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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spring Cleaning, Part III


Cleaning Your Bedroom

It is your private space, the one room where you should be able to find peace and serenity. This room, above all others, is necessary to feel centered; it is where you gather your strength and relax. Your bedrooms and bathrooms and laundry room can become the dustiest places in your home due to the linen and clothes that generate lint and dust as beds are made, clothes are folded, dresses shaken out, etc.
We will first concentrate on general room cleaning and then we will focus on the particulars.
Ceilings
Let's dig out those step stools again. If you have any ceiling fixtures, let's clean those first. I get my dear husband to take down my light fixture and then I wash it and he puts it back up. Clean the lamps thoroughly. Personally, I windex the brass lamps each week and vacuum the shades about every couple of months. Don't forget to dust the light bulbs, too. Ceiling fans and ceiling heat and air conditioning vents can also be wiped down now. If you have ceiling fans you might want to do this about once a month. If you have dust spots on your ceilings near the vents, vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Clean or replace special air filters throughout the house. You could call your builder to ask what you can do. With a lot of building in your neighborhood it will cause an inordinate amount of dust and sand to blow around. One suggestion is to place thin white sponge filters inside the ducts and that should catch the dirt before it blows onto the ceiling. Would this make your AC system less efficient, probably not noticeably. But replace these filters frequently or it will dirty them up and make your HVAC work harder.
Vent Covers. You can wash some of them in dishwasher. If they are brass then wipe them with Windex. You can buy new vent covers or paint them with gloss spray paint. If you are a terrible spray painter then buy a pint of paint. Pour the paint into a foil cake pan, dipped the vents into the paint, and set them on paper to dry. Remember you only need the outer side to be drip free. The next time I have to wash them, I'll be able to get the house icky off them easily and they will remain white. Saves a lot of money too!
Windows
OK, let's move on to the windows. If you have drapes, clean them -- either wash them or send them to the cleaners if they need it, brush them or vacuum them. If you have blinds, it's time to clean the blinds. If you have miniblinds then get your dear husband to take them down and you can wash them in bathtub/shower or outside. Use a soft brush, detergent and hose off. Let drip/dry and have husband put them back up. If you use vertical blinds then take a sponge and wipe each blind. Personally, I do not buy a fabric coated vertical blind as they are too hard to really clean. You can vacuum them but do this often, not just once a year. Wooden shutters (like Charleston shutters) are hard to clean but can be done with patience. Use sponge and a little Murphy's Oil Soap mixed with a lot of water. Replace water when it gets dirty. Wash all surfaces. Be sure to wash before trying to paint shutters. Then clean the screens, windows, window casements, window sills.
Bed
Strip the bed completely -- bedspread (comforter or coverlet), sheets, mattress cover, pillows, dust ruffles, all of it. Now you have this sad looking naked bed sitting there. It's OK; it needs an airing. Start your laundry. If your pillows can't be washed, how about setting them outside and airing them? Or stick them in the dryer on air fluff, no heat. Is it time for your seasonal spread change? Let's leave the bed naked until we're all done with the room. Before you put linens back on the bed, vacuum it. Your mattresses should be turned today. Try to strip the bed real early in the morning and catch husband before he leaves for work to help turn the mattresses. If you have a water bed, is it time to add tablets or anything to it?
Under-Bed Storage
Now empty out anything that you have stored under the bed. Set the boxes or bags out in the middle of the floor. Vacuum under the bed and wipe down all storage containers that you use under the bed.
*Tip*: If you have quilts for each bed and need a place to store them in off season layer them between the mattresses of the bed. I wouldn't do this for heirloom quilts, but just everyday quilts...
Remove the duvets and launder them and just fold up the quilts to fit the top of the bed and store them between the box springs and top mattress.
Let's take a look at what you have stored under the bed. Maybe you have out of season clothes stored there or miscellaneous objects that you couldn't find any other place to store. Rule number one -- the chocolate wrappers have to go! Take a hard look at what's stored there. Do you need it? Do you love it? Could you live without it? After making those decisions, replace whatever it is if there is no better place for it.
Depending on what your bed is made of, use what ever cleaners are necessary to clean it completely. If it’s upholstered, then spot clean and vacuum. If it’s wooden then polish real good. If it’s brass or metal, then wipe with damp sponge and dry or polish. I do this about once a month. I leave the original plastic on the box springs to keep the dust down on the box springs. Or you could use another mattress pad. I vacuum the mattress after turning it.
*Storage tip*: If you use flannel sheets in the winter months, they are bulky to store and do not fold up as neatly as cotton sheets. They can, however, be folded up into a nice fat square, just the perfect size to fit into a bed decorative pillow. In the summer months, you can have pretty decorator pillow covers and store the flannel sheets in them. Keeps the linen closet neater and creates a nice look for the bed. Thermal blankets can also be stored this way. 2 winter afghans can be stored in a sofa pillow too.
OK, now the ceilings, windows and bed are taken care of.

I get husband to pull all the furniture out from the wall and I wash down the walls from ceiling to floors and baseboards. Personally I only use latex semi-gloss or latex gloss paint or wallpaper. Flat paint catches and holds dust and grime. If you use flat paint, grass wallpaper or other flat, fabric or textured wall covering then you might need to vacuum the walls thoroughly. This will help with the dust but it won't clean the grease, smoke or grime that walls naturally collect. If you have wooden panelling then use a dust mop with furniture polish. Check the walls for cobwebs or dust ladders. Check for fingerprints. Can your walls get away with just a brushing or vacuuming, or do they need to be washed? No cheating here. I wash all the doors, window sills, door frames, closet doors, etc. I dust the backs of the furniture and vacuum and mop before I get my dear husband to push furniture back to their places. This is a good time to re-arrange furniture if you want.
*Tip* Keep your wash water clean by replacing it often so you aren't putting dirty water on the walls.
Now clean switch plates and door handles. If they are brass you can use Windex on them or brass polish.
Vacuum and mop the floor.
Nightstands
Nightstands collect all sorts of clutter. Paperback books, tissues, medicines, pens, paper -- take a look at your collection and sort through it. Already read the books? Pass them on or return them to the bookcase where they belong. Empty the night stand completely. Clean the drawers or shelves, clean the exterior. If you have a glass top, remove it carefully and clean under it and then clean the glass. Drawer knobs tight? Now, think about the minimum you need in your nightstand and put only those items back into it. Wash all the knickknacks and doodads, clean your bedside phone real good, clean all your framed pictures and re-organize your reading material. I do this every week. Do the same for the second night stand.

Dresser Top
Take a real deep breath and run and take an honesty pill, well, maybe 2 pills. Empty everything that is your dresser drawers. Put it all on your bed. Amazing isn't it? If you have any little accumulated things then put them where they are suppose to go. For ex: paper clips go to the study and put in the paper clip box on your desktop, straight or safety pins go in your sewing box, buttons go in your button jar, etc... Clean the dresser inside and out. Dust the back of the dresser and mirrors too. Polish the mirrors. Well, that's just beautiful! Just like when you first brought it home a wonderful empty dresser.

Her Dresser
Let's look at your lingerie collection. Separate it into daily wear and "special wear." I NEVER save nice things. I WEAR my nice things. I wear them until they start looking not-so-nice and then it's time to get rid of them and get new. I like to wear nice lingerie that is pretty, practical and washes well. Remember you get what you pay for too. If it's too cheap it probably won't wash well and will look bunchy around the seams, unironed, rumpled. If it's too expensive then you can only afford 1-2 things instead of the 3-4 you need. Decide how much you need and how much you can afford. Do you really need 35 pairs of undies? Do you really need 35 pairs of socks? I only buy enough panties to last for 10 days and I buy in white and/beige (with some black thrown in). If I wash once a week then I only need 7 pairs but then there are the times you might be on vacation, etc. and you need some extras for after you come off the beach or out of the pool. You get what you pay for. If you buy cheap undies then they might shrink, draw away, bunch, not fit well under pants, etc. Once they show wear, toss them and buy new. A neat way to store bras and panties is to put them into drawer dividers. They sell these at various stores, or you can make by using poster board and an Aleene's (tm) Box Maker. You can separate by color, fabric, and style. But if you buy white, beige and one black set then there isn’t a whole lot to separate. There's no rustling through the drawers for what you need, everything is in plain sight and you can just pluck out what you need.

Special bras can also be removed from your dresser and put into a box to be put into the closet. Be sure to label the boxes, so you won't have to search for anything. If you have one for a specific outfit, then try, hanging the bra with the appropriate outfit.

Hosiery: Let's discuss panty hose first. If you have special hose for outfits then hang them from the hanger in a baggy or tuck into the matching purse. Everyday hose is stored in their own little containers, too. You use a box and then cut off the bottoms of one liter drink bottles to about 3 inches high and roll clean hose and store the hose in the little containers. How many pairs of hose do you need to keep around? Probably not more than 6 pairs at a time.

Socks: I know that some people roll them, others fold them side to side. I'm going to describe another way to fold them so they are always neat in your drawer and easy to slip on. Stay with me here. Take one sock. Do not fold it sideways like they come. Open up the toe and flatten out the sock so that you are seeing only the front side (as if it were on your foot). Turn the sock over and take the heel portion and flip it out and fold it down towards the toe. Do the same with the second sock but flip the heel portion toward the top of the sock. Now place the socks together back to back. You've eliminated the heel bulk. Fold the socks together back to back in half. You should now have one nice little package. Fold the next pair of socks the same way, but place on top of the first folded pair in the opposite direction. Measure the average size of your folded socks and make containers for storage for your drawer. Sort by color. I have white, khaki, dark blue, brown and black. I try to buy a bunch all at the same time and the same brand so that I have less trouble sorting when folding clean clothes.

Remember, ask yourself if you really need these items? How many do you realistically need to keep? Do you really like to wear it? Would someone else like it better? Is it too worn to keep?

Everything should now be back in your dresser. That leaves your dresser top. Remember that everything you leave on your dresser has to be handled to be cleaned. Try to pare down the amount of accessories on your dresser.
*Tip:* You can use a strip of lace or pretty fabric and some tacks to make a holder along the inside of your drawer to hold small bottles. I saw this idea in a magazine. You just tack the lace strip down one side of your drawer and put a tack along the way so that you have enough to hold your bottles upright. Not so tight that it's hard to remove and replace the bottle.
His dresser
Be sure your dear husband is not home when you do this. Follow the same procedure cleaning his dresser as you did yours. But this job requires looking at the underwear. You see, we all know that a woman will throw away a sock that no longer has a heel in it, but men, well... search through his underwear and quickly toss the junk. Not only toss it, but bag it so he can't see it. My dear husband gets all over me for throwing away his "perfectly good" holey underwear or some old stained shirt or ripped pair of pants. I keep telling him that he isn't so poor that he has to keep everything no matter what condition it is in. We can afford for him to have decent clothes. I try to get him to go through his drawers and clothes about once a year to get rid of stuff he no longer wears. That is the stuff I would take to charity. But the holey, stained and ripped stuff goes in the garbage.

His underwear can be stored like yours. Men's underwear is so much easier to buy than women's. I buy him new underwear a couple of times a year and I buy enough to completely replace all his old. I try to keep 12-14 prs for him as he showers twice a day so needs 2 clean prs underwear per day. Then I go through and throw out any that are showing wear in the elastic or have holes.
Bathing suits can be put in a plastic container marked bathing suits and then put in his closet.
Gather all the bits of paper, business cards, screws, bolts, toothpicks wrapped in plastic, things I didn't know and probably never will know what they are, and put everything into a basket and set it on his chair. He wasn't exactly happy about going through the basket but help him later in the evening and write the numbers he wants to keep in his phone book, and file the cards he wants to keep in his card file. I have to do dear husband's junk pretty regularly. There is always keys, business cards, screws, wire connectors, golf tees, change, etc. I have a key cabinet. You can buy these at office supply places or make one with cup hooks. I also bought key labels at the office supply store. I went through all our keys and labeled them and grouped them in the key cabinet (house keys, car keys, luggage keys, etc.). Everytime I find a key I put it back in the key cabinet. Any keys I don't recognize and can't place are thrown away. My dh keeps too many keys on his key chain for work but, at home, my keys are organized! I put all change in my wallet to use to buy coffee or make copies at the library. I put the golf tees in his golf bag. I have a little cabinet with the see through drawers and I sort his screws, wire connectors, etc into these drawers in the basement. I sort through paper and pull anything I need like receipts, deposit slips, etc and take to the study. I throw all other paperwork away. If he needed it he wouldn’t have left it on the dresser. By the time it's sat on his desk for a week it's history as far as I'm concerned. These little things are a pain and aggravating but if you don't do it regularly it really can start adding up and make a mess of your room. Put collar stays in a small jeweler's box and mark it collar stays. Take an old tie he hates and hang it from his closet and used it to attach all the pins he has collected, race passes, etc.

Does he collect ball caps? Run clothesline across the top of his closet along the walls and used clothes pins to attach the hats. Now they are out of the way but he's happy because he can see them. It's a man thing, I guess. Or toss in a plastic box in his closet. His handkerchiefs can be stored in a divider box, his cuff links in another, tie tacks in another. I have a small wooden jewelry box for his watches and rings. You can store his ties in a special box so they can lay flat (silk ties lose their shape if hung). His magazines are stored in magazine holders by category.
Be sure to clean all accessories in your bedroom, including knick knacks, lamps, wastebaskets, wall hangings, crosses, photographs, vases, etc.

Hope Chest
If you have a hope chest in your bedroom, empty it out completely. Give all the stored items the honesty test, and refill. For those of you who don't care for the smell of moth balls, stick a few bay leaves in for bug prevention. You can use acid free tissue paper to line the chest and layer between items.

The Finishing Touches
OK, so how is your room looking? Is there a place to set a candle warmer? Candles can live a black smoke film on everything so it's best to use a candle warmer. Perhaps a flower? Do you have room for a comfortable chair and lamp?

Put on your fresh mattress cover and put on your fresh sheets. Take your pillows which have been airing and put them in their cases. Make up the bed.

Re-hang any curtains, blinds, or swags. Now, how about a spritz of perfume on turned-off light bulbs? There should be absolutely no clutter any place in your room.
If you have a desk in your room, empty it and clean it. Have lots of occasion cards that you will never use in this lifetime? Drop them off at a local nursing home.
Did you find any bed linens that are very tired? Perhaps they could be made into pillowcases. Often during the summer, all you need to feel fresh in bed is a clean set of pillowcases. Faded sheets sewn into pillowcases with a bit of lace added look like heirlooms.

Need a handy nightstand in a hurry? Purchase a large trash can, put out of season clothes in it, put the lid on upside down and cover with a plywood round, a cloth and then a piece of glass. Double duty tables always help.

Keeping the Room Special
This room is very important to you. It should be a place of refuge. Children, friends, relatives are not allowed in the bedroom. Arguments and disagreements shouldn’t take place in there. You don’t want negative feelings in your place of rest. Keep your bedroom as a place of reflection, a place where you can pray, read, dream and relax. It's a marriage room. Only newborns are allowed to share it and then only for a short while. If you can develop this within your home, you and yours will always have a safe place. Use a tassel hanging on your door knob. If that tassel is hanging to the outside of the door, the rule should be “Don't even knock. We are not available.” This rule is even honored by both my husband and myself. If either one of us needs time alone, the tassel goes out and it's as if that person isn't home.

Well, my friends, if you're brave you can start on the other bedrooms in your home.

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