Walls: Dust your walls with your vacuum brush attachment, then clean using an all-purpose cleaner and rinse. Repair your walls by patching holes and dings and touching up paint.
TIP: Don’t use a spray cleaner, which will only leave streaks on your walls. Soak a cloth in cleaner, then wipe. To rinse, follow up with a clean cloth soaked in plain water.
Baseboards: Dust with a microfiber cloth or use your vacuum brush attachment, then spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean.
TIP: Clean your baseboards after you clean your floors since cleaning floors tends to kick debris up onto baseboards.
Windows: Use a microfiber cloth soaked in a solution of ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ to ½ teaspoon dish soap, and 2 cups water.
TIP: Don’t be tempted to use more vinegar. Too much can make windows appear cloudy.
Window screens: To deep clean your window screens, you should remove them. Place outside on a tarp or other clean waterproof surface, then use a garden hose, an all-purpose cleaner, and a soft brush (gently on the screen) to clean. Repair any torn window screens.
TIP: When removing your screens and hardware, label their location as you go to make re-installing them a breeze.
Shelves: Remove all items from shelves, and dust both the items and the shelves.
TIP: Use museum putty to secure items that tend to fall over, especially if you live in earthquake-prone areas.
TIP: Try using Coke or Pepsi to remove oil and grease stains. It’ll take a little elbow grease, too, but the acidity of dark colas helps remove oil stains, as well as other tough stains, such as rust.
Siding: Using warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle, clean your home in sections small enough to keep soapy water from drying before you can rinse.
TIP: Pressure washers can make the job go easier, but if you’re a power-washer newbie, you risk stripping off paint or damaging your siding. Try one of the newer, lighter, electric power washers, which are easier to handle, or stick with the old-fashioned method. Either way, wash from the bottom up to help prevent streaking.
Upholstery: Vacuum your sofas and chairs. Spot clean or steam clean as needed. Freshen dusty pillows, throws, and curtains by tossing them in the dryer on low or no heat. Or, take them outside on a nice day to fluff and bask in the sun as an energy-saving alternative.
TIP: To spot clean, use “whipped detergent” — a mixture of half dish soap and half water. Beat to a froth. Soak a cloth in the mixture, wash the stain, then rinse with a cloth soaked in fresh water.
Ceiling fans: Spray the inside of an old pillowcase with cleaning solution, then slip the bag over each blade and wipe clean.
TIP: Before you go up a ladder to clean your ceiling fan, check to see if the fan is turning in the right direction to keep your home cool. If you feel a breeze underneath the blades when turned on, your fan is set for summer. If you don’t feel a breeze, change the direction.
Air conditioners: Change your air conditioner filter, or clean it by soaking it in a vinegar-and-water solution for 1 to 4 hours (depending on how long it’s been since you last cleaned). Let dry completely before replacing.
TIP: Let the filter dry outside in bright sunshine to kill bacteria and to help remove odors.