Spring is traditionally the time to open the windows and clean out the cobwebs. Although it may seem like a daunting task, it doesn't have to be. Real Simple magazine’s Elizabeth Mayhew was invited on the "Today" show for a three-day series to talk about easy ways to break big chores down into simple steps, as detailed in the May issue. Here's the final excerpt:
DAY 3: BED AND BATH
Make your bed every morning right before or after your morning shower. A neat bed will inspire you to deal with other messes. Plus, you’ll appreciate the smooth sheets and fluffed pillows when you get back into bed at the end of a busy day.
Unfortunately, dust mites live and breed in mattresses, but there are some Real Simple steps you can take to keep this problem at bay:
- Wash your mattress pad in hot water every two months. If you don’t have a mattress pad, get one, since they keep mites from reproducing.
- Use your vacuum’s wand or upholstery attachment to go over the entire surface of the mattress. Pay special attention to indented or buttoned areas, where dust gets lodged.
- Flip your mattress once a season — flip it over and rotate it, so the head moves to the foot, to ensure the mattress doesn’t wear unevenly. Safety pin an index card to the mattress with the date you flipped it. Vacuum the newly exposed sides to keep dust mites away.
Keeping whites white
Nothing looks fresher than a bed with crisp, white linens, but white sheets can start to look worn over time. The key to maintaining white sheets is frequent laundering and very hot water. Here are some other tips:
- Don’t mix whites with colors.
- Use the hottest temperature the fabric can withstand — a 10-degree increase in temperature will greatly increase the detergent’s effectiveness.
- Contrary to popular opinion, resist the urge to use chlorine bleach to restore whiteness. Bleach breaks down chemicals applied to most white fabrics, which can leave them looking yellowed or gray over time.
If wooden blinds are sealed, which most are, you can wash them by hand. Just be sure to vacuum or dust them thoroughly beforehand. A Real Simple tip — you can dust blinds with a dryer sheet. Here are some others:
- Adjust the blinds so the slats are angled down, towards the floor. Combine a few capfuls of dishwashing liquid and water in a bucket.
- One slat at a time, wash each with a damp rag. Use a dry towel to soak up excess water as you go. Flip the blinds and do the same thing on the other side.
- To clean the cord, pull the shade all the way up so the cord is fully extended. Run the damp rag up and down it once, followed by a dry towel.
Dust loves to nestle in the high-up surfaces you can’t see, like the tops of bookcases and ceiling-fan blades. Use a vacuum with the brush attachment to clean these spots.
Ceiling fans can be hard to tackle. Casabella’s Fantastic Ceiling Fan Duster’s ($16, www.casabella.com) orb-shaped duster gives you 360-degree coverage as well as a lot of height, so you can keep your feet on the ground and still get full coverage.
Make cleaning the bathroom part of your daily routine, just like washing your hands. The germs from your toilet aren’t fatal, but the idea of germs migrating to your toothbrush is enough to make anyone want a clean bathroom. Here are some tips:
- Swab your toilet with a toilet brush and a splash of all-purpose cleaner once a day. To make it even easier, pour a splash of bleach or all-purpose cleaner into an enclosed toilet-brush caddy, so you’ll always have a disinfected brush ready to effortlessly swoosh the bowl.
- Clean the toilet’s exterior with an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth or sponge once a week, or keep a box of Clorox Wipes next to the toilet at all times, so you can effortlessly disinfect and clean up small messes.
Tub and shower
Applying an all-purpose cleaner once a week can eliminate up to 97 percent of germs and bacteria. Here are some other tips to keep these areas sparkling clean:
- Method Daily Shower Spray ($5, www.methodhome.com) prevents germs and soap scum from building up in the first place. , so make it part of your daily routine. Keep it next to your shampoo, so it's easy to make it part of your daily routine. It’s slightly more expensive than supermarket brands, but it smells much better and the bottle is attractive enough to leave out.
- OXO Good Grips Household Squeegee ($8, www.oxo.com) is perfect for cleaning the shower door and bathroom mirrors.
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