Nobody likes spring cleaning, but the feeling of accomplishment which comes from taking care of your most valuable investment — your home — can provide you the impetus you need to get going. If you need an additional bit of motivation, plan a party that will take place after you finish your spring cleaning. That way you can kill two birds with one stone — you get a clean home and you get to party!
Spring arrives early in the Lowcountry. Starting in February and lasting through April, spring brings the need to clear up, clear out and get ready for the hot, summer weather that sets in mid-May.
Heather Solos, author of Home Ec 101, Skills for Everyday Living and blogger at Home-Ec101.com writes in her post about spring cleaning, “In the past many homes were heated with wood fire or coal stoves, both of which produce soot that gets deposited on walls, windows, and flooring. Over the winter this soot and the mud and filth tracked in would build up. Spring cleaning meant opening the windows wide, washing the walls, welcoming in the fresh air and cleaning out the dust, soot, and mud from the winter.”
Traditional spring cleaning tasks include:
- Cleaning gutters
- Window washing
- Power washing the exterior of your home
- Cleaning window coverings
- Carpet cleaning
- Hard surface floor cleaning
- Deep cleaning the kitchen
From exterior to interior, your home needs attention in the spring to keep it in tip-top shape. We’re offering you a few tips on how to accomplish these tasks.
Home exterior spring cleaning tasks for the Lowcountry
Over the course of the winter in Charleston, which is our rainy season, mold, mildew and green algae grow in shady spots on exterior wood decks, vinyl siding, walks and steps. Spring is the time to get rid of this unsightly and damaging growth. Not only mold and mildew need eradicating. Each spring in the Lowcountry, our pine trees put out copious amounts of pollen that coats every surface.
Power washing your home
Power washing your home’s exterior is best done in the spring. When you power wash, be sure to use the lowest power settings you can to produce effective results. In an article on Angie's List, Paul Pogue summarizes professional power washing company tips. If you are going to do your own power washing, be sure to use eye and ear protection, understand the machinery you’re using, wash from the bottom up, rinse from the top down and use the right cleaners for the surfaces you’re cleaning.
Every two to three years after power washing your decks you will need to seal them to protect them against weathering. Consult the homeowner's manual which was provided to you by your builder to determine the frequency and types of sealants or stains you need to use to protect your deck.
Concrete walks, drives and steps may also need sealing after power washing. Be sure to use a sealer which is recommended for concrete and apply it according to manufacturer directions.
In Charleston, unlike other regions of the country, the beautiful live oaks and laurel oaks lose their leaves in the spring. In other parts of the country oaks lose leaves in the fall. Live oak and laurel oak leaves are small, and collect in gutters. Also in spring, the tassels from oak and pecan trees collect in gutters. If your home has overhanging branches of any kind, you must clear your gutters in the spring.
Clean out the accumulated debris from your gutters with a small trowel, or your hands (while wearing gloves). Be sure your downspouts are clear and drain water quickly. HGTV recommends that you check all gutter attachments and rivets to be sure they are in place and that there are no leaks in your gutters.
Garden tasks for the spring in Charleston
After your azaleas bloom this spring, cut them back if they have grown too large. Never prune your azaleas in the fall because you’ll cut off all the blossoms you enjoy in the spring. Azaleas set blossoms on the new growth after they complete their spring bloom. So, pruning in April will ensure you have flowers the following spring.
Mulch your flower beds and borders now. Reduce weeds and help retain moisture this summer by installing either bark mulch or pine straw mulch. Don’t know how much you need? Local landscape supplies company All Seasons Mulch has a handy calculator that you can use to determine how much mulch you need.
Care for your lawn by applying recommended fertilizers and herbicides. There are many available which are pet and barefoot friendly. You don’t have to use harsh chemicals these days. Check your local home center store for green and environmentally friendly products to nurture your lawn.
Home interior spring cleaning tasks
Spring floor cleaning
You may not see the dirt and grime trapped in your carpet, but it’s there. Clean your carpets in the spring to prevent excess wear. According to Family Handyman, “Properly cleaned and maintained carpet will last twice as long.”
If you’re going to clean your carpets with your own carpet cleaning machine or one you rent from the grocery store, be sure to use the recommended amount of soap and to rinse well. Soap residue in your carpets attracts dirt and leaves carpets feeling sticky. Family Handyman recommends making multiple drying passes without water. If you’re not liking the idea of cleaning your carpets yourself, call in the pros.
Hardwood floor cleaning
Most homeowners vacuum and dust their hardwood floors regularly. Each spring, it’s a good idea to give them a good mopping. Today’s new homes have hardwood floors which are protected by polyurethane and do not need paste waxing and buffing. If your floors have a poly finish on them damp mopping them with a solution of water and white vinegar works nicely. Consult the product information provided to you by your builder to be sure you’re cleaning your floors the recommended way.
Spring cleaning for tile floors
Does the grout in your floors look dingy and cruddy? If it does, spring is the perfect time to give them a good going over. Many professional carpet cleaners will also clean tile floors. Steam cleaning is a great way to sanitize and clean grout. You can rent a cleaner or hire a pro.
If you choose to undertake this yourself, you can make your own cleaning solution. WikiHow tells you how to use one of three combinations of cleaners you can make from ingredients you have at home.
Window covering cleaning
Blinds, curtains and draperies need spring cleaning too
Let’s face it, most of us are lazy and never clean all the surfaces on our louver blinds. Spring is the perfect excuse to get this task done. You can use a soft cloth to remove loose dirt. You can also use a non-woven duster. You may know these cleaning tools by the Swiffer brand name.
After removing the dust, gently wipe blinds with a damp cloth and a small amount of household cleaner to remove dirt and grime. If your blinds are in the kitchen, you may need to use a grease cutting cleaner.
Take your curtains down and take them to the professional cleaners. You’ll be glad to have them back up, pressed and looking sharp. If you have curtains which machine washable, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t dry them in the dryer unless you are certain they will not shrink, or wrinkle excessively. Who wants to iron curtains? Not us. Hanging them to dry might save you some time, and eliminate or prevent wrinkling. Though for our money, we think the professional cleaner is the way to go.
Kitchen spring cleaning
Pull your fridge out and vacuum behind it and clean off any exposed coils or parts which may have collected dust. Do the same with your stove if it’s a free-standing one which can be easily moved.
While you’re puttering with the stove, clean the oven or use the self-cleaning setting. Don’t forget to clean the exhaust fan filter if you have one. They get very grimy and greasy. You can soak them in a solution of cider vinegar and water to loosen grease. A good tip is to run it through the dishwasher!
HVAC spring cleaning
Summer’s heat is coming fast. Get a professional to come out and give your HVAC system a spring tune up. They will ensure that it is in good working order so that you get the most effective cooling. Check your HVAC manufacturer’s warranty materials which came with your home closing packet to be sure you know what to ask the professional technician to do.
Now that your home’s all spotless, shiny and wonderful, sit back and enjoy a glass of sweet tea or throw that party. You will enjoy the compliments you receive on your lovely, clean home.
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