Spring Cleaning: Tips and Tools for a Fresh Start

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Tips, tools and tech to help make spring cleaning a breeze – and keep it that way.


The Bright and the Beautiful

Benjamin Moore’s 2016 colour of the year, Simply White (OC-117), reminded us why we refer to painting as giving our homes a “fresh coat.”

It’ll brighten up any space and, used on an accent wall, it’ll make colours pop.

And if you like your whites, well, less white, Farrow & Ball has added a new shade to its collection of coloured whites for 2016. Shadow White (No. 282) is a muted choice great for walls or woodwork.

And after you’ve applied that “fresh coat,” store small amounts of unused paint in clean plastic water bottles to save space recommends decor writer Alison Jenkins in her book 300 Tips: Painting and Decorating.

Click through for more expert advice.

Tools of the Trade

Choose your weapons wisely, says Melissa Maker. “If you have bad tools, you’ll literally be cleaning for two or three times longer.” Maker owns Toronto-based cleaning service Clean My Space, and the cleaning tutorials she posts to her YouTube channel of the same name get more than a million views. Her secret? She doesn’t like cleaning, so who better to find the quickest, most effective products and methods.

First things first, make the move to microfibre. It’s very absorbent, yes – no doubt you recall the infomercials – but Maker points out that it also picks up dust, dirt and grease better, so much so that water is sometimes all you need for cleanup.

And forget about taking the scissors to your old towels and T-shirts, she says. “They’re not absorbent and just push dirt around. Microfibre picks up the dirt immediately, so you don’t have to continually wipe and leave streaks behind.”

Also look for tools that feature microfibre as well. For windows, Maker goes gas station style. She fills a bucket with hot water, a cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap (check out cleanmyspace.com for more than 30 DIY cleaner recipes) and uses a large squeegee with a rubber blade on one side and a microfibre pad on the other. “It’s way easier than paper towels or even a microfibre cloth and spray bottle and gets you way better results,” she says.

To make cleaning down low and up high easier, especially for those with strength and mobility challenges, Maker recommends extendable tools. Or DIY it with a microfibre cloth attached with an elastic to the pole end of a broom. “[It’s] really great for getting into those tight spaces, high corners and for light fixtures, even,” she says.

Sense of Order

Spring is also as good a time as any to take care of the clutter – it has been shown to cause anxiety, create feelings of guilt and inhibit creativity and productivity, after all. Maker says to start in the medicine cabinet, collecting all expired OTCs and prescriptions to return to your pharmacist for safe disposal. For the rest, mark the expiry in big, bold writing directly on the package so you aren’t fumbling for your readers next time you need cold meds in the middle of the night.

For more advice, pick up Decluttering Your Home by Geralin Thomas of A&E TV’s Hoarders. Thomas outlines how-to for everything from organizing the foyer to packing for vacation. One of her basic rules is that every item should have
a permanent “put-away” home and that might require some purging based on your space for storage. She’s covered that, too, in a “Things to Throw Out” section that includes florist’s vases, shoes that hurt your
feet and gold and silver you’re not wearing, which she advises not to toss but to recoup their cost by selling.


Esthetician Audrey Williams of Toronto’s La Belle Femme has this tip: disinfect high hand-traffic areas like faucets and handles with a mist sprayer filled with 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol, used to sterilize esthetic tools. And more is not always better; studies show that higher concentrations actually work too fast and don’t effectively kill germs and bacteria.

User Upgrade

Not even the most germophobic of us washes their hands before flushing the toilet. Yet that’s when they carry the most bacteria, leaving dirty little microbes all over the lever. But install the Kohler Touchless Toilet Flush Kit – in less than 20 minutes, mind you – and you can wave those germs goodbye by simply passing your hand over the sensor mounted in the tank. Powered by four AA batteries, the kit is compatible with most toilets, so you can retrofit any commode to upgrade to a no-touch flush. $85, ca.kohler.com

Suck it up

Embrace the lightweight and handheld vacuum trend, says Maker, but opt for one with an on/off switch versus a trigger-style, which can be difficult for people with arthritis. And we say forget stooping; choose a model that also stands upright on its own, like the Rowenta Delta Force (far right).

Or “use the force.” Vacuum cleaning robots, like Roomba, are a brat hands-off option. Dyson will launch its 360 Eye to Canada this year; it doesn’t self-empty but can be controlled and scheduled via smartphone with the stroke of your hand.


And this spring, if what needs doing is beyond what you can do, call in the professionals.

Launched last year, Cleanify and Jiffy are like Uber but for your home. The former offers maid service while the latter enlists professionals for everything from windows and eaves cleaning to car detailing. Orders are placed via mobile app or online and can be made on demand or by appointment.

And, yes, you get to rate your cleaner when the job’s done. Here’s to the access economy! www.cleanify.com; www.jiffyondemand.com

Try it! Use promo code zoomerjiffy and get $25 off any Jiffy service!

It’s Magic

Jonathan Scott (near left), the contractor half of the W Network’s Property Brothers duo, includes the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in his toolkit. Scott does a walk-through of numerous properties for each season of the show and recently gave a gathering of lifestyle editors ways to tackle what he calls “the ick factor” – worst of which for him is fingerprints around light switches. The trick to the foam’s little-effort effectiveness is its super-fine abrasive texture. A little water and very little might is all you need to get stains off everything from leather to Tupperware, even permanent marker on white melamine kitchen cabinets – trust me.