How to Spring Clean

Cleaning Basics

You, 1. Dusty chandelier, 0.
You, 1. Dusty chandelier, 0.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Cleaning will be different in every room of the house, but there are also some basics that you can carry over no matter where you're working. For example, cleaning each room from top to bottom is a common strategy for a practical reason: if you're cleaning the upper shelves in a room, the dust and dirt will drift down. But if the last thing you do is clean the floor, it won't matter.

Pretty much every room has things like windows, window treatments, upholstery, flooring, light fixtures and surfaces, which means dust. Obviously you're dusting everything once a week, right? Ha. Even if you are, you're probably not getting everything. How about the tops of doors, crown molding, or the corners of ceilings? Here's where a duster with an extension handle comes in handy.

Next, take everything off the tops of furniture and dust. Books and knickknacks are notorious for collecting it, so you need to dust them off (just use a dry cloth) before replacing them onto your clean shelves. Don't forget about lamps, shades, picture frames, mirrors, and light fixtures. (Glass on the latter needs to be cleaned with your glass cleaner.) Now you'll need your all-purpose cleaner to wipe down walls, doors, windowsills and baseboards. Any time I've done this I've been surprised at the amount of dirt.

Now turn to the windows -- dust the blinds and shades, or if you have curtains, wash them or get them dry-cleaned. Spray with your glass cleaner of choice and go to town. Paper towels work fine, but some people swear by plain newsprint to avoid streaking. Next, vacuum all over your upholstery using an attachment, including under the cushions (did you find change?). See if cushion covers and slipcovers can be washed, or use a stain remover for upholstery. Some carpet cleaners come with attachments, and you may want to go that route if your chair is especially smelly. If you have pets, use a solution designed just for pet odor. You don't want to sit on a wet sofa so this is something to tackle early in the morning.

Finally, the floors. Wipe down all baseboards with a damp cloth. Carpets need vacuuming and a special cleaner; other kinds of floors should be mopped to start. But then it depends on your flooring. Wooden or laminate floors shouldn't be mopped or even steamed clean, although you can use a special cleaner on stains. You can mop tile and vinyl, but with the former you may need to use a grout cleaner. Check for loose grout and replace if you need to.