MODESTO, CALIF. Spring is one of Darren Reno's favorite times of year, and not just because of blooming flowers and longer, warmer days.
For Reno, owner of Spotless, a professional cleaning company in Modesto, the coming of spring means more business for him and his workers.
"This is the time when we get the most calls," Reno said. "Everybody is thinking of moving from the indoors to the outdoors and they want to move all (of winter's) dirt and grime outside.
"Everybody wants a fresh start."
Long ago, before furnaces and central heating systems, people used heating oil to illuminate and warm their homes during winter. While effective, it proved a bit messy as it left greasy residue on walls and surfaces throughout the house.
So when it was warm enough to fling open windows and doors, folks cleaned the house from top to bottom, ridding their spaces of accumulated grit and grime.
It's a habit that continues today. According to a 2006 survey by the Soap and Detergent Association, 60 percent of 1,000 respondents said spring is the best time to rid their homes of dirt and clutter.
Gearing up and executing a monumental cleaning spree might sound like fun for neatniks, but for others, it seems so big a task that it prompts procrastination. So it pays to have a plan.
Instead of thinking of your spring cleaning ritual as one big chore, break it down into manageable tasks - including planning.
Here is some advice to get you started, and hopefully motivated.
¢ Make a list of things to do. Start with each room or area that needs work. And be specific about the tasks. Don't just list "clean kitchen." Instead, list each task, such as clean the refrigerator coils, wipe down pantry shelves or clean the oven. Do this for every space you want to tackle, then prioritize.
¢ Take stock of your equipment and supplies. After you've assembled your list of cleaning jobs, check to make sure you have all the supplies you'll need.
You don't want to psyche yourself up to do a job then have to stop midway because you ran out of floor cleaner. Gather up the cleaning tools you'll need. Some basics: a large bucket, cleaning rags or towels, a mop, broom, dust pan, feather duster, sponges, gloves, trash bags and paper towels.
¢ Don't forget your cleaning agents, such as window cleaner, furniture polish, degreaser, rust remover or whatever you choose to do the job. There are tons of products on the market, including more environmentally friendly items that do not use harsh chemicals.
¢ If you really want to clean green, try making your own cleaners. Common items around the house that can be used include borax, vinegar, baking soda and salt (as cleaners and/or abrasives), olive oil (to polish wood) and lemons (deodorizer).
There are a number of Web sites that offer recipes for homemade cleansers.
Use a basket or a caddy to keep your cleaning tools together. That way, there are no time-wasting trips going back and forth to get what you need.
¢ Declutter. You have to be able to see the counter before you clean it. When decluttering, remember the acronym SPACE. Sort clutter; purge what you don't need, haven't touched in aeons or haven't missed; assign a place for stuff you'll keep; contain it (in file, folder or box); and equalize.
That means when something comes in, something else must go.
¢ Ready, set ... clean! Put on some lively tunes that will inspire you to get cleaning. Professionals employ certain routines to make cleaning more efficient:
First handle dry tasks, such as dusting and sweeping, and do these chores from top to bottom. That means clear cobwebs from up high, dust ceiling-fan blades and other hard surfaces and end with sweeping.
Start at the back of the house and work your way to the front to avoid backtracking dirt and footprints.
Let cleaning agents sit on dirt for a couple of minutes before you start to scrub. This will make your job easier and faster.
If you don't have the time and/or energy to do a deep, thorough cleaning, consider hiring a professional if you can afford it.