Give the Gift of Clean!

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To keep your home tidy all the time, try these simple house cleaning tips and tricks. With just a little effort and our time-saving ideas, your home can be better organized and easier to care for, leaving you more time for the things you really enjoy.

• Get rid of clutter:
If you can’t put it away, it’s clutter. So divide it into three groups: junk, charity, and undecided. Toss the first, give away the second and store the third in a box or bag until you can decide whether it’s really worth keeping.

• Remove clutter catchers:
If clutter accumulates on a table near a door, remove the table so you’ll be more likely to put things away.

• Use entry mats:
Use only one entrance into your home. Put a sturdy doormat on the outside and another on the inside. It is amazing how much dirt they catch.

• Establish a command center:
Designate one location (usually the kitchen) for daily mail, calendar, bulletin board, car keys, school papers, grocery lists, etc. Every family member should have a shelf for messages and an out box or folder to deal with clutter on the spot.

• Clean top to bottom:
Clean the house and each room from the top down. Dust first, vacuum last. Vacuum from east to west and north to south. Scrub, wipe and polish in straight lines instead of circles.

• Clean windows and mirrors like a pro:
Squeegee the surface with an initial horizontal stroke across the top, then vertical strokes, wiping the blade after each stroke.

• Create a cleaning carry-all:
Store all your basic cleaning supplies in a cleaner’s apron or bucket, and carry them with you from task to task.

• Use the clock:
Give cleaning solutions time to work. Spritz counters, mirrors and surfaces in the bath and kitchen while you scrub the sink, tub and toilet. Then wipe them clean.

• Defy dust:
Change furnace filter and replace vacuum bags monthly. Do not miss vents when you dust.

• Use the right tools:
Microfiber cloths are great for most jobs, but some tasks require a specialist. Try a damp sponge to quickly remove pet hair from upholstery and pillows. A dry sponge erases grime from acoustical tiles. Wear cotton gloves and clean mini-blinds by hand.

• Fight mold growth for a healthy home:
Learn how to keep windowsills, bathrooms, kitchens, and air conditioners free of mold and mildew by using these helpful tips.

• Windowsills:
Check the insides of windowsills for mold growth, and wash with mild soap and water. Re-glaze windows for a better seal and make sure any drainage openings in the tracks are clean and not clogged.

• Humidifiers and Vaporizers:
Empty these appliances daily. Clean humidifiers every three days and vaporizers every day with a solution of vinegar and water.

• Air Conditioner:
Air conditioners need to be serviced often to reduce mold growth. Clean the coils of the central unit every other month with mild soap and water, followed by a solution of heavily diluted vinegar and water, and replace the filter.

• House Plants & Dried Floral Arrangements:
Re-pot your houseplants with a sterilizing potting soil and don’t over-water. Throw away dried floral arrangements with signs of mold growth.

• Bathrooms:
Clean those really tough areas in the bath and shower with a non-ammonia-based deter- gent and thoroughly dry. Keep a squeegee handy to quickly wipe down shower walls after each use to reduce the amount of standing water in your shower.

• Are home cleaning products too costly?
Learn how to clean your home the eco-friendly way. Consider these healthy, green alter- natives for both your home and the environment:

• Mix a paste of baking soda and vinegar to remove stubborn toilet bowl rings.

• Rub windows down with a cotton-swab of rubbing alcohol to remove old cleaning product residue. Then, wash with a mixture of two tablespoons vinegar and one-quart water.

• Polish wood with three parts olive oil and one part white vinegar.

• Use multi-purpose baking soda for scouring or to remove scuff-marks from vinyl floors.