Cleaning Made Simple

Tips to make cleaning quick and simple.
Family Features
January 28, 2013
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With a few simple tips, you can make your house cleaner and fresher in no time.
Courtesy Getty Images


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Giving your home a good cleaning doesn’t have to be a big chore. You can make the whole house look and feel fresher by focusing on a few key areas.

Floors

Even if you vacuum regularly, floors and carpets could use a deep down cleaning now and then.

For carpeted areas, start by vacuuming as usual, to pick up surface debris. Move as much furniture out of the room as possible. (If you can’t move it, put some plastic under it to protect the legs.) If you don’t want to rent a carpet cleaner, you can use a handheld electric spot scrubber to remove stains.

For hardwood or vinyl tile areas, vacuum as usual. Remove as much furniture as possible. Use a steam mop to clean and sanitize the floor. Many models have triangular pads to help you get into corners and around furniture more easily.

For other tiled areas, if your tile is natural stone, treat stains based on type. If the stain is calcium based, from grout buildup, mineral deposits or hard water, use a pH balanced cleaner for stone.

Bathroom

Freshen up the bathroom with these simple cleaning tricks.

Take care of the tub by scrubbing with baking soda on a clean, damp sponge. Rinse, then wipe dry. You can clean and deodorize your vinyl shower curtain by giving it the same baking soda treatment.

If you have stone, granite or marble surfaces, use a cleaner made specifically for those materials. Some general purpose cleaners may contain acids, bleach or ammonia that could break down the sealer on natural stone, making the surface more likely to stain.

Brighten up the bathroom by cleaning the windows, mirrors, light fixtures and even the light bulbs with multipurpose surface wipes.

Kitchen

Take care of those areas that might not get daily attention.

Empty the refrigerator and toss anything out of date or that looks like a science experiment. Remove the shelves and bins, and give them a good cleaning with a solution of 1/4 cup multi-surface cleaner and one gallon of warm water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before putting them back.

Clean and sanitize surfaces that come into contact with food. To sanitize washable hard, nonporous surfaces such as granite, without damaging them, use a cleaner made specifically for those materials.

Use a duster with a long handle to clean in higher areas, such as the tops of cabinets, ceiling corners, vents and recessed lighting fixtures.

Clutter

Conquering clutter will make your home look better right away.

Divide and conquer: Sort items into piles for storing, donating or throwing away. When you’ve tossed the junk in the trash and boxed up the donated items, it’s time to start on the storing pile.

Give everything a home. Instead of putting things into whatever container you might have, look for storage containers to fit your particular needs. You can find flexible containers to slide under beds or fit into closet corners; clear totes to hold toys or larger items; divided drawer inserts to organize desk and “junk” drawers; and even attractive baskets and boxes that can store what you need while adding color and design to the room.

Furniture

In order to keep your furniture looking its best, you need to do more than simply dust now and then.

For upholstered furniture, vacuum upholstery and spot clean as needed. For leather pieces, you can get rid of old marks and stains with a specially formulated remover. Use oil-free leather cleaner and protector to keep the original look and feel of the leather.

To remove grime and other residues from wood furniture, use a purifying wood cleaner, then follow up with a revitalizing furniture wood polish. It will help enhance and preserve the wood’s natural beauty.

Appliances

Washing machines can build up a sticky residue inside. If your machine does not have a specific washer cleaning cycle, add liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser and run a normal cycle with hot water.

Check the drain area of your dishwasher and remove any bits of food or small items. Place a bowl, right side up, in the top rack and fill it with one cup of white vinegar. With nothing else inside, run the dishwasher on its shortest cycle to remove soap scum and hard water buildup.

Don’t forget the outside of your appliances. For light cleaning, dilute 1/4 cup multi-purpose cleaner in a gallon of warm water. Wipe your washer, dryer and refrigerator clean. For tougher cleaning, use some full-strength multi-purpose cleaner directly on a sponge. Rinse surfaces thoroughly with plain water afterward. Regular cleaners can leave residue on stainless steel surfaces, however, so use a product specifically made for stainless steel appliances.


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