it onto the surface, then wipe with a clean wet cloth and towel-dry. For scratches and stains, use a stainless steel cleaner.

Tip No. 6: Prepare for allergy season

Allergies are synonymous with the spring months. Keep those surfaces dust-free and clean to ensure fewer sneezes. Mop hard flooring surfaces regularly, Morrow advised, and vacuum the carpet regularly.

Consumer Reports testing found that the Kenmore Elite 31150 is good for people with allergies or asthma. Also recommended: The Honeywell HPA300 air purifier.

And if there are any signs of pests, Morrow said, get those taken care of as soon as possible, as they can trigger allergies.

Tip No. 7: Just do those stupid windows already

Yes, it stinks, but strategy can make this chore less of a bore. First of all, do them when it’s cloudy and the windows are in the shade, Morrow suggested. That way, it’s easier to see any leftover grime or dirt.

Also: Don’t assume just any window cleaner will work. If you know the windows’ manufacturer, Morrow said, check with them.

“We found that some ammonia-based formulas — which include some Windex products — can actually leave behind streaks and film when you clean,” she said, “so it’s definitely worth checking those manufacturer instructions.”

And don’t forget the blinds. Use a lambs wool duster, white cotton cleaning gloves or your vacuum’s soft brush attachment for the job, and work from the top on down, first on one side and then on the other.

Finally, if you have curtains, make sure you know whether they need to be washed or dry cleaned. If it’s the former, Consumer Reports recommends two detergents for the job: Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release or Persil Pro Clean Power-Liquid 2in1. Both, Morrow said, are great at removing stains.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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