It’s that time again to purge, clean, and get organized. But before you let out that big sigh, know that spring cleaning doesn’t have to be the knock-down, drag-out weeklong blitz it used to be. If you ask Carolyn Forté, Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute, her approach to this annual to-do is decidedly can-do:
“Focus on things you don’t normally do so that you feel like you’re getting the benefit of a deeper cleaning — like pulling furniture away from the walls and really getting into the nooks and crannies,” she says. “If I don’t have a few days to tackle the whole house at once, I break it down room by room [so] even small efforts give me a big feeling of accomplishment.”
Forté recommends starting your sprucing-up efforts on the largest surfaces in your house, from wood floors to bathroom tile. Here are her tried-and-true tips for deep-cleaning each one.
“Polyurethane-sealed, finished hardwood floors are easy to take care of, especially if you keep up with them year-round. The most important thing is that you don’t over-wet the wood, so skip the traditional mop and bucket that just push dirty water around your floors.”
How to clean it:
- Vacuum up winter’s loose debris first with the Hoover ONEPWR FloorMate JET, which vacuums and washes hard floors at once (no cord necessary.) Its microfiber brush roll gently washes and scrubs, helping dry floors faster than with conventional cleaning methods — for Forté, that’s key, as wood flooring can buckle, cup, or risk mold growth if wet for too long.
- Then, use the Hoover JET to mop the floors with a cleaning product designed to be used on wood. Alternate cleaning and drying in sections — that way, the whole floor isn’t wet any longer than necessary.
To spring-clean bathrooms, you’re really just doing a more in-depth job than your daily maintenance. And an ounce of prevention really goes a long way; that’s why Forté wipes down her shower every morning. “Tile floors and walls are great because they’re durable and easy to clean,” she says. “Grout is the more challenging thing. You actually don’t want to use anything too sudsy because it can leave a residue behind, dulls shine, and more easily attracts future soil, so it doesn’t stay as clean as long.” Instead, use something like Soft Scrub Gel Cleanser with Bleach.
How to clean it:
- You’re going to want to vacuum for lint, dust, and hair first using the Hoover ONEPWR Blade MAX Cordless Stick Vac.
- Then, spray with a multi-surface cleaning product, such as CLR Bath and Kitchen Cleaner, that’s safe for your type of tiles — say, ceramic or laminate — and let air-dry.
- Be sure to open bathroom windows and turn on the ventilation to air out fumes and hurry the drying process along.
- For dirty grout that doesn’t improve with the steps above, put a bleach-based cleanser such as Soft Scrub Gel Cleanser with Bleach on a brush (try Casabella Smart Scrub Heavy Duty Grout Brush) and scrub vigorously.
Unlike easygoing hardwood and durable tile, natural materials like granite, marble, travertine, and slate are inherently porous and prone to stains. To avoid etching or discoloration, blot up spills ASAP. Steer clear of abrasive cleaners, ammonia, and even lemon juice and vinegar — which may seem friendly enough, but aren’t safe on every surface.
How to clean it:
- Start with a mild detergent, soap, or cleanser that says it’s safe to use on stone; apply it to a cloth and wipe down your surface.
- Thoroughly rinse with water if needed, and finish up by drying off the countertop (or other surface) with a cloth.
- To remove specific stains, check out the Natural Stone Institute’s handy guide. And don’t forget to reapply sealer, if necessary. You can tell if your counters or floors need this extra TLC by putting a few drops of water down — if they don’t bead right up, it’s time.
“Carpet is one of the first things people see when they come into your home, so cleaning around doorways and chairs makes a major difference,” she says. “Now is when to deep clean and remove stains in those high-traffic aisles in your home.” In general, the cleaner you keep your area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting, the longer they’ll last. So try to remove stains as soon as they happen.
How to clean it:
- Your plan of attack starts with sucking up the dirt that’s been tracked into the house all winter and debris that’s accumulated deep down into carpets. Use the Hoover ONEPWR Blade MAX Cordless Stick Vac, which preps your carpets for a thorough cleaning by removing all that loose rubbish.
- Follow that up by washing carpet fibers with the Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner, which Forté’s team at the Institute has tested and found to be among the easiest to use, most powerful full-size carpet washers for at-home use on the market. “It knows what to do automatically,” she says. “When you go forward, it cleans; when you pull it back in the other direction, it dries.”
- Target your tactics with Hoover Multi-Surface Cleaning Solution for area rugs (and sealed floors), Paws & Claws Pre-Mixed Carpet Cleaning Solution to lift pet stains and kill their odor-causing bacteria, or Oxy Spot and Stain Remover Pre-Treat for stubborn stains. “Oxy works like an all-fabric bleach, so it’s good to use because it’s safe for colors and fabrics,” Forté explains.
“Cleaning windows is a big thing for me — they make such an impact.” Forté loves her newer tilt-ins for effortless cleaning, but even with traditional single-hung windows, it’s possible to get the job done to her spotless standards.
How to clean it:
- If you have storm windows, pop those out first, and spray them with commercial glass cleaner such as Invisible Glass EZ Grip Aerosol Spray Cleaner, making sure to spread the solution around on both sides with a sponge.
- While they’re taking a soak, head to the window frame. Remove the drapery or raise the blinds before vacuuming and dusting inside the frame and on the sill (use your vacuum cleaner’s tube attachment). “Always vacuum or dry-dust first, or else you end up making mud,” Forté says.
- Then, clean the windows the same way as the storm glass in step 1.
- Next, use a damp cloth to get into those tracks on the sill — be extra sure to stick to just water on aluminum frames, as ammonia-based cleaners will strip the paint right off.
- To reach the outer panes, Forté heads outside for the first story and, for the second floor, reaches over from inside the house when she’s able to safely. (No matter how dirty your windows, don’t risk going up on a ladder or onto the roof; hire a professional.)
- Once you’ve dried the glass with a microfiber towel such as the Toryen Microfiber Cloth, reassemble the windows and store the storm panes for next year.
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