Dreadful rite of spring is here
If the house cleaner is none other than you, listen to the hired hands. First, look up, they say, and not for divine help.
By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003
|[Times photo: Thomas Goethe]
Christy Mikolajewski, owner of 2 Chicks & A Bucket, cleans a client's blinds.
BRANDON -- As the owner of 2 Chicks & A Bucket, Christy Mikolajewski knows all about the rituals of spring cleaning. She does it all year long.
She knows what can happen when we don't dust the ceiling fans or clean out the fridge or fling those nasty cobwebs from the corner.
It plagues all but the most conscientious of housekeepers.
And that's why once a year we all have the need to purge our homes of clutter, dirt and mildew.
Mikolajewski is a firm advocate of cleaning from the ceilings down. Start with the grime that's skulking above eye level and work your way down to the floor.
"I mean, take the top of the fridge, for example," she asks. "Do you ever think of cleaning it?"
Tammy Harshbarger, co-owner of the Clean Team in Carrollwood, is another fan of the top-to-bottom method. In fact, it's the only way to really spring clean.
"Always, always start at the top," she says. "Work your way down, dusting ceiling fans, vents, anything above your head. Otherwise you're just going to float a lot of dust."
She recommends cleaning fans with one of those ceiling fan brushes, the oblong-shaped kind attached to a long pole. They usually retail for under $10 and make cleaning a lot easier.
If you haven't bothered to dust the fan in a year, here's some bad news: You're going to have to teeter on a stepladder or sturdy chair and wipe the blades down.
As long as the blades aren't wood or another fragile material, she recommends using a degreasing product. "Old-fashioned soap and water works, too."
Spring cleaning means hunting down dirt lurking in the most inconspicuous places, says Harshbarger. Like underneath the stove. "Nobody really thinks about it," she says. "Just remove the bottom drawer and take a look."
Forget the mop. Sweep it out first with a little brush and then spray the area with an ammonia and water solution (usually one part ammonia to four parts water).
For bathroom mildew that has grown wild in the garden of grout, she recommends tackling it with a bleach-water spray solution (one part bleach to one part water). Make sure the bathroom is well ventilated and avoid spraying near shower curtains or towels. Bleach has a tarnishing effect, she warns, so be careful of chrome -- drains, faucets, fixtures and trim.
When it comes to chrome, the best way to rub away hard-water spots and soap scum is with a cloth moistened with vinegar, according to How to Clean Everything -- Even Your Kids. (Reader's Digest 2003). Dry and polish with a soft cloth.
Loretta Adam, owner of Adam's Maid and Cleaning Service in the Brandon/Riverview area, offers this tip for a long-neglected bathtub ring or shower scum:
"Let the cleaner sit on it a while before wiping because the dirt will usually come up much more easily."
Other overlooked dirt magnets include switch plates, cupboards and areas around door handles. "Don't be afraid to spray them with an all purpose cleaner and just wipe down," Adam says. Coffee-stained countertops clean up nicely with a bleach-based cleaner she says, but test the area first.
The area she sees overlooked most? Tops of cupboards -- "you know, that area above the kitchen cabinets that you can't see?"
Take all tea trays and decorative roosters down, she says. Then get up there with a small broom and dustpan and attack those multiplying dust bunnies. Rags and a degreaser are next. "Then put it all back together and forget about it until next year."
Just kidding, she says. Keeping up a regular dirt patrol means a less taxing spring cleaning.
"Look up" she advises. "Take a good look at the shelves you can't reach in your closet." They're probably full of dust. So are the blinds, though you probably wouldn't admit it.
Don't worry. Just because Adam cleans for a living doesn't mean she's judging you by your quantity of dirt.
"I think people just get really busy with their work and kids and it's just hard -- hard to keep a home really clean and looking good all the time," Adam says.
As for clutter, you know it's lethal. But no one can tell you what to throw away. Mikolajewski, of 2 Chicks & a Bucket, recommends tackling closets at least once a year.
"Grab a big garbage bag. Anything you haven't worn in two years -- give it away," she says. "I mean, get rid of it."
And forget the fancy closet organizers. Plastic stackable boxes are great for organization, she says. "And you can stand on the really strong ones."
Harshbarger has this message:
"Clutter? Remember, less mess means less stress."
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