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How to Spring Clean


Take it Outdoors
Sealing up cracks with a caulking gun in the spring will pay off in the heat of summer.
Sealing up cracks with a caulking gun in the spring will pay off in the heat of summer.
Purestock/Thinkstock

Now your whole house is clean, so you're finished, right? Yes and no. There are many spring cleaning tasks that could use your attention outside. If you're a renter and don't have any outside property to maintain, then you're in the clear. If not, there's still work to be done.

Let's start with the house itself. Do a thorough inspection outside to check for loose or damaged siding, caulk or other exterior work so you can quickly repair and replace it before spring rains can get in. I have a steep roof, so I get someone to come and check things out up there. While he's up there, he blows all of the debris off and also cleans out my gutters -- another important spring cleaning chore. Look around windows and other openings and re-caulk as necessary. Air conditioning is much less efficient if hot air is getting inside. Speaking of air conditioning, if you have it, you don't want to wait until it's hot to find out that there's a problem, right? Get it serviced well before summertime.

All winter long, you probably haven't had to do much to the yard. Now that spring is coming, it's time to assess things. Before the profusion of growth (both the pretty stuff and the weeds) is the best time. Clean up any leftover leaves and yard debris, put out more mulch where you need it, fix any broken edging or damaged retaining walls. If you need to prune any trees -- with the advice of an arborist, of course -- it usually needs to be done after winter but before they bud. If you want to plant something new, you can plan it out now and start any seedlings as necessary.

Let's close with some warnings -- stay safe when you're spring cleaning. According to the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AOS), there are hundreds of thousands of injuries this time of year. So be careful when you're climbing those step stools and ladders, read the warning labels on your cleaning products, wear gloves and don't overextend yourself. Some people find mold when spring cleaning. If this happens to you, don't freak out. If it's a small area and on a hard surface, you can scrub it well yourself with something strong (like bleach) until it's gone. Consider wearing gloves, goggles and a respirator. You also have to make sure you fix the moisture problem that caused the mold to grow or it'll be back. For bigger areas, call in a specialist.

You could call in someone to do all the cleaning, in fact -- most maid services tend to offer spring cleaning services. But then you'd miss out on the satisfaction of a job well done. That's what I'm going to tell myself, anyway.