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Spring cleaning

May 15, 1997

Spring cleaning

Work in steps

This time of year, good intentions about creating a spotless home often get shelved.

Trying to clean the whole house at once leaves many people frustrated, says Curtis Pietro, owner of Merry Maids in Hagerstown.

He advises people to divide the process into tasks that are manageable.

"It's better to work in steps," Pietro says. "Concentrate on one room at a time, and you'll feel like you've accomplished something."

Before you throw in the towel, consider these hints:

- Clean up clutter.

Straighten pillows, magazines and papers, as an organized home looks more appealing, Pietro says.

- Use a quality air cleaner to keep dust to a minimum.

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The continual use of an air cleaner can eliminate much of the dust and pollen in the home, Pietro says. This decreases the amount of harmful material you breathe in, and you won't have to dust as often.

- Dust off the drapes.

If you don't have time to wash curtains, put them in the dryer on the "air fluff" setting to knock out the dust, says Heloise, who writes the syndicated column "Hints from Heloise."

- Find an all-purpose cleaner.

Use a nonabrasive product to cut through dirt, grease and soap scum, Pietro says.

Be careful if your home has a septic system and you're doing an intensive cleaning using a variety of products, says Norma Lash, an extension agent in the Fulton County, Pa., office of Penn State Cooperative Extension Service.

The chemical level in the septic tank could get too high, killing bacteria and enzymes that make the system work, she says.

Consider alternative cleaning methods, also known as "green cleaners" because they are easier on the environment.

Baking soda can clean, deodorize and scour, while borax can be used as a cleaner, disinfectant, laundry aid and water softener, according to Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. Another possibility is white vinegar, which can clean, deodorize and cut grease.

- Vacuum all floors.

Use a quality vacuum that can deep clean carpets and floors, Pietro says. Vacuum carpets in straight, parallel lines. The carpet will have a professional, finished look similar to that of a well-mowed lawn.

- Rearrange the furniture.

Moving the sofa can make a big difference in how your home looks, Lash says.

"It's a quick way to do something spectacular," Lash says. "People will notice the furniture, and they won't be looking to see if there are cobwebs in the corners."

- Teri

Johnson, Staff Writer

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