For most folks, deep cleaning is associated with the spring season. The new year has come and gone, and that seems like the perfect time to tackle the projects that have been postponed for a while. Magazine articles, blogs, and talk shows share tips to really tackle the big to-do items. Organize this! Deep clean that! Purge, discard, fold, and stack a certain way to maximize efficiency! The concept of “spring cleaning” is often daunting and dreaded; when a project seems too large to manage, it often feels less stressful to put it off until a later date.
However, some chores only feel like a big deal; if done routinely, a few minutes here and there can keep things fresh all year long, eliminating the need for a massive springtime undertaking. Remembering to take care of appliances and parts of the home that often do not receive day
to-day attention can make a big difference, from better smelling laundry to fresher foods to fewer symptoms of environmental allergies to a better overall mood.
So donate that old sweater that has not been worn in ages! Toss the nearly empty ketchup bottle that has lingered in the refrigerator for months! And while the clean and purge continues, go ahead and toss the whole idea of annual spring cleaning out the window. Very few household sanitization projects should be done annually, so get into the habit of regular maintenance year-round using common household ingredients and simple methods. Say “no” to spring cleaning, and “yes” to regular maintenance! In this second installment of Oops! Should that get Cleaned?, discover how often to clean major appliances and fixtures. Refer to parts one and three for information on other machines and areas in your home that may need a deep sanitation.
THE RANGE HOOD
You likely have looked up while cooking and thought to yourself, “I really need to clean that.” Sure, maybe you took a damp or soapy dishcloth to the splatters and spots, giving the exterior of your range hood a solid effort before the strange angle got the best of you. While you may have done quite the excellent number on the exterior, the metal filter still needs some cleaning love.
From the bulky, old-school vent hoods to the sleek models now found in most kitchens, they all should have an easy way to remove the metal filter they hold. Once the filter is removed, place it in a large bucket, tub, or sink. Fill it with boiling water (an electric tea kettle is ideal for this) or the hottest water your tap produces. Add a healthy squeeze of dish soap and about a quarter cup of baking soda. Swish the mixture around with a spoon or brush. Soak the filters for ten minutes before using a soft-bristled brush to deeply scrub the filters. Rinse, dry, and reinstall!
THE WASHING MACHINE
Hard water, humidity, design, and the splashing of dirty water all play a role in the build-up of mold, mildew, and bacteria in your washing machine. Have you ever been folding perfectly clean clothes that still smell funky? You are certain you did not leave them lingering in the machine. You slowly playback adding in the soap, bleach, pellets, softener, or whatever you use to normally produce fresh-smelling clothes and towels, but something seems amiss.
For a top loader, it is probably a good idea to disassemble the agitator in the middle every now and again. However, this is more about routinely sterilizing the washer on a regular basis. We want to prevent the need to take the machine apart. Once a month fill your top loader as full as possible on a hot water setting. Once full, add a quart of white vinegar as the machine agitates the water-only “load.” Next, add half a cup of baking soda. Let the agitator has work its magic until the baking soda appears to have vanished. Pause the cycle and let the machine sit with the watery mixture, lid open, for about an hour. During this pause, use a clean cloth dipped in the machine water to wipe away grime from the rest of the surfaces. A toothbrush comes in handy for tackling the bleach and softener compartments. Resume the cycle and set the machine to drain and spin simultaneously. If this is not an option just run a full hot water cycle afterward.
Front-loading washing machines usually have a self-cleaning option. However, the rubbery gasket that seals the door is notorious for becoming a pretty gross and slimy environment. Hair, lint, pebbles, soap, and crevices are trapped along with water. Close that door when not in use, and the humidity begins to create quite a stink. Regularly maintaining the gasket can prevent having to remove it (which is not an easy task) or even replace it, should it get beyond hope. To clean the rubber, spray the surfaces of the gasket with vinegar. Then wipe down with a wet cloth sprinkled with baking soda. If you have already let things get a little out of hand, never fear, it happens! Just use hydrogen peroxide and a toothbrush to really scrub the worst-off spots. Finally, sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda inside that drum and run your cleaning cycle!
Always leave the machine door open on any type of washer when not in use. This avoids an environment that fosters humidity and the growth of mold and mildew,
You spent plenty of time selecting the perfect lamps, Edison bulbs, and getting recessed lighting installed. But what was the point if you or your guests look up to find the fixtures covered in dust, dirt, or providing a final resting place for small insect carcasses?
While not all light fixtures require a monthly wipe down, it is easy to walk through your home and do a quick visual inspection. Address only the fixtures, bulbs, and lamps that need attention! Also when dealing with anything electrical, remember to exercise caution and ensure the power is off
To clean bulbs, according to the nationwide cleaning service Merry Maids, remove them, making sure they are cool to the touch before attempting any cleaning. Use a dry microfiber cloth, as the fibers will help pull off any grime literally baked on due to heat. Recessed-style lighting would be managed the same way, always with the power turned off.
Merry Maids suggests for more delicate fixtures, you likely only need to clean them twice a year. If your light fixtures contain small pieces (like chandeliers), glass covers, or removable elements, it is best to have a cleaning buddy for the task. Put a towel on the ground to collect dust. Work methodically, top to bottom, keeping track of screws and hardware. Dry microfiber cloths seem to be the key to success when removing debris from fragile, glass components. To get that sparkle, finish off the elements of the fixture with a cloth damped by water and a drop of dish soap. Once all pieces are clean and dry, put everything back in place. Ooh-la-la! The light seems to dance just a little bit more when everything is sparkling clean!