8 summer cleaning tips
Summertime and the living is easy...
If your kids are in year-round boarding school, that is. If not, as moms everywhere know, living gets a lot wilder and dirtier with our little darlings at home all day.
How will you (and your home) survive this constant onslaught of mud, fingerpaints and toys? Simple. What you need is a strategy.
There's nothing complicated or time-consuming about keeping a clean, inviting and well-run home. Take a few minutes now for planning, and you'll save hours in the months ahead.
These 8 summer cleaning tips can help you keep your home looking crisp and clean with minimal effort during the sunny days ahead.
1 plan for a clutter-free summer
Set a summer goal of having a clutter free home. Having lots of stuff around leaves plenty of places for dust and allergens to collect. If you haven't already, do a bit of decluttering now to get the ball rolling.
Few of your summer guests will notice dust on top of your refrigerator, but they will see items strewn about the living room. If you have only a few minutes before guests arrive, opt to tidy instead of clean.
Get the kids to help with the house-wide clutter-busting. Encourage kids as young as preschoolers (ages 3-4) to put dirty clothes in the hamper and put away playthings after use.
They can also help keep their bedrooms neat and, with supervision, remove unbreakable and blunt-edge items from the dishwasher. (Read Daily Kids Chores by Age for more on this.)
By making a clean, clutter-free home the precursor to a fun activity, such as a day at the beach or lake, and by helping your child master the cleaning tasks, you can make housecleaning an enjoyable, confidence-building activity. And thanks to summer, there's finally time to get almost everything done.
2 think small for big summer cleaning impact
Tackle small jobs before they turn into big ones. Sweep up crumbs before they get ground into kitchen or patio floors.
- Don't get sidetracked. If you're only partway through organizing the refrigerator shelves to make room for the marinated chicken, let voicemail take the call. If you're shopping online for the perfect patio umbrella and Aunt Agnes sends an e-mail, answer it when your transaction is complete.
- Make it a group effort. To get all the cleaning done in the allotted time, have the troops pitch in. Give each member of your family a task. If the results aren't perfect, you're probably the only one who will notice.
Tips for Cleaning Bedrooms
The major culprits in bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms are dust, tracked-in dirt and clutter. Try this simple summer cleaning method:
- Clockwise cleaning. Move clockwise around each room, putting away clutter and mislaid items. Stash any stuff that doesn't belong in the room outside the door to sort and put away later.
- Dedicated dusting. Dust shelves, windowsills, mini-blinds, lamps, tables, bureaus and TV/computer screens with a clean, damp cloth. (Dusting with a dry cloth can eventually scratch or dull the finish.) Rinse the rag regularly.
- Mirror magic. Make your mirrors and windows shine using a vinegar-and-water glass cleaner solution and a squeegee.
- Change bedroom linens. Wash linens in hot (not warm) water weekly to clean and disinfect them.
- Vacuum voraciously. Finish each room with a quick, surface vacuuming of upholstered chairs and sofas as well as floors. Spend a few extra seconds vacuuming near the doorways to lift out tracked-in sand and dirt.
- Wipe down woods. For shiny hardwood surfaces, you don't need fancy or expensive cleaners. In fact, they often leave a residue that will attract even more dust. Instead, use a soft cotton or terry cloth, a 100 percent cotton diaper or a cleaning cloth. Lightly moisten the cloth with water and gently buff the surface along the grain to remove spills and fingerprints.
3 lighten up on summer cleaning by stopping dirt at the door
Stop dirt and sand at the door by having people remove their shoes before entering. If that sounds a bit drastic, invest in a good door mat that's gentle on bare feet.
your little stomper can wipe shoes on entryway rugs or front door mats to protect
floors and carpets, and to catch dirt, dust, pollen brought in from outside.
Inside, place washable rugs in high-tragic areas to prevent sand and dirt from being tracked from room to room.
Confine eating to the kitchen or dining room so you won't be chasing crumbs throughout the house.
4 bathroom basics
Here is where cleaning challenges can get tough. With so many different surfaces - chrome, brass, glass, porcelain and fiberglass - it's difficult to know where to begin or what to use.
But you don't need to buy buckets full of special cleaners to keep everything looking good this summer. Four basic products can get the job done: an all-purpose cleaner; a tub, tile and sink cleaner; a toilet-bowl cleaner; and a glass cleaner. (The best and least expensive glass cleaner, by the way, is a homemade mix of 1/4 cup of vinegar in 3 3/4 cups of warm water.)
You'll also need tools: a long-handled toilet brush, a sponge (preferably a scrubber sponge), a squeegee, a dust cloth and paper towels. Save time by spraying cleaners on areas that need extra soaking time, such as the toilet, tub and shower, while you tackle other surfaces.
Follow this procedure and you'll have a summer-fresh bathroom in minutes, rather than hours:
- Sanitize the bowl. Squirt toilet bowl cleaner around the inside of the bowl and under the rim. With a long-handled toilet brush, swish the cleaner around the bowl, under the rim and as far into the trap as possible.
- Let the solution stand while you clean the seat, lid and outside of the bowl with an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge, cloth or paper towels. Paper towels are best: No rinsing is needed, and there's no chance of spreading germs, since you'll toss out the paper towels immediately after use.
- Tame the scum. Soap buildup makes for icky bathrooms - not what you want guests to see as they change into swimsuits. Spray the shower, tub and sink with a tub, tile and sink cleaner. Let it sit while you complete the remaining steps.
- Clear the deck. Clear the countertop of personal items, and spray the surface with all purpose cleaner. Wipe clean with a sponge or paper towels and replace your toiletries.
- Shine on. Spray glass cleaner on a cloth and clean the mirror. Squeegee dry. Use glass cleaner to make faucets sparkle, too.
- Dust and smudge duty. Clear shelves and dust. Spot-clean wall smudges with an all-purpose cleaner and sponge. Give full attention to areas around light switches and doorknobs - a favorite gathering place for germs and bacteria.
- Scrub duty. Use a scrubber sponge to loosen and remove soap scum and buildup on the tub or shower. Rinse clean. To make this task easier in the future, keep a squeegee in the shower or a sponge in the tub. Wipe down the shower door and walls or sides of the tub after each use to help prevent soap-scum buildup. To keep mildew in check, open the shower door or curtain after use to let it air-dry. If mildew already has a toehold, scrub the surface with 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon water; rinse clean.
- Now for the floor. Vacuum or sweep, then mop.
- Garbage detail. Empty the trash can and take the bag with you.
5 quick kitchen cleanup
Kitchens are a potluck of dirt, grease and germs.
To make this room a sunny haven this season, you'll need an all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner (or the vinegar and water mix), dish-washing detergent, a clean dry cloth, a scrubber sponge and a scourer (the ball-shape, woven-plastic kind).
- Unclutter. Put everything in its place, from the dishes languishing in the sink to the kids' drawings on the kitchen table. Remove everything from the counters. Put oven mitts and dish towels into the wash. Toss anything in the fridge that's past its prime or that the troops are unlikely to eat.
- Spot patrol. Don't waste precious summer moments scrubbing dried-on foods or baked-on spills on counters and the stove top. Give them a generous spritz of all-purpose cleaner and allow the cleaner to penetrate the grime while you move on.
- Soak it up. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and soak your stove burner rings and vent-hood filter for at least 15 or 20 minutes to soften baked-on food and spills and splatters. (Your dishwasher could scratch the decorative surface of some burner rings.)
- Oven duty. Remove the oven racks. Scrape off any burned-on stains with a dull knife held at a 30-degree angle. Use an oven cleaner for manually cleaned ovens. If you have a self-cleaning oven, simply turn it on and let the appliance clean itself. Don't use an oven cleaner in a self-cleaning or a continuous-cleaning oven, however. it may damage the surface. To eliminate the need for frequent deep cleanings for the rest of the summer, sponge away oven spills before they dry or are burned to a crisp.
- Surface duty. Work your way around the kitchen, cleaning all the surfaces. First, wipe up the spots you sprayed earlier, then use an all-purpose cleaner for a general wiping of countertops, the oven exterior, cabinets, the dishwasher and refrigerator. By making one thorough cleaning trip around the room, you're sure to hit all the surface hot spots. Finally, spray a disinfectant cleaner on the countertops and refrigerator handle and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Finishing touches. Retrieve the vent-hood filter and stove-burner rings that have been soaking in the sink; sponge them clean of any lingering grime; rinse, dry and put back in place.
- Clean the sink and faucet with a sponge and dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner. To make the faucet sparkle, spritz it with a glass cleaner and polish dry. Wipe the countertops and refrigerator door handle clean of disinfectant.
- Floor it. Sweep, then mop the floor.
6 summer cleaning for greeting and meeting areas
Your front door, entryway and patio should be bright spots for entertaining. Fortunately, these areas require little effort.
- Sweep it up. Clear debris and clutter from all walkways and stairs. Sweep the front walkway and porch; prune any yellowed leaves on porch plants.
- Lighten up. For safety's sake, light the walkway and porch well. On the patio, more indirect lighting may be preferable.
7 taming tough summer stains
Summer is when Murphy's Law invariably comes into play: If something can spill, drip, ooze or run, it will spill, drip, ooze or run all over your favorite shirt or sundress.
Fortunately, once you know how two treat these troublesome summer stains, you can keep beloved clothes from ending up in the rag pile.
Get more tips on removing a few typical summer laundry stains here.
8 remember: safety first!
Practice prevention this summer when it comes to housecleaning and cleaning products. Show kids the safe way to use cleaning products when they go about their chores. Store your cleaning supplies safely out of reach of curious little hands.