Spring cleaning your home's exterior
Gearing Up for Summer
by Amy Allen Clark
Faded Vinyl Shutters and Siding
Cleaning Aluminum Screen Doors
Summer is just around the corner and with the warmer weather come many preparations in both the interior and the exterior of the home. Spring-cleaning your house should not just involve the deep-cleaning of the interior of your home, but it should also include preparing the outside of your home for all of those lovely days that you will be able to be out enjoying the sunshine. The best part about this type of cleaning is that it can all be done outdoors. Not only can you accomplish a few things off of your to-do list, but you can also get a nice tan while you are cleaning.
Get Your Grill On
At the end of the summer, we should have all dedicated a day towards cleaning our grills and preparing them for the next summer. If you are anything like our family though, you probably decided not to do this until the next season and now you have a dirty grill to contend with before you can start your grilling. Cleaning a grill does not have to be a tedious task, however, and there are a few ways that you can go about cleaning your grill without involving a lot of elbow grease.
If you have a self-cleaning oven, cleaning the racks of your grill will be a breeze. Simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them inside your oven. Run the oven through the self-cleaning mode. Not only will you have sparkling clean grill racks, but also you will have a clean oven to boot.
If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, this task may require a little more effort on your part, but it can still be done easily. Upon removing any lava rocks in the bottom of the grill, spray the interior of the grill with a no-heat oven cleaner, shut the grill, and go about your day. The following day, hose down the interior of the grill and use a metal wire brush to remove any stuck on gunk from your grill.
A great way to prevent your grill from getting any stuck on grease and build-up on it in the future is to spray the grill, before heating, with a nonstick skillet spray. In a pinch, a cheap alternative to a nonstick spray is to use a cut potato. Rubbing the potato on the grill racks creates a lovely nonstick surface and performs just as the spray would.
Before firing up your grill this year, be sure to take careful safety precautions to insure that there is not a leak in your gas connection. You can check for leaks by making a mixture of dish soap and water. Brush this mixture onto your gas connection and turn on the connection. If bubbles appear when you turn the grill on, you will know that there is a leak and that the grill is not safe to use.
Last year we purchased our first patio set and it has been so nice to have somewhere to sit and relax while my son plays. We disassembled our chairs and stored them for the winter, but despite these efforts, the chairs will need a thorough cleaning when they are removed from storage.
The type of cleaning needed to restore the beauty of your furniture will depend on the type of lawn furniture that you own.
Plastic furniture is one of the easiest types of furniture to clean. This furniture can be cleaned with any multipurpose household cleaner that you might have on hand. Dampen a rag and wipe down with a spray of the cleaning solution. Do a quick rinse with the garden hose and then your lawn furniture will be looking like new again.
Wicker furniture requires a more careful cleaning. Using a soft cloth, give the furniture a good dusting. Once the furniture has been dusted, you will have a clearer picture of what areas will need more special attention. Use a homemade mixture of water and dishwashing soap (one tablespoon of dishwashing soap to one gallon of water) to do a thorough spot cleaning of your wicker furniture. Remember to make sure that the furniture is completely dry before being sat on though because it could permanently ruin your furniture.
Lawn furniture with outdoor cushioning can easily be cleaned with a homemade solution of water and laundry detergent (spray bottle filled with water and one tablespoon of your favorite laundry detergent, shaken well). Spray the cleaner on any dirty spots on your cushion and wipe with a cloth. For especially fresh smelling seating, spray with a fabric refresher.
Porches will need some extra attention after the winter and fall seasons before they are summer-ready. Sweep away all dirt and debris from your porch and then spray the area with a hose to remove any lingering dust or debris.
Rain gutters should be inspected twice a year, once in the spring and one in the fall. The best way to discover if your gutters are in need of a cleaning is to look up at the outside rim of the top of the gutter. If there is discoloration, there is most likely some buildup in the gutter and water is not able to make it through and is causing overflowing. Be sure to check all of your gutters for debris and wash them out with a hose.
A "gutter scooper" can be made out of a gallon plastic jug for scooping out any large amounts of debris. Using a razor or a knife, cut the bottom half off a gallon jug. Grasp the handle of the jug and use the jug to scoop out any large amounts of debris.
If the downspouts are clogged, a garden hose turned on full force can be pushed down to blow out the clog. If your water pressure is not strong enough to remove all of the debris, a hose bladder can be purchased at your local hardware store. This holds the water and allows it to build up for a minute, then releases it in a high-power rush. If you are still plagued with plugged drain spouts, you can then try using a plumber's snake to loosen the objects that are blocking the path.
While cleaning your gutters, make sure that you note any special repairs and replace any gutters that may need updating.
Many people remove their screens before the winter and bring these out in the spring. If you are one of these people, your screens may need a little extra TLC to get them back in shape. The best way to clean your screens is lay them flat on top of a cloth or soft surface. Keeping them on a soft surface will prevent scratching from occurring on the frames. Next, hose down the screens and then scrub gently with an all-purpose cleaner. A frugal scrubbing brush for your screens can be made out of a leftover scrap of carpeting. Finally, rinse the screens again and then tap off any excess water. After they have been cleaned, they are ready to be hung up for the warm season.
After completing all of these tasks, not only will the exterior of your home be lovely, but you will also have been able to enjoy some of that great sunshine too. Enjoy all of that beautiful weather and I hope that these tips offer some helpful insight on how you can get these tasks accomplished.
Amy Allen Clark is a stay-at-home mother of two children. She is founder and creator of www.momadvice.com. Her web site is geared towards mothers who are seeking advice on staying organized, living on a budget, and for those seeking work-at-home employment. The author resides in Granger, Indiana and her hobbies include reading, cooking, and volunteering for her local Mother's and More group. Please visit her web site for more information on these various topics for mothers.
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