A full spring cleaning, indoors and out

April 7, 2015


Chris Hoaglund
Zenith News

It’s a little too early to get out and play in the dirt just yet, but you can still soak up the sunshine and fresh air by doing a little spring cleaning around your home and garden.

After a long, cold winter a little fresh air does us good, and it does the same thing for our homes. On a warm day, open up those windows, remove some of the stale air, and allow the fresh air in. Yes, you might have to turn up the heat a little later, but your home will feel fresher afterwards.

Work your way from top to bottom in your house.  Dust and vacuum the draperies, blinds, and ceiling fans. Remove and hose down your window screens. A lot of dirt passes through your screens, so you’ll breathe easier the rest of the season.

All that dirt ends up in your window runners so clean them out too. A mixture of two cups water, one cup vinegar, and a few drops of blue Dawn dish soap will clean even the most stubborn dirt. Leave it on for a good hour and your mess will wipe up easily.

When all your surfaces are clean, sprinkle some baking soda on your carpeting and vacuum. The baking soda will absorb odor and, by vacuuming after you dust, you’ll catch everything that settled down. Be sure to vacuum both vertically and horizontally so you clean the nap of your carpeting both ways.

Once you have your interior sparkling, take that same attitude outdoors. Work your way around your house, washing the entryways, patios, door frames, and doors. If you have a power washer, use it to remove dirt and mold that can cling to siding.

Check your garage floor, driveway, and sidewalks for cracks. As cement ages, the water in it evaporates, which may cause it to shrink and develop hairline cracks. Larger stress cracks are often caused when the house or foundation settles.

Usually these are not serious, but you should address them so they don’t create an entry point for groundwater, insects, or radon gas. However, you need to use the correct supplies for this job. Take a photo of your cracks and show them to a professional at the home improvement store, so they can guide you to the right product and provide a few tips.

If your asphalt is looking stained and faded, now is a great time to fix that up. Cleaning fresh oil spills is much easier than an old spill, so if you notice a problem, don’t wait, get some clay kitty litter and leave it on overnight to absorb the oil, then sweep it up.  

If you have old stains, try sprinkling them with a heavy coating of baking soda and let it sit for half an hour. Then add some hot water mixed with blue Dawn soap and scrub the soda into the stain with a stiff brush. Let it sit for a while longer, then wash away with a hose. You may need to repeat this a couple times and, even then, you may never get rid of a deep stain, but they can look better.

When the weather gets warm enough, give you driveway a fresh coat of sealer too.

Last year’s heavy June rains left us with some water in our basement. After a little investigating around our foundation, we noticed a lot of erosion where our landscaping meets the house.  

Initially, when we put in the landscape plants and rock, we had made sure there was a slope going down and away from the house, but about ten years later, that slope has turned into a gully and water is getting trapped then seeping into the foundation.

We had to pull the rock and plastic barrier back a few feet from the house and add bags of dirt to build that slope back up. It’s a backbreaking, tedious job that will probably take us all summer, but when you consider the alternative of bulging walls and major flood issues, we’ll take the added work this year.

As you head towards your garden, there are many things along the way that may need attention. Take note of wobbly stepping-stones and level them out. Clean your bird feeders or birdbaths to make way for this year’s fledglings. Check your outside faucets for dripping and replace any set screws if needed.

Check and repair garden hoses and sprinklers. Make sure your landscaping lights are working properly and any light fixtures for burnt out bulbs. Clean out planters and pots. Remove any dirt that is left over. I often add it to my compost or garden beds so it doesn’t go to waste.

Before we know it, we’ll be out there mowing the grass and playing in the garden once again. Until then, get some of these chores taken care of so when the garden is ready, so are you.

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