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May 4, 2012, 10:44 am Words by Shelley Tustin, Yahoo!7
Clean up your act in time for spring with our guide to getting rid of the winter’s grime.
As the winter gloom recedes, the cheeky spring sunshine reveals a season of scum that has built up in our homes. A thorough spring clean may seem a daunting undertaking, but if you focus your efforts on one area at a time, it will be an achievable job that brings huge satisfaction. Here are our tips for tackling the seven tricky sections of your house.
While bedlinen is frequently washed throughout the year, duvets and pillows tend to be forgotten. Many can be machine-washed, though the golden rule is to follow the washing instructions. Make use of the local laundromat, as anything larger than a pillow can overload a domestic washing machine. Tumble-drying is often the best option, particularly for feather-and-down duvets and pillows, which will tend to clump if you line-dry them.
Treat curtains with care. Follow washing instructions, using the most gentle cycle on your machine or swishing them around the bath. If the fabric permits, ironing will give them a crisp look. Roller or Roman blinds can be trickier to clean. “Try using a pencil eraser on any marks; this works well on many small stains,” suggests Simon Meyer of Peter Meyer Blinds. “Most fabrics can be spot cleaned with a mild soapy water solution and a clean cloth, but always test in an inconspicuous area first, as this doesn’t work on all fabrics, especially if they are delicate.”
Cleaning your windows is the easiest way to transform the look of your home, as it allows spring sunshine to flood inside. While most people can only manage this twice a year, Catherine Barbeoc’h, executive housekeeper at Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth, advises that those living close to high-traffic areas should be cleaning external windows every two months. Pick an overcast day (bright sunshine can dry the water and cleaning solution too quickly, causing streaks) and get cracking with a mixture of white vinegar, a drop of dish soap and water, a good squeegee and a rag for getting into the corners and wiping the sills.
Inside, dust the blades of shutters and Venetian blinds, and to give a glow to timber ones, you can finish with a bit of furniture polish. Simon Meyer advises to use caution; “Remember, it’s timber, so don’t use any harsh chemical cleaners.” Also ensure you spot test before doing the whole blind.
Timber floors require regular maintenance beyond sweeping. “Use mats around doors leading into the home to trap dirt and prevent it from being trodden into the floor, and add protective pads to furniture to prevent scuffing,”advises Robyn Barnes of Boral. “Also, protect the floor from direct sunlight by moving rugs around periodically. This will stop darker and lighter patches forming.”
While most ceramic tiles are glazed for an easy-clean surface, grout often lets this low-maintenance product down. Clean grout with a paste of baking soda and vinegar, using an old toothbrush to get into the tricky spots.
The best way to avoid stains on your carpet is to tackle spills immediately. For most types of stains on wool carpet, Cavalier Bremworth recommends cold water, followed by a solution of one teaspoon each of white vinegar and wool detergent with one litre of warm water. Blot, don’t rub, with a clean white cloth – and know when to admit defeat. Catherine Barbeoc’h warns, “If you don’t know how to handle it, leave it and get professional advice or the damage you do could be worse than the stain.”
To combat ground-in dirt, a good vacuum cleaner is key. For households with pets, Michael Read of Dyson suggests a vacuum with a turbine head, or for even better pick-up, invest in a motorhead vacuum cleaner. “This floor tool features a brush bar that rotates to agitate the carpet for maximum pick-up,” he says.
Unless your home is a haven of minimalism, there are likely to be areas wearing an unbecoming coat of fuzzy dust. “A microfibre cloth is the tool of choice for delicate artwork and ornaments, as it collects dust without dispersing it,” Catherine Barbeoc’h explains. Try ‘Chi’ microfibre dust cloth from Biome.
Max Kater of eco-friendly cleaning product company Murchison-Hume adds, “I keep several pastry and art brushes for sweeping dust out of the corners of intricate carved furniture, art and silk lampshades.” Keep a multipurpose furniture cleaner on hand; Murchison-Hume furniture spritzer can be used on both hard and soft furnishings.
Mould and mildew will have crept into almost every home by the end of a long, damp winter. Scrub walls with a light abrasive cleaning pad, such as Goodbye Detergent’s mould remover pads. To clean cupboards, try a solution of two teaspoons of tea tree oil to two cups of water, or spray with white vinegar – both remedies are a little pungent, but the smell will dissipate within a few hours.
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