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Give Your Home a Smart Cleaning

Give Your Home a Smart Cleaning
Golden retriever pushing duster with mouth

Make Your Space Sparkle

Sure, you’ve heard of spring cleaning — but what about winter cleaning? Or summer cleaning? The truth is, there’s no bad time to tackle dust and dirt. Here are some tidy tips and tricks for keeping your home spotless throughout the year.

Crack down on dust

Another benefit to deep winter cleaning? Eliminating dust, debris and allergens that have built up over the last year. Controlling dust may be a constant battle, but there are a few places you can target to keep your home cleaner for longer.

Mind your air ducts. Ever notice that when you turn on your AC or heat, you find yourself sneezing more? That’s because dust, dander, pollen and air pollutants tend to accumulate in heating and cooling systems. Unless you or someone you live with has bad allergies, you probably don’t need a professional cleaning — but you can certainly take matters into your own hands.

Simply use a screwdriver to open your vent covers, and vacuum inside as far as you can reach with an extension wand. Before screwing the covers back on, give them a pass with your vacuum’s brush attachment.

Conquer tricky areas. Once you’ve dusted floors and furniture, it’s time to move on to those hard-to-reach, why-even-bother areas (yes, those!). The good news is, a lot of tricky spots can be tackled with minimal effort and items you already have in your home.

  • Crown molding: Use a coffee filter, dryer sheet or old nylon stocking to effortlessly sweep away dust. This trick also works great for drawer pulls, faucets, TV and computer screens.
  • Window blinds: Got an old sock? Slide it over your hand like an oven mitt and voila! —you have the perfect tool for gently (but effectively) dusting in between slats.
  • Ceiling fan blades: There’s no need to fumble with a broom or brush. Just grab an old pillowcase, drape it over the fan blade and gently sweep it toward you.

Vacuum like a pro (and pick the right one!)

Foot traffic from house guests, cookie crumbs, Christmas tree pine needles and slush can all take a toll on your floors in winter. Read on for our best vacuuming tips. Spoiler alert: There’s a special strategy for getting that perfect clean!

Woman cleaning family room floor with hand-held vacuum

First, let’s pick the right vacuum for the job. If you…

  • Have pets or kids: Full-size, upright vacuums, especially bagged, will be your hero. Because they have more suction power, they’ll keep high-traffic (and high-fur) areas cleaner for longer. Canister vacuums are also highly effective, but they tend to be more expensive.
  • Don’t like to clean, or are away from home often: Robot vacuums are your best choice, keeping both carpeted and hard floors tidy without making you lift a finger. They’re also kind of insta-worthy — always a plus!
  • Are living small: Go for cordless. Maneuvering a corded vacuum around living room furniture is more challenging in small spaces. Cordless vacuums are also lighter and take up less space in the closet.
  • Are living (really) small: Handheld vacuums are the way to go, especially if your space has little carpeting. Because of their size and portability, they’re perfect for sucking up debris in tighter, trickier spaces.
  • Live pretty darn clean: Stick vacuums will do the trick. While they don’t have as much suction power as full-size vacuums, they’re still good for light to moderate levels of dirt. Plus, they’re super streamlined and lightweight.

Only vacuum after you’ve cleaned your furniture and tabletops. You want to catch any stray crumbs, dust or debris that have dropped to the ground. And before you fire the vacuum up, remove any small objects or clothes from the floor.

Choose the right setting. Adjust the height according to the surface you’re cleaning — lowest for hardwood and tile, higher for carpets and highest for shag, plush or dense-pile carpets.

Start with wall edges and corners. These areas will require you to bend over and get on your knees, so you’ll want to tackle them first when you have the most energy. Attachments can be your cleaning superheroes here. Which brings us to the next point.

Attachments? Use ‘em! Most vacuums come with several; learn how to make the most of them. Crevice nozzles are perfect for corners and edges along walls and stairs, spaces underneath furniture, inside heating vents and in between large kitchen appliances. Brush attachments work best for blinds and fabric coverings. Need to dust off ceiling cobwebs or vacuum along cabinet tops? Grab the extension wand.

Vacuum smart, not hard. Starting in the corner or doorframe of a room, vacuum slowly in horizontal strips. Slow is key — you want to give your vacuum ample time to suck up as much dirt, hair and grit as possible. As you move across the room, make sure your strips overlap (not all vacuum machines clean right to the edge of their opening). Once you’ve completed your horizontal vacuuming, repeat the process in vertical lines. This exposes all the nooks and crannies between carpet fibers.

Vacuum thoroughly. Here’s the secret to a spotless, carpet-refreshing vacuum: repeat the process at least three times. For the ultimate clean, take as many as half a dozen passes. Sure, it takes a little more effort — but the results are longer-lasting and oh-so satisfying.

Get real with your lint roller

Oh, lint rollers. What would we do without them? They’re the go-to for removing lint and pet hair from upholstery and clothing, but did you know they also come in handy for other cleaning tasks? Here are some of our favorites:

  • Cleaning fabric lamp shades
  • Removing dust and debris from fabric headboards
  • Dusting stuffed animals
  • Sprucing up lined drawers so they’re crumb- and dust bunny-free
  • Cleaning up spilt glitter (and other small, sparkly delights from last season’s gifting) in your craft area
  • Prepping coats and cold-weather clothes for storage — you don’t want to be surprised with Fido’s hair when you break out your favorite wool sweater next fall

Don’t have a lint roller? Not to worry — try wearing a rubber glove and sweeping your hand over the surface you want to clean. And keep a lookout for unique, clever cleaning tools just right for your space.

Feet wearing flip-flops with dust-cloth soles, sliding over spilled flour in kitchen floor


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