Spring Cleaning

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There’s something so satisfying about turning the calendar from February to March. Although that change doesn’t instantly bring with it 70-degree warmth, it signifies the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is winter. It also signifies renewal, which is why we often jump to perform all the usual spring cleaning duties that seemed to escape us while we were hibernating. But as you break out the carpet cleaner, the bleach, the furniture polish and the duster, consider this list of commonly overlooked household items that could probably use a scrub.

Coffee maker
You wash your coffee pot and mugs, but the coffee maker most likely needs more TLC. All the moisture inside can lead to mold and hard water deposits, causing a poorly tasting brew. Don’t leave this chore only for the spring cleaning, though–you should clean your coffee maker once a month. Simply place an empty filter in the coffee maker and fill the water reservoir with equal parts water and white vinegar. Brew about half of this mixture, then turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for half an hour, then finish the brew. Use a new empty filter and brew two pots of plain water to rinse. Remember to wipe down any damp surfaces on the inside, after this cleaning and every use.

Window screens
Dirty, smudged windows are a sure sign that it’s time to give them a wash, but how do you know when to wash the window screen? According to CNN, window screens should be washed once a year. Give your screens a power wash with the garden hose. To go the extra mile, make a solution of one part ammonia and three parts water and scrub them down with a sponge. Let them dry in the sun while you clean the windowsills and tracks. The next time you open the windows, you’ll be sure that the air coming through actually is fresh.

Refrigerator coils
Usually located on the back, top or underside of the refrigerator, the coils are overlooked more often than not when it comes to refrigerator cleaning. However, dusty coils can cause the refrigerator to malfunction, leading to lukewarm beverages and higher energy costs. Regular cleaning can maximize your fridge’s energy efficiency. Make sure you unplug the refrigerator first to prevent injuries from electric shock. Then take a refrigerator coil brush (easily found at most hardware stores) to dislodge any dust, pet hair and dirt. A vacuum attachment hose can pick up the dust that falls off or gets left behind on the coils.

Most people know better than to go months without washing their sheets, but bed pillows sometimes never get washed in their lifespan. Down or synthetic fiber-filled pillows can easily be washed two at a time in the washing machine on the gentle cycle (be sure to place them vertically if your machine has an agitator that can’t be removed). An extra rinse is ideal to ensure there’s no soap left behind. Tumble dry on low heat. Unfortunately, foam pillows aren’t so simple; they’ll disintegrate under too much heat. Either spot clean or hand wash them per the instructions on the tag and air dry.

Air ducts and return registers
What about the air in your home? While the thought of regularly cleaning your home’s ductwork may seem logical, it’s best to do this only on an as-needed basis, and with a professional company. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association has a database of certified professionals so you can find the best one for your home. According to the NADCA, up to 40 pounds of dust is created through daily living each year, so if you can’t remember the last time you had your air ducts cleaned, find a service to inspect them. However, the Environmental Protection Agency maintains that having your air ducts cleaned has not been proven to prevent health problems, which is why it should only be done as necessary. If your ducts are infested with vermin or clogged by mold or dust, it might be time for a cleaning. Otherwise, simply vacuuming or dusting the return registers and air vents on a regular basis will suffice.

There are so many aspects of housekeeping that it can be tough to remember what items to clean and when to clean them. If you’re worried you’ve been skipping over an important–and very dirty–item, try looking at what’s right underneath your nose. The most commonly overlooked dirt and germ factories in the household are usually tied to items that we know to clean often. We clean pillowcases, so we should clean pillows. We clean the coffee pot, so we should clean the maker. Pay closer attention to some of the things you might have been ignoring over the years, and this can be your most successful spring cleaning yet. HLM

Sources: cnn.com, epa.gov, geappliances.com, goodhousekeeping.com, huffingtonpost.com, nadca.com and realsimple.com.