When the sun comes out and dries your rain-soaked patio and garden, everything outside suddenly feels fresh and clean. And everything inside ... probably doesn't.
Even those of you mad for spring cleaning might not remember a greasy corner of the kitchen or hidden areas harboring dust mites.
For tips on cleaning items that you may not think about, we turned to Real Simple magazine's home director Michael Cannell, and to www.thegreenguide.com, a Web site promoting eco-friendly living.
¢ Lampshades. Supporting the shade from the inside with your hand, use a lint roller to whisk away dust.
¢ Computer keyboards. Dip a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol, and clean around the keys for all those times you snacked while surfing the Web.
¢ Mattresses. Vacuum your mattress with an upholstery attachment. It's also a good time to flip the mattress to keep its innards balanced. And don't forget to wash your mattress pad every couple of months in hot water.
¢ Marks on walls. Rub away unwanted crayon or pencil marks with a damp sponge sprinkled with baking soda.
¢ Sofa. Use the vacuum's brush attachment to get underneath cushions and behind the sofa. Flip the cushions to even wear and tear.
¢ Blinds. Wipe slats with damp microfiber cloths.
¢ Teak or wicker outdoor furniture. Use a soft scrub brush with a mild, oil-based soap to clean outdoor furniture, then hose it off.
¢ Oven. Sprinkle salt on spills while the oven is still warm. If the spill is dry, wet it lightly, then add salt. Scrape away the spill when the oven is cool, and wash it clean.
¢ Grease clogs. Pour a half-cup each of salt and baking soda down the clogged drain, then six cups of boiling water. Wait several hours before flushing with warm water.
¢ Dishwasher. Run a cup of vinegar through your dishwasher once a month to remove soap buildup.
Cannell also suggested using your dishwasher as a cleaning tool. Items you can pop in there include: plastic hairbrushes, sponges, plastic toys, shower drain catchers and the filter from the stove's exhaust hood.
"Spring is a time to take stock of our homes," he said, "and clean our homes."