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The Clean Sheet: The spring cleaning checklist you need for a happier, healthier home

 It's true: A clean, uncluttered home makes for healthier living, both physically and mentally. Spring is a natural time to accomplish some household chores and show those dust bunnies who's boss. Here are 15 easy improvements that will help get your home in tip-top shape. (Insider FYI: These are especially essential if you are selling your home and preparing it for a photo shoot, open house or private showing.) Read on, make an action plan — even if you do it over several days — and wait till you see (and feel) the difference that doing these things will make.

1. Dust every surface and everything on it

Whether you're using a dust rag, feather duster, furniture polish or a combination of all three, dusting all flat surfaces is something that's probably done on a regular basis. But, really look at each room and focus on where dust can hide. As you remove items to dust tables and other furnishings, dust off each individual book, knickknack and decorative accessory, too. Start with the highest items in each room. Don't forget to look atop high cabinets and other tall pieces of furniture, so that when the dust settles, you can catch everything with a broom or vacuum cleaner.

2. Replace HVAC filters and clean vents

Most people replace air filters once a month, but some high-quality filters need to be replaced only every two or three. Either way, get in the habit of setting a reminder alarm at the appropriate interval to change out every filter. This helps you breathe easier, keeps odors at bay and helps increase the efficiency and overall life of your heaters and air conditioners. While you're at it, vacuum or wipe off every air-duct vent in the house, too. 

3. Vacuum absolutely everything

Vacuuming floors, carpets and rugs is a no-brainer, but don't forget all those hidden and hard-to-reach places that may need your vacuum cleaners long wand attachments to reach. Ceiling fans, air-duct vents, HVAC returns, blinds, plantation shutters, the tops of cabinets and furniture all hide dust accumulation, so start with the vacuum cleaner and then follow up with dust rags or wipes to get every last speck. It's not a bad idea to vacuum one last time after the dust has a chance to settle.

4. Shampoo or steam carpets, rugs and upholstery

Carpets, rugs and upholstery will all pop back to life with a once-a-year shampooing or steam cleaning. Check your product labels and care instructions first, but this is also an ideal time to apply Scotchgard or similar sprays to protect against stains and spills. While you're at it, toss all the pet beds into your washer for a deep-clean cycle.

5. Dust the blinds and shutters

Before cleaning your windows (spoiler alert: that's coming up), use a feather duster or vacuum cleaner to remove dust from blinds or the slats in plantation shutters and other non-fabric window treatments. By taking this step first, you wont muss up the windows when they're freshly cleaned.

6. Polish all the metal hardware

From doorknobs to drawer pulls, metal hardware exists in nearly every room in the home. Polishing gloves and wipes are an easy way to buff silver and other metals back to like-new condition.

7. Wash windows and screens

Even if you're doing every other to-do item on this list yourself, window cleaning is something that's ideal to hire out to professionals, especially if you have large windows or hard-to-reach ones that require ladders, scaffolding or other means to reach. If you do them yourself, a squeegee with a six-foot (or longer) extension pole will be your best friend. Make sure to clean both sides of each window for the most sparkling results. Likewise, it defeats the purpose of getting fresh air if you open your windows and the screens are full of pollen, dust, animal hair and dander, leaves, cobwebs or any number of foreign substances. Remove screens and spray them down with a hose, then prop upright to dry completely before reinstalling.

8. Deep-clean the floors

Whether it's steam-cleaning carpets and rugs, giving a thorough wash and polish to tile and stone or cleaning hardwoods with a protective oil soap, deep-cleaning every floor surface can have a dramatic effect on a room's appearance. Pay special attention to portions of the floor that are under furniture and in corners, which can get overlooked with regular cleaning.

9. Wipe down walls and baseboards

Use a damp, non-abrasive cloth (spot-test a hidden area first!) to clean off scuffed baseboards and walls. Magic erasers can be, well, magical in many of these applications.

10. Organize your closets

Decluttering your closets during spring cleaning is an ideal companion project to making your home more livable. If you haven't worn certain clothes, shoes, jewelry or accessories in a while, assess whether you still love them and whether they're still in style and donate anything you no longer enjoy. For everything else, try on each item to make sure it still fits. If it doesn't, you guessed it: Add it to the donation pile, too.

11. Clean the kitchen appliances

Every appliance in your kitchen needs regular cleaning, but at least once a year you should remove everything from the refrigerator (toss anything that's expired) and wash every shelf and compartment using your dishwasher, if possible. Clean your oven and stovetop next. Then look at small countertop appliances to make sure they're all clean and free of old food, from toaster ovens to microwaves and every little gadget in between.

12. Freshen the garbage disposal

A sour garbage disposal can make an otherwise clean kitchen smell not-so-fresh. Pour in white vinegar, let it sit for 10 minutes, then run the disposal, throwing in some ice cubes toward the end to keep the blades sharp. Or you can purchase special foaming cleaners that are specific to garbage disposals for a burst of fresh air that permeates the entire room.

13. Organize the bathroom cabinets

Much like your closets, bathroom storage and medicine cabinets should be cleaned out at least once a year to eliminate bottles of dried-out products and any expired medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. Follow these guidelines for disposing of medication properly. When that's done, remove everything from each storage space for dusting and wiping clean, then get rid of any worn or tattered towels and any items you no longer use or need.

14. Flip and/or rotate mattresses

With many consumers opting for pillow-top mattresses, flipping mattresses regularly may be a thing of the past. But if you have a traditional, non-pillow-top mattress, it's a good idea to flip it over and turn it 180 degrees at least once a year, to slow the wear and tear. For pillow-tops and memory-foam mattresses, simply do the 180-degree step. (Check all tags on the mattresses, though: Some may have different recommendations.)

15. Wash or replace pillows

After you've turned the mattresses, wash all your pillows on your washer's sanitary cycle, if the care instructions agree. Or, head to your favorite home store or online retailer and purchase brand-new pillows every time you deep clean. This prevents dust mites and other microscopic creatures from giving your allergies and skin any unnecessary drama. 

Are you ready?

Know this: When you've checked off these tasks, your clean and organized home will be your favorite place all over again. For more home tips, whether organizing, sprucing up a space or boosting curb appeal, check out more of our blog. It is loaded with advice, gleaned from those who know homes best: the expert agents of Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty. 


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