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cleaning-webRISMEDIA, May 2, 2009-(MCT)-Clean your house every day? That’s what Donna Smallin, author of “Cleaning Plain & Simple” and seven other books on cleaning and organizing, recommends. “It’s the simplest way to minimize housework,” she says. 

But cleaning house doesn’t have to mean full-blown drudgery. Everyday shortcuts (let dishes air-dry, give cleaners time to work while you do something else) and prevention (invest in good doormats, ban food from bedrooms) can ease the load. And if you keep up with daily touch-ups, your spring cleaning is limited to just the extras.

The following chores, if done just once a year will help you keep your housework to a minimum:

Wash windows
Be sure to pick a cloudy day. If it’s too sunny, the cleaning solution will dry too fast and you’ll have streaks. For a window washing solution, combine ½ cup of sudsy ammonia (which is a specific type of ammonia), one pint rubbing alcohol, one teaspoon dishwashing liquid, and one gallon of water.

Smart Trick: To determine whether streaks are on the inside or outside, wipe with vertical strokes on one side of the window, horizontal on the other.

Scrub and vacuum sliding glass door tracks
It’s probably not the first spot you’d think to clean, but you’ll appreciate having done it before the outdoor entertaining season gets into full swing. Smallin suggests scrubbing the tracks with an old, dry toothbrush to loosen debris, then using your vacuum hose to remove it. Finish with a wet sponge.

Wash baseboards, door frames and walls
You may overlook these surfaces on a daily basis, but once a year give them some attention. Wash them with a sponge and a squirt of dishwashing liquid mixed in a bucket of warm water.

Deep-clean your carpet and rugs
To maintain a new carpet’s warranty, you may need to have it cleaned professionally every 12-18 months, says Smallin. Otherwise, you can do it yourself; rent a deep cleaner or buy a professional-style model designed for home use.

Clean furniture
Restore smooth leather with an upholstery cleaner and conditioner. Use a suede brush to perk up nubuck leather. For wood furniture, make your own all-natural cleaner and polish: Mix ½ teaspoon of olive oil and ½ cup of vinegar or lemon juice in a plastic spray bottle, shake well, and spray onto a microfiber cloth.

Freshen window treatments
In all likelihood, your curtains and draperies aren’t dirty enough to launder. To clean, go over them thoroughly with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. To remove dust from sheer curtains, put them in the dryer on low with a fabric softener sheet.

Dust light fixtures, ceiling fans and lightbulbs
Use a microfiber or lint-free cloth to dust fixtures and bulbs you can reach. To clean grimy bulbs, lightly dampen your cloth with vinegar-be sure bulbs are cool to the touch and your hands are dry.

Stumped by how to dust corkscrew-type compact fluorescent lights and other irregular objects? Use an electrostatic duster which uses static electricity.

© 2009, Better Homes and Gardens.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.