Martha Stewart spring cleaning

throughout the house
The tips below outline basic techniques that will help you clean almost every surface (or object) in any room. The
tasks on the next page are broken down by location, including outdoor spaces. The final page of this foldout focuses
on window washing and upkeep, which is essential if you’re going to let the sun shine in on the bright days to come.
• W I P E wa l l s a n d c e i l i ng s Use a vacuum to remove
• r e se a l g rou t l i n e s The cement-based material between
dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent
in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in
an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface).
wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and
stains easily. Protect it with a penetrating grout sealer; it’s
best to apply it with a small foam brush.
• vac u u m AND s h a m poo r ug s
• dus t B OO K S A ND S HE LV E S Take ev-
Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned
with a rotary shampoo machine and
a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs
without backings, including Orientals,
require professional cleaning.
erything off the shelves, and brush
shelves and books with a feather duster. Use the dust-brush or crevice tool
on a vacuum to reach into tight spots.
Wipe the spines of leather-bound
books with a clean, soft cloth.
• Cl e a n U PHOLST E R ED F UR N I S HI NG S Take cushions outside
• POL I S h METAL DOOR AND w i n dow h a r dwa r e Liquid
and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are
stains, check the pieces for care labels. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions.
polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier
work. If tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.
• D u s t you r ho m e t h oroug h ly
This includes hard-to-reach places,
such as the tops of ceiling fans and
window casings. Always work from
the top of a room down, vacuuming
the dust that settles on the floor.
Avoid using dusting sprays.
• E n s u r e F I RE S A F E T Y Change batteries in smoke detec-
tors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units
are free of dust. Teach everyone in your household how to
use a fire extinguisher, and review escape plans.
• wa x wood e n f u r n i t u r e Wipe
surfaces with a soft cloth dampened
with water and mild dishwashing
liquid. Apply paste wax, such as Butcher’s wax, a few feet at a time with a
cotton rag folded into a square pad.
Let wax dry; buff with a clean cloth.
• wa s h w i n dow s c r e e n s Using warm water and a mild
dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush; rinse
• CL E AN wi n dow t r e at m e n ts Many
• wa x no n wood F loor s Vinyl and
draperies and curtains are machine
washable; check labels. Dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with
a damp cloth; warm water mixed with
a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for
metal and vinyl blinds.
linoleum floors that have lost their
shine should be waxed with a polish
designed for these surfaces. Most
stone and tile floors can be treated
with either a paste or a liquid wax
designed for the material.
room by room
• dus t r e f r i g e r a t or coi l s Turn off power at circuit breaker or fuse box. Coils are usually
k i tc h e n
l i v i ng room
at the bottom of the refrigerator, under the grill. Clean coils with the crevice attachment of
a vacuum or a specialty refrigerator-coil brush, available at hardware stores.
• de f ros t t h e fr e e z e r Turn off power at circuit breaker or fuse box. Empty freezer’s contents; wipe interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda per 1 quart hot water.
• swa p h e av y cu rta i n s , r ug s , a n d t h rows for l ig h t w e ig h t on e s Clean items first.
To store, roll material around an acid-free tube; wrap in a clean sheet of cotton, muslin, or
polyethylene; secure with twill tape, and label each bundle so you’ll know which is which.
• rota t e B E D A N D c h a ng e B LAN K E T S Turn over your mattress to distribute the wear evenly.
b e droom s
Replace cool-weather bedding with warm-weather bedding.
• Cl e a n P I L LOWS Whether made of natural fibers (such as down) or synthetic (often polyes-
ter), most pillows can be machine-washed. This rids them of mold, bacteria, and odors.
• d i s c a r d e x p i r e d cos m e t i c s a n d b e a u t y p r o d u c t s Secure these items in a plastic
bat h rooms
trash bag, and keep it out of reach of children and animals.
• u p da t e F I R S T- A ID K I T In addition to bandages and ointments, the kit should include a list
of emergency numbers, especially the one for your nearest poison-control center.
• orga n i z e f i l e s Review insurance policies, contracts, and household inventories.
hom e off ic e
• C l e a n COM P UTERS Scrub casings with a solution of 1 drop mild dishwashing liquid per
1 quart of water and a lint-free cloth; dust crevices in keyboards with cotton swabs; wipe
screens with a soft cloth or a dry screen-cleaning sponge.
• r e pl ac e cool - w e at h e r clot h i ng w i t h wa r m - w e at h e r c lot h i ng Wash or dry-clean
c los e t s
garments before storing them in a zippered sweater or blanket bag.
• d o n a t e a pp a r e l y o u n o l o n g e r u s e Many charities are happy to accept old clothing
and may send a truck to pick it up. They may also provide receipts for tax purposes.
• cl e a n at t i c a n d b a s e m e n t , g i v i n g awa y o r di s c a r di n g u n wa n t e d i t e m s Divide
u t i l i t y s pac e s
whatever is left into two zones: one for things you’ll need to retrieve in the next six months,
such as clothes, and the other for objects that may be there for years, such as furniture.
• p rot e c t ob j e c t s i n b a s e m e n t Use concrete blocks to keep storage boxes off the ground.
Place washer and dryer on elevated pedestals (made by the appliances’ manufacturers)
to prevent electrical shock during flooding.
• C L E AN P OR C H c e i l i n g s a n d wa l l s Sweep up cobwebs and debris with a corn broom,
and wash walls with a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water using a polyester sponge.
• scr u b de c k s , pa t i os , d r i v e way s , a n d wa l k wa ys Treat mildew spots with a solution of
ou t door spaces
1 part oxygen bleach to 3 parts water using a deck brush.
• Wa s h ou t door f u r n i t u r e Most materials, including aluminum, plastic, wood, and wicker, can handle a solution of mild dishwashing liquid and water and a soft-bristle brush.
• I n s p e c t l i g h t f i x t u r e s Wash covers, and check for damaged wires and connections.
eight steps to perfectly clean windows
patching a screen
1. Schedule the project
Tiny tears in nylon or fiberglass
screens can be mended with a few
drops of instant adhesive; small
splits in metal screens can be fixed
with epoxy. Larger rips, however,
require slightly more attention. Here’s
how to make repairs:
Choose a time when the sun is not shining directly on
windows. Its hot rays can cause the cleaning solution to dry, which will result in streaks.
2. Clean the surface With a soft-bristle brush, dust away cobwebs and loose dirt
from windows and frames. Don’t forget hinges, sills, and tracks. Wear rubber gloves to
protect your hands, especially if the frames are old and splintery.
3. Make the cleaning solution Mix 1 part white vinegar and 1 part hot water.
4. Prevent a mess Before cleaning the inside of each window, place an absorbent
terry-cloth towel along the windowsill to catch drips.
5. Wet the glass Using a sponge, wet (but don’t drench) the windowpane with the
vinegar-and-water solution, and rub away the dirt. As much as possible, keep the solution from coming into contact with the window frames.
6. Prime a squeegee Wet the rubber blade; a dry one will skip.
7. Wipe the glass Starting at an upper corner of the pane, draw the squeegee down
in a straight, confident stroke. Wipe the rubber edge of the squeegee with a sponge
or a lint-free cloth. Return to the top and repeat, slightly overlapping the first stroke.
Finish by pulling the squeegee across the bottom of the window. Dry the sill.
8. Clean the frames Wipe surfaces using a cloth dampened with a nonammo­ iated all-purpose cleaner and water. Rinse them thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth
to remove cleaning solution, and dry immediately by wiping with a clean, dry cloth.
basic window-washing kit
Stash all of your supplies in a plastic or metal bucket. Mix and transport the
vinegar-based solution in a second container.
• soft-bristle
• lint-free
• white
vinegar (or mild
dishwashing liquid)
• large
polyester or
natural sea sponges
• rubber
cloths (cloth diapers or huckaback cloth)
that haven’t been washed
or dried with fabric softener (which can leave behind a residue that will
streak glass)
• squeegees
• sturdy
ladder (with a
label indicating it is
approved by Underwriters Laboratories)
n y lon or f i b e rg l a s s sc r e e ns
Cut a patch just barely larger than the
hole. Apply a thin layer of instant adhesive
along edges of patch; press it in place.
To hold screen together as glue dries, cut
a piece of low-tack painters’ tape larger
than the patch, gently apply tape to patch,
and leave until glue is dry.
m e t a l sc r e e n s Begin by trimming
around the tear in the screen to create
a small, clean-edged rectangular or
square opening. Cut a piece of screen
about ˙ inch larger than the hole in
length and width. Unravel a couple of
strands of screen away from each of
the piece’s 4 sides until the central woven
section is just large enough to cover the
hole. Fold the resulting “fingers” away from
you at 90 degrees to the patch’s surface.
Cover the hole with the patch, inserting
the fingers into the mesh of the existing
screen. Fold and carefully weave the fingers under and inward onto the patch
or outward toward the screen frame, into
the surrounding screen.
• nonammoniated
all-purpose cleaner
cleaning storm windows
After storm windows have been replaced with screens, they should be cleaned be-
fore being stored for summer. Start by vacuuming the glass and tracks. Clean
glass following the instructions above. (It’s easiest to do so outside, but you can
clean them in place; allow windows that can’t be removed to dry completely before closing them, as moisture trapped between panes can damage the frames.)
The information in this article was excerpted from Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential
Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. ©2006 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. All
rights reserved. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
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