As a transplanted Brit, I celebrated the Royal Wedding by getting my spring cleaning underway in the living room so that I could see the pageantry on television while I swabbed. And no, I didn’t get up at 3 a.m.; I caught the recessional live, and watched the dozens of replays of the best bits. All those nutty hats, particularly that over-the-top, loopy-bow fascinator sprouting from Princess Beatrice’s forehead, made me miss my motherland and its eccentric population, but it helped brighten up a day of chores.
In terms of enjoyment, I rank general housework about one degree above going to the dentist — but spring cleaning is more satisfying, especially when it’s over. And as I use mostly green products, I can feel virtuous in two ways at once. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned over the years.
1. Play loud, lively music to help make it fun. (I find the Rolling Stones’ early stuff is particularly well suited to cleaning motions.) A glass of wine with lunch doesn’t hurt, either.
2. Clean one room at a time, and get the clutter out first. Dump things that need to be sorted into baskets or bins. Assign a separate day for time-consuming chores like cleaning out closets or shampooing carpets.
3. Assemble your cleaning materials. Dry paintbrushes and toothbrushes are handy for getting into crevices where dust gathers. Clean rooms from the top down, leaving the floor until last.
4. Simple Green, Seventh Generation and H2 all make biodegradable, non-toxic, concentrated, all-purpose cleaners that you can use on a variety of surfaces. They all work well and smell OK. Be sure to dilute them according to the directions.
5. A quarter cup of white vinegar in a gallon of warm water is the best window cleaner. Use a squeegee, and polish the glass with crumpled newspaper, if you like. (Paper towels leave lint.)
6. Murphy Oil soap is not only good for cleaning wood, it works as a laundry pre-spotter, too. Dab a little onto any stains on your slipcovers and let it sit for a minute before throwing them into the washing machine.
7. Old English Scratch Cover warns “Fatal if Swallowed” and is therefore not in the least bit green, but it’s the best thing I’ve found to cover water stains and scratches on wood furniture. There are two kinds: one for light woods and one for dark. The bottled stuff is better than the spray.
8. If you have iron in your water, Zud or Iron Out will remove rust stains, calcium and lime from bathroom fixtures. But I’ve heard of an organic product called Green Bean Rusterizer that supposedly “evaporates” the rust after you spray it on — no wiping or scrubbing. It’s available online and sounds like my kind of product. Do let me know if you’ve tried it.