Smart Strategies for a Clean Home and Clean Clothes

Clean Family Home provides tips and ideas on keeping your home, clothes and family clean and healthy. 

Give Your Car a Spring Cleaning

There’s nothing like having a car that looks and smells like new. With these five steps, your automobile can appear new-car clean in no time.

Step 1: Out with the old. Start by taking everything out of the car. Collect the candy wrappers, soda cans, old parking stubs, and other trash and throw it away. Then place your car staples, such as tissues and spare change, in a shopping bag or bin for now; you can return them to their proper places later.

Step 2: Dust the dashboard. Use a duster to brush away the dust and debris from air-conditioning vents, control buttons, cup holders, and crevices. Then wipe the dashboard and other non-leather surfaces with a sponge or paper towel. For really hard-to-reach places, try blowing out loose debris with a can of compressed air.

Step 3: Organize the glove box. Find out what treasures might be hiding in there by emptying it and wiping it out. Then carefully go through the contents to make sure things like your car registration and insurance cards are up to date. If you keep a flashlight in your glove box, check that it works.

Step 4: Vacuum. At this point, you’ve knocked a lot of debris loose and now is the best time to vacuum inside. Be sure to move the seats back and forth to capture all the dirt, and hit the trunk too. Then remove the mats, if you haven’t already, and vacuum them.

Step 5: Make the interior sparkle. To clean like a pro, you’ll need the right tools. Choose a multipurpose cleanser that includes a stain remover. Mix the cleaner with warm water in a bucket or plastic squirt bottle, and use it with a sponge to clean and brighten the upholstery, floor mats, dashboard, cup holders, and other places where stains have snuck in. (Tip: Cut up a sponge to smaller sizes that fit into the nooks and crannies.) Be sure to rinse well when done. For leather seats and trim, use leather cleaner instead, which will condition and beautify those surfaces. 

The final touch? Go for a drive and enjoy the bright, fresh ride. 

Weekend Cleanup: Tackle All Your Floors

 

Hardwood floors

 

 

To keep hardwood floors looking beautiful, play it safe and use a dedicated wood cleaner, and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Use a barely damp mop and dry thoroughly afterward; excess water can cause warping or other damage. If you spot a scratch, camouflage it with a wax stick made for floor scratches, or touch it up with a wood-stain marker. Notice a scuff? Buff it out with a clean, fuzzy tennis ball.

 

 

 

Tile floors

 

 

Clean everyday grime with a multipurpose cleanser. Mix it in a bucket of warm water and pair it with a mop. Afterward, rinse with clean water and dry with a lint-free cloth. Tools are key: Get yourself a grout brush for spaces between tiles and a cheap, stiff nailbrush for small corners where your mop doesn’t reach. 

 

 

Area rugs

 

 

Drag small rugs outside and vigorously shake them. If they’re machine washable, toss them into the washer with your favorite detergent plus a scoop of stain remover. Air-dry when done. For rugs that are too large to carry outside, vacuum thoroughly, then flip and vacuum the other side. Spot treat stains with a stain remover and warm water, then rinse. 

 

 

Wall-to-wall carpeting

 

 

 Move as much furniture as possible out of the room and vacuum the carpeting thoroughly. Then bring on the carpet-cleaning machine (if you don’t own one, you can rent one from a home improvement store for about $25 a day). Resist the urge to use more soap than the directions call for—excess suds can leave residue behind that attracts dirt. As you clean, aim for damp, not drenched. Let the carpet dry thoroughly, for about eight hours, then vacuum again.

 

Keep the clean longer

 

 

You can help keep your floors spotless by making your home a no-shoes zone: Outdoor shoes transfer bacteria like E. coli to floors, according to a University of Arizona study. In addition, vacuum and sweep at least once a week. And handle carpet and tile floor spills right away, because stains are harder to erase the longer they sit. 

 

Weekend Cleanup Series: Pretty Up Your Patio

 

Revive your current decor.

 

 

Before buying new chair cushions, see what you can do with the old ones. Shake out dust, then clean up stains with a multipurpose, color-safe cleaner. Mix the cleaner with warm water in a bucket, following package directions, and dip a sponge in the solution and wipe the stains. Let the solution soak in for 15 minutes. Rinse with a hose and air-dry. Got icky umbrellas? Follow the same steps to clean them. 

 

 

Add a decorative rug.

 

 

A pretty outdoor throw rug will define your seating area and make it feel more intimate. If the rug’s label indicates that it can be washed, do so once a month with a solution of stain remover and water in a bucket. Scrub the rug using a large nylon chore brush, then rinse with a hose and air-dry. 

 

 

Let there be light.

 

 

Glass lanterns or tiki torches that throw off a warm glow will encourage your friends and family to linger after the sun sets. You can also brighten things up by wrapping strands of tiny white outdoor lights around a column. 

 

 

Green it up.

 

 

A container garden can beautify your patio and provide mouthwatering fruits and veggies. Pick a container at least 24 inches in diameter so there’s room for strong plant roots to develop. Choose a large plant like a tomato or a tall plant like fennel as a centerpiece, and then fill around the edges with smaller herb plantings, like parsley, basil, or rosemary. As a finishing visual touch, include something that will dangle over the edge, like strawberries. 

 

 

Encorporate serene sounds.

 

 

Wind chimes made from bamboo, teak, metal, glass, or shells create relaxing sounds of music. You can step the serenity moments up a notch by adding a small water garden (find one with a recirculating pump so you can enjoy the sound of trickling water). All you need now are burgers, drinks, and your loved ones.

 

Weekend Cleanup: Revive Your Fitness Gear

 

Revitalize your fitness machines and gear.

 

 

Even if it’s caked in cobwebs, you can get it sparkling again in no time. Use a vacuum (and its handy attachments) to clear dirt, dust, and webs. Then dust the exposed surfaces. For dirt that’s tougher than dust, wet a clean rag in a solution of a stain remover and water, wring it, and wipe up the spots. Use a fresh rag to dry things off. Do the same to spot-clean yoga mats, blocks and straps, exercise balls, or neoprene-covered weights.

 

 

Get your bike looking new.

 

 

Wipe off your bike chain and drive chain with a towel and then spritz them with a degreaser, using a fine brush to go in between the links. Now clean the bike with a sponge that’s been soaked and wrung to lightly damp, using a stain remover and warm water (follow directions on the label). Wipe the surfaces, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.

 

 

Clean your kicks.

 

 

Fitness shoes caked in old mud? First, brush away any loose dirt with a chore brush. Next, check labels. If they’re machine washable, follow the care directions and toss them into the washer with your favorite detergent, and add a stain remover the washing machine as well. This color-safe cleaning booster will go the extra mile to help those sneakers sparkle.

 

 

Rejuvenate your sportswear.

 

 

Stinky sports outfits can get a second life with the right detergent. Wash with a detergent formulated for knocking stains and smells from sports apparel. If your sportswear has lost its functionality, that’s another story. Say goodbye to stretched-out bras and fitness tights, or anything that’s pilled or hole-y. You may find that replacing the old with new jump-starts your workout mojo. Next weekend’s task: a new training routine!