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Spring cleaning important for home health, safety

Time to clean the fridge, oven
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of the Clearfield Township-based cleaning company, RoomShiners, dusts a ceiling fan March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

After the doldrums of a cold and gloomy winter, homeowners should take advantage of the improving weather and awakening landscape by flinging open the doors and windows and giving their houses a good scrub.

That’s the advice of Lisa LeGrand, who co-owns the Clearfield Township-based cleaning company RoomShiners with her cousin, Todd LeGrand.

Lisa LeGrand said much of her business this time of year is for spring cleaning.

“Right now, I would say 65% to 70% is spring cleaning,” she said.

She characterized “spring cleaning” as a step-up on everything normally cleaned, as well as cleaning surfaces and areas that can go untouched by a vacuum or soapy rag.

A basic cleaning, which LeGrand suggests doing from the top down, involves removing any cobwebs, tidying up, vacuuming furniture, wiping counters and tables, dusting and polishing living room, bedroom and dining room furniture, vacuuming and mopping floors, and wiping the outside of appliances.

Jobs like cleaning inside a refrigerator or oven, scrubbing carpets, wiping the inside of cabinets or cleaning windows are tasks above and beyond a normal cleaning routine.

LeGrand said common spring cleaning tasks include wiping down walls, light switches, windows, outlets, baseboards and vents, and cleaning the inside of toilet tanks.

“You should do that twice a year at spring and fall cleaning time,” she said of toilet tanks.

LeGrand explained she adds white vinegar to the water in the tank, lets it sit for up to 30 minutes, then flushes to drain the tank.

A quick turn of the fill valve near the toilet will prevent it from refilling so she can use a brush on a long handle to remove calcification and other substances clinging to the walls of the tank.

“It pretty much falls off the sides,” she said.

Another turn of the valve refills the tank, and a push of the flush handle sends the yucky slurry down the drain.

In either basic or spring cleaning, LeGrand uses a mix of natural solutions and chemical cleaners, depending on the task at hand.

Regarding windows, LeGrand prefers a mixture of white vinegar and water to produce clear, sparkling glass both inside and out.

While she said using vinegar won’t make a home smell like the pungent liquid, one to three drops of essential oil can be added to the mixture to cut down on the distinctive aroma.

Regarding greasy surfaces, LeGrand has a secret weapon in her arsenal to make those areas look like new.

“I use Zep industrial degreaser, and I like Zep tile and grout cleaner too,” LeGrand said. “They also make some polishes. I’m pretty happy with all their products I’ve tried so far.”

For stainless steel surfaces, which are prevalent in kitchen appliances today, she uses Weiman’s Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.

“It leaves a really good, streak-free finish on all stainless steel, like smudges or fingerprints, and it kind of repels the dust and dirt after that,” LeGrand said.

For wood surfaces, LeGrand dilutes Murphy’s Oil Soap 1/4 cup to a gallon of warm water, or more if the surfaces are especially dirty.

Following a good cleaning, she often follows up with Orange Glo.

“I feel like Murphy’s seeps into the wood a little better, and Orange Glo repels the dust a little better,” LeGrand said.

For walls, LeGrand mixes a little Dawn dishwashing liquid with warm water. For dirtier walls, she pulls out the Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner.

“You can do a rag and bucket or a flat mop on the walls,” LeGrand said.

She received an accidental education on the effect of candles, plug-ins, air fresheners and other such products in a home when she began washing walls.

“Candles leave a black residue almost worse than cigarettes,” LeGrand said.

She also notices a film from plug ins and air fresheners, and wonders what the effect of those products have on the residents’ respiratory system.

Regarding all substances used in cleaning, whether natural or chemical, LeGrand cautions against random mixing.

“Always follow manufacturers’ directions, never mix chemicals and work in a well-ventilated area,” she said.

She said mixtures that can be toxic to the skin, eyes or the respiratory system — or even become combustible — are bleach and ammonia, vinegar and bleach, ammonia and peroxide, bleach and rubbing alcohol, and vinegar and peroxide.

LeGrand said using products for applications other than the recommended use should always be avoided. She points out the ramifications of a Tik Tok video that recommends using toilet bowl cleaner on tile floors.

“It will start taking off your finish and start breaking down your grout,” LeGrand said. “Only use products as intended.”

Those with marble or granite countertops should not wipe them with water mixed with dish soap, as it can ruin the surface if it soaks in.

“They make marble and granite cleaner that both cleans and disinfects,” LeGrand said.

She said most homeowners are unaware that there are different levels of clean.

General cleaning removes physical dirt, sanitizing kills bacteria and germs, and disinfecting kills bacteria and viruses.

“Any surface that comes in contact with food or your hands should be disinfected,” LeGrand said.

She names countertops, toys, knobs or handles, and light switches as examples of surfaces that should be disinfected.

LeGrand cannot overstate the importance of a top-to-bottom scrub each spring.

“You want to have a healthy home, because everything going through your house is also going through your body,” she said.

She said dead skin cells, hair, and residues from cooking, sprays and candles should be removed each year through a spring cleaning.

“Everything like that builds up and gets absorbed by couches, chairs and curtains, so it’s important to get a deep scrub,” LeGrand said.

In addition to houses, don’t forget those sheds, garages and attics that also need a spring clean.

Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, said March 20 that cleaning areas usually ignored is part of every spring clean job she tackles. Here, she wipes the frame of a sliding-glass door. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, dusts a mirror March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, dusts a mirror March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, dusts an entertainment center March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, wipe a mirror March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, cleans bathroom March 20 tile as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of Room Shiners, wears disposable shoe covers March 20 while on the job. Here, she cleans bathroom tile as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, uses specialty tools for various tasks. Here, she shines up a window March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Lisa LeGrand, co-owner of RoomShiners, cleans windows March 20 as part of her spring cleaning routine. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

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