Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Out with the old...

Spring Cleaning.  What does that term mean to you?  Do you even bother to do it?

I definitely do Spring Cleaning.  From as early as I can remember, I have had an affinity with cleanliness, organization and order.  Winter represents for me what I'm sure it does for many people who have to bear the snow, salt, wet, cold bitter months from Novemberish to Aprilish: hibernation.  For me this means accumulating a lot of garbage in the form of receipts, old bills, paystubs, old calendars, birthday and holiday cards, and assorted other kitsch.  When March hits that's about the time that I get fed up with the windows closing out the cold air, the tumbleweeds of cat fuzz rolling around the corners of every room no matter how many times I vacuum and dust, the stacks of un-filed paid bills, and all the other miscellaneous 'I'll do that later' stuff.

This year I've had a bit more time on my hands to really get down and clean out the entire apartment, because (woe is me) I recently lost my job.  So for the past couple weeks or so I've been going room to room cleaning out everything.  Yesterday I tossed three garbage bags FULL of junk.  Today I've spent the day on the floors.  I have hardwood throughout so it's a little more complicated than just running a vacuum around or steamer or whatever.  So I've picked up all the throw rugs, beat them into submission so they'd release all the dust and winter memories onto the floors, hung them outside to air out and freshen up; vacuumed all the hardwood floors to free them from the dusty ickies; mopped the kitchen and bathroom; and covered the area rug in the living room with baking soda to soak up all the smells from who-knows-what since I can't very well just pick it up and hang it outside to air out.

When I'm cleaning I'm a big fan of natural cleaners.  My favorite (much to the chagrin of anyone living with me) is vinegar.  It has got to be the best cleaning agent I've ever encountered and I use it generously while cleaning.  I use it on floors, windows, faucets, appliances and anything stainless steel.  Faucets are where it really shows its powers though.  Vinegar has this neat property that allows it to eat right through soap scum, so what I do is clean off the faucets in the bathroom and kitchen and then soak some paper towels in vinegar (I don't usually dilute it but I'm sure you could), I leave it like that for about half an hour (not long enough that it dries or anything), then remove the paper towels and wipe the faucets clean and hurray they're nice and clean and sparkly!

Another easy kitchen recipe for clean tiles is simple water and baking soda.  It does a great job if you just spray the tiles down then scrub with a sponge.  If you've got those nasty stains from months of not cleaning your shower (like me haha) you can add some kosher salt and scrub a little harder.  A good rinse when you're done and your shower is sparkly like new!  A tip someone told me at my bridal shower last summer was have a squeegee in your shower and give all your tiles a good swipe when you're done showering and it's wet and it keeps your shower cleaner longer so you don't have to get in there and work up a sweat nearly as often.

A good alternative if you don't like the smell of vinegar enough that it turns you off of these ideas, is undiluted lemon juice or club soda.  I haven't tried the club soda, but the lemon juice definitely works wonders.  Especially on kitchen surfaces.  I use lemon juice when cleaning my wood cutting board since it's a food product anyway and it does great things for getting out stains.  I try to use as few artificial cleaners on food surfaces as possible.

Anyway, hope all of you in Southern Ontario are enjoying this great weather we're having and you take the opportunity to do some Spring Cleaning in your lives to prepare you for a fresh clean Spring and Summer to come!


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