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The Dirty Dozen: 12 Tips for Spring Cleaning

We peek into the wash buckets of some of the areas savviest spring cleaners, who reveal 12 great tips to help clean up your act.

When interior designer Brian Clay Collins  of Grosse Pointe embarks on his annual spring-clean at his northern Michigan home, it’s with glass cleaners, vinegar and lint-free towels in-hand, among other things.

“The absolute requirement for clean wood floors is warm water with a bit of white vinegar, used with a big sponge rinsed frequently,” said Collins, who owns Brian Clay Collins Design. “This is all done, alas, on hands and knees!!”

Like hundreds of other homeowners who now are focusing on sprucing up, freshening and deep-cleaning their homes, Collins swears by favorite products. For example, he prefers Glass Plus for cleaning glass “becaue it’s ammonia-free, so less likely to damage the silvering on mirrors.”

Dr. Jennifer Bonde, owner of the , and the cleaning specialists at Troy-based Ask Alice Cleaning go "green" for their cleaning products.

“We only use eco-friendly cleaners in our home,” said Bonde, a busy mom of two. Method and Seventh Generation are two brands that emphasize natural ingredients.

“We’ve been using green products since we opened in 2007,” said Therese Spangler, Ask Alice’s operations manager.

Spangler, of Royal Oak, and her crew of cleaners find that this time of year is busier than other times. “There’s something about spring,” said Spangler. “It’s a new beginning and everyone wants to get their homes fresh and clean. It’s the time to get all those nooks and crannies dusted and washed.” 

Whether you hire a professional or go the mission on your own, Spangler and others share the following “dirty-dozen” deep-cleaning tips:

Keep it Simple: “We use four basic products —  glass cleaner, a multipurpose cleaner, a bathroom cleaner (Bon Ami powdered cleanser), and dish soap,” shared Ask Alice Cleaning’s Spangler.

Spray the Cloth: “Regarding cleaning mirrors and framed art, we always spray the cloth rather than the mirror or glass itself,” says Collins, “to avoid the liquid running down the pane or frame and potentially seeping into the frame or behind the glass to damage the silvering. My paper-towel-of-choice is the ‘Up and Up’ brand, by."

Make Glassware Gleam: “Hand washing of glassware is accomplished best with Dawn liquid dish soap,” said Collins. “Then we hand-dry and polish with lint-free terry towels.” Collins buys “bar tender” towels at  “They’re great cleaning rags of consistent size and they machine wash for re-use.”

Multi-Purpose Magic: Collins’ general contractor shared a secret with him. “Challenger PC-737, available at paint and/or janitorial supply stores (it’s likely not ‘green,’ however it is non-abrasive) is a great water-soluble and biodegradable solution,” Collins explained.

“After years of struggling with a white-grouted kitchen and breakfast room tiled floor at our cottage, this product worked a miracle (applied while on hands and knees). Available in a gallon jug, we transfer it to a spray bottle for easier use.  It’s a great de-greaser for the gas range top, too.  It can be diluted in water or used full strength as needed.”  

Top to Bottom: “Ideally, one should clean upper surfaces first,” Collins said, “finishing with the floor, for the obvious reason of avoiding soiling a clean floor with the dust/lint removed from the table tops, etc.” 

Made in the Shade: “A wisk broom, in the open air, works wonders on dusty fabric lamp shades,” Collins said.

Try This for TVs: “Use a dry, microfiber cloth (that’s the only type we use, available at Costco) on flat-screen televisions to remove dust,” suggested Ask Alice's Spangler. “And we only use specially-made-for-TV-screens spray, if there are fingerprints.” 

Don’t Forget Vents and Stove Drawer: Spangler suggests removing floor vents and vacuuming vent walls, etc. Also, pull out the bottom drawer of your stove. “You’ll be surprised at how dirty it gets beneath there.”

Let There Be Light: Overhead light fixtures and panels are often forgotten, said Spangler. Dead flies, dust and more build up within these areas, so they should be taken apart and washed. 

Base Board Basics: Pull out the furniture and assess the state of your base boards, suggested Spangler. “If they’re super dusty, vacuum them first and then wipe down with damp cloth. If not terribly dusty, go ahead and wash/wipe down. Generally, the more animals you have in the house the more build-up.” 

Spider Crawl: You’ll have to get on hands and knees to check for spider nests, said Spangler. “Look underneath furniture, on the furniture,” she said. “If you live on a slab and do not have a basement, you may find more spider nests on your furniture than those who have homes with basements.”

Go High: Don’t forget ceilings. “There’s no sense in doing a thorough spring cleaning if you don’t first clean ceilings, which typically can get dirty over a year’s time,” Spangler explained. 

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