Last night I did something I’ve never done before: I cleaned out the filters of our window air conditioning units. All of my research says I should have been doing this once a month, and I waited six years, but I’ve decided to be proud of myself anyway.
Anyhow, it got me thinking that there are probably a few other areas of my house that could use a little spring refresh. But since I let the AC units wait it out for more than half a decade, I decided it best to bring in an expert to tell me where I should be focusing my efforts next.
Melissa Maker, who runs a housekeeping service in Canada and cleans for more than a million subscribers on YouTube, was happy to oblige and point out a few of the most important areas to hit this time of year.
Filters and vents
It has to be said that Maker seemed impressed with my AC efforts, but she pointed out a whole bunch of other filters and vents in and around my home that are likely affecting the quality of my family’s air. In particular, she says to clean or replace all filters related to your HVAC system. “The cleaner those filters are, the cleaner the air will be, and the more efficiently your HVAC system will work,” she says. Then, vacuum out any air registers and returns with your vacuum’s brush attachment.
Oh, speaking of the vacuum cleaner: That probably needs a little love, too. We have a tendency to forget to clean the things that clean other things, Maker says, but cleaning or replacing your vacuum’s filter or filter bag—and giving the components a wipe-down—is a good idea.
The exhaust system over your stove is another area that is often overlooked (and very greasy). To clean the filter, Maker says you can stick it in the dishwasher or soak it in a bucket with soapy water or enzyme cleaner. (Or, if it’s too far gone, simply replace it.)
And as long as you’re in the kitchen, you might as well pull the refrigerator out and vacuum off those coils in the back.
“These are all pretty straight-forward, quick jobs,” she says. “It’s just a matter of having them on a to-do list and setting aside the time.”
Next up are all the soft or upholstered surfaces of your home, like drapes, rugs, carpeting, couches and throw pillows.
Follow the specific fabric care instructions for each item because some will be dry clean or spot-clean only. This is the perfect time to hire the professionals to come in and steam your carpets (they can do your upholstered furniture at the same time), but at least go through and spot clean any stains on your carpets and rugs. Maker likes the Carbona carpet cleaner in particular for this task because of its sponge and applicator brush.
This is also a good time to store away your thicker winter bedding and pull out their lighter summer counterparts.
It’s time to clean all that winter off your windows without adding a bunch of new streaks. Maker’s favorite tool for this job is a two-sided microfiber squeegee, like this one. Fill a rectangular bucket halfway with hot water, one cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. She also recommends placing a towel at the bottom of window to catch excess water if you’re cleaning inside.
Here’s a visual demonstration, courtesy of Maker:
Spring is the perfect time for what Maker calls a “closet change-over.” Pull out the winter boots, hats, gloves and heavy sweaters and either store away until fall or move to another less prominent location.
“You’ll make way for spring and summer items, and that way, you don’t have this exploding closet all the time,” she says. “It’s a little more manageable.”
If you have kids, the change of seasons also marks a good time to sort through their clothes to set aside anything that no longer fits and isn’t seasonal to make space for the new.
Originally published May 2019 and updated March 15, 2021 to reflect current style guidelines.
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