Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc
Easy ways to freshen every room for spring: Think of this as your ultimate cleaning checklist: Easy ways to get your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, laundry room, and patio in tip-top shape for spring
Clean around & inside appliances
Dirt, pet hair, and dust particles can build up behind your refrigerator. Airborne materials can block the appliance’s coils, restricting airflow through the appliance. It’s worth it to pull out the refrigerator and vacuum the coils. Also, sanitize the dishwasher. Place a shallow dish of vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher and run it (empty) on a long sanitation cycle to kill fungi..
A simple mixture of two parts water to one part white distilled vinegar is all you need for a streak-free finish on windows and glass surfaces. Wipe the inside of windows from side to side, and the outside of windows from top to bottom. This makes it easier to see which side (if any) needs further cleaning.
Dispose of old food
Go through the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for foods that are past their expiration dates or those items you know you'll never use. Throw them away. For unopened can and jar foods that are still good, donate them.
Take inventory of small appliances
Donate the novelty appliances you rarely or never use. Clean out the inside of your microwave. And turn your attention to your must-have appliance: the coffee maker. To clean your coffee maker, brew a pot using 2 parts distilled water and 1 part vinegar. Brew this mixture through 3 times, then follow up with 3 brews using distilled water.
Clear your counter
Little bottles of lotions and potions are dust-catchers. If you're not using them, give them away or throw them out. If you do use them, find a storage system to hold and organize them in your bath.
Neaten up the medicine cabinet
Throw away any medicines or health and beauty items with expired dates. Many personal care products deteriorate after six months.
Go through old linens
If your towels, rugs, and shower curtain are looking shabby or worn, it might be time to donate them and replenish your supply with fresh ones.
Scrub tile grout
Clean grout is like a facelift for your bathroom. To remove mold and mildew, home care expert Cheryl Mendelson, author of Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House, recommends scrubbing grout with a toothbrush and a simple solution of 1/2 cup chlorine bleach diluted in a gallon of water. Test on an inconspicuous section of grout and tile first.
If deep cleaning your tiled surfaces doesn't go far enough, try regrouting the surfaces.
Clear plastic drawers are the "little black dress" of organizing, says Barbara Reich, a professional organizer. Use them in every room of the house. They're great in the bathroom when used to divide and organize drawers or to make great use of space under the bathroom sink. When they get dusty, clear them of their contents and wash them in the dishwasher.
Tame your closets
Dry clean or launder coats, sweaters, and any items you are keeping. Toss or donate any items that are worn, don't fit, or you don't like. Inventory your spring and summer clothes and make a list of new items you need to purchase. Organizer Gal says it's good to invest in storage containers, clothing bags, and cedar blocks to store out-of-season clothing.
Remove everything from your bedroom that doesn't serve you—books you've read or don't intend to read, clothes you don't like, magazines, newspapers, and more. Make your bedroom a haven by first cleaning out the piles.
Dry clean or launder the heavy comforter on your bed, store it and replace with a lighter blanket. Swap your heavy bed sheets for lighter sheets and store the rest. Wash linens in hot water to kill allergens. Invest in a new odor-eliminating, anti-bacterial mattress pad.
Get rid of dirt
Dust everything from the top down. Start with cleaning walls and the ceiling fan, move to baseboards, and finally sweep up all dust.
Cut down on paper
Magazines and newspapers create clutter in living spaces and collect dust. Store them in a basket until you're done with them, and donate magazines to a hospital or library. Recycle newspapers.
Professionally clean upholstery and launder curtains. Update furniture with slipcovers—one of the simplest tools for refreshing a room. Shop for light or neutral slips that are machine washable. Sure Fit slipcovers are treated with Scotchgard protector to keep colors stains at bay.
Houseplants freshen and filter the air in your home. Plus the green brings life to rooms that have been bundled up for months. Try one of these favorites recommended by Costafarms.com: ferns, orchids, peace lily, philodendron, massangena cane, anthuriums, or palms.
Send out the rugs for a professional cleaning. For wall-to-wall carpet, hiring a pro for deep cleaning and stain removal.
Clear dryer vents
Check and clean your dryer vent and ducts to remove lint build-up. If the ducts get clogged with lint, it can be a fire hazard. Drying clothes with fabric softener sheets can leave a residue on the lint trap. Wash the trap with soap and water in a sink. Bonus: You'll be amazed at how much faster your clothes will dry when the dryer duct is free from lint.
Maintain washer & dryer
Pull out the washer and dryer. Vacuum the backside of each appliance with a brush attachment to remove dirt and dust, says Steve Ash of partselect.com. Wipe down the top and sides of the appliances with an all-purpose cleaner.
Clean inside of washing machine
Run the washing machine cycle with distilled white vinegar and hot water. This will get rid of any mildew and soap scum.
Wipe down iron
Clean the plate of the iron with a baking soda and water paste to remove any build-up from spray starch. Check the condition of your ironing board and board cover and replace if needed.
Porch & patio
Power wash surfaces
Grime and dirt can leave surfaces looking dingy or even a different color. Power washing your porch and patio before the summer entertaining season starts will freshen your outdoor spaces up.
Give the deck boards a good look. Raised nails can be pounded back in. If the floor is in disrepair, take time to replace rotting boards and to scrape, sand, and refinish existing boards.
Most patio furniture, cushions and umbrellas can be cleaned using a mild soap and water mixture and a soft cloth. Saturate the furniture and cushions then rinse well with a damp cloth or garden hose. Follow manufacturer's directions when cleaning wood or other specialty furniture. Wipe down the grill with a soap and water mixture. Or, for caked-on grease, scrub with a wire brush.
If you have a screened in porch, vacuum the screens to remove dirt and allergens. Fill a bucket with soapy water and wipe down the screens using a sponge.
Add plants. Buy planters and flowers to welcome the season and add a little color. Fill window boxes with bloomers.