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Spring Season Countdown

ATLANTA—The end of winter is near. Finally! It’s time to shed those pesky winter blues and prepare the home for warmer weather, daffodils and longer days. Ahhhh, sounds nice doesn’t it?

Marie Stegner, consumer health advocate for the leading housecleaning company Maid Brigade, provides a no fret guide to buckle down and clean for spring without breaking a sweat. Dust bunnies beware.

1. Get rid of baggage. Try on clothes that are not worn frequently. Get rid of anything that does not look good, fit or hasn’t been worn in a while. Donate these clothes, give them to a friend, turn them into rags, or sell them for some extra cash.

2. Out of sight, out of mind. Moving household items to the basement or attic is an easy way to put clutter out of sight and therefore, out of mind. For a deep home cleaning, attack these piles one at a time and enjoy tidy storage areas once and for all.

3. Chill out. Clear the top of the refrigerator. Piled up cereal boxes and kitchenware prevents heat from venting properly and causes the fridge to use extra energy. Cleaning the coils on the back of the fridge and the grill underneath will also reduce the energy the fridge needs to work properly.

4. What’s cooking? To clean oven surfaces, coat them in a paste of water and baking or washing soda and let stand overnight. Then, scrub off the paste while wearing gloves.

5. Broom makeover. Many house cleaning services will cover broom bristles with old nylons to sweep dusty areas. Why? The nylon will pick up dust bunnies instead of scattering them.

6. Switch your sheets. Polyester/cotton and permanent press cotton sheets are treated with a formaldehyde finish, which cannot be washed out. Common symptoms from this immunotoxicant include runny nose, itchy eyes, and other cold and flu symptoms. Avoid these blends as often as possible.

7. Let the sun shine in. When reorganizing a home office, library, or other rooms where studying or reading takes place, set up desks, chairs and tables by a window that receives ample natural sunlight. This will reduce the need to turn on overhead lights.

8. Leave shoes at the door. Asphalt, pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals often get stuck to the soles of shoes. Wearing shoes inside means exposing children and pets to harmful chemicals. To avoid more house cleaning than is necessary, make one simple rule and stick to it: No shoes in the house!

9. Smell the roses. Avoid air fresheners. An open box of baking soda removes odors. Cedar blocks or sachets of dried flowers and herbs provide gentle scents, but avoid any potpourri that lists unspecified "fragrance" on the label.

10. Spin cycle. To remove stains from clothing (especially salt-stained winter wear), soak fabrics in water mixed with borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda, or white vinegar for a natural approach.