Ultimate guide to spring cleaning

Consumer Reports

April showers might keep you from enjoying outdoor activities and sprucing up the yard, but the traditionally wet weather does give you the ideal time to do spring cleaning.

Our tips, several of which come from the April issue of Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine, will help you tackle the grungiest of messes and make spring cleaning a bit easier.

Unless you’ve enlisted a spring-cleaning army to take on different parts of your home, tackle one room at a time. And inside each room work from the top down. For instance, in the bedroom, clean the ceiling fan first, then deal with the windows and window coverings, and then the bedding and upholstery. Save the floors for last. For more on these tips, read Spruce up for spring.

Don’t neglect your electronics or your car. Our gadget-cleaning guide has advice for your computer and television. And when the weather does brighten, use our tips for washing your car, and find the right best car wax for your ride.

 

More from
Consumer Reports:

Vacuum cleaners buying guide

Best steam mops

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on Yahoo!

Tools of the trade

Whether you are stalking dust bunnies or a mildewy mess in the bathroom, you need an arsenal filled with the right tools. The chart below tells you where and how to use a range of common and unusual gear.

If you need to replace a cleaning appliance or are considering buying a new one, check out our buying guides to carpet cleaners, steam mops, and vacuums. If you’ve got a pet that sheds, use our canister and upright vacuum Ratings (available to subscribers) to find a model that excels at dealing with pet fur.

As for the cleaners, buy the best all-purpose cleaner or save some money and use our recipes to make your own cleaning products, including a glass-and-window or wood-furniture cleaner. Also learn about green cleaners.

Remember, while paper towels are fine for wiping down countertops and mopping up spills, don’t use them to dust or polish furniture—they could scratch surfaces—or for mirrors and windows, where they could leave behind lint.

Finally, don’t neglect one invisible element in your home: indoor air. Improve the air quality in your home, and find the best air purifier in our buying guide.

 

Tool

Where to use it

Helpful hint(s)

 

All-purpose brush with handle grip

 

Floors

Let the cleaning solution do most of the work, by letting it sit for a few minutes before you start scrubbing.

Test it in an inconspicuous spot to make sure the stiff bristles don’t scratch.

 

Angled broom

 

Floors

Hold to one side and use short strokes to sweep away from you.

Use a hand vac to pick up the dust behind where the lip of the dustpan meets the floor.

 

Angled, soft-bristle toilet bowl brush

 

Bathrooms

Use a twisting motion to swab the bowl, under the rim and as much of the trapway as you can.

Spray or sprinkle cleaner directly onto brush, and don’t rush to flush. Toilet bowl cleaners take time to work.

 

Grout Brush

 

Grout Lines

Spray cleaner on grout, let it sit, and then scrub using a back and forth motion.

Also use the brush to clean the grunge in the tracks of a shower door and around the base of the toilet, and to eliminate mineral stains that collect near sink drains.

 

Lambswool duster

 

Large surfaces, including walls

Use it instead of a feather duster.

Vacuum your duster after each use to get rid of debris trapped in the fibers.

 

Microfiber cloth

 

Dusting and polishing surfaces and furniture

Soft, fluffy cloths hold dust, minimizing the potential to scratch surfaces. Use less absorbent flat-weave ones for cleaning and polishing glass and hard surfaces.

Don’t drench your cloth with a cleaning solution— only slightly dampen it.

 

Sponge mop and bucket

 

Hardwood or tile floors

Mop with a double-pail bucket or two buckets so you don’t dirty the water you’re trying to clean with.

Always use hot water so dirt will dissolve.

 

Squeegee

 

Windows and mirrors

Work top to bottom, and never use a squeegee on a dry surface.

A squeegee is best if you want lint- and streak-free windows.

 

Toilet plunger

 

Bathroom

If needed, add some water to the bowl to loosen a slow or clogged toilet.

Plungers work best when totally submerged.

 

Out-of-the-ordinary tools

 

 

 

 

Cloth diaper

 

Surfaces

Use it as a dusting cloth that won’t scratch surfaces.

 

 

Credit card (expired, of course)

 

Kitchen

This is an ideal way to scrape off baked-on messes in the oven or microwave.

 

 

Damp socks

 

All over

These serve as inexpensive wipes to gently get dust off houseplants.

 

 

Rain-X

 

Bathroom

An unusual treatment for shower doors, this product helps repel water and keeps the surface cleaner longer.

 

 

Sticky lint stick

 

Family room, living room, etc.

A readymade removal tool for pet fur, say from the couch or other furniture.

 

 

White-cotton gloves (look for lint-free white inspection gloves)

 

All over

The gloves are a fast way to dust window blinds and chandeliers.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Pennsylvania Teen, 18, Streamed Fatal Car Crash on Facebook Live

      A teenage driver was streaming to Facebook Live while she drove along a Pennsylvania highway just before a tractor-trailer rear ended her vehicle after midnight Tuesday, killing her and a passenger in a fiery wreck. Brooke Miranda Hughes, 18, was behind the wheel on Interstate 380 near Tobyhanna as she live-streamed her car ride with 19-year-old friend, Chaniya Morrison-Toomey, who can be heard saying “Are you going live?” in the now-deleted footage, according to the Associated Press. Before Hughes could answer, bright lights flash inside the car and sounds of screeching tires can be heard, followed by seven-minutes of blackness, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported.

      People
    • Two Malibu property owners fined $5.1 million for blocking access to public beach

      For decades, some Malibu property owners have made it hard for the public to reach public beaches. On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission fined two of those property owners more than $5.1 million for denying surfers, sand castle builders, kite flyers, sun bathers, yoga enthusiasts and other beachgoers access to the sand that is theirs by state law. In one of those decisions, the commission had battled for nine years with Dr. Warren M. Lent and his wife, Henny, before unanimously approving Thursday’s cease-and-desist order for the couple and fining them about $4.2 million for diverting a public easement to private use at an expensive oceanfront rental they own at Las Flores Beach. “This represents an attitude we often see in Malibu — that the shore is our private backyard,” said Commissioner Mark Vargas, who made the motion at Thursday’s hearing for a $4.185-million fine.

      Los Angeles Times q
    • Chart shows exactly how Trump's tax plan could affect you

      While some richer taxpayers could benefit from Trump's proposed reforms, others may end up paying more.

      CNBC
    • Alabama inmate coughs, heaves, during execution by injection

      ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states.

      Associated Press
    • 6 Easy and Elegant Crockpot Recipes to Make For Dinner

      Create sophisticated suppers by preparing these 6 crockpot recipes.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Husband who hasn’t had sex in years asks, ‘Is this normal?’

      Hi, Carolyn: Should I be worried that my wife and I have had no sex for literally years? I am guessing it is at least three years. Not even heavy make-out sessions. It just seems that my wife has no interest. I am afraid to broach the subject for fear of a negative answer. We don’t sleep in the same bed anymore either. I am a big snorer and chose to sleep in the guest room. It’s fine because she is a light sleeper and I am happier that she is getting her sleep. I do use a CPAP but it does come off sometimes. The no-sex thing just happened over time. We have both gained some weight but we are not obese — we could both lose 20 or 30 pounds. Is this normal or should we seek help? J.: Should I be

      Washington Post q
    • 'Star in a Jar' Fusion Reactor Works and Promises Infinite Energy

      For several decades now, scientists from around the world have been pursuing a ridiculously ambitious goal: They hope to develop a nuclear fusion reactor that would generate energy in the same manner as the sun and other stars, but down here on Earth. Incorporated into terrestrial power plants, this "star in a jar" technology would essentially provide Earth with limitless clean energy, forever. In a study published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications, researchers confirmed that Germany's Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) fusion energy device is on track and working as planned. It works like this: Unlike a traditional fission reactor, which splits atoms of heavy elements to generate energy, a fusion reactor works by fusing the nuclei of lighter atoms into heavier atoms.

      SPACE.com q
    • Socialite Known for Extensive Plastic Surgery Arrested for Allegedly Clawing Boyfriend’s Face

      The New York socialite who is infamous for extensive plastic is facing assault charges this week after allegedly clawing her boyfriend’s face and attacking him with a pair of scissors

      People
    • Women Are Sharing C-Section Scar Selfies to Challenge Perceptions About Caesareans

      Just one day after giving birth to her baby daughter, Alexa, Raquel Renteria took to social media to share a picture. It wasn’t an image of her newborn she wanted the world to see, but the raw caesarean scar she’d been left with after giving birth.

      Yahoo Beauty
    • The Broke Girl’s Guide to Jennifer Lawrence’s Cashmere Trench Coat (12 photos)

      Jennifer Lawrence has had a great year. She’s currently Hollywood's highest paid actress. She was nominated for another Oscar earlier this year and more recently, has been traveling to promote her latest film Passengers where she stars alongside Chris Pratt . Even more, Lawrence's style game has proven to be top-notch both on the red carpet and off. Lawrence recently stepped out in New York City wearing a blush pink cashmere coat by Burberry. She kept warm with a thick knit gray scarf and finished off the look with a cool shade of black sunglasses and glittering silver heels. It's the perfect outfit-on-the-go for a starlet, no? As for the red carpet, while out promoting Passengers last month, Lawrence wore a fresh-off-the-runway look from the Christian Dior SS17 show featuring a cashmere sweater and sheer, tulle skirt. And in support of her friend Emma Stone's new movie, La La Land , Lawrence stepped out in a sleek and trendy pant look from Ralph Lauren and La Perla. Although it's not exactly the right season to be wearing sheer skirts and strapless bodices, we're going to show you instead how to copy Lawrence's classy, off-duty look. Click ahead to shop 10 stylish trench coats all at an affordable price so you can dash into the winter season, just as cozy and chic as the glamorous actress. Follow us on Instagram , Facebook , and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

      Yahoo Style
    • A teen fired up Facebook Live from the highway. Moments later, everyone in her car was dead.

      It would be the final question Brooke Miranda Hughes would hear before a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of her car as it crawled down Interstate 380 in Pennsylvania just after midnight Tuesday. Chaniya Morrison-Toomey, the passenger who posed the question, was referring to Facebook Live, which Hughes had just launched to broadcast live from her moving vehicle, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune. The final moments of their young lives — marked by a flash of lights, screeching tires and then seven minutes of blackness — were captured on the live-streamed video after Hughes, sitting behind the wheel, held her phone near her face for the rest of the world to see. Hughes, 18, and Morrison-Toomey, 19, were declared dead at the scene.

      Washington Post q
    • Gigi Hadid has revealed she has Hashimoto's Disease, but what is it?

      Gigi Hadid has recently opened up about having Hashimoto’s disease, a common – but sometimes debilitating – thyroid condition. Causing fatigue, weight gain and depression among other symptoms, according to Elle, the 21-year-old model has taken medication for it for two years. You may have had a friend with an over-active thyroid, for example, which can cause nervousness, mood swings and weight loss.

      Yahoo Style UK
    • Coastal Commission fines Malibu owners over beach access

      The California Coastal Commission has imposed a $4.2 million fine on owners of an expensive oceanfront rental on the Malibu coast for failing to remove a gate, fence, stairway and deck that block public ...

      Associated Press
    • Amanda Nunes 'gasses out' says Ronda Rousey while revealing retirement plans

      Ronda Rousey has brushed off Amanda Nunes' taunts ahead of their showdown for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight title on 30 December at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The American also suggested that she will not retire after her bout at UFC 207, but indicated that the end is near in terms of her UFC career. The belt has since changed hands on two occasions with Meisha Tate holding the title before being beaten by Nunes earlier in the year.

      International Business Times
    • Dad Rushes to Son's Defense After He's Shot While Wielding Knives at School: 'He Was Being Bullied'

      The father said he brought the knives to school after relentless torment from some classmates.

      Inside Edition
    • The internet found Chloë Moretz’s doppelganger, and Chloë’s reaction is priceless

      If you’ve ever wondered if you have a doppelganger out in the world somewhere, all you need to do to find them…

      Hello Giggles
    • ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ trailer takes the battle to a new level

      20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes, the upcoming third chapter in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, which brings the battle between human and apes to a new, explosive level.

      Digital Trends
    • How can I avoid paying taxes on my Social Security income?

      Learn how to calculate the percentage of Social Security income benefits that may be taxable and discover strategies to reduce total taxes paid.

      Investopedia q
    • Hospital Allows Devoted Dog to Give Heartbreaking Bedside Goodbye to Dying Owner

      Mollie the dog recently went through this heartbreaking moment. According to The Dodo, last month, Mollie’s owner, Ryan Jessen, suffered a brain hemorrhage. Thankfully, Ryan’s family and friends had time to say goodbye, but realized someone was missing.

      People
    • AT&T customers will get an unexpected refund on their next bill

      Hell doesn't appear to be freezing over and it's definitely not April 1st, so I guess this story is actually true. More than 2.7 million AT&T customers will be getting refunds on their bill credits in the next two months, as the Federal Trade Commission settles an issue over AT&T billing for "premium text message services" without the consent of customers. According to the FTC , AT&T added a $9.99-a-month charge to the bills of many consumers, purportedly for "premium text messaging services," including ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, and other similar information. The practices continued until January 2014, when the FTC managed to get AT&T to stop the practice . But today, the Commission announced that it's been able to go even further, getting AT&T to refund those charges to consumers. Through the FTC's refund program, 2.5 million current AT&T customers will receive a bill credit in the next 75 days, while former customers will be getting a check in the mail. Those refunds aren't small, as the FTC says the average amount is $31. The refunds come from a 2014 settlement, which saw AT&T pay $80 million towards refunds. The refund program itself is being administered by a third-party company, Epiq Systems, rather than AT&T. This is the last step in a long process for the FTC, which has been planning this refund for years. It forced AT&T to notify customers who had been affected by the bad billion practices. Those customers in turn filed claims with the FTC, who examined the validity, and is now processing the refunds. The FTC has established a site to help anyone with questions about the refund process, and to also pre-emptively work against scammers who will undoubtedly use these "refund checks" as an opportunity to scam unsuspecting victims.

      BGR News