Saving time when spring cleaning

The return of spring is always a welcome time of year, as leaves begin to bud on the trees and the days become longer and warmer. But it's also the season for the much-dreaded spring cleaning, when homeowners undertake the arduous effort to banish as much dust and dirt from their home as possible.

A few tricks can help make spring cleaning go faster, leaving you more time to enjoy yourself. Some tactics will make a certain task easier, while others will help cut down on the amount of cleaning you'll need to do later in the year.

Spring is a good time to establish a routine to keep on top of various cleaning tasks. Jane Dagmi, writing for the home improvement professional Bob Vila, says this will break up the sizable task of spring cleaning into smaller, more manageable blocks. You might focus on cleaning a single room, or you might dedicate a certain amount of time to cleaning each day. Tara Aronson, author of the blog Clean Organized Home, suggests focusing on the larger, more essential parts of your home such as carpeting, furniture, and appliances for spring cleaning.

It also helps to start a few habits for regular cleaning. You might set a goal of sweeping or dusting a room or two each day, cleaning the bathroom one day a week, or otherwise creating a routine.

Spring cleaning is also an ideal time to declutter your home, which will make it easier to keep your rooms organized in the future. The transition of seasons allows you to assess your winter clothes and decide which ones you no longer need. Olivia Heath, writing for House Beautiful, recommends discarding items you haven't used in six months or longer, either by donating them or throwing them away.

When cleaning a room, start from the top and work your way down. Brett Martin, writing for Popular Mechanics, says cleaning in a random order can send dust or dirt onto surfaces that you've already cleaned. By starting higher up, such as cleaning off the blades of a ceiling fan, you'll be less likely to have to clean any areas a second time.

When deep cleaning the carpets, you don't need to haul furniture out of the room. Aronson says it's possible to move furniture only a short distance to clean the carpet underneath. Once the carpet has been shampooed, you can simply move the furniture back into place and put the legs on pieces of waxed paper.

There are several options for removing dust and pet dander more efficiently. Emma Yardley, writing for HGTV, says you should make sure your broom is free of any dust bunnies before you start using it, and recommends occasionally cleaning it in soapy water. Lint rollers and microfiber cloths are also a good way to quickly remove dust. Heath says you can simply don a pair of rubber gloves and run them over a surface, as pet hairs will stick to the gloves.

You'll waste time if you're hunting around for a bottle of spray cleaner or a scrub brush. Dagmi says you can keep most cleaning materials compactly stored in a bucket or tote, which also allows you to easily carry these supplies from room to room. Yardley says an apron also comes in handy, allowing you to carry around garbage bags and other necessary materials.

Cleaning the microwave can be a particularly daunting task if you have a lot of baked-on splatters. Microwaving a bowl with a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar will produce steam inside the microwave that will soften up these stains and make them easier to remove.

A similar process can quickly eliminate odors in your washing machine. After starting a hot water cycle, add white vinegar and baking soda to the washer and let them sit for about an hour before finishing the cycle.

White vinegar can make bathroom cleaning much easier if you let it work overnight. Heath says tying a bag of the vinegar around a showerhead and leaving it for several hours will break down limescale. Spraying lime stains on other bathroom surfaces and letting the vinegar soak in will make the stains easier to remove as well.

Rust stains can be addressed with lemon juice. Martin says the juice should soak into the stain for about 10 minutes before you try to remove it. Hard bristle brushes may be necessary for persistent stains.

Melamine sponges are a particularly useful tool for deep cleaning. These sponges have deeper pores, allowing them to clear away stains and scuffs from surfaces ranging from cooktops to walls.

A few good habits will help to minimize your need for cleaning in the future. Dagmi says you shouldn't use too much soap or other cleaning product, since doing so can leave an unpleasant residue on a surface. Keeping a doormat handy and removing your shoes after you enter the home will also prevent dirt from getting tracked through the rooms.

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