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Spring Cleaning Dutch Style

Spring is here, and for many that means giving their house a thorough cleaning. Our daughters used to run a housecleaning business and honed this to an art based on methods used by their Pennsylvania Dutch friends.

If you’re really serious about cleaning thoroughly like the Dutch, preparation is vitally important. First, gather all supplies you will need, including a newspaper. More about that later.

Next, arrange for your family to leave the house for several hours. Then turn off your phone; you need an uninterrupted block of time. Before you begin, tactfully bribe, er, persuade a friend to help you with this slightly overwhelming task.

Put on some bright, peppy music. John Philip Sousa marches are wonderful.

Begin with the goal of cleaning just your living room. It will be enough shock as you discover how much clutter surrounds you. The first step is to remove it. Unless you’re Marie Condo, you will feel overwhelmed.

Once you clear everything off horizontal surfaces, you will be amazed how much space actually lies within your four walls.

Well-organized people have a place for everything, but they don’t live at our house. Our daughters chose to toss family junk into the master bedroom and shut the door. As long as the bed rose above the piles of books, magazines, phone chargers, keys, homework, and Dad’s tools from his car repair job, it worked.

The next step won’t be easy but is totally necessary. Move all furniture that’s moveable to one side of the room. The person who executes this could develop biceps that will make her friends think she’s been hanging out at the gym.

Then, take the curtains outside, shake out the dust, and throw them in the washer. For curtains too delicate to wash, you can hang them over the clothesline or porch railing and beat out the dust.

If you have miniblinds instead of curtains, what were you thinking?!

Nevertheless, if you bought them in a fit of optimism, you can dust them first, then place them in the bathtub while removing winter’s grime. Or spray with glass cleaner and wipe clean.

Now that you are staring at an almost-bare room, find a soft broom and wipe down all spider webs, starting at the ceiling and corners of the room. This is the time to extract a promise from your friend/helper that she won’t tell anyone you had just as many spider webs as moldy leftovers in your fridge.

Next, clean the ceiling fan and overhead light fixtures. A trick for cleaning ceiling fans-- using an old pillowcase, slip it over the blades and wipe them clean. Dust falls into the pillowcase, not on the floor.

Now that the ceiling is done, wash away winter’s grime on the walls with a cleaning agent and a damp cloth. You will need a bucket and plenty of water.

While you still have energy, clean all glass surfaces. I use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. We learned another surprising tip from our frugal Dutch friends. Instead of wasting paper towels (which leave streaks on window glass anyway) simply use wadded-up sheets of newspaper to dry and polish glass.. No streaks! With the glass cleaner, continue wiping down anything that won’t be damaged by moisture, including mirrors.

Now comes the part which pampers your sense of smell: clean all wooden furniture. Start by wiping wooden surfaces with a slightly dampened cloth, dry, and polish with a fresh-smelling furniture polish.

For a real Dutch feel, vacuum all furniture and floors. Spot-clean carpet stains or steam-clean the entire carpet, then move furniture to the other side and repeat. When finished, put all furniture back. (Those little glider things really help when a person uses them under heavy furniture)

Before the family returns, sit in a comfortable chair, prop up your feet and savor a few quiet moments with a glass of tea, juice or water.

One last thing you must do. Pick up the phone and make an appointment with your chiropractor. You’re going to need it.

What about you? Have any spring cleaning tips? Feel free to comment below.


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