A good car detailing is an expensive service and a luxury, but it can make a car feel brand new. Sometimes when I am organizing or cleaning I think of it as detailing. It’s easy to go numb to the little things that need cleaning or spiffing up and a home can start to feel tired and shabby. We’re accustomed to our routines and looking at everything mostly from eye level. By getting up higher, down lower and looking at things more closely (and under bright light) the details that need attending to come into focus.
People rarely handle niggly unimportant repairs or do a really detailed cleaning of their home until they are ready to sell it and it’s such a shame. Here’s some examples of things you can do fairly easily to freshen your home in time for spring. Do it for yourself–you’re worth it!
Close focus–clean light switches and plate covers: Get a regular head screwdriver and remove the switch plate covers and wash them in warm, soapy water. With an old toothbrush, give the switches themselves a few brushes—get the dirt out of the “On” and “Off” letters where it collects. Oils and all kinds of grime from our fingers can make light switches really dirty and it’s something often overlooked. If the switch plate screws have lost their paint, poke them into a piece of cardboard and lightly spray with a little white or ivory or whatever color semi gloss spray paint to match.
Down low—where the pets impact: My cat liked to rub the sides of his body against corners as he walked by and I didn’t realize how filthy a couple spots on my walls were until I bent down to clean the baseboards and saw dark, cat-height patches of grime. It was easily cleaned with soap and water, but they must have been there for months before I noticed. Yuck. For cat hair, I use duct tape—it’s really strong—to pick up hair. I go over upholstery or pillows or blankets or rugs with pieces of tape until the hair is all lifted up. Sometimes a vacuum is not enough!
Here and there–touch up paint: Keep a sample size of paint for each color used on the inside of the home for touch ups. If I see a chipped spot or dirty area that won’t come clean with soap and water, I quickly touch it up with paint. I don’t even get a paint brush dirty—for most of these tiny touch ups, a Q-Tip or corner of a paper towel can be used and then thrown away.
High and low–clean tracks: I live between two vineyards and near a state park, so dirt is constantly accumulating in every sort of track in my home. Window tracks, sliding door tracks and closet tracks are all difficult to clean. Again, the humble Q-Tip comes to the rescue. Vacuum out as much dust as possible, then dampen a bunch of Q-Tips and drag them one at a time along the track to pull up dirt lodged there. Not only does it feel good to know there’s less dirt around, the door and window action will be significantly better. Spray a tiny bit of WD-40 in the track and drag it along the length with a Q-Tip.
Into focus–bright light: If you have access to one of those really bright lights that painters use to illuminate a room while they’re working, make use of it to check walls or cupboard doors in dark areas for dirt and drips that need cleaning up. A room can seem really clean until a burst of sunlight hits it and suddenly you can see coffee drips on the counters and dusty footprints on the floor. It’s really tough to clean without great lighting.
Down low–spider poop: Have you ever noticed those little dots of brown or white that accumulate in corners and under furniture on hard surfaces? It’s a never-ending battle to keep up with the spider webs and spider poop, but a swipe of the broom or a dust cloth and a little scrub with a damp rag does the trick. The hard part is getting down on the floor and underneath things. Did I mention that detailing the home is a workout?
Close focus—metal polishing: It’s astonishing how all of a sudden you might notice something like a chrome fixture or nickel door handle looks pitted with rust or lacks luster. One of my favorite products is mag wheel polish to bring chrome back to life. Polishing the various metals around the house with the appropriate product will really make the place shimmer for spring.
Are there other things you do to detail and spiff up your home? I’d love to hear about your favorite homekeeping tricks. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.