Urban Space   

The June Clean

I can handle mess. I can handle a jacket thrown across a chair or magazines and newspapers strewn over a coffee table. I can also handle a bag left on the floor for a couple of days or even-on occasion, and certainly not for very long-an unmade bed.

What I can’t abide, though, is dirt. You know what I mean: The icky, crusty, dusty grime that, if not regularly cleaned, builds up around sinks and toilets, on floors and windows, and beneath appliances. I’m sure most people would agree with me that this sort of thing is a real turn-off in your own home, but it’s even worse when witnessed in the homes of others. Dirt can make an otherwise lovely home look ugly.

Okay, now I realize that it’s a bit too late to start preaching the virtues of spring cleaning, but a deep-down clean is often the first step toward refreshing and revitalizing your space. After that, who knows what you’ll have the energy for?

The Deep-Down Clean, as opposed to those everyday tasks, is something that you have to gear up for-sort of like going into battle. But once it’s done it’s totally worth it. Your house will be renewed and refreshed and you’ll be happier and more inclined to have company over.

My mom gave me a great little pocket book last year by Cindy Harris, called Cleaning: Hints and Tips ($9.95 at Chapters), and I’ve found it incredibly useful for all kinds of household tasks, from the daily and annual ones to specialty things like stain removal.

Here, then, is a list of cleaning suggestions that I’ve compiled from my mother’s wisdom, Harris’s book, and my own little pet peeves. I hope you find them useful.

Closets and cupboards: Gather up unused or unwanted clothes, CDs, DVDs, books, and anything else to give away, sell, or donate. Wipe down dusty shelving.

Windows and Doors: Hose down the exterior of the house and be sure to wash away all the webs and things that have clustered on your windows and entryways. If you can’t do this yourself and you can spend the money, hire a window-cleaning service to do it for you (some strata companies arrange for this service annually). On the inside, remove and wash down screens, wipe sills and trim with hot, soapy water (if they’re not cleaned at least twice a year they’ll be very dirty), and wipe the windows with a glass cleaner.

Drapery and Window Coverings: While you’re doing the windows, take drapery or blinds down for cleaning or laundering.

Chandeliers and Light Fixtures: It’s best to do this more than annually, especially if you’ve noticed that your clear light bulbs look frosted because they’re shrouded in dust. Wipe them down with a static dusting cloth and make sure you don’t have any hanging dust webs on your ceilings and walls. It’s also good to take down ceiling fixtures and hand wash the glass or ceramic coverings.

Large Appliances: Pull out the fridge and stove and vacuum and mop behind them. You may be surprised what you find back there.

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