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Spring clean like a pro ... or your mom

It's the time of year to shake the winter off

It’s that time, again. Spring rains have arrived and pollen is in the air. As much as we may hate it, it’s also time for … spring cleaning. Fortunately, a few helpful tips make this yearly task seem a bit more manageable.

One of the biggest parts of spring cleaning is getting rid of clutter that you don’t need. Plan a garage sale. Box up items you don’t need. Find out how to donate items that are taking up space.

Take advantage of the natural urge that comes each spring to get rid of items that are weighing you down and begin fresh with a more streamlined lifestyle. Cleaning will be a lot easier when the clutter is gone.

So, grab those gloves, mop, rag and bucket, and get started!

Three Tasks to Master

Every spring cleaning effort requires mastery of three tasks to tackle efficiently and diligently. Removing dust and dirt that piled up during the winter months, sorting belongings into keep, trash and donate and then organizing your keeps for use now and in the future. Make sure that all dusting, and sorting has been done before you tackle organizing.

Deep Clean Checklist for Bathroom, Bedroom and Kitchen

The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen are the top three areas of use in your home and deserve a thorough deep cleaning. Make sure you don’t miss any of the following:

Bedroom

— Remove and clean all bedding and mattress coverings.

— Vacuum all bedroom furniture and mattresses, flipping furniture seating and mattress over to remove as much dust as possible.

— Freshen up furniture and mattresses with dry baking soda, sprinkled over furniture, and vacuumed up after half an hour

— Remove and clean, or vacuum, fabric window treatments for laundering or spot cleaning

— Wipe down dust from window blinds, front and back faces

— Move furniture to completely vacuum floors

— Dust bedroom furniture

Bathroom

— Remove all towels and bath mats for cleaning

— Remove and replace shower curtain liners

— Use your preferred cleaning products or create your own to, spray down bathroom showers and tubs, counter space and toilet. Allow cleaners to sit before wiping down and rinsing. Sweep and mop.

— If necessary wipe down walls and ceiling, use broom to reach any cobwebs

— Dust lights and bathroom fan venting

Kitchen

— Remove and clean all kitchen linens, including aprons and table place mats

— Remove everything from your refrigerator and freezer, take stock and toss out what is expired

— Remove and clean all shelves, drawers and handles

— Clean the interior and exterior walls of your refrigerator

— Remove stove burners and set aside for cleaning, wipe down entire stove top and face.

— Thoroughly clean burners, removing grease

— Remove oven racks and wipe down oven bottom and interior oven door

— Pull appliances away from the walls to sweep

— Sweep and mop kitchen floors

— Clean and dust light fixture, fans and wall hangings

Organizing Closets

— Establish three piles, keep, donate and trash

— Everything comes out of the closet and moves to one of the 3 piles

— Donate what you have not used in the past year, toss what is no longer usable

— Invest in organizing bins, hanging organizers and clear faced storage to better see what you have

As always, a little bit goes a long way, and tackling small tasks throughout the year will do wonders for time management and preventing overload that needs to be done all at once.

Maintain by recognizing that there are three types of items to clean up in a room. Everything falls into one of three categories — trash, things that don’t belong in the room, and things that belong in the room in a different place.

Having only a few categories in which to sort items makes a pickup run more smoothly and taking care of these tasks several times a week will keep your home looking great between more intense cleanings.

Seven Mistakes to Avoid

No. 1: Not Getting Organized

Write down a game plan to help you prioritize and stay on task. Start with your least favorite rooms, like the kitchen and bathrooms, which typically take the most work. Then, gather your supplies in a bucket and carry them with you from room to room so you don’t waste time running back to the cleaning closet.

No. 2: Going At It Alone

Doing the brunt of the work by yourself can lead to a long day and sore muscles. Delegate simple tasks, such as dusting, shaking out rugs, and clearing clutter to children and get your spouse to help with heavy lifting.

If you live by yourself, invite a good friend over so you can chat and drink coffee between tasks.

No. 3: Not Having the Right Equipment

Cleaning often takes a long time because people tend to use the wrong tools. Stock up on four must-haves: microfiber cloths, steam, extension wand, and a vacuum with attachments.

No. 4: Working Too Hard

Lighten the load by following a few simple tips. First, dust surfaces with a microfiber cloth so you don’t have to use cleaning solution. When cleaning tubs and sinks, apply the cleaning solution and let it soak for 10 minutes before wiping the surface. Remove baked-on food in the microwave by filling a glass with water and heating the liquid on high for one minute; the steam will loosen stains, making it easier to clean. To ease toilet-bowl scrubbing, drop two denture-cleaning tablets in the bowl and let fizz for 10 minutes.

No. 5: Overlooking Grimy Spots

Dishwasher: Remove baskets and debris from the bottom. Spray a water and vinegar solution onto a cleaning cloth or clean sponge to wipe down the inside of the door and top and bottom racks. Run the empty machine on its highest temperature setting without detergent for a thorough rinse.

Window blinds: Shut blinds and use a microfiber cloth to dust them. Close blinds in opposite direction for a quick, complete wipe-down.

Trash cans: Remove the bag and sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the can before adding about two inches of water. Allow the mixture to sit and then swish it with clean water. Wipe down the sides and rinse. Dry it with an old towel or let air dry.

Search for cobwebs in corners, around fireplaces, on top of lampshades, and between windows. Dust can also collect on ceiling fans, especially if you never turn them off, so clean each blade.

No. 6: Continuing to Use the Same Dirty Cloth

Keep a stack of clean cloths nearby and switch them out frequently. However, you don’t need piles of cloths, as you can clean them. Just rinse in clean water and wring out. If you’re dusting, use a dry microfiber; then hold it inside a garbage bag and shake it to remove the dust.

No. 7: Waiting Until Spring

Incorporating easy tricks into your daily and weekly routines can make maintenance easier. Try putting a squeegee in the shower and run the tool over the walls to minimize build-up. Line bathroom and bedroom trashcans with plastic shopping bags to reduce sticky residue. Ask family members to spend five to 10 minutes each night putting away clothes, toys, shoes, and mail. By keeping clutter to a minimum, you’ll spend less time preparing to clean. Don’t make cleaning a weekly or bi-weekly chore. Spread tasks throughout the week, tackling one room at a time.