When I was growing up, I loved reading biographies of pioneer girls. I reveled in the descriptions of long hard winters, itchy woolen underwear and blizzards so fierce that your father got lost on his way to milk the cows and was not seen again until his frozen body was found when the snow melted in the spring. The spring cleaning rituals that followed those terrible winters fascinated me. I envied those girls their tasks of stuffing mattress ticks full of fresh hay, scrubbing the pine table until it shone and sweeping their dugout’s dirt floor.
Fast forward to the 21st century and now my idea of spring cleaning is — once the temperature climbs above 60 degrees — to fling open the doors and windows and let the stale winter air out and the warm spring breeze in. Spring cleaning: done.
Spring’s longer hours of daylight suddenly make dust that’s gone unnoticed in winter’s gloom practically gleam in the waning light of the afternoon, particularly on televisions and other electronics. Use coffee filters — great lint-free dust cloths — to de-dust.
Don’t overlook your lampshades in your de-dusting efforts. A lint brush from the dollar store with peel-away sheets can clean up dusty, fuzzy lampshades and make them ready-to-wear for the spring season.
Give your showerhead a freshen up. Pour a quarter cup of vinegar into a gallon-size Ziploc bag and fasten the bag over the showerhead, securing it with a rubber band. Turn on the shower and fill the bag with hot water. Let the showerhead soak in the vinegar/water solution for 15–20 minutes. Remove the bag from the showerhead and let the water run for five minutes.
Eliminate those reminders of the winter’s stews, soups and comforting pastas in your microwave by giving it a steam bath. Fill a microwave-safe glass measuring cup or bowl with two cups of water and a lemon cut in half. Boil the water and lemon halves in your microwave for three minutes. Leave the microwave’s door closed and let the steam do its work. After five minutes, open the microwave and wipe away the residue with a wet sponge.
Winter boots and wet clothes leave dirty marks on carpets and upholstery. To remove stains, pour a bit of white vinegar on the spot that needs cleaning, sprinkle baking powder over the vinegar (make sure to spot test this method first on your fabric) and let the vinegar and baking soda bubble up and absorb the stain. Rub away the stain with a damp cloth, let it dry and vacuum away any residue.
Cleaning window blinds may be the task that is most often pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. Or maybe it just stays permanently at the top of my “NOT to-do” list. It’s a tedious and noisy task. But then I found this ingenious hack: Wrap a dusting cloth on each side of a pair of kitchen tongs, and secure it with a rubber band. Slide the tongs along each slat of the blinds and they will be dust free in no time.
When spring arrives, I want my house to smell like it. Put a light and fresh scent in the air by boiling a pan of water on the stove and add your favorite fresh scents: lemon, lime, lavender, mint or parsley. Soon your whole house will tell you spring is in the air.
None of these spring cleaning hacks will up your pioneer woman street cred, but frankly, wouldn’t we all like to be cleaning showerheads and microwaves rather than boiling water over a fire for bathing and chopping wood for our Franklin stoves?