Spring cleaning is not just an indoor sport. The outside of your home needs some sprucing up this time of year, too. Follow this exterior maintenance checklist and take your spring cleaning outside.
1. Wash the walls
You might be surprised at how much dirt has built on your home’s exterior walls. Use a pressure washer to clean it, but be careful if you have vinyl siding or damaged shingles. The best way to clean vinyl siding is with soapy water and a long-handled brush.
2. Furniture’s Next
Now it’s time to clean the patio furniture. A general cleaning recipe that is safe for all types of patio furniture is 1 teaspoon of biodegradable dish-washing detergent and 1 tablespoon of borax mixed in 1 quart of warm water. Using a soft sponge (not a scrubber sponge, as that will scratch aluminum and plastic furniture), gently wipe down all furniture surfaces until clean. If your patio seats and umbrella are made of canvas, you might be able to remove the material and machine-wash it. If not, wipe that down, too, and rinse everything with fresh water when done.
3. Clean the windows and screens
No one enjoys washing windows, but you’ll enjoy the results of a better view. The best window cleaning solution is a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water. And don’t waste paper towels. Use crumpled newspaper, which doesn’t leave lint behind.
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4. Patio and Deck Time
Now that everything else on your patio is clean, it’s time to clean the patio itself. Carefully move all of your outdoor furniture and decor to a safe place. This includes potted and hanging plants and any other types of decor. Do not turn on the hose and wash down your patios and decks. Rather, sweep everything clean to avoid dirt and grime being stuck onto the patio and deck by moisture. Once you’ve swept your patio and deck, clean them according to their material. In other words:
• Wood: Wooden decks and patios are a tough bird when it comes to cleaning them naturally. You want to clean them, but you don’t want to use a power washer or acidic cleaners, as they might damage the wood. For this, I recommend going to your home improvement store and selecting an eco-friendly wooden deck cleaner and protectant.
• Concrete: You can usually clean your concrete patios with a simple solution of dish soap and hot water. Take a stiff broom and work on the areas that are particularly dirty, and then rinse lightly with a hose. You don’t want to waste too much water, so rinse as sparingly as possible. For tough stains, try adding baking soda or borax to your cleaning solution.
• Stone or Brick: Here’s another patio surface you do not want to power-wash; it’s certain you’ll ruin your stone. Rather, clean your stone or brick patio with warm water and dish soap (about a tablespoon will do). Try cleaning dirtier areas with a soft cloth or sponge first to avoid damaging the stone. If that doesn’t work, use a soft-bristled nylon push broom and then rinse everything clean sparingly with fresh water, and replace your furniture and décor when dry.
The upside of this side of spring cleaning is that you can enjoy the outdoors while you’re working through your exterior maintenance checklist!