Welcome back to Spring Cleaning April! This month is focused on all things spring cleaning. If you need to catch up, check out earlier posts: WHY SHOULD I SPRING CLEAN?; CLEANING PRODUCTS; and CLEANING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES.
You have made a spring cleaning plan room by room and gathered or made all your products and tools. But, if your cleaning tools aren’t clean, they won’t be effective, no matter how much products you use. Let’s check out how to clean your cleaning tools so they will clean properly and effectively.
HOW TO CLEAN CLEANING TOOLS:
BROOM AND DUSTPAN: If you choose to use a broom and dustpan for sweeping up messes, you will notice your broom becoming frayed and dirty, with hair and dust attached to the ends. Your dustpan, too, will start getting caked with dirt and dust. Cleaning your dustpan is simple: if it is plastic, just wash it in warm, soapy water and let dry thoroughly. To clean your broom, both natural and synthetic, you must first remove all that nasty dirt and hair from the bristles. If your broom head can come off, remove and pull out all the hair and dirt by hand or use a vacuum attachment to remove all the gunk. Shake it out and make sure as much of the loose stuff comes out as possible. Fill a bucket large enough to submerge the broom head with warm, soapy water and let it soak for an hour. Scrub clean gently without bending or fraying the bristles. Rinse thoroughly and then let it hang to dry where it can get a lot of air around it. This process is long, so make sure you do this long before you want to start your cleaning. Cleaning your broom and dustpan every 3 months or so, if used often, will lengthen the life of these tools.
VACUUM: Cleaning out your vacuum can be another time consuming process and you will need to follow your manufacturer’s directions for taking it apart and making sure there are no clogs or leaks. However, there are basic things that can be done often to preserve the function of your vacuum. Check the hose regularly for clogs or air leaks. If there is even the tiniest hole, it won’t be able to suction properly. Empty the bag or canister after every use. If you have a washable canister, make sure to clean it out every few months with warm soapy water to keep it clean and disinfected. Remove any hair, strings, or rubber bands that get stuck around the beater brush (the part that spins). If you have never looked at this part of your vacuum, lay the vacuum down and see what a mess this is! Carefully using scissors or a seam cutter (if you sew, you will know what this is!), and start cutting these threads the whole way along. Pull them out and remove as much as you can. Check all the way across, as sometimes these will get stuck around the area where the brush connects to the vacuum. If you can, remove the plate holding the brush in, and make sure it is clean and debris free. Again, your manufacturer’s instructions will show you how and if this is possible (if you no longer have the instructions, google how to clean your make and model). Another place you need to keep clean is your filter. Some vacuums have washable filters, while others you need to replace. Find out which yours has and either clean or replace your filter every 3 months. You can also check all of your attachments to make sure they are working properly and have no clogs or damage to them.
DISHWASHER: Yes, your dishwasher also needs cleaned out on a regular basis. I know this sounds crazy, I mean, shouldn’t it be cleaning itself as it cleans your dishes? Well, sorta. But, you know how you don’t rinse every thing off your dishes completely when you load the dishwasher? All that food and gunk goes gets thrown around and then goes down the drain, and gets caught in the filter at the bottom. Also, hard water buildup starts to form and because your dishwasher doesn’t get any air circulating while it dries, mold can form in areas. The most recommended thing to do is to pour white vinegar into a large bowl, set it on the top rack and then run the dishwasher. The heat and vinegar will loosen up any dirt and debris and dissolve hard water stains (which can clog your drains). Once it is done, clean out your filter thoroughly (it should be able to be removed, depending on your model) and wipe everything down completely. This will clear up your drain, and remove any water deposits that may have started covering the holes where the water sprays out.
WASHING MACHINE: Another place we never think needs cleaned, but, just like with the dishwasher, washing an empty cycle with vinegar will help loosen water deposits and clean out any smells and stains. If you have areas for bleach, fabric softener, laundry detergent, these need cleaned out as well to remove any dried product. Front loading washing machines tend to grow mold in the rubber parts around the door due to lack of good drainage. There are special cleaners for this, but using vinegar and water and a toothbrush to scrub out the mold by hand should help get rid of the smell and stains. Wipe out the inside of the washer tub really good after cleaning.
DRYER: Your dryer definitely needs special treatment several times a year, as not keeping it clean will start a FIRE! At least twice a year, pull your dryer away from the wall and unhook it from the dryer vent. Using a vacuum hose, clean out all the lint and debris buildup from the hose that connects it, the wall vent, and the back of the dryer. You will be surprised at how much lint is just sitting on the back of your dryer! Clean that all out. Remove the lint trap and clean out the lint after every load. When you do your thorough cleaning, scrub the lint trap with warm, soapy water until water runs through it. Even though you may not see the buildup, it is there. Dry completely before putting it back in and using your dryer. Using your vacuum hose, (or carefully your hand), clean out the area the lint trap goes as far down as you can. There are special attachments available you can buy to go deeper into the dryer. Using warm water and vinegar, you can clean out the dryer tub to remove any buildup of fabric softener, lint, etc. Wipe it down thoroughly and let everything dry before reconnecting and using.
MICROFIBER CLOTHS: All microfiber cloths should always be washed separately after every use with a mild detergent on gentle with no fabric softener in order to maintain the integrity of the microfiber. The thing that makes these special from other cleaning cloths is the very tight fibers and these will loosen if not treated gently.
As you can see, taking care of all of your cleaning tools throughout the year will make your spring cleaning easier and more efficient, while expanding the life of your tools. Keeping your dryer clean will also help save your life, as household fires from dryers occur 29,000 times a year with an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damages (www.usfa.fema.gov). Simple maintenance a few times a year will help prevent this kind of devastating loss. Cleaning your other cleaning tools will save you time and money in the long run, and who doesn’t want to do that?
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