LEXINGTON, KY. Why do spring and cleaning fit together like a hand and a dust glove?
Alisa Ahlgrim, owner of a residential and commercial cleaning service for eight years, has this insight: "This time of year, you open the windows. It's sunny. There's fresh air coming in, and you see dirt that you didn't see in the winter when it was dark."
Traditionally, a spring cleaning includes rolling up your sleeves to tackle dirty jobs you get around to only once a year: washing woodwork, window sills and the very tops of door frames, doing curtains, polishing the floors and cleaning upholstery. Windows are washed, closets cleaned out and out-of-season clothes stored.
Sure you give your house that occasional dust and vacuum, but spring cleaning takes in much more.
If you can't afford a service or don't want someone else looking at your winter grime, what is the best way to get started for a do-it-yourselfer?
The pros say the first step is to get organized.
Check the cupboard for furniture polish, window cleaner, tile cleaner, vinegar, all-purpose spray cleaners and liquid oil soap such as Murphy's.
Put kitchen and bath supplies together in one bucket, dusting supplies in another. Do you have the necessary clean, soft rags, a dust cloth, a sponge, trash bags, a feather duster, a broom and vacuum cleaner or upright sweeper?
Focus on one room at a time, going top to bottom, left to right. Dust and wipe down everything first; leave the vacuuming till last.
Move chairs, tables, chests of drawers and appliances so you can clean under and behind them.
Remove books from shelves. Wipe the shelves and dust the books, using a vacuum attachment if necessary. Using a damp cloth collects a lot of dust.
Change your furnace filters to help defeat dust. If you have pets or heavy smokers in the house or burn the fireplace several times weekly, change the filters each month.
Remove the cushions on sofas and chairs and use an attachment to reach those faraway crevices. Flip the cushions before putting them back.
Damp-mop wood floors with a little vinegar in warm water or Murphy's oil soap. Mop with the grain to minimize streaking.
Take a small scrub brush or old toothbrush around bathroom fixtures and in crevices. To get up all the hair in bathrooms, you might have to vacuum, damp mop, then vacuum the floor one last time.
Wash kitchen cabinet fronts, the stove hood and the top of the refrigerator with a nonabrasive grease cutter. Polish kitchen chrome with a soft rag and a squirt of Windex. (You might think the kitchen ranks as the dirtiest room in the house. But because it's used constantly, it's normally in pretty good shape.)
When the last rag has been collected and the mop hung out to dry, enjoy your home's new look and smell.
And celebrate spring.