cleaning solutions en-US Your One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-one-month-guide-to-spring-cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="194" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don&rsquo;t know about you, but by mid-February each year, I&rsquo;ve had it with winter. I&rsquo;m tired of the short days, the cold weather, and flu season. Maybe most of all, I&rsquo;m tired of the dirt and grime that seems the settle on everything &mdash; my house, my car, my kitchen floors &mdash; after the snow becomes mixed with road salt, soot, and dirt and finds its way into every nook and cranny. You can imagine, then, how delighted I am to say that spring cleaning season is just around the corner. (See also: <a href="">Control Your Allergies with Regular Cleaning</a>)</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t know where to start with your own spring cleaning? Try breaking it up into small, manageable bits by assigning just three tasks to each weekend in March. Follow my week-by-week checklist below to restore order and cleanliness to your home and prepare for a relaxing, rejuvenating spring!</p> <h2>Week One: De-Clutter Your Kitchen</h2> <p><img width="350" height="466" alt="" src="" /></p> <h3>1. Fridge</h3> <p>I know, I know. We all hate to clean the fridge, but what better time to do it thoroughly than spring cleaning? Start by cleaning out the freezer. Although the USDA says frozen foods <a href="">remain safe to eat indefinitely</a>, you do start to sacrifice taste and food quality after a certain amount of time. Use <a href="">their chart</a> to determine whether to throw away that casserole in your freezer. Next, clean your freezer with a sponge and 1:3 mixture of vinegar and water (vinegar is safe on areas that touch food and will remove stains and odors). Repeat with your refrigerator. Finish by dusting the top of the fridge, wiping down the sides, and <a href="">vacuuming your refrigerator coils</a>. Added bonus: Keeping your coils clean can help your refrigerator run more efficiently, saving you money.</p> <h3>2. Cabinets</h3> <p>&ldquo;Cabinets&rdquo; is a broad area to clean, I know. My advice pertains more to organizing your kitchen cabinets than to cleaning the outside of them, however. Attack your spring-cleaning cabinet organization by assessing the problem areas (junk drawer, Tupperware cabinet, or pots and pans cabinet, for example).&nbsp;Try to articulate <i>what </i>the problem is, and <i>why</i> it&rsquo;s a problem for you. For example, my pots and pans cabinet is in shambles because my BF loves to throw things in there all willy-nilly after they come out of the dishwasher. Think of a solution that might address the root of the problem. For me, that would involve either buying a pot rack to hang my pots and pans (one per hook; problem solved!) or making clear dividers in the cabinets (skillets on the left, sauce pans on the right, thank you very much). It could be as simple as delineating the spaces with two tablecloths, or could be solved with an organizational tool from the store.</p> <h3>3. Oven/Dishwasher</h3> <p>OK, there&rsquo;s nothing really similar between an oven and a dishwasher, but I said just three tasks per weekend, right? Plus, all you really need to do for the oven is turn on the self-cleaning feature or, for a lighter cleaning, use these&nbsp;<a href="">oven-cleaning tips</a> from <em>Good Housekeeping</em>. To clean your dishwasher, start by wiping down the outside and work your way in. Wipe the front, sides, and bottom (none of which gets washed during a normal cycle), and then clean debris out of the spinning arms and the grate/grill under the arms. Finally, run an empty cycle with distilled white vinegar to help remove hard water deposits and other grime you can&rsquo;t reach. Week one: done! (See also: <a href="">The 5 Best Dishwashers</a>)</p> <h2>Week Two: Beautify Your Bedroom</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" alt="Bed" src="" /></p> <h3>1. Thin the Herd (in Your Closet)</h3> <p>I clean my closet every six months or so but still seem to find a bounty of clothes to discard after each go-round. To decide which pieces to keep and which to give away, I go with the six-month rule: If I haven't worn it in six months, I probably won't miss it if it goes. In fact, I can't ever remember thinking, &quot;I wish I had kept that out-of-date white sweater; it would go great with these shoes!&quot; After a healthy wardrobe trimming, switch out your winter clothes for the lighter-weather wear. Decide whether you&rsquo;re a person who likes to organize by color or by type. Store out-of-season clothing under the bed or in an out-of-the-way spot.</p> <h3>2. Organize Dresser Drawers</h3> <p>Dresser drawers are kind of like kitchen cabinets and luckily, you have experience organizing those from week one. Do the same for your boudoir boxes and systematically identify problem areas, causes, and solutions. In my case, my sock drawer is a real pain. I have trouser socks, warm fuzzy socks, and running socks all jumbled together in one, socky mess. A simple solution is to sort socks by use (work, casual, and running) and divide the drawer according. For a budget-friendly solution, try using shoe boxes, pencil organizers, or tissue boxes.</p> <h3>3. Tend to Bedding</h3> <p>There is conflicting advice on whether you should flip your mattress every so often in order to lengthen its useful life; I&rsquo;m in favor of the practice. You might also want to vacuum your mattress using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner and then cover your mattress with a good cover to help keep dust mites and allergens at bay. While you&rsquo;re at it, either replace old pillows or check to see whether you can wash them (most types of pillows, whether made from natural or synthetic materials, are machine-washable). Lastly, change out your warm, winter blankets and comforter for lighter bedding.</p> <h2>Week Three: How About That Home Office?</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" alt="Office" src="" /></p> <h3>1. File, File, File</h3> <p>Of all the tasks on my spring cleaning list, this is the one I dread the most. On the other hand, I know it will feel amazing to finally have my file drawers organized. During week three of March, organize your file drawer. If you don&rsquo;t have a designated file cabinet or file drawer, you should. Motivate yourself to organize by buying brightly colored labels (I love <a href="">Post-It&reg; Filing Tabs</a>! <a href="">Download coupons here</a>.) and hanging file folders. Then, get to filing &mdash; my folders are divided by categories like insurance information, taxes, medical bills, receipts, coupons, etc. If you already have a filing system in place, use this time to go through documents and shred what you no longer need. Here is a list of <a href="">how long to hold on to important documents</a>.</p> <h3>2. Clean Up Your Computer</h3> <p>Spring cleaning isn&rsquo;t just about cleaning your physical space; it&rsquo;s about the electronic sphere, too. There are a number of quick tasks you can do to <a href=",2817,2343194,00.asp">improve the speed of your PC</a> or <a href="">Mac</a>, including getting rid of unused files and programs, cleaning up your desktop, and defragmenting your hard drive.</p> <h3>3. Update Antivirus &amp; Anti-Spyware Software</h3> <p>After you&rsquo;ve improved the speed of your computer, keep it safe by updating your antivirus and anti-spyware software. <a href="">Top Ten Reviews</a>&nbsp;has a comprehensive list of the best antivirus and anti-spyware programs available, while PCWorld has reviews of the best free <a href="">antivirus</a> and <a href=",1347-order,1-c,downloads/files.html">anti-spyware</a> out there. Finally, don&rsquo;t forget to <a href=",2817,2321847,00.asp">put a file backup strategy in place</a>, so you don&rsquo;t lose all your important electronic documents or programs.</p> <h2>Week Four: Tackle Outdoor Spaces</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" alt="Patio Chairs" src="" /></p> <h3>1. Clean Gutters</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re a homeowner, you&rsquo;ll want to periodically clean out your gutters in order to prevent water damage to the roof and walls of your home. DIY Network has a great tutorial on <a href="">cleaning and repairing your gutters</a> yourself.</p> <h3>2. Clean Outside of Windows</h3> <p>As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, let in more sunlight by cleaning the outside of your windows. Start by clearing away cobwebs and debris using a soft cloth, then clean the glass itself using a window-cleaning product or a 1:1 mix of vinegar and hot water (<a href="">vinegar to the rescue</a> again!). Make your job easier by purchasing a squeegee to wipe of excess water and prevent streaks. Wipe dry.</p> <h3>3. Clean Patio Furniture</h3> <p>Nobody likes to sit on a dirty, mucky patio chair. Increase the chances that you&rsquo;ll make use of your outdoor spaces this season by cleaning your patio furniture. Mix dishwashing liquid with warm water and use this with a brush to scrub tables and chairs. While you&rsquo;re at it, clean up your porch or patio by clearing away debris and sweeping the area. Treat stains with a 1:3 mixture of bleach and water and scrubbing the area with a hard-bristle brush.</p> <p>There, you&rsquo;ve made it! Four short weeks of three tasks per week. Now sit back, and enjoy the weather! Or, if you have extra time, take care of some other miscellaneous once-a-year tasks:</p> <ol> <li>Change your air filter</li> <li>Clean out your dryer ducts to help prevent fires</li> <li>Inventory items in your home in case of theft or fire</li> <li>Discard old beauty and bath products</li> </ol> <p><em>Do you do spring cleaning each year? What tasks are on your must-do list? Share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Janey Osterlind</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Spring into Cleaning Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 Tips for Spring Cleaning on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Tasks You Shouldn&#039;t Skip During Spring Cleaning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Home clean house cleaning solutions spring cleaning Tue, 01 Mar 2011 12:48:10 +0000 Janey Osterlind 494819 at Does More Detergent Make for More Clean? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-more-detergent-make-for-more-clean" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Keep Your Teeth Clean" title="Keep Your Teeth Clean" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="379" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Given the number of posts at frugality sites on how to make your own cleaning supplies (and the number of reads those posts get), the topic is obviously one of interest to the community. My take is that there's an easier way to save money on cleaning supplies than making your own: Use less.</p> <p>It may not take a genius to observe that using less saves money, but it does take more than average awareness to see through all the ways manufacturers get you to use too much, and to see just how much less is actually enough.</p> <h2>Laundry detergent</h2> <p>For example, how much detergent does it take to get your clothes clean? The answer depends on how dirty they are. If you've been working (or playing) hard outdoors, it may take quite a bit. If you've been repairing bicycles or rebuilding engines or working as a fry cook, it may take even more. But if you've been sitting at home or working in a cubicle, it doesn't actually take much.</p> <p>Plus, the fact is, using more detergent than you need makes your clothes <strong>less clean</strong>, because some of it stays behind in your clothes.</p> <p>I first learned about this back in the mid-1990s, when several companies started marketing these ceramic disks that supposedly cleaned your laundry without detergent. Many people who tried them found that they seemed to work, but only for a while. Eventually, people figured out that what was happening was that there was enough detergent left in clothes from previous launderings to get the clothes clean, even if you just washed them in water, until everything in the load has been run through a cycle or two without added detergent.</p> <p>Mull that over for a minute: Even after rinsing, there's still enough detergent left in your clothes to wash them again. That little detergent &mdash; the amount left behind after the rinse cycle in your washer &mdash; is all it takes to get your clothes clean.</p> <p>Once I internalized that, I started using much, much less laundry detergent. For ordinary amounts of dirt, a quarter of the recommended quantity is plenty. For clothing that has only been worn indoors, just an eighth is probably enough. Not only will small amounts get your clothes clean, they'll be <strong>more clean</strong>, because they'll have a lot less detergent left in the fabric.</p> <p>Obviously the manufacturer's incentives are to recommend using more. Not only do people who use more buy more, but it reduces the chance that you'll lose respect for the product due to having load of especially dirty laundry come out less than completely clean.</p> <h2>All your other cleaning supplies</h2> <p>Much the same is true of all your other cleaning supplies.</p> <p>How much shampoo does it take to get your hair clean? It depends on how oily your hair is (and how much hair you have), but it doesn't take a lot to get hair clean. (And if you don't strip every last little bit of oil out of your hair by washing it twice, you may find that you don't need to add oil back in the form of hair conditioner.)</p> <p>How much toothpaste is enough? The <a href="">ADA</a> recommends a pea-sized amount for children. (They suggest that adults use &quot;just enough&quot; to cover the length of the bristles on their toothbrush, but I expect that was due to pressure from the toothpaste manufacturers.)</p> <p>In the kitchen and bathroom it's particularly easy to start with just a little and then add more if things aren't getting clean.</p> <p>Using less doesn't just save money; it's also gentler on the planet. It uses less natural resources to make the stuff, package it, and ship it to you; it exposes you to a smaller dose of the chemicals involved, and dumps less of them into the environment.</p> <p>Experiment with using less &mdash; and not just a little less. Start with using half as much. If things still get clean, cut by half as much again. Personally, I find that about one-quarter of the recommended amount is usually a lot closer to the right amount than what the manufacturer recommends.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Household Cleaning Hacks That Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Unexpected Uses for Laundry Detergent</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">9 Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to Paper Cleaning Products</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home cleaner cleaning cleaning solutions detergent laundry detergent Thu, 19 Nov 2009 14:00:03 +0000 Philip Brewer 3849 at