Spring has definitely sprung!
Evident by the heavy shrouds of winter, giving way to the fresh emergence of spring. Each day we find more lively trees dancing and swaying against the soft pale blue of the sky. There’s a delightful note of fervent energy, permeating and infusing the air. Strung along by the miles of rich, verdant fields, testimony to the new life starting there. So many vibrant colors bursting forth in the flowers and trees beginning to show their blooms, while the long-awaited Japanese plums have arrived; we’ve already picked its first fruit!
Each year as spring rolls in, we may begin to focus our thoughts on our spring cleaning at hand. Some may welcome the thought, just as they would the very season of spring. While others would prefer to “shut the front door” on the whole thing entirely! Whatever our feelings are towards spring cleaning, whether it’s a full-fledged, all out “clean fest” or applying a light, swift “once-over,” barely touching the room, the goal is basically the same: cleaning and organizing the homestead. There’s really nothing more to it than that. That is simply making the decision to tackle those areas which will make your homestead not only cleaner, but better functioning for you and your family.
That said, I would focus most of my attention on those areas which will give you the most bang for your buck. In other words, I wouldn’t expend too much effort in a relatively clean kitchen, if the back door is hanging from one hinge.
As you approach this year’s spring cleaning, don’t just bust suds. Be more intentional. Aim your focus on the top three to five areas that will give you the most significant and rewarding change. This could be a messy drawer, closet, room, or any other area around the homestead that is most in need of attention. Time and expense permitting, tackle those areas which will provide better overall functionality for you and your family. I wouldn’t waste efforts rearranging the “good china,” when dear old Aunt Grace is never coming by to eat off of it. Better to expend your efforts wisely and in no time at all, you will be back on the front porch, relaxing and enjoying the first fruits of spring!
This blog will attempt to address the common areas which may coincide with the same areas that you may not want to miss while spring cleaning on the homestead.
As we know, each homestead is set-up and performs differently. Throughout the year, some may be kept pristine and aseptically clean, while others may not have seen a wash other than what the natural sunlight bathes the front porch under, keeping it all sunny and aglow. But feel free to take what applies to your homestead and adjust accordingly as you go.
Cleaning on the Outside
A/C Unit – Here’s an efficiency tip: Make a housing cover to shield the unit from the direct rays of the sun. The A/C unit components will not only have to work as keeping the interior cooler but a shade cover can provide a 5% energy savings from the unit.
A/C Filters – Change the A/C filters to protect your A/C system components and to keep your interior air quality clean.
Solar Panels If you live in an area that experiences snow and you choose to remove the snow, be especially careful while clearing roof-mounted solar panels. The same caution should always be applied when removing accumulated dust or debris from the solar panels at any time. Pole mounted panels may be cleaned from the ground and may be a safer, more convenient option when clearing snow or debris. If you feel that it is safer to wait until the snow has left your area, then by all means do so. Better to compromise a little energy efficiency than to compromise your safety.
Solar Batteries Refill solar batteries with distilled water as necessary. Check your off-grid battery’s particular manufacturer’s spec sheet to determine how often to add water and when to replace the batteries.
Rain Barrels Check that all of your rain barrels’ lids and vents are thoroughly clean, clear and are free of any dirt, debris or obstructions. Check that all of the rain barrels’ plumbing joints and connections are completely sealed and are free of leaks.
Roof Create a clean roof catchment surface area by cleaning your roof of any debris, algae, mold or mildew. Use a 3-part water to 1-part bleach solution.
Gutters Clean any obstructing debris from all gutters. Use a water hose or bucket of water, checking that the gutters are leak-free and that there are no areas of water loss.
Clean/Paint Interior/Exterior Walls In some areas, you may be able to get by with spot painting, rather than wasting paint and effort on a full-fledged paint job on areas which are only in need of a refresh aesthetically
Repair/Brick/Metal/Wood Exposed or chipped paint should be cleaned, sanded and repainted to properly preserve and protect the material. The same should occur with any machinery or appliances in need of paint around the homestead.
Pest Control Apply Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth in areas around the homestead that may have unwanted pests or insects. By mixing in a bit of sugar, it will attract the pest and provide the opportunity for the insect to walk in and ingest the powder. This action will provide the most effective use of the powder. For a more aggressive chemical alternative, you may want to try professional pest control products, such as, Demon WP ($14.82) – Advion Cockroach Gel Bait ($31.98) as of March 2022. These professional products are available through local or online pest control suppliers.
Exterior Structures Check roof, walls, windows, doors and floors in all structures. Address any mechanical parts of each for good working condition. Replace or repair as needed.
Brick/mortar Check any cracked mortar between bricks which may need repointing. That is reapplying the mortar to repair or seal the cracked mortar joint.
Barns, Pens, Coops, Bee Storage Area Make any necessary repairs and address any issues found in animal areas.
Fencing/Gates/Grounds/Trails/Roads Inspect and address any areas in need of maintenance and repair.
Machinery/tools Inspect all tools and machinery around the homestead. Paint/polish/protect as needed. Cover or apply a UV sun protective coating to vinyl seats, seat cushions and other sun-exposed areas, such as rubber, to extend the life of the items made of these materials.
Basic DIY Cleaning products
Vinegar is naturally astringent and removes residue, which makes it highly effective for cleaning without the use of harmful fumes/highly perfumed cleaning products.
A few natural cleaning products can be made using ingredients found right from your kitchen pantry.
All Purpose Cleaner: 2 tsp of Borax, 1/4 tsp of liquid castile soap, 10 drops of lemon oil. Mix thoroughly with hot water in a 16 0z. spray bottle.
Disinfectant: 2 Tbsp. of liquid castile soap, 20 drops of tea tree oil. Mix thoroughly with hot water in a 16 0z. spray bottle.
Non-Abrasive Vinegar Cleaner: 1 part distilled white vinegar, 2 parts water, 5 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix thoroughly with hot water in a 16 0z. spray bottle.
Glass Cleaner: 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar, 5 drops of lemon oil. Mix thoroughly with hot water in a 16 0z. spray bottle. Spray lightly. Follow with a clean cloth, paper towel or newspaper and wipe away immediately.
Floor Cleaner, including wood floors:1 tsp of castile almond soap, 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar, 10 drops of orange oil. Mix thoroughly with hot water filled in a 24 oz. spray bottle. Spray small sections of floor and mop product away. Rinse and clean mop as necessary.
Apply the appropriate cleanser to the surface to be cleaned, then wipe completely clean of the cleanser and its residue.
Start at the Top
For the inside of your home, start with a general cleaning solution of half vinegar/half water with a few drops of lavender, lemon or rosemary oil. For windows, or areas in need of tougher cleaning, use vinegar full strength or with less water.
With basic cleaning, start at the top and work your way down and throughout the room. Begin by dusting ceiling fans, chandeliers, vents, lights and any other elevated fixtures.
Windows Clean by applying vinegar full-strength, if tolerated, or diluted 2 parts vinegar to 1-part water. Applying little by little is key.
Window treatments Remove/launder/dry clean as necessary.
Clean top shelves and the items contained on them. Now is a good time to get rid of any unwanted items. Do the same within all storage units and other storage areas located around the homestead.
Doors and hardware Some wood doors may require the effective use of orange oil to clean and protect the wood. Otherwise, give a thorough dusting of the top and both surface areas on each side of the door. Finish by cleaning and polishing the door’s hardware and other metal of the door’s mechanical parts.
Floor/Carpet/Rug Care Bare floors use appropriate natural or commercial cleaner as desired. For carpets and rugs with basic dry-cleaning and odor removal, sprinkle baking soda on lightly. Let the baking soda sit for 30 minutes then vacuum thoroughly.
Walls/Pictures/Art Use window cleaner on glass and if tolerated, the frame as well. Use a wood cleaner on all fine wood frames.
Bed/Linens Clean/or dry clean as appropriate.
Bath/Towels/Accessories Clean all as appropriate.
Refrigerator Clean any expired or excess items from the inside of refrigerators or freezers. Clean any accumulated dust from off the back coils of refrigerators.
Kitchen/Laundry/Appliances Clean as appropriate, paying careful attention to stainless steel appliances, plumbing fixtures, washing machine interiors, dryer vents, exhaust hoods/vents and water filter/ice makers. Coffee maker, dishwasher, pots and pans and the kitchen drain – All may be cleaned using vinegar full strength or diluted with water.
When You Have Finished Cleaning
Get rid of any unnecessary items. Consider donating to local, national or world charities those items which may be most useful to those in most need. Many charitable organizations may offer pick-up in your area. Call or check their online website.
Monica White is a freelance writer, member of the Georgia Air National Guard, and an avid runner and cyclist who loves the great outdoors and all things DIY. She divides her time between Tampa and her central Florida property, where she’s growing a self-sufficient homestead. Connect with Monica on her outdoor lifestyle blog, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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