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Spring Cleaning Hacks

Fingers crossed, the warmer weather is here to stay and, with the switch to Daylight Savings Time, spring is in the air. With this change of season comes the long-held tradition of spring cleaning. Deep cleaning some of the hidden, hardworking parts of your home might be a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. When neglected for too long, grimy buildup in the wrong places can lead to appliance breakdowns, infestations, and worse case scenarios, homeplace disasters like fires or floods. Here are a few important but often forgotten cleaning tasks for this year’s spring clean-out.

First, refrigerator coils. Dusty condenser coils make your fridge work harder, making it less energy-efficient and shortening its life span. It’s best to tackle this job once if not twice a year, but be forewarned, consult your owner’s manual before attempting to clean. Some refrigerators may require specialized cleaning techniques, best done by a professional. If your fridge is more user-friendly, then, by all means, proceed on your own. The coils are usually covered by a pan at the bottom front or on the back of a freestanding fridge. You’ll definitely need to unplug the fridge, and I’d suggest wearing a dust mask as you gently scrape across and between the coils. Follow up using the crevice attachment on your vacuum. To truly make the most of this job, feel free to clean out and organize the inside of your fridge, move it away from the wall and clean the floor as well.

From coils to filters, if you’re not regularly in the habit of cleaning your dishwater filter, there’s no time like spring cleaning to add this as a monthly task to your chore list. If left uncleaned for too long, dishwasher filters will start to leave food specks on clean dishes, and an odd odor will develop. Again, check your owner’s manual, or search for an owner’s manual online. The filter should be under the bottom rack of your washer. Twist to remove it and scrub it with hot water using an old toothbrush. For really greasy grime, handwash with dish soap. Also, to help prevent buildup, be sure to thoroughly rinse and scrape excess food off your dishes before running them through the dishwasher.

Hopefully, you already clean the lint trap from your dryer after every load of laundry. You should also deal with lint buildup in the dryer duct. Having a clogged duct is an energy suck and a fire hazard. Once a year, pull the dryer away from the wall and unplug it. Disconnect the duct from the dryer and the wall, then loosen the lint inside with a long-handled brush, and finish with a quick run of the ShopVac to suck up any lint on the floor and from the holes in the dryer and the wall. You can also take the time to wipe down the outside of the dryer before moving on to your washing machine.

Does your washer have a lint filter or a drain pump filter? Check that handy owner’s manual! On a top-loading machine, the lint filter will be inside the drum or on the back. The drain pump filter and hose are usually on the front. Put a towel under a shallow pan on the floor, remove the hose plug, and let the machine drain out. If you haven’t done this in a while, or ever, prepare for a quart or so of smelly water along with some crud. (Now would be a good time to suggest wearing rubber gloves for this project.) Once drained, slowly unscrew the drain pump filter, and pull it out. There will be slimy stuff, and you’ll want to wash this with warm water and a toothbrush. On the plus side, you may also find loose items from pockets! Once reassembled, wipe down the outside and run a sanitize cycle to get the interior clean.

If you’re not totally grossed out by now, then let’s talk about drains! Ideally, you’d clean your shower drain before you’re standing in water after every shower. But a drain is not clogged until it’s clogged, so it’s best to tackle this task before the water reaches your ankles. You can always utilize products like Drano for the shower. For a non-chemical approach, you’ll need a screwdriver, flashlight, wire hanger, plastic bag, and rubber gloves. You may also want a clothespin for your nose as things may get stinky. Remove the drain cover and pull out as much as you can see with your fingers. Bend the wire hanger into a pole with a hook and fish around to grab anything else you can. Use the flashlight to check the drain is clear and screw the cover back on. If you notice an odor that won’t go away or you’re having similar problems with other drains, there could be a bigger issue, and it’s best to call a plumber.

There’s no time like the spring to clean out your gutters. Actually, there’s also the fall, as gutter cleaning is best done twice a year. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams that damage the gutters and roof. And when the ice melts and doesn’t drain, it can find its way indoors, yikes! You’ll need work gloves, a ladder, an attachable bucket, or a drop cloth. Scoop out leaves, twigs, and other junk with your hands and a trowel, drop debris in the bucket or on the drop cloth on the ground below. To check for downspout clogs, start at the end farthest from the downspout, and flush the gutter with a hose that has a sprayer. If the water doesn’t rush out below, spray up the downspout or remove it completely and flush it out. This job is a bit more physically demanding as you have to climb a ladder and all, so be sure you’re up for it. If not, call a handyman or a landscaping service for this type of maintenance.

While these jobs are on the messier side of spring cleaning, they will keep your home humming along, and you’ll rest easy that neglected filters, coils, or gutters won’t end up causing any major damage.

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