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It's all here. All of the Queen's miraculous tips and surprising shortcuts on how to solve hundreds of cleaning challenges — inside and out. Let the Queen show you how to turn your home into a sparkling palace in no time at all. Learn how to...
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It's all here. All of the Queen's miraculous tips and surprising shortcuts on how to solve hundreds of cleaning challenges — inside and out. Let the Queen show you how to turn your home into a sparkling palace in no time at all. Learn how to put an end to washday drudgery with her collection of nifty and natural solutions for stress-free washing and ironing — and enjoy a year's worth of tips, tricks, and picks for a cleaner house and a more organized life. But most of all, discover how the Queen's no-nonsense "tips and hints" method of housekeeping means less time cleaning your home, and more time enjoying it!
Let the Queen show you:
You may not know this, but some of the very best spot and stain removers are things you use every single day! Not only do these stain removers work great -- they're right at your fingertips!
Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is great for grass stains and so much more.
Ammonia: The perspiration stain fighter.
Automatic dishwasher detergent: Keep this on hand as a bleach substitute and whitener/brightener even if you don't have a dishwasher. Liquid, powder, and tablet form all work well. If you choose the tablet, make sure it has dissolved before you add clothes. Pour directly on stain, or soak.
Baking soda: Removes odors.
Club soda: My favorite Oh my gosh, how did I do that? spotter. Use it on any fabric or surface that can be treated with water. A slight dabbing on dry-clean-only fabrics is also permissible, just be sure to test first! Use club soda on any spill -- ask the waiter for some if you're dining out -- dab it on and blot it off. Club soda keeps spills from becoming stains and brings the offending spill to the surface so it can be easily removed. It's totally safe. I always make sure to have a bottle on hand.
Cream of tartar: I bet you have some of this in the kitchen cupboard, but how often do you use it? Well, here's your chance. Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice and you have a wonderful bleach for white clothes spotted with food or other stains. It's even effective on many rust stains.
Denture-cleaning tablets: The cure-all for white table linens with food stains and white cotton with stains. Dissolve one tablet per 1Ž2 cup water. Pour directly onstain or spot.
Dishwashing liquid: A wonderful spotter, used undiluted on tough stains.
Glycerin: You can remove tar, tree sap (think Christmas tree), juice stains, mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.
GOJO Crème Waterless Hand Cleaner®: Totally awesome for removing grease and oil, including shoe polish.
Hydrogen peroxide: 3 percent hydrogen peroxide is super for removing blood stains, especially if they are fairly fresh. It also is a wonderful bleaching agent for stubborn stains on white clothes. Combine 1Ž2 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of ammonia for an unbeatable stain removal combination. Make sure to use 3 percent and not the kind you use to bleach your hair!
Lemon juice: This is nature's bleach and disinfectant. I don't know where we'd be without it. If you have spots on white clothes, apply some lemon juice and lay them in the sun. Apply a little more lemon juice prior to laundering, or prespray and launder as usual. This is really effective on baby formula stains.
Meat tenderizer: A combo of meat tenderizer (unseasoned, please, or you'll have a whole new stain!) and cold water is just the answer to protein-based stains such as blood, milk, etc.
Salt: Sprinkling salt on spilled red wine will keep the wine from staining until you can launder it. Mixed with lemon juice, salt will remove mildew stains.
Shampoo: Any brand will do. Cheap is fine. I save the small bottles from hotel/motel stays and keep them in the laundry room. Great for treating ring-around-the-collar, mud and cosmetic stains.
Shave cream: That innocent-looking can of shave cream in your bathroom is one of the best spot and stain removers available. That's because it's really whipped soap! If you have a spill on your clothes (or even your carpet), moisten the spot, work in some shave cream, and then flush it with cool water. If the offending spot is on something you're wearing, work the shave cream in and then use a clean cloth (a washcloth works fine) to blot the shave cream and the spot away. A quick touch of the blow-dryer to prevent a ring and you're on your way. The best thing about shave cream is that even if it doesn't work it won't set the stain, so the spot can still be removed later. Keep a small sample can in your suitcase when you travel. It's saved me more than once!
WD-40®Lubricant: Check out your garage or the "fix-it" cupboard. If you don't have any, pick up a can the next time you're at the hardware store or home center. Why? Because we've all had those nasty grease stains and oil stains on clothes: salad dressing misses the salad and gets the blouse, or grease splatters when you are cooking -- or crayon/lipstick/Chap Stick®gets on your clothes! WD-40®is your answer. Spray some on, wait 10 minutes, then work in undiluted liquid dishwashing soap and launder as usual. Works well on everything except silk!
White vinegar: A great spotter for suede -- used undiluted. It's also a wonderful fabric softener. Just put 1Ž4 cup white vinegar in the final rinse. (And no, you won't smell like a salad!)
It's worthwhile to keep these things on hand. As you can see, most are inexpensive and have other uses. They'll make you the cleaning Queen -- or King! -- in your home.
Introduction and additional materials copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean® copyright © 1998 by Linda Cobb
Chapter 6: The Queen's Royal Carpet Treatment
Carpet is one of the most expensive investments you will make in your home. With proper knowledge about choosing a good-quality carpet that fits your lifestyle, and cleaning and stain removal guidelines, your carpet will give you many years of enjoyment and quality wear.
Know Your Carpet
Most residential carpet is made from one of four fibers: nylon, polyester, olefin or wool (or a combination). All of these fibers can make great carpet, although nylon is one of the most cost-effective and durable. Here are some other things to be aware of when making that important purchase.
Face weight is a common-sense measurement that you should be aware of when purchasing carpet. The key to remember: More fibers are almost always better.
Fiber density is a measurement of how closely packed carpet fibers are to each other. Carpets with high density tend to look better longer and will give carpet a soft feeling when walked upon.
Carpet fiber twist is very important to be aware of, especially with cut-pile types of carpet. Fibers that have more twists per linear inch usually make more durable carpeting.
Carpet padding is absolutely critical to good carpet performance. Too much or too little can cause premature failure in many carpets. The best pads, believe it or not, are those that are thin and firm. Avoid pads thicker than 7Ž16 inch.
When you vacuum, make sure you have cleaned your vacuum canister or changed your disposable bag so you are getting the best possible suction. Vacuum across the nap of the carpet and then in the direction of the nap to restore it to its original appearance. Always overlap your strokes to be sure you cover all areas. How often you vacuum depends on your family size, and use of the rooms, but try for at least twice a week. Some of you may even find vacuuming every day makes sense for you. Remember, it's all about you...what works best for you.
Many people ask me how to go about hiring a firm to clean carpeting. Listed below are some general guidelines to follow. Always call more than one company, looking for comparable pricing. Ask each company the same set of questions, and remember word-of-mouth is one of your best allies. Ask your neighbors, your friends, and the people you work with which companies they have used and how satisfied they were.
Questions to Ask Cost Per Square Foot or Room Find out if there is a square footage limitation per room and if your room sizes fit within the limitation. Remember to ask about hallways, walk-in closets and bathrooms. They may count as a whole room when companies offer room pricing. If the cost is figured by square foot, measure the length and width of your rooms and multiply length by width to achieve the square footage. Add the total square footage of all of your rooms and multiply by the cost per square foot. This should give you an accurate price.
Find Out What Method of Cleaning Is Used Steam cleaning or extraction is the preferable way to clean. Ask if the company uses a "truck mounted unit." A portable cleaner will not generate the same powerful extraction process that a truck unit will.
Do They Clean with Hot or Cold Water?
Cold water will not remove stubborn, greasy soil. A truck-mounted cleaning system should hook up to your cold water, usually at an outside tap, and heat the water as it flows through the truck.
Is the Company Insured?
If they damage your furniture while moving it or bang into a wall, you want to be sure they can cover the cost of the repair.
Ask About Experience Be sure you are hiring trained professionals who do this for a living.
Remember the Investment Again, carpet is one of your most expensive investments, so treat it with the care it deserves and it will last much longer and look better.
Before Cleaning Carpets
* Pick up all small items from carpets.
* Remove all items from furniture to be moved.
T When possible, remove dining chairs and other small, light pieces of furniture.
* Pick up all small area rugs.
* Remove things from the floor of the closet if it will be cleaned.
* Remove anything from under beds if they are to be moved.
* Open as many windows as possible, if weather permits.
* If house is not left open, turn on the air conditioner or heat, whichever is appropriate.
* If possible, set fans so they blow across the carpet.
* Wash the soles of the shoes or slippers that you will be wearing on the damp carpet, otherwise dirt from the soles will be transferred to the carpet.
* Do not move furniture back until carpet is completely dry.
After Carpets Are Cleaned BEWARE of slippery linoleum and other hard floors when stepping from damp carpet.
* Do not put towels or sheets or newspapers on the carpet.
* If you have had the carpet treated with carpet protector, you will need to allow extra drying time.
* Vacuum carpet thoroughly after it is dry with a clean vacuum.
Spotting Guide The number one rule of spot removal on carpet is to always keep several bottles of club soda on hand to use on spills on any kind of carpet. If you spill, follow this advice:
Blot up as much moisture as you can -- laying old towels over the spill and standing on them is a great way to start.
* Scrape up any solids.
* Pour club soda on the spill. Don't be afraid to really pour it on. The carbonation in the soda will "bubble up" the spill so that you can blot it up. Again, cover the spot with clean, light-colored towels or rags and stand on them. This will really help to absorb the spill. Continue to pour and absorb until all color from the stain has been blotted up and the towel is coming up clean.
* Follow up with a good carpet stain remover. I prefer Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover®.
* When you spot-clean carpet, never rub, as it will only spread the stain and will cause abrasion to the carpet fibers.
* This is a good general cleaning method for most spills and definitely will not cause any damage.
Red Pop, Kool-Aid
Grab the club soda fast and follow the above method. If the stain is old, still try the club soda -- it will help lighten the stain. After using your carpet spotter, if the spot is still present, saturate with hydrogen peroxide or undiluted lemon juice. Wait 15 minutes and blot. Continue to apply and check your progress, just to be sure you aren't lightening the carpet.
Nail Polish Blot up as much polish as possible with a tissue or anything handy. Then test the effect of nonoily nail polish remover on an inconspicuous part of the carpet. If there are no ill effects to the carpet pile, apply the nail polish remover with an eye dropper or a nonsilver spoon, blotting immediately after each application. Always use nonoily polish remover. If regular nail polish remover does not work, buy straight acetone at a beauty supply house, pretest again, and apply as directed above. Once you have removed as much as possible (have patience) follow with Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover®, applied according to the directions. If color staining remains, apply hydrogen peroxide to bleach or lighten the stain.
Mud Cover wet mud with salt or baking soda and let dry thoroughly before touching. Once it is dry, vacuum it using the attachment hose to concentrate the suction on the mud. Use a good carpet spotter, following the directions, to complete the process. For red dirt or mud, use a rust remover such as Whink®or Rust Magic®to remove any color residue. Make sure you test the rust remover in a small area first.
Coffee and Tea The best defense is a good offense when you spill coffee. First, act as quickly as possible. Hot coffee is the equivalent of brown dye. Blot up all of the spill that you can and immediately apply club soda. If you don't have club soda (shame on you), use plain cold water. Really pour it on and blot, blot, blot. Follow with a good-quality carpet spotter. If a stain remains, you can attempt to remove it by pouring on hydrogen peroxide, waiting 15 minutes and then blotting. If it is lightening the stain, continue, and as a final step, rinse with cold water or club soda.
Use Shaving Cream The great instant spot remover! If you have a spill and have no carpet spotter available, grab the shaving cream. It is particularly effective on makeup, lipstick, coffee and tea. Work it into the spot well, and rinse with either cold water or club soda.
Guide to Special Spots
Tar and Mustard Work glycerin (available at drugstores in the hand cream section) into the spot. Let it sit 30 to 60 minutes. Working carefully with paper towels, use a lifting motion to remove the spot. This may require multiple treatments. Follow with a good spotter, such as Spot Shot®.
Removing Indentations in Carpet Lay ice cubes in the indentations caused by furniture. Be sure to cover all of the indented area. Leave overnight and then fluff the nap with the tines of a fork the next day.
Candle Wax Put ice in a plastic bag and lay over the wax, allowing it to freeze. Chip off all the wax that you can. Next, lay brown paper over the wax (a grocery bag works great; use the area without the writing) and press with a medium/hot iron. Move the paper as it absorbs so that you don't redeposit the wax on the carpet. Have patience and continue as long as any wax shows up on the bag. Next, apply a good carpet stain remover.
Soot Sprinkle with salt and wait at least 2 hours and then vacuum, using the attachment hose to concentrate the suction. Spot with a good spotter or Energine Cleaning Fluid®.
Gum Freeze with ice in a bag and chip off all that you can. Work a little petroleum jelly into the remaining residue and roll the gum into it. Scrape up and follow with a good spotter or Energine Cleaning Fluid®.
Glue Try saturating glue with undiluted white vinegar. Working with an upward motion, work it out of the fibers and spot with Energine Cleaning Fluid®. For rubber cement, use the method described for gum.
Ink Spray on hair spray or blot with rubbing alcohol. For heavy spots, try denatured alcohol. Blot well and follow with a spotter.
Armed for Battle Always keep a good carpet spotting product on hand! I have found an incredible product that removes not only fresh red stains, but also old ones. It will work effectively on such things as red wine, red pop, Kool-Aid, cranberry juice, red food coloring and even black coffee and tea. It is called Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover. Don't let the name fool you, if you are a mom you need this product, if you drink red wine you need it too! It is totally nontoxic and works on carpet and upholstery, even car seats. Call 1-888-WINEAWAY for a purchase location near you.
Introduction and additional materials copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean® copyright © 1998 by Linda Cobb
Chapter 16: Company's Coming!
A Quick Tidy
I get lots of letters from people wanting to know how to tidy a messy house in a hurry. We're all busy these days, but we still want to take time to entertain, to kick back at home and enjoy the company of friends, whether it be with a delicious home-cooked meal or a double supreme pizza with extra cheese! But often we're dashing from here to there, with only a short time to ready the house for our guests. So what to do for a quick tidy?
Well, the first thing to remember is not to panic. Your house doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be welcoming. Okay, a toy truck and a dirty pair of sneakers in the entry hall aren't exactly welcoming. But you can take care of that without much fuss.
First thing I suggest is to take a pan of boiling water and sprinkle some cinnamon in it. Now, don't worry. I'm going to keep this simple. I'm not trying to add to your worries. And I'm not going to suggest that you make little place cards out of pinecones or anything, but if you sprinkle some cinnamon in some boiling water and let it simmer, then the house will have a beautiful, homey aroma. You'll start to relax and your house will be welcoming for your guests. It's a warm fuzzy. And it's very easy.
Once you've got the water simmering, grab a laundry basket, and go from room to room and pick up all those misplaced items. And if you have kids who suffer from dropsy, as I call it, then you'll have some picking up to do. Just pick up the toys and the Walkmans and the Game Boys and the sports jackets, put them in the laundry basket and place the basket in an out of the way place such as a closet. Done.
Next thing is to close the doors to the kids' rooms. That's another problem easily solved.
And last, go into the bathroom that your guests will be using. Take a cloth -- I recommend Euronet USA's ACT Natural®Microfiber Cloths. They clean and disinfect without chemicals, using only water -- just dampen the cloth and wipe it around all surfaces: sinks, mirrors, and taps....Presto that's that!
Now, put on some music, dim the lights a tad and relax. Enjoy your guests and enjoy your home.
One Night Stands...
Are you one of those people who say, "Be sure you come and stay with us when you're in town"? Well now is the time to pay up, because, guess what, they're here!
If you're expecting out-of-town guests, you'll want everything to look its best, especially the room where your guests will be sleeping. Try to look at the room as if you were a guest -- better still, get a feeling by spending a night in the guest room itself.
First, you'll want the bed to be as comfortable as possible. That means the best mattress you can provide covered with a good mattress pad for comfort and protection. If you use a zip-on plastic mattress cover with a good cotton, quilted pad on top, you'll know the mattress is clean. Just store the mattress covers right on the bed.
Freshly washed linens and several choices of pillows are a great welcome. Provide extra pillows for those who read in bed. When I wash my linens after company leaves, I make sure they are good and dry, and then I store them in an old pillowcase to keep them fresh and clean and ready for use without rewashing. Covering your pillows with zippered pillow protectors will also allow you to keep the pillows clean and sanitary. Wash the protectors with the sheets and then put back on the pillows.
Make the bed up with blankets appropriate for the season and be sure your guests have easy access to an extra blanket or comforter, should they require it.
Let your friends know they are welcome by giving them plenty of open hanging space in the closet, even if you have to remove some of your stored clothing. Put plenty of hangers within reach, and make sure to include some for hanging trousers, skirts, etc. Putting in some cedar chips for fragrance is a nice touch.
You're ahead of the game if you have a guest bathroom. When I have guests, I always set out a pretty basket filled with containers of shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash that I have collected at hotels in my travels. I add a couple of inexpensive toothbrushes, travel-size toothpaste, deodorant, hair spray, shave cream, hand cream, a sewing kit, a disposable razor, anything that I think a guest might need. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh towels and hooks to hang them on and hooks for robes when showering. It is nice to add both soap and shower gel to the shower for your guests. If you have room, a shelf or area to put personal grooming things during the visit is always welcome.
If your family bath doubles as a guest bath, the things I talked about above still apply. If you can clear out a small area in one of your storage areas for your guests' grooming needs to be stored and designate a towel area for them too, it will make everyone more comfortable. A good lock on the door is a must for everyone's peace of mind.
Sometimes we use our spare rooms as junk rooms or storage rooms. If this is the case, a quick pickup will go a long way to making your friends feel welcome. Who wants to spend a night in a room that resembles a U-Store-It locker? Clear off surfaces as much as you can -- a spare laundry basket or an empty box will hold clutter just fine. You don't have to empty the room, though. Family photos are always welcoming, as are knickknacks and memorabilia. If you really want to be the hostess with the mostest, you might put out a nice bunch of fresh flowers. Once you've done this, put your feet up. Your friends have come to visit you -- not inspect the wallpaper. So relax. Have fun. And remember...next time it's your turn to visit them!
Introduction and additional materials copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean® copyright © 1998 by Linda Cobb
Chapter 17: What Does Clean Mean to You?
I've been at this cleaning business a long time, and still I'm surprised by the number of people who get hung up on what to clean and when. Seems that for some people, cleaning is a dirty word. They want to know how often to clean this, when to put away that -- as if there's going to be a big test at the end of the cleaning semester. But life's not like that. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes your house is clean. Sometimes...well, let's just leave it at that, shall we?
I don't believe in keeping to someone else's schedule and someone else's rules. I believe in making my schedule work for me, and I have only one rule: IF IT'S NOT DIRTY, DON'T CLEAN IT. We're all busy, and we all have better things to do than clean house. No one but the Marines wears white gloves these days, so we don't have to be concerned with the white glove test. That said, few of us are happy living in a home that's dirty or unkempt. It's hard to relax when the dust bunnies are having a rodeo in the corner of your living room.
Sit back and think for a moment. What does clean mean for you? How organized do you want to be? Are you the type of person who's just dying to rearrange the magazines at the dentist's office, the one your office mate runs to when she spills cola on her keyboard? Or are you the person whose idea of cleaning is to put the dirty dishes in the oven, whose laundry schedule is determined by Can I get away with this another day?
Chances are, you won't have to think too much about this. You already know who you are. You know what makes you comfortable and how you like to live. I suspect that despite our natural tendencies, most of us flit between one group and another. There are times when we feel that things are ordered and under control, just as there are times when chaos rules. I'm not trying to get you to change teams, to convert you or give you a cleaning citation. I want you to find your comfort, to do the things that will get you there, and help you stay there.
And that's where this section comes in. I've started off with a list of things to think about, from everyday household tasks that you'd never overlook (like washing dishes) to those uncommon tasks and easy oversights, such as flipping your mattress and cleaning the gutters. I'd like to encourage you to find out what's right for you. Some people, for example, may like to change their sheets every week. Others may find every two weeks often enough for them. A schedule only works if it's flexible and realistic. Start with that in mind and you can't go wrong.
That's part of what this section is about. Establishing a routine that works for you. The other part? Fun stuff. Each month brings its own particular signature. February, for example, can be a time of high heating bills, but it's also a time for Valentine's Day and romance, and that can mean flowers, champagne and chocolates (for starters...). I'll let you in on the best ways to care for flowers, how to help keep the bubble in that bottle of champers, and what to do when the chocolate strays on to the furniture and bed linen. (Oh, don't tell me you've never eaten chocolate in bed!) Turn to April, and you'll find some fun, natural ways to color your Easter eggs, as well as how to get ready for allergy season. October contains some Halloween fun, and December, as you might imagine, rounds out the year with lots of holiday advice.
But that's not all. I've included a few recipes throughout the book (well...you have been asking), and I'm also including some recommendations from my four-legged co-writer: Zack The Palace Pussycat. Zack helped me with my last two books (mainly by sitting on the manuscript), and this time he wanted to contribute further. Look for his suggestions, marked with a paw print. They provide advice from the feline point of view -- and of course remind us that behind every successful woman there's usually a rather talented cat.
This is not your typical cleaning book. But then again, I'm not your typical Queen!
It's About Time
Daily Duties Personally, there are only two things that I do every day: kiss the King and feed the cat. I make the bed most days (it's so much nicer to come home to), and I do try to see that the dishes are done, but sometimes I'm just so busy or distracted that even the simplest tasks fall by the wayside. We're all very busy. We all have too much to do. That's why I've kept this list of daily chores short. Carry out these few tasks on most days and you'll find your life running smoother than you could imagine. Miss a day...well, the dishes will still be there tomorrow.
*Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
*Hang up clothes.
*Clean up spills.
*Wipe counters and stovetop.
Twice Weekly I've kept this list gloriously short -- only one item:
You can get away with vacuuming carpets just once a week (six days is the average gestation period for dust bunnies), but vacuuming twice weekly will prevent the dirt from getting ground into the fibers, and will therefore prolong the life of the carpet.
Weekly Weekends were made for more than housework, so try spreading these tasks out through the week if you can.
*Sweep hardwood floors.
*Dust hard furniture.
*Do the laundry.
*Clean showers and tubs.
*Clean the toilet.
*Clean bathroom mirrors.
*Empty trash cans, put out garbage. (Clean the trash can if odors remain.)
*Sweep porch, patio and doormats.
*Dust TV/VCR/stereos, etc.
*Replace the bag on your vacuum.
*Clean makeup brushes and sponges.
*Clean hairbrushes and combs.
*Vacuum or dust blinds and shutters.
*Dust ceiling fans.
*Dust woodwork and dust down any cobwebs.
*Wash kitchen and bathroom area rugs.
*Vacuum carpet edges.
*Check hard floors and rewax heavy-traffic areas if needed.
*Clean out the refrigerator.
*Spot clean the kitchen cabinet fronts.
*Clean the fronts of stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.
*Check the furnace filter: change or clean if needed.
*Hose off entry mats.
*Sweep out the garage.
*Sweep or wash the walkways and driveways.
*Change or clean the furnace filter.
*Wipe off lightbulbs as you dust (be sure they are cool).
*Look over knickknacks and wash or thoroughly clean any that require more than dusting.
*Flip the cushions on chairs and sofas for even wear.
*Clean humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
Twice a Year
*It's got to be done: clean the oven.
*Clean stove hood and/or exhaust fan.
*Check the contents of freezer for things that are past their freshness. Clean freezer.
*Turn the mattresses on beds.
*Wash any plastic, vinyl or leather furniture.
*Clean scatter rugs.
*Dust books on shelves, making sure to dust shelves under the books.
*Vacuum the heat registers and cold air returns.
*Vacuum under furniture.
*Check silverware and clean if necessary.
*Replace that little box of baking soda in the refrigerator.
*Dust all the things you haven't been able to reach all year long.
*Clean bedspreads and slipcovers.
*Clean closets as you change seasonal clothes.
*Wash blankets and comforters.
*Dust down walls.
*Wash walls (every two years).
*Strip any waxed floors and rewax.
*Wash all windows and screens.
*Wash or dry-clean drapery.
*Move and clean under and behind large items.
*Clean carpet and upholstery.
*Clean any areas you have avoided all year long.
*Have the air conditioner checked and cleaned.
*Have the furnace checked and cleaned.
*Sort through the medicine cabinet, clean it, and organize and discard old medicine.
*Clean out kitchen cupboards, wash and reorganize.
*Replace the batteries in smoke detectors and other safety devices.
*Check the batteries in flashlights.
*Clean rain gutters.
*Wash all exterior windows.
*If you have a chimney, clean it.
So there you have it. Your annual checklist. Now for the fun stuff.