Throw back those curtains and put on your rubber gloves: the time for spring cleaning has arrived! Sure, you know how to mop, but are you prepared to wash all those surfaces and materials that go untouched the rest of the year? If you need a few tips on tidying up, we've got the lowdown on how to clean just about everything.
Always wipe stainless thoroughly dry—and in the direction of the grain. For most stains, a mild detergent with water should do the trick. For rust stains, consider applying a light paste of baking soda and mild detergent with a non-abrasive pad. Then rinse with water and wipe to dry. Get the full tutorial here!
If a mild detergent doesn't do the job on your slate floor, consider mixing equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle. Apply the solution directly onto stains, let sit for about ten minutes, then scrub with a soft, non-abraisve pad or soft-bristled brush. Check here for further details.
Your first line of defense in maintaining hardwood floors? Wiping up spills as soon as they happen. For oil and grease stains, apply mineral spirits or TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) on urethane-treated floors, and either TSP or high-content lye soap on floors with a penetrating finish. For specific advice on treating spills of all kinds, don't miss RX for Hardwood Floors.
No matter what type of paint is on your walls, regular dusting helps preserve the finish. If you choose to wash painted walls, start with the gentlest cleaning solution there is, plain water. Step it up a notch, if necessary, with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent soap. For tougher stains, help is here.
When it comes to cleaning vinyl floors, you can't go wrong with plain water and a sponge mop! If you're looking for a deeper clean, one of the best cleaners to use is apple cider vinegar, believe it or not. The acidity in vinegar helps remove dirt and grime without leaving a buildup of soap or wax. You can find additional here.
Vacuum rugs regularly to keep dirt from settling into the pile. If you need to do spot cleaning, use a store-bought rug shampoo or as an alternative, add a couple of capfuls of mild dish detergent to a bucket of warm water. With a brush or sponge, work the lather into the rug and let it sit before rinsing. Go here to see our full guide.
Due to its typically light color and porous composition, grout is prone to staining. To remove mild stains, fill a spray bottle with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and warm water. Spray the solution directly onto the grout, let stand about five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. Tougher stains and mold may be cleaned using the tips offered here.
Looking for a way to clean your garbage disposal? Fill the unit with a cup of rock salt poured over a handful of ice cubes, then run the motor for a few minutes. To get rid of bad smells, pour warm water (not hot) into your garbage disposal as it grinds up cut lemons. For other issues, click here to find expert advice.
For food and drink stains on marble, create a paste by mixing five tablespoons of dish soap with a cup of flour or baking soda. Spread the paste over your stain, cover it with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight. Gently remove the mixture with warm water and a sponge. Click here for in-depth pointers on maintaining some of the most common countertop materials.
Dust buildup on your tools? Use a shop vacuum to clean all visible parts. To clean vents, use compressed air. Meanwhile, a stiff brush or steel wool will go a long way toward removing any evidence of rust. And don't forget to run a damp rag over any molded plastic or PVC details. Further info on cleaning power tools is available here.
Regular dusting with a microfiber duster, feather duster, or soft cloth is a benefit to all blinds. For heavier dust, use the small brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner to go over the blinds, working in the direction of the slats. Blinds will need a more thorough cleaning once or twice a year. Take a microfiber cloth, terry towel, clean sock or cotton gloves and gently rub each slat from end to end, making sure to clean top and bottom. For more in depth solutions for metal, vinyl, wood or fabric blinds, read the full how-to here.
Soap and warm water will do the trick on latex paint, but removing the residue from oil-based paints involves mineral spirits or turpentine. Immerse your brush in the solvent and stir. Once the paint has been removed, wash the brush off in warm, soapy water to clean away lingering traces of the solvent used. Read more here!
After each use, remove the bottom tray from under your gas grill and place it over a trash can. On occasion, use a plaster scraper to get out all the excess grease. If you have a charcoal grill, grease is equally important to address, and to guard against the risk of rust, emptying the ash pan is critical. Many more grill maintenance recommendations are in our full guide here.
Concrete is a porous material with innumerable tiny voids that can harbor dirt, mold, and all kinds of deep, stubborn stains. To clean concrete, begin with the least toxic cleanser appropriate, then up the ante if necessary. Common detergents scrubbed directly onto the tough spots often leads to success. Hydrogen peroxide or ammonia also work well. Check out other options here!
Vinyl siding is fairly easy to clean, and you can make a quick cleaning solution at home! 70% water, 30% white vinegar makes a great all-purpose cleanser that removes light mold and mildew stains. For a stronger solution, mix together one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach and one gallon of water. For what to do next, read on here.
Have you ever been tempted to buy one of those products you see advertised on TV infomercials? Sure, the spokesperson swears it does everything (and more!) but can it really live up to the hype? Sometimes, yes! Click through now to see some of our favorites.