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Hello Spring!

It's hard to believe it, but spring is almost here! While we're just starting to say goodbye to the frigid temperatures of winter, warmer weather will be here before you know it.

But before you pull out the grill and dust off your favorite lawn chairs, take some time to make sure your garden & home is ready for the coming season. From weeding to pruning and even planting some hardy vegetables, here are a few things you can do to prepare for spring and ensure you are ready to enjoy your home & grow your favorite plants and produce this year.

Give Your Tools Some TLC:

Make sure your tools are ready for the tough work ahead by cleaning and repairing any of your tools that need a little love. Sand off any rust using steel wool; use a sharpening stone to restore your pruning tools; take your gas-powered equipment in for a tune up; and wipe down your tools with penetrating oil to keep them in tip-top shape.

Divide Perennials:

Right before new growth begins is an ideal time to dig and divide your perennial flowers that are overgrown. Dividing perennials is a budget-friendly way to fill your garden with more plants or share them with your friends to plant in their gardens. Replant the divided clumps immediately and water them well to encourage new growth.

Clean Up Your Flower Beds:

Clear away dead leaves and any other debris left by the winter storms. You can also take this time to trim back your annuals, pull weeds, groom your trees, and clear away any winter protection-like raised bed covers-that you added last season.

Inspect Your Trees for Winter Damage:

Those snowy winters can be hard on your trees. Take this opportunity, before the leaves grow back, to inspect your trees for damage. Prune off any broken, dead, or storm-damaged branches and trim back your fruit trees before new buds begin to bloom.

Add Fresh Mulch + Fertilizer:

One of the easiest ways to make your yard look clean and polished is to add fresh mulch to your garden beds. This can also help the soil retain moisture and can help prevent weeds. While you're at it, add some fresh fertilizer under the mulch to give your plants some much needed nutrients as the weather warms up.

Start Your Seeds Indoors:

If you're planning to add to your garden this year, now is the time to start your seeds! Although growing season is technically still a few months away, many seeds for annual flowers and edibles can be started indoors earlier in the spring.

Get Ready to Plant Cool-Season Vegetables:

Hardy vegetables like artichokes, peas, potatoes, and some types of lettuce germinate best in cool soil-that means early spring is the perfect time to plant them! Once your soil has thawed, plant them in your garden beds to help set them up for harvest by early summer.

For some, more time at home has meant more time to notice dust under the couch, tackle cluttered closets or do those deep-cleaning projects that were once regularly put off. With COVID-19 forcing people to hunker down, it's also making them aware of the dirt and grime that may have accumulated when lives were not so confined.

But should you swap out that spray that's been part of your cleaning rotation for decades in favor of a greener version? Is there a better way to remove that bathroom grunge? Perhaps it's time to rethink your housecleaning routine and the tools and strategies to do it.

"If you want to clean your home with confidence, start by cleaning out your cleaning closet,” says Donna Smallin Kuper, 60, a certified housecleaning technician and author of a dozen books including The One-Minute Cleaner Plain & Simple: 500 Tips for Cleaning Smarter, Not Harder.

5 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Hacks Using Pantry Staples 1. Make a vinegar-based cleaner for dirty vertical surfaces like shower doors, walls and faucets: Whisk a half-cup of vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch together in a saucepan on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the mixture has thickened, allow it to cool. Store in an airtight container or squeeze bottle.

2. To get rid of caked-on buildup on your showerhead: Mix 1/3 cup baking soda and one cup of vinegar until the mixture foams, then pour into a small plastic bag. Slide the bag over your showerhead, and secure it on top tightly with twist ties. Leave it there overnight, then remove the bag and rinse the showerhead with warm water.

3. Clean grimy barbecue grill racks: Brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt. Cut a potato in half and scrub until clean.

4. Remove baked-on oven spills: Place an ovenproof bowl of water into a preheated oven. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The steam will loosen grease and food drippings. After oven has cooled down, wipe with damp rag or sponge.

5. To get rid of mold on grout: Pour hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and soak affected areas. Sprinkle baking soda onto a stiff brush and scrub until stains are gone.

Consider ditching most of the toxic products that are harmful both to the environment and to the person using them. Many release potentially dangerous chemicals and volatile organic compounds that can irritate your eyes and throat while also causing headaches, respiratory issues and other health problems. Some of the most commonly used cleaning agents you may want to replace with eco-friendly options include chlorinated toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners containing sodium hydroxide, ammonia-based products, oven cleaners and scouring powder.

"There are some great eco-cleaning products out there,” says Kuper, who recommends Force of Nature and Better Life cleaning options. “For most surfaces, like glass and countertops, I clean with just water and a microfiber cloth that removes dirt, grime and germs.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a comprehensive list of eco-friendly cleaning alternatives. Household items like vinegar and baking soda can be used in a variety of household cleaning tasks, too.

Commit to deep cleaning with laundry stripping

Think your sheets and towels are clean when you pull them out of the washing machine? Think again.

Laundry stripping — soaking items in hot water, Borax, washing soda (also known as sodium carbonate and available at many retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon and laundry soap in your bathtub or washing machine — has become a huge trend. Viral TikTok videos highlight the gross but oddly satisfying results: The water turns brown or black as the process strips away residue from laundry detergent, fabric softener and dirt.

Long popular with cloth diaper users, the practice of laundry stripping to revive light-colored linens is generating huge buzz on social media. Just make sure you have the time to do it right: You'll need to soak your laundry for about 12 hours to get the best results.

You can't clean if you're drowning in clutter

No matter how good your intentions may be, it's harder to revamp your housecleaning system if your space is defined by a chaotic jumble of stuff.

The clutter didn't happen overnight, so start small. Begin by tackling one closet or the dining room table. Your dining room may now be the school, the office and the

place to eat, so have a container for all the

supplies and bring it out when you need it.

Next on the list? Flat surfaces — the number one trouble spot.

It could be a chair, a countertop or the floor — if somebody can put something on it, it becomes a resting spot for everything. Create a space for every loose item in your home and practice returning items to their rightful place every time you use them.

A routine promotes consistency Now is the perfect time to establish a consistent cleaning routine so specific tasks are done regularly before they become overwhelming. When you clean the same way every time, you'll get it done more efficiently and won't miss anything.

Professional house cleaners typically first clean “dry” rooms, like bedrooms and living areas, and then “wet” rooms, like the kitchen and bathrooms. Clean from top to bottom in each room, starting with dusting and wiping surfaces and finishing with floors.

Keep cleaning supplies in a caddy or rolling cart so you can easily move from room to room. If your home has more than one floor, leave separate cleaning kits in each space to avoid lugging supplies up and down the stairs.

Split up your to-clean list

Divide your weekly cleaning over two days and embrace some easy shortcuts. For example...on Thursdays, clean the bathrooms and part of the kitchen, and on Fridays clean the rest of the kitchen — usually just wiping down countertops, the sink and appliances. Then wipe down furniture, vacuums and mops, and changes sheets.

Trying to clean the entire house in one day is really too much. Dividing the cleaning between two days feels less time-consuming and difficult. Instead of deep-cleaning your fridge once every few months when it's really dirty, wipe it down when cleaning your countertops so it's always clean. If possible, vacuum one room per day, which only takes a few minutes and leaves the house looking almost perfectly clean.

Rotate deep-clean days by focusing on areas your family is actually using. Some bathrooms need cleaning every week, but other spaces don't.

Use some housecleaning chores as productivity boosters. I start an hour laundry cycle as a timer for working out in my home gym.

To combat the pandemic-related shortage of paper towels, keep washable cloths in a basket in the kitchen and wipes down counters every morning after getting ready for work.

If these tips and ideas do not leave you feeling positive and inspired to start spring cleaning your home and instead you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in your home...Give me a call and let's work together to get your home back to its full glory.

Also check out my buyers and sellers resources page to find local professionals to help you achieve your goals.


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