Regular household cleaning is mostly about upkeep: making sure to put things away at the end of the day; wiping down and dusting surfaces; and sweeping and vacuuming floors, carpets and rugs. Then there are the deep cleaning projects: the hard-to-reach, the impossible-to-scrub projects that are lucky to be done every few months, but which most of us only tackle once or twice a year. So, here are a few ideas for making those difficult things easier to clean, maintain and achieve that deep dirt-free level that makes your home really sparkle.
These guys are notoriously hard to nab -- their location makes them hard to maintain, and their unique shape requires more than just a wipe down. For regular maintenance, a long-handled feather duster or static cleaning duster is the way to go. Just stand on a solid chair or small step ladder and wipe thoroughly, making sure you dust your fans before vacuuming or sweeping. This will allow grime to fall towards the ground. For deeper cleaning, such as along the edges of the blades, try a soft rag dampened with odorless mineral spirits from the hardware store. This oil-based product cuts through the glue-like grime/grease/dust combination with just a few wipes.
The comb-like structure and large surface area of air vents and registers can be tough to scrub without going through each compartment with a Q-tip. So, dust these once a month as you dust your furniture. Then, for deep cleaning, take advantage of time. Vacuum away the dust, then spray on a grease-cutting cleaner such as Simple Green or a Murphy's Oil-based product and allow to penetrate for several hours. Then, spritz on some water and wipe clean with a rag. If you really want to get things dirt free, use a lightweight screwdriver to remove the registers from the wall or floor, and take outside and allow the cleaner to penetrate overnight. Then, use a garden hose and high pressure spray nozzle to blast away buildup. Or, if you have plastic registers, you can actually wash them in the dishwasher. Spritz quickly with cleaner again to remove any stickiness, then wash and let dry before reinstalling.
Stove Burners and Grates
To remove cooked-on food and grease, fill a large non-aluminum soup or stock pot with clean water, and bring to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of baking soda, then completely submerge the burner supports. Allow to boil for 5-10 minutes each, then use tongs to remove. Wipe and rinse with clean water.
This handy appliances aren't difficult to reach, but removing built-up food residue and splatters can be a chore. So, speed up the process with this easy tip: fill a glass bowl with equal parts water and white vinegar. Microwave on high for two minutes: this will create a grease-cutting steam that will attack grime on the walls, allowing you to wipe it away with a clean rag in a minute or two.
Refrigerator Shelves and Drawers
Wait until just before a big grocery trip and your fridge is relatively empty and remove the shelves, trays, drawers, glass sheets, etc. Take them to the bathtub, and spray with a citrus-based cleaner such as Simple Green. Allow to penetrate for a few hours, then fill the tub with enough cold water to cover and allow to soak overnight. The next morning, just rinse, wipe clean and reinstall.
Houseplants and Succulents
Adding some greenery to your home can freshen it and improve air quality, but the intricate nature of some of these plants means they will catch dust and other airborne particles. Plants with broad leaves should be wiped down twice a year with a clean cloth and water to remove build-up. Smaller plants with more complicated leaf structures should be wiped where possible. Then use light bursts of compressed air to remove dust. Catch any flying debris as you clean with a vacuum hose so it doesn't settle elsewhere.