1. Declutter. Do a search and destroy mission in your cabinets and drawers. Donate or toss anything you don't need. Wipe down drawers and cabinets. And clear your countertops of everything except items you use daily.
2. For dirt and stubborn grease deposits, use a microfiber cloth.
3. To combat stains, use vinegar and baking soda — plus a little elbow grease. They'll clean and disinfect for a fraction of the price of commercial cleaning products.
4. Clean your smelly sink drain. Pour in a quarter-cup of baking soda followed by an equal amount of vinegar. Leave it overnight, then flush with boiling water.
5. To clean your oven, coat it with a paste of baking soda and water. Leave it to sit overnight, then wipe it down.
6. Wipe fingerprints off stainless steel appliances with a mixture of natural dish soap and warm water.
7. Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle clean countertops.
8. Tackle once-a-year chores like vacuuming refrigerator coils (unplug your fridge first), and tossing expired food from the back of the pantry.
1. Erase mineral deposits and rust from toilets, tubs, and showers with a pumice stone and rubber gloves. For more power, mix baking soda with acidic vinegar.
2. Make a creamy soft scrub for surfaces with baking soda, castile soap, glycerin, and essential oils.
3. To clean your toilet, use an all-purpose cleaner plus a little baking soda. Hydrogen peroxide adds sparkle.
4. Clean your drains by pouring in a quarter cup each of baking soda and vinegar. Leave the concoction overnight, then flush with boiling water.
5. Clean mirrors with a mixture of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Wipe with a microfiber cloth.
6. For tile floors, use your usual cleaner, but don't mop — that'll drive the grime into the grout rather than remove it. Instead, run a wet/dry vac, which will suck contaminants out of the grout.
1. Rotate and flip innerspring mattresses. Even better, hire a matress-cleaning pro for about $70 to $90.
2. Store out-of-season clothing and donate anything you haven't worn in the past year.
3. Use the vacuum hose attachment to get baseboards, under your bed, and in your curtains, favorite environments of dust mites.
4. Toss curtains in your dryer (if it's high-capacity ) on high heat to kill pests. Or take the curtains to laundromat's dryer.
1. For upholstery stains, particularly those mystery ones, hire a pro. Costs vary widely depending on the size of the furniture and the quality of the upholstery, but a typical sofa might run $70 to $90.
2. For surfaces like windows, wood, mirrors, the tops of bookshelves, ceiling fan blades, and the plastic housing of electronics, use a damp microfiber cloth. But use a cloth you didn't already use for the bathroom or kitchen to avoid spreading germs.
3. Lift rugs, to vacuum the debris that filters through the threads. Then mop.
1. Clean your windows on a cloudy day — sunshine can dry cleaning solutions too quickly, creating streaks.
2. Make a non-toxic solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
3. Polish your panes to a sparkling shine with a reusable cloth.
1. Before you clean, inspect your siding for damage: caulk that's cracked or pulled away and left gaps.
2. Seal cracks and small holes in stucco with color-matched acrylic caulk.
3. A pro is a good bet to power wash your siding so you don't get water into crevices. About $300 to $500.
4. Clean mildew with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water, then rinse thoroughly.
1. Ask yourself if you're really qualfied to do it, considering the height and balance aspects. A pro will do it for anywhere between $50 and $250, depending on the size of your house.
2. Tackle gutters at least once a year — twice a year if you have overhanging trees. Clean them after big storms, too, so you can see if they're still working properly.
3. Wear rubber gloves and long sleeves.
4. Use a plastic scoop to scoop the goop and drop it on a tarp. Use an exendable ladder.
5. Flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose.