The birds are chirping and tulips have bloomed — sure signs spring is finally here. But that also means it’s time to get your yellow gloves ready. “Your house has been shut up all winter, so dust and allergens have built up,” says Fatimah Abdallah, co-owner of Tima’s Cleaning Service in Westlake. “It’s important to get that stuff out as soon as you can.” While the window-washing and carpet-scrubbing may seem intimidating, these tips from expert cleaners can make it a little easier.
Break time: You can’t get it done in a day if you want it done right. “Take it in stages. Don’t just say, ‘I’m going to do it all today,’ ” says Tim Marlowe, owner and general manager of GrimeStoppers in Willoughby. “First, set aside a day to do some organizing so you’re not taking so much time out.“
Up and down: Abdallah recommends going in with a strategy. Work from the top of your house to the bottom, and from the back of each room to the front. “A system will keep you on track and will keep you from messing up areas you’ve already cleaned,” she says. “It just helps you stay more organized in the end.”
Distill it: Forget harsh cleaners that are packed full of chemicals, such as chlorine and ammonia, and opt for something natural and inexpensive that you probably already have in your cupboards — distilled white vinegar. Combine about one part vinegar to two parts water for general use. “You can clean your whole house with vinegar,” says Marlowe. “If you need a bit more strength, you won’t dilute it with so much water, [but] that would be the most natural solution to use.”
Short cuts: All of your problems won’t be solved with a magic eraser, but there are some cleaning hacks that can come in handy. “Dryer sheets will remove gunk from shower doors, baking soda whitens [and] removes stains,” says Laura Smith, owner of the Cleaner Scene in Lakewood. Make a paste from two parts baking soda and one part water. Then use a toothbrush to apply the mixture to any surface that needs whitening, leave it for five to 10 minutes and wipe it off with a wet cloth.
Get steamy: Cleaning your carpets is a must. But Smith prefers steam cleaning over shampooing. Steam penetrates deeper and kills dust mites and mold spores. “The problem with over-washing your carpets is that they have a tendency to shrink, which will ruin your room,” Smith says. “Steam, while it should still only be done once a year or less, is not soaking the carpet like shampooing would.”