Tips on how to prepare for spring this year

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RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) -- It's March 20th, which means it's the first day of spring. And while it may not feel like spring just yet, here are some tips on how to start spring cleaning and how to prepare your yard and garden for the new season.

SPRING CLEANING

Depending on your preference, create a 7-day, 14-day or 30-day plan where you list a number of things to do each day without the stress of trying to get everything done at once.

Make a list of things to be done in each room, and finish one room before moving to the next. If you have trouble creating a list, there are a number of printable lists online. For example, there are lists for living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Start from the top and move down. When you think about spring cleaning your home, it's important to start from the ceiling and move down. This will force debris downward and it will keep you from having to re-dust or re-clean your space.

Use rubber gloves and masks. Cleaning will more than likely unsettle all the winter dust on furniture and fixtures. If you suffer from allergies or are using heavy-duty cleaners, be sure to read the labels. For safe spring cleaning, wear rubber gloves, masks, scarves and even hairnets. Protective clothing will help guard against skin irritations and allergic reactions.

HOW TO CLEAN EACH ROOM IN YOUR HOME

FOYER

Dust lighting fixtures.

Wash walls and trim

Wash doors, knobs and switch plates.

Wash bench or other furnishings. Launder bench cushion, if applicable.

Empty out coat closet. Wash walls and floor, if needed. Sort items as you return them to the closet. Store out of season items, donate unneeded items.

Clean or replace entry mat.

Sweep and scrub floors.

Reseal grout lines, if necessary.

BEDROOMS

Open windows

Dust furniture.

For each drawer: remove items, wash drawer, place items back neatly. Donate Items you no longer need.

Remove everything from closets. Sweep and wash closet floor. Put everything back neatly. Donate items you no longer need. Try not to store things on closet floor.

Move Bed. Sort and put away anything that was under bed. Sweep or vacuum under bed. Try not to store things under bed.

Put bed back. Freshen mattress by sprinkling with baking soda, letting sit briefly, and the vacuuming it up.

Launder bedding and curtains. Wash pillows and duvet in hot water. Air out mattress pad, if you have one.

Dust lights. Clean lamp shades.

Wash windows and window sills. Take out and wash window screens.

Wash switch plates. Wash walls and trim as needed.

Wash mirrors or dust art.

Wash doors and doorknobs.

Wash floor registers and other vent covers.

Sweep and wash floor or vacuum.

BATHROOMS

Open windows

Empty all cabinets and vanity. Wash inside, replace items neatly. Discard expired medications and cosmetics.

Wash outside of cabinets and vanities

Clean tub. Wax if necessary. Clean drain.

Clean toilet, inside and out. Remove seat and clean around seat bolts.

Clean sink and drain.

Shine faucets.

Clean mirror and frame .

Dust light fixtures.

Wash windows and window sills. Take out and wash window screens.

Wash switch plates. wash walls and trim. Wash doors and door knobs.

Wash floor registers and other vent covers.

Sweep and wash floors.

Reseal grout lines if necessary.

KITCHEN

Open windows.

Remove and clean window coverings. Click here for instructions on cleaning mini blinds.

For each cabinet or drawer: Remove items, wipe out drawer, place items back neatly. Donate unneeded items.

Wash and sanitize cutting boards

Sharpen knives

Wash cabinet doors and knobs

Clean and organize pantry. Check food expiry dates.

Clean oven.

Clean stove top. Remove elements and drip bowls, if applicable, wash and put back.

Clean and organize fridge and freezer. Defrost freezer, if necessary. Check food expiry dates.

Clean under fridge and stove.

Vacuum refrigerator coils.

Clean microwave.

Clean crumbs out of toaster.

Clean and descale kettle.

Wipe down any other counter appliances

wash counters and back splash.

Wash and shine sink. Shine faucet. Clean drain.

Clean Dishwasher.

Dust light fixtures.

Wash windows and window sills. Remove window screens and wash.

Wash switch plates.

Wash walls and trim as needed.

Wash doors and door knobs.

Wash floor registers and other vent covers

Sweep and wash floor.

Reseal grout lines, if necessary.

DINING ROOM

Open windows.

Wash curtains.

Wipe down table and chairs.

Wipe down or dust other furnishing.

Clean chair pads, if applicable.

Polish table, if necessary

Create a pretty spring vignette on table!

Dust any displayed china or serving dishes.

Launder table linens.

Shine silverware.

Dust art.

Wash windows and window sills. Take out and wash window screens.

Wash switch plates

Wash walls and trim.

Wash doors and door knobs

Wash floor registers and other vent covers.

Clean floors.

LIVING ROOM/ FAMILY ROOM/ PLAYROOM

Open windows.

Vacuum sofas.

Spot clean sofas, if applicable.

Launder throw pillows and blankets.

Dust shelves, furniture and decor.

Clean lamps and lampshades.

Wash windows and window sills.

Take out and wash window screens.

Clean television screen.

Carefully dust electronics.

Tidy electronics wires. Tuck nicely out of sight. Label them, if practical.

Sort through music and DVD collections. Purge things that no longer suit your families interests. Organize what is left in an attractive manner.

Sort books and magazines. Donate or recycle ones that no longer suit your families interests.

Wash hard plastic children's toys with warm soapy water. Rinse and dry. Launder stuffed toys. Donate or store toys that your children have grown too old for.

Wash switch plates.

Wash walls and trim as needed.

Wash doors and knobs.

Wash floor registers and other vent covers.

Clean floors.

LAUNDRY ROOM

Open windows.

Wash windows and window sills.

Take out and wash window screens.

Wash cabinet doors.

Wash inside cabinets.

Wash laundry sink. Shine faucet. Clean drains.

Wash outside of washer and dryer.

Wash inside of washing machine.

Wash lint trap with soap and water to remove filmy build-up from laundry soaps and dryer sheets. Let air dry thoroughly before putting back in place.

Wash switch plates.

Wash walls and trim.

Wash doors and door knobs.

Wash floor registers and other vent covers.

sweep and wash floors.

Reseal grout lines, if applicable.

STAIRWELLS

sweep/vacuum stairs

Spot clean walls.

Wipe down handrail.

Dust art and light fixtures.

OUTSIDE

Sweep porches and walkway.

Wash thresholds.

Wash exterior doors. Give front door a fresh coat of paint, if necessary.

Clean or replace welcome mat.

Wash siding.

REMEMBER TO:

Clean blades of ceiling fans.

Sort through and organize family photographs (digitally or into albums).

Sort and clean any extra zones such as linen closets, utility closets and office spaces.

YARD/GARDENING

Now that you've got the interior and exterior of your home covered, here are some tips on how to prepare your yard and garden.

Clean out your garden. It’s time to clean your garden and remove all the debris (leaves, leftover snow, etc.) Get rid of weeds, making sure that you get the roots so they won’t grow back. This is also a good time to sharpen your garden tools, if needed, because you’re going to require them for plant maintenance and soil care.

Revitalize your soil. Because your soil is likely dried out and packed after winter, it’s time to add moisture. Add organic material like compost or manure. You might need to test the soil to see what nutrients it needs, so you give it the right mixture. You might also need to add more fertilizer to increase the health of the soil and increase the life of your plants.

Trim old plants. Plants that survived the winter will need to be pruned so they’ll grow anew in the spring. Make sure to wait until mid-April or May in case there’s an unexpected freeze. Blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers. Summer plants should be pruned in early spring.

Add mulch. In addition to fertilizers and organic materials, you should think about adding mulch to your flower beds and garden. One to three inches of mulch helps to prevent weeds and diseases. It also keeps the moisture in the garden and maintains the temperature. The rule of thumb is to keep the mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent roots from rotting.

Plant new flowers and shrubs. Once you’ve gotten the garden in shape and handled all of the old plants, it’s time to turn your attention to new plants. Some recommendations for good spring plants include pansies, snapdragons, vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula, redbuds, transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside, lilacs, tulips. You should lean towards planting more perennials rather than annuals, because annuals have to be replaced every year. This means you’re making an investment in plants that will die every year and require replacement. Perennials, on the other hand, last for two to three years and usually survive winter frosts.

Plant freeze-proof plants like daffodils, violas and pansies. If your plants are not freeze-proof, there are various covers, tents and lamps that you can buy from local nurseries and greenhouses that are designed to protect your plants.

Prepare your lawnmower as well by doing the following:

Make sure to get your lawnmower tuned up. Don't wait until it needs to be tuned up, and don't crank it until you know what's inside.

Make sure there's enough oil in it. Make sure that the fuel hasn't been sitting in it since last year, and that the fuel is clean. Also, make sure that it doesn't have too much ethanol in it as it can be really hard on engines on outdoor equipment.

Finally, use a small engine fuel stabilizer to help keep gear working from spring through the next fall.


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