A few tweaks can bring spring cleaning down to size
These tips offer easy, affordable ways to tackle big jobs.
Published: April 11, 2012 08:06PM
Updated: May 2, 2012 09:11AM
JackJelly | istock From lifting grimy fingerprints to unclogging drains, no task is too big for an easy clean-up.

Forget the old on-your-knees scrubbing, and get ready to see spring cleaning in a whole new light. Welcome to Good Housekeeping’s seasonal spruce-up guide, packed with fast, affordable ideas that will have your home looking and feeling fresh in no time.

Rapid-clean those walls • Dust down an entire room in minutes with a Swiffer Sweeper floor mop. The long handle lets you reach cobwebs in ceiling corners.

Speed up a sluggish drain • Unclogging it is worth the effort now because it will eliminate gross water backup in your sink or tub and help you avoid a bigger, more expensive problem later. Try Drano’s Snake Plus ($7, Walmart), which has a money-back guarantee.

Streamline the spice rack • Do the sniff test. If it’s lost its aroma, get rid of it; ditto if its color has faded. Wipe down the rack and tops of bottles.

Lift grimy fingerprints • Spot-clean smudges and marks off of switch plates, doorframes and stair risers with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Don’t get distracted by scuffs on baseboards or behind furniture, however; stay focused on eye-level imperfections only.

Tidy up the junk drawer • Take a start-from-scratch approach. Dump it out, relocate items that have actual homes and stave off future chaos by putting things into found holders, like old checkbook boxes or small plastic containers that have lost their tops. Or invest in bins developed to reduce this jumble, like Design Ideas’ slide-resistant silicone Squish Drawer Stores ($10 for three; organizeit.com).

De-gunk the kitchen cabinets • Pans shouldn’t be the only nonstick things in your kitchen. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s Carolyn Forte raves about Parker & Bailey’s Kitchen Cabinet Cream ($6; parkerbailey.com): “It even took the grease off my wood range hood in a flash.”

Make your mud room an anti-mud room • Collect dirty winter coats and accessories and carry them to the laundry room. As the machines run, grab the vacuum and clean the floors and inside the cabinets. Flip the mat and vacuum over it to push out more grime from behind.

Some extra cleaning tips • Make a plastic hanger into a portable paper-towel holder (ideal for toting when cleaning) by cutting the crossbar at the center.

• To wash sinks, pots and pans or stained coffee cups fast, mix liquid dish soap with table salt to form a gentle scrubbing paste.

• If your carpet is exhibiting the results of high-traffic spots, use a scrub brush to even out its appearance.