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Archive | Spring Spruce Up

Get your outdoor spaces ready for summer living

(StatePoint) There’s no better place than your own backyard for relaxing, entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. And there’s no better time than summer to spruce up your space.

If you’re looking to upgrade a humdrum yard into something special, here are some things to consider:

Comfort

Trees and awnings aren’t just great adornments for your yard; they provide much needed shade for you to sit outdoors comfortably and safely.

Avoid summer mosquito bites by placing birdbaths and other standing water structures far from lounging and eating areas. Install LED yard lighting for night, which is less likely to attract mosquitoes than incandescent lights.

Safety

When planning your space, make safety a top priority. Since evenings are prime time for summer entertaining, lighting is an essential safety measure.

Start by considering where you need to increase visibility. Choose post-mounted lanterns near driveways and wall-mounted lanterns next to doors for ease of access and to welcome guests. If underground wiring is required, consult an electrician or experienced landscape lighting contractor.

For deck stairs or terraced paths, don’t forget step lights to aid in navigation.

And thoroughly check outdoor railings, steps, decks and porches to make sure they are steady and that no nails or boards have come loose.

Beauty

Your yard is an extension of your home, so don’t let design and style fall by the wayside when planning its look.

For a touch of natural beauty, consider planting a flower garden to attract butterflies and humming birds.

“Illuminate paths and define edges where the garden or grass meet walkways,” says Jeff Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting, a leading supplier of outdoor and landscape lighting for consumers and contractors.

The interplay of light and shadow adds magic to the night. By carefully placing accent lights at upward or downward angles and using wall wash lighting, you can silhouette trees and direct shadows. Capture the nighttime loveliness of water features like ponds with LED lights specially built for underwater illumination. For best results, consult a landscape lighting expert.

More information on landscape lighting can be found at www.kichler.com or www.landscapelighting.com. You can also receive referrals to Kichler-certified landscape lighting contractors by clicking “Need a Contractor?”

Energy-Savings

Don’t let your exterior spaces drive up your home’s energy bills. New LED deck and landscape lights are low-maintenance, cost effective options. Lasting up to 40,000 hours—about 15 years—these fixtures use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights.

“Since outdoor lighting is often left on all night or for many hours at a time, savings from LED lighting can really add up,” Dross says.

Remember to avoid cheaper LED lights with a bluish cast that many find unattractive. Opt instead for a warm white light, such as Kichler’s Design Pro LED landscape lights.

Don’t just dream about the perfect outdoor space. For a great season, transform your yard into a beautiful, fun place.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring cleanups start soon

By Judy Reed

 

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.

Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days are Wednesday, April 25, through Saturday, April 28. Dumpsters will be available at the township hall at 10531 Algoma Ave. Hours will be Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m to 3 p.m. No shovel offs or loose trash allowed. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement.

All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location (cell phones, computers, TVs, stereos, speakers, etc.). Call the township for more info 866-1583.

City of Cedar Springs: The city will collect E-waste on Saturday, April 28, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., during the Earth Day cleanup. A dumpster will be located behind City Hall. Bring all your electronic waste for disposal such as computers, monitors, keyboards, cell phones, radios, stereos, laptops, VCRs, modems, power cords, etc. The trailer will be there until 3 p.m. No TVs or big box appliances will be accepted. TVs may be brought to Comprenew at 629 Ionia SW in Grand Rapids for recycling. A fee will be charged per TV.

The annual brush pickup will be Monday April 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please have brush out by 6:00 a.m. and neatly stacked as close to the curb as possible. No brush larger than six inches, tree removals or stumps will be picked up. They will make one pass through town. Final fall pickup is September 24. There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date, since Duncan Disposal, the city’s preferred waste hauler, does that for residents.

The Department of Public Works will be flushing the City’s hydrants on Friday, April 27, 2012 and September 21, 2012. In most cases, hydrants are flushed during the night-time when water demand is at its lowest

Please remember to let your faucet run clear before doing any white or light colored laundry to avoid staining your laundry. Please contact DPW Director Roger Belknap at 616.696.1330 X 108 should you have any questions.

Courtland Township: No spring cleanup, they have a fall cleanup.

Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup days are Friday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, June 23, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents should bring trash to the water tower in Sand Lake. New this year is a charge of $15 for mattresses and $15 for box springs. Proof of residency required with a tax bill or voter registration AND a driver’s license. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location. Please call the township for more info at 636-5332.

Oakfield Township: No cleanup scheduled.

Sand Lake: See Nelson Township.

Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, May 5 and May 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the old horse farm, 15185 Algoma. Proof of residency required. Must be residents—not just landowners. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon. Call township for more info  at 696-1718.

Spencer Township: Call township for info at 984-0035.

 

 

 

 

 

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Simple tricks to refresh your home

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) Staying indoors so much during the winter months can create clutter and mess around the house. But you don’t have to wait until spring to give your house a good spring cleaning, and you don’t have to do an extreme makeover. You can wake up and spruce up a tired-looking home with a few simple cleaning and organizing routines.

Here are some tips and tricks for making your home spring-clean right now, one room at a time.

 

Living Room

• Window blinds collect dust and dust mites all winter. To clean plastic blinds, add Greased Lightning to tub water. Remove blinds and let them soak in the tub. Clean them with a well-bristled brush, then let them dry and rehang them.

• Remove fabric window coverings and clean as needed. Use a feather duster around window frames to remove cobwebs and dust.

• Freshen up carpets by sprinkling baking soda on them, letting it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuuming.

• Carefully wipe the tops and bottoms of ceiling fan blades, which provide a perfect, level surface for dust to collect.

 

Kitchen

• Clean out the refrigerator and freezer, making sure to get rid of all expired products and old leftovers. Remove shelving and drawers and wipe them down using mild soapy water.

• Tackle your oven, inside and out. If your oven is self-cleaning, set it in the self-cleaning mode. Consult your manual for an estimated cleaning time. Also, make your stovetop and hood shine like new with a quick wipe from a sponge sprayed with Greased Lightning. If your oven is not a self-cleaning appliance, use the cleaning solution to wipe away baked on grease and grime. Remember to make sure the oven is cool before applying the solution.

• Don’t forget to clean your dishwasher, too. Remove trapped food particles from the bottom and around any moving parts. Pour a cup of vinegar into the empty dishwasher and run it to clean the inside.

• Wipe down the outside of your cabinets, especially around the stove area.

• Vacuum and mop the floors, and launder any area rugs.

 

Bedrooms

• Launder bed linens — including dust ruffles, bedspreads and pillow shams.

• Move furniture around so you can vacuum underneath and get rid of any dust bunnies that might have accumulated. While you’re at it, try a new furniture arrangement to freshen up the look of the room.

• Now’s a great time to clean out clothes closets. Empty closets to vacuum and dust inside. Then, before putting clothes back, sort through them and get rid of those items that no longer fit or that you don’t wear anymore. You can donate them to a local charity.

• Clean blinds, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Wipe smudges off of light switch covers and door frames, too.

 

Bathroom

• Wipe down and disinfect all fixtures. Remember lighting fixtures, too. Carefully remove glass fixtures and clean with warm, soapy water. Let them dry thoroughly before reattaching.

• Sort through products and discard or recycle old bottles and containers. Get rid of excess clutter in your bathroom cabinets. Remove items from the medicine cabinet and wipe down all surfaces.

• You can use Greased Lightning to remove grease, grime, mildew stains and soap scum from your bathroom surfaces, including tubs, sinks, toilets, counters and baseboards.

 

To get additional tips to spruce up your home, as well as coupons from Greased Lightning, Like them on Facebook, or visit www.glcleans.com.

 

 

Fresh Ideas for Cleaning

 

Furniture Moving Trick

When you need to move heavy pieces of furniture across uncarpeted floors, fold two clean towels, put one under each end of the furniture piece, then slide it across the floor.

 

Clean Lampshades

Use an adhesive lint roller to get the dust off of fabric lampshades.

 

Use Smart Cleaners

You don’t need a separate cleaning product for every room in the house. The pros use a few good, general cleaners to tackle multiple types of messes. Learn more about the Greased Lightning family of products at www.glcleans.com.

 

Keep Your Tools Handy

Get a plastic tote tray to carry with you from room to room. Load it with your cleaners, rags, rubber gloves, dusters and a couple of extra trash bags. You’ll be surprised at how much faster the cleaning goes when everything is right where you need it.

 

 

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Cost-effective home decorating tips

(ARA) – You’re ready to throw winter out to the curb. It’s time to rid yourself of the dreary cold weather and freshen your house for spring by opening the windows, rolling up your sleeves to give all your furnishings a good cleaning, and shopping to brighten everything with a new spring look.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your new home improvements. Here are some tips to help you welcome spring into your home:
* Try a new paint color: It may have been years since you painted or the walls may all still be factory white from when the house was built. A fresh coat in a warm spring tone can help waken any room from the winter doldrums. Soft pastel colors or vibrant warm hues can really change the look of your house. A gallon or two of paint is a very inexpensive way to give new life to your rooms.
* Fabrics help give rooms pop: If you are living in an apartment and can’t change the color of your walls, go with new fabrics. Visit Ebates.com to shop for pillows at Sears, or make your own blankets, slip covers and pillows with fabrics from Joann.com. You can find discounts and coupon codes for your favorite home decorating stores through this website and also receive a check back in the mail for a percentage of your purchases.
* Spruce up the yard: The weight of winter’s snow probably has your grass and bushes looking flat, brown and there may be a good chance that some of your landscaping didn’t survive the harsh temperatures. As soon as the frost has left your area, give your front and backyards some bright color with beautiful flowers and new shrubs. Visit Ebates.com for discounts through Gardeners Supply Company to help you save money and earn cash back. If you don’t have a backyard, consider planting a container garden on your deck or adding a couple of house plants to the windows of your house to bring a spring-like feeling into your house. You can plant beautiful and scented flowers or delicious fresh vegetables and herbs to add to your summery menus.
* Let the breezes blow through: Those heavy drapes that helped you keep the house warm during winter won’t do you any good now that the temperatures are comfortable and balmy. Find new blinds or sheer curtains for your windows to help keep the penetrating sun rays out, but yet allow the light and airy breezes to filter in through your open windows.
Freshening your house for spring doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Do a bit of shopping online, push up your sleeves with a paintbrush or a cleaning rag in hand and spread the color around to make your house look bright and airy and ready for spring.

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Spring cleanups start soon

By Judy Reed

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.
Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days held last week, April 13-16. Call the township for more info 866-1583.
City of Cedar Springs: The annual brush pickup will be Monday April 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please have brush out by 6:00 a.m. and neatly stacked as close to the curb as possible. No brush larger than six inches, tree removals or stumps will be picked up. Please note that this is the ONLY pickup date for this spring. They will not pick up every Monday throughout the summer as they did last year. There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date, since Duncan Disposal, the city’s preferred waste hauler, does that for residents.
The Department of Public Works will be flushing the City’s hydrants on the following Fridays: May 6, July 1, August 5 and September 2. Please remember to let your faucet run clear before doing any white or light colored laundry to avoid staining your laundry. Please contact DPW Director Roger Belknap at 616.696.1330 X 108 should you have any questions.
Courtland Township: No spring cleanup, they have a fall cleanup.
Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup days are Friday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, June 25, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents should bring trash to the water tower in Sand Lake. Proof of residency required with a tax bill or voter registration AND a driver’s license. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location. Please call the township for more info at 636-5332.
Oakfield Township: No cleanup scheduled.
Sand Lake: See Nelson Township.
Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, April 30 and May 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the old horse farm, 15185 Algoma. Proof of residency required. Must be residents—not just landowners. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon. See public notice on page 16 or call township for more specifics at 696-1718.
Spencer Township: Spring cleanup days are Friday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, June 18, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring trash to Spencer Township Fire barn, 12131 18 Mile, Gowen. No roof tear-offs or big appliances, Tires must be cut in four pieces. Disposal of batteries is $1, units with Freon $15.00, units without Freon $3.00. Call township at 984-0035 for more info.

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Spring cleaning:

Getting your home ready for the season

(ARA) – A great clean looks as good as it feels, and with warmer weather right around the corner, there’s nothing better than the feeling that your home is free of dirt, dust and grime. When you’re a busy mom, keeping your house clean can seem like a never-ending battle. Arm yourself with the right mindset and a few simple tips to conquer your cleaning challenges.
Jessica Denay, author of “The Hot Mom Handbook” series has partnered with Swiffer to offer these tips to help keep your home clean while also balancing work and family:
* Don’t try to do everything at once. Divide chores into daily, weekly, monthly and even seasonal tasks. Do the dishes daily, and try to throw out old food in your fridge as part of your weekly tasks. With spring upon us, dust build-up will be your nemesis. By dedicating certain days this spring to seasonal chores like dusting ceiling fans or sweeping out the fireplace, you can help better manage the upkeep of your home and do deep cleans less often.
* Know when to call it a day. It’s easier to keep your home clean and keep a positive mindset if you set aside a few minutes each day to clean. If you have an overwhelming task list, attack each task in order of importance and get to the last ones on your list as time allows. Don’t let cleaning consume a whole day or weekend.
* Don’t waste time. Efficiency makes a huge difference. “Always clean from the top and work your way down, otherwise you’ll be cleaning in circles,” says Denay. It helps to focus on one area of the house at a time. Keeping all your cleaning supplies in a caddy can also prevent extra trips to retrieve items you might have forgotten or couldn’t carry. Find shortcuts. Use products that can work on multiple messes.
* Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s completely possible to maintain the appearance of a clean home even if the most out-of-the-way places aren’t cleaned regularly. Perception is reality and even if that area behind your fridge is a little dusty, nobody will notice. Concentrate on the open areas of your home that see a lot of traffic. If these areas are clean, your home will feel spotless and comfortable.
Following these tips will allow you to balance chores amongst free time. With just a little daily attention, you can make cleaning seem like less of a chore and more like a refreshing activity. “Having a sparkling clean home gives me peace of mind and the actual cleaning process makes me feel like I’m doing something good for myself and my family,” says Denay.

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Succession in the Garden


(Family Features) Spring in the garden is a dangerous time. The temptation is to go out on those warm, sunny days and plant ‘til you drop. Not only is that strenuous on your body and mind, it can also lead to the proverbial glut of food in a few months.
A better solution is to plan out your annual edible garden so crops mature in a more orderly fashion. Succession planting requires a little knowledge of the type of plants you’re growing, a little planning to have room for them to grow, and the patience to plant each crop in turn. Also, other gardening techniques, such as crop rotation and interplanting, can help maximize growing space and help your plants avoid many soil-borne diseases and insects.

Planting for Success

Succession planting is a simple concept: Plant small rows or beds of plants periodically during the growing season. As one planting’s harvest begins to fade, the next planting’s harvest will be ready. The key is knowing what vegetables can be planted in succession, and the best time of year to do it.

Photo courtesy of Family Features

To succession plant, start in spring with cool-season crops that can be planted early, such as lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli, greens, pak choi, carrots, radishes, and beets. For example, instead of planting one long row or bed of lettuce, consider planting a short, 2-foot-long row or bed. Two weeks later, sow another 2-foot-long row, and so on until the weather gets too warm for lettuce. Since the plants mature in one to two months you’ll get a continuous harvest of lettuce.
For warm weather crops, such as bush beans, summer squash, or cucumbers, follow the same planting pattern. Plant one bed after the last frost date, and another three or four weeks later. Since these crops take at least 60 days to mature, in regions with short growing seasons you may have time for just two successive crops before the weather gets too cold.
As late summer weather cools, you can start planting lettuce again for a fall or winter crop, depending on your location. Because the amount of daylight decreases in autumn, plants grow more slowly in fall than in spring, so allow more time for them to mature.
The other key to succession planting is leaving room to plant. The temptation is to plant everything all at once and fill the garden. It’s important to plan for subsequent plantings. Cover unused beds with straw or other mulch to deter weeds.
Pull out old crops as soon as they finish producing. Don’t let those peas hang on just because there are a few fruits on the vine. Pull old lettuce and spinach plants as soon as they show signs of bolting. By being a little hard-hearted, you’ll create lots of room to grow a second and third crop. It takes a little planning in advance, but you’ll be amazed at where you can tuck in a few broccoli or pak choi plants or a small row of beans.
For more tips and garden information, visit www.garden.org.
Charlie Nardozzi, a nationally recognized garden writer, book author, speaker and radio and television personality, has appeared on HGTV, PBS and Discovery Channel television networks. He teaches and inspires home gardeners to grow the best vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees and shrubs in their yards.

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Grow your own harvest at home

Family Features

Imagine dining on the best-tasting fresh produce around — and all you had to do was step outside.

From container grown tomatoes to backyard farms, edible gardening is a growing trend. More than 41 million households grew some kind of vegetables, fruits, berries or herbs last year, according to the 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research Report conducted by the Garden Writers Association Foundation.

The survey showed that the main reasons people grow their own food include:
—to save money on food bills (54 percent)
—for better quality food (51 percent)
—to grow food they know is safe (48 percent)

If you plan to grow your own produce, here are some things to help you succeed.

Create a Garden Plan

When looking through seed catalogs or eyeing seedlings, it is tempting to get a little bit of everything. But you will have more fun and be more successful with some simple planning. Consider:

Space

—How much room will your plants need to grow? Melons need space to stretch out long vines, while carrots don’t take up much room. Will beans need a 5-foot trellis, or grow into 12-inch bushy plants?

—How much room do you have? Do you want a 10 x 10 foot plot, or would a smaller raised bed fit with your outdoor entertaining?

Light

—Most produce needs a minimum of six hours of sunlight in order to thrive. Take a few days figuring out where, when and how long the sun hits your gardening spot.

Plants

—Talk with your family about what they will eat. Pick some favorites to grow, then encourage everyone to try one new vegetable.

—Make a sketch, drawing little circles to represent your plants. Use the spacing recommended on the seed packet or plant tag as a guide.

Investment

—Starting a garden is an investment, so think through your budget. Make a list: potting mix and garden soil, seeds and plants, plant food, and pots or materials for raised beds.

—Consider the time needed to tend your garden. A few hours up front will get you started, then weekly watering, weeding and feeding during the growing season — and harvesting!

Getting Started

In-Ground Gardening

Preparing the Soil. Think of soil like a house’s solid foundation: a garden needs a strong, healthy base. Without good soil, plants can’t thrive.

—Mark out your garden, and dig the soil to a depth of six to eight inches. Remove any rocks, debris and weeds. Make sure to get all the weed roots to avoid reappearances.

—Most soil is missing the nutrients that growing plants need. Improve your soil by digging in a mix of organic materials and slow-acting plant food, or by top-dressing with a soil mix made specifically for gardening in-ground or in raised beds. Soils such as Miracle-Gro Garden Soil or Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Garden Soil amend your soil with needed nutrients. Rake a four-inch layer into your garden.

Planting

Spring comes at different times to every part of the country. Usually 60 degrees signals the end of large fluctuations between day and night temperatures. This temperature allows the soil to warm up, which is needed for germination and for young plants to take root and grow healthy, starting the season out right. While you’re waiting, you can start some seeds indoors, or try early season plants that do well in cooler temperatures.

—Easy season plants: spinach, salad greens and peas.
—Things to start indoors: tomatoes, peppers, celery, cauliflower, head lettuce, eggplant, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
—Plants to start indoors or out: beans, peas, most lettuce, and corn.
—Root plants for only outdoors: carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, etc.

Once your seeds start to sprout, give baby plants a little extra room by transplanting into bigger pots. Then help the transition with a taste of the great outdoors by putting the seedlings outside for a few hours at a time. This helps the plants get used to the new environment without suffering shock. To help prevent transplant shock and stimulate root growth, use a starting solution such as Miracle-Gro QuickStart.

Feeding and Watering

Even though the soil surface is wet or dry, you can’t always tell what’s going on below. Stick a long screwdriver into your garden soil. If it goes in easily, you’ve watered enough. Or purchase a moisture meter. To water effectively, do it:

—after planting
—before leaves wilt
—in the morning

Once plants are established, make watering and feeding a regular routine. Just like your body needs nourishment, fertilizing — or feeding — plants helps supplement the nutrients that the soil lacks, and encourages a bountiful harvest. Direct water and plant food at the base of the plant. Try plant foods such as Miracle-Gro Shake ’n Feed All-Purpose Plant Food, which continuously feeds your plants for up to 3 months, or feed and water at the same time through leaves and roots with a product like Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed.

Enjoying the Harvest

Consider planting an extra plant or row of crops for your local food bank. Many food pantries don’t always offer fresh produce. Check to see what is needed and if your food bank takes produce donations. To locate a food bank near you, visit feedingamerica.org.
For more garden tips, videos and ideas, go to miraclegro.com.

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Cleaning From Top to Bottom

Tips and Secrets for a Cleaner, Healthier Home

Family Features

When it comes to the routine of cleaning, homeowners tend to be more concerned with stacks of dirty dishes (66 percent), piles of laundry (58 percent) and dust balls on their carpet (57 percent), according to a survey commissioned by 3M, maker of Filtrete air cleaning filters. But they often forget about other areas of the home — such as bedding, shower doors and even stuffed animals — that can be breeding grounds for bacteria, mildew, dust mites and foul odors.

Healthy Housekeeper Laura Dellutri offers these tips for cleaning your home from top to bottom and making it healthier in the process:

Start at the Top: Ceiling fans, tall mantles and bookshelves, and the tops of door frames tend to fall under the “out of sight, out of mind” motto. These areas often harbor dust, so it’s important to wipe them down regularly to help remove dust buildup. Start at the top and work your way down, collecting all of the dust and dirt that falls to the floor while you’re cleaning.

Wipe Down Windows and Walls: Don’t clean windows the old fashioned way — newspaper can cause ink residue and paper towels leave lint behind. Your best bet is to use microfiber cleaning cloths and a professional window squeegee to get a streak-free, spotless shine. To prevent streaks on shower doors and walls, apply lemon oil to the door twice a month. This will help repel soap scum and shampoo, while also adding a nice shine.

Think Horizontally: Dust mites are nearly everywhere. In fact, the American Lung Association estimates that roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergens in at least one bed. Reduce dust mites by encasing your mattress and pillows, and wash your bedding in hot water about once a week. Also, since dust mites are microscopic, place strips of duct tape on the mattress case to prevent the dust mites from sneaking through.

Clean the In-between: While cleaning what you can see, don’t forget to clean what you can’t see — the air you breathe. Use a high performance air filter in the home, such as the Filtrete 1-inch Ultimate Allergen Reduction filter from 3M, to help capture particles such as pollen, smoke, dust mite debris and pet dander from the air that passes through the filter. Be sure to change your filter at the start of every season, or every three months.

Freeze the Fur: Stuffed animals can harbor dust mites, so it’s important to pay special attention to them. Place stuffed animals in a large plastic bag and freeze them for four to five hours. Remove them from the freezer and plastic bag, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove any leftover dust particles.

Finish With Floors: To keep floors in tip-top shape, vacuum and clean them weekly. You can easily make your own floor cleaner by adding a few drops of mild liquid dish detergent to a gallon of water. Hot water can break down floor finishes after time so use water that is barely warm. Finally, don’t forget to clean the floor under large pieces of furniture, which may require you to temporarily move them elsewhere. Corners of rooms and the back of closets often are overlooked, so be sure to clean these areas as well.

Kitchen Clean-Up

Certain areas of the home, especially the kitchen, can breed and harbor germs that not only cause odors but can spread to family members. These low-cost cleaning tasks, when done regularly and properly, can be effective in making the home healthier for your family:

Trash cans: Trash cans should be cleaned monthly using a chlorine bleach and water solution. Simply combine one cup of non-chlorine bleach for every three gallons of water and pour the solution into the trash can. Swish the solution around in the trash can, and wait about five minutes for the chlorine to kick in and kill the germs.

Refrigerators: Cleaning the refrigerator monthly will improve the safety and quality of your food. If you are tired of cleaning spills and food particles from your refrigerator, then cover shelves with washable shelf liners. They will catch most of the food spillage, and will make cleanup quicker and easier. Once a month, throw them in the dishwasher for a good cleaning, and then place them back in the refrigerator once they are dry.

Sinks: Since bacteria can accumulate in cracks and crevices, pay extra attention to these areas when disinfecting. Also, stainless steel sinks can be tough to clean and can look spotty due to water spots and lime build up. To keep the sink shiny, use a soft buffing wheel to restore the luster. Then, use a cloth to generously apply mineral oil to the sink. Water will bead up and roll off the sink, keeping it shiny and helping prevent spots.

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Give Your Home A Fresh Look For Spring

(NAPS)—Spring cleaning has become a ritual in homes across America. But, as families focus on decluttering closets and revitalizing their indoor spaces, many overlook simple, inexpensive outdoor projects that can give a home a real “facelift” and make it look and feel like new.

Giving old outdoor furniture a new ‘in” look can be easier than many realize.

Giving old outdoor furniture a new ‘in” look can be easier than many realize.

Clean the exterior. It’s amazing how much better, and how much newer, a home can look after a good cleaning. And with the availability of cleaners that can be applied with pump sprayers and hose mount applicators, it’s never been easier to give a house a “facelift” without power washing or costly repainting. If your house is wearing a coat of mold, mildew, dirt and grime, try a cleaner like Jomax® House Cleaner and Mildew Killer. It removes the most stubborn stains without scrubbing and is safe to use near plants, grass and shrubs.

Refresh the driveway. Thanks to the evolution of new water-based technologies, restoring a driveway to its “like new” appearance is easy for even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers. EPOXY SHIELD Blacktop Coating, with its advanced acrylic formula, brings asphalt back to its original jet black color and makes it look brand new again. The low-odor formula rolls on like paint and lasts longer than traditional asphalt-based sealers to enhance the first, and last, impression your home gives visitors.

Spruce up your deck. Both wood and composite decks need to be cleaned regularly to prevent deterioration and look their best. Biodegradable deck cleaners like Wolman™ DeckBrite™ excel at removing ground-in dirt and mildew stains without whitening or damaging the surface like chlorine bleach can—and they’re easy to use. Wolman has a full line of transparent, semi-transparent and opaque stains and finishes in a wide array of colors, so you can achieve any look you desire.

“Upcycle” your outdoor furniture. You’d be surprised how easy and inexpensive it is to make an old, tired patio set better with just a few cans of spray paint. Today’s spray paints come in a full palette of colors so you can personalize your outdoor space while saving your old furniture from the landfill. Try “dressing” your patio furniture in a classic color like Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X Espresso. One can of 2X delivers twice the coverage so the paint goes further and projects get done faster.

For more project ideas and product information, visit www. rustoleum.com and www.paint ideas.com.

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