Tips: 5 areas to tackle during spring cleaning

Debbie Carlson
Chicago Tribune
OXO's microfiber Delicate Duster traps dust rather than just moving it around. (OXO)


Spring cleaning is the time to tackle those places we usually ignore during our routine home tidying.

Cleaning professionals say to divide your focus between the secondary areas of the home and the machines that do the usual cleaning. Caring for these products now can make spring cleaning more efficient.

“It seems like it’s more work (to take care of these items), but at the end of the day, if you’re cleaning with a product that is cleaning better, you’re going to save time,” said Julien Levesque, associate director of category management at SharkNinja.

1. Dishwasher and washing machine. Both of these machines can suffer from hard-water buildup and limescale, especially since they’re on duty several times during the week. Kelly Tucker, a cleaning expert at the Institute of Home Science and Maytag, says Affresh ($5.38, Lowe’s) removes the limescale and mineral buildup, and it’s safe to use with dishes. Affresh also makes a washing machine cleaner ($7.18, Lowe’s) and several other similar products.

Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids, also highly recommends giving a washing machine a thorough cleaning, considering the variety of items that can go in there — from clothes and towels to throw rugs and pet linens. To clean water lines, she recommends running a cup of distilled white vinegar on a hot washing cycle. Borax ($4.47, Walmart) is another option.

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is a nontoxic and biodegradable formula that cleans, degreases and deodorizes. (True Value)


The newer, quieter dishwashers have filters that need cleaning, Johnson said. To clean a sticky dishwasher filter, remove and soak it for a while in an all-purpose solution. Simple Green ($4.99, TrueValue) is an environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner.

Warm areas in contact with water can sometimes harbor mold or mildew. Although bleach kills mold, a safer bleach-alternative is CLR Bleach-free Mold & Mildew Foaming Action Stain Remover, ($5.48,

The LintEater Dryer Vent Lint Removal Kit helps remove buildup in dryer vents that can be a fire hazard. (Lowe's)


2. Dryer. Lint buildup in dryer vents can be a fire hazard. Johnson says to start by removing the lint screen on the dryer and using the crevice tool on your vacuum to remove trapped lint. To get to the dryer vent, Tucker and Johnson suggest using a dryer vent brush to pull out any lingering lint. One option is the LintEater Dryer Vent Lint Removal Kit. ($29.98, Lowe’s)

The Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean Cordless Ultra-Light Vacuum transforms into a hand vacuum to increase cleaning versatility. (OXO)


3. Bed. Sure, you change your sheets and probably dust the headboard, but don’t forget under the bed. It can be hard to get a vacuum under the bed, especially an upright, but a vacuum like SharkNinja’s new IONFlex ($359, is designed to fit under tight spaces like beds and dressers. It has tools for specialized cleaning, such as for crevices. A manual alternative to remove dust bunnies is OXO’s under-appliance duster. ($12.99,

4. Drapes, upholstery and shades. The longer daylight and sunnier days spring brings can highlight dusty areas. Forced-air furnaces can produce dust, and particulates can be especially heavy in homes with wood-burning fireplaces. “Now you can see everything you thought you were cleaning,” Johnson said.

Use the vacuum’s upholstery brush on drapes, especially if you can’t remove them for washing, and the crevice tool to get in-between couch cushions. To clean blinds and lampshades, and for general dusting, opt for a microfiber duster, like OXO’s Delicate Duster ($6.99, over a feather duster. Microfibers trap dust rather than just moving it around, Johnson said. Microfiber dusters also work on delicate fabrics that might suffer from vacuuming.

5. Refrigerator. Tucker says dirt, dust, grease and pet hair can collect on your refrigerator condenser coils, making your fridge work harder. To clean, unplug it and remove the base grill. Using a vacuum’s soft brush attachment, clean the front surface area and open areas behind the grill. This is also a good time to check your filters and replace them if necessary. Toss any funny-tasting ice, and wash the storage bin with warm water and a mild detergent, and dry completely before returning it to the freezer, Tucker adds.