Lots of great ideas for staying productive at home

Across the country and much of the world, people are staying home to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), a responsible move in this unprecedented international health crisis. It's an uncertain time for everyone; adults aren't commuting to work, kids are out of school, and a full-time packed house can be enough to drive anyone a bit stir-crazy - especially given our inability to release stress via conventional methods.

It's an unprecedented time in world history, and staying inside means sacrificing a lot of the things we enjoy. The gyms and theaters are closed, all concerts and sporting events have been canceled and parks have been emptied. Leaving the house to “get some space” can wind up endangering lives, so we have no choice but to wait this out.

Rather than watch dust gather, it's important to stay active through exercise and daily activities. You can also use some of that pent-up energy productively, and dig into a few Spring Cleaning jobs!

Quarantined or not, it's the time of year for that age-old tradition to start again, tackling long-due cleaning projects to make way for Summer fun. And while disinfecting is important in a health crisis (not to mention disinfecting the right way,) it's not a substitute for the cleaning necessary to keep your home in good working order.

So, in the spirit of keeping quarantine life manageable, let's take a look at the 10 Easy Spring Cleaning Jobs During Quarantine - a list of quick things you can do at home (and tips on how to do them!) - in no particular order:

  • Clean all the handles, doorknobs, window sills and other areas where hands often frequent (here's how)
  • Dust & clean the baseboards in your home (here's how)
  • Put away any cold-weather clothes and items from Winter
  • Clean that dingy plastic shower curtain liner (here's how)
  • Clean refrigerator inside and out (here's how)
  • Fill a family donation bin with unused clothes & items
  • Clean smudges on walls (here's how)
  • Clean your ceiling fan and blades (here's how)
  • Give the kids' toys a good cleaning (here's how)
  • Clean out and organize the kitchen junk drawer

Easy enough, right? Now let's tackle 5 of the more heavy-duty Spring Cleaning jobs:

Deep Clean The Oven

Grease splatter on the oven door, dropped chunks of food in the bottom, grease-stained racks and other messes that come about from a hard day's work in the kitchen are no fun for anyone to clean up. Some ovens come with an auto cleaning function, but even if yours does, letting your oven run at an extremely hot temperature for hours on end is rarely an ideal setup at home.

How to Clean: Remove the oven racks for easier access and clean separately. For grease and baked-on food, pre-spray the entire oven including the oven door - with warm water or wipe with a damp cloth before cleaning. Then spray the entire oven, including the door, with full-strength Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner (spot test a small, hidden area before use). It easily cuts through grease and grimy accumulations to help get your oven clean.

Let the cleaning solution soak for up to 5 minutes to penetrate the baked-on grease, then scrub with a stiff nylon brush or non-abrasive pad. Rinse by wiping the surface of the oven with a warm damp microfiber or cloth. Wipe or air dry, and replace the cleaned oven racks. For stovetops, follow this tip.


Mattress Stains

Between dead skin cells, spills, accidents and more, your mattress can get downright gross. Stains on the surface of your mattress can be unsightly and smelly if left untreated. Rather than spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new mattress every few years, you can freshen and deodorize your mattress by cleaning it with Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. Spot cleaning issue? No problem. Larger stains? Simple Green has you covered - plus it can be added to a carpet cleaning extraction machine for a deep clean. And don't forget to flip and rotate your mattress periodically!

How to Clean: Mix 1 oz. of Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner per 1 cup of warm water (a 1:8 ratio) in an empty spray bottle. Then lightly spray the solution onto the stain. Take care not to oversaturate the mattress, as this can result in mold or mildew growth. Allow 1-2 minutes for the solution to penetrate the soil, without letting it dry, then gently rub and blot with a damp cloth. Let the mattress air dry before covering.


Dishwasher

You should give your dishwasher a good cleaning once or twice a year to prevent mineral deposits and hard water stains, as well as musty odors from accumulated grease, food debris, and soap scum. Most new-model dishwashers have a manual-clean filter that also needs to be regularly cleaned out to avoid drainage problems and foul odors.

To avoid skin irritation or splash-back into your eyes, wear protective gloves and eye protection when cleaning. Consult your machine's manual for any special tips or warranty statements before starting.

How to Clean: Remove the bottom dish rack from the machine, and clear out any food residue or other obstacles caught in the dishwasher drain, to improve drainage flow and increase cleaning efficiency. If possible, remove the filter system (look for a center cylinder to unscrew for removal), and spray thoroughly with Simple Green Lime Scale Remover. Then use a stiff, non-metallic brush to dislodge any bits of food, greasy buildup, and other material. Rinse thoroughly and replace it.

To clean the interior, spray Simple Green Lime Scale Remover on the walls, dish rack, spray arm, and drain. Let the product sit for 3 minutes to work into hard water deposits, then scrub the entire surface with a wet, non-abrasive scrubbing pad. Lift the spray arm off its base, scrub thoroughly with your brush, and unclog any plugged holes using a toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly before reinstalling. Then run a full rinse cycle on your empty dishwasher, followed by a full cold wash cycle. If necessary, repeat this step.


Trash Cans / Recycling Bins

You load the trash or recyclables into their respective bins and put them out of mind until collection day. But inevitably, they accumulate grime, grease, and dirt, and will need a good cleaning and deodorizing. Outdoor trash cans can get particularly gross, with grass clippings and other refuse leaving behind a sludgy, stinky mess. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner will power through the grimiest buildup and odors, returning your trash cans and recycling bins to their proper condition.

How to Clean: Empty the trash can and remove any lingering solid mess, then rinse out the can. If you have access to a hose, take the trash can outside and hose it down. If your outdoor space is limited, this can also be done in the bathtub or shower.

Spray the trash can liberally with Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner until the surface is completely covered. Don't forget the top and bottom of the can. Scrub with a stiff brush to remove any gunk, and to get into the corners of the can. Rinse the trash can, then leave it sitting upside down to air dry or wipe dry with a clean cloth.


Deck

We all need to get outside every day, and for now, the back patio or deck is one of the few outdoor areas where we can securely relax. Composite wood is one of the most popular decking materials, due to its beauty and durability. It often requires less maintenance than other types of decking materials, but there is no such thing as "maintenance free" when it comes to any outdoor surface. Composite decks are porous, and therefore susceptible to a wide variety of outdoor elements like mold and mildew, black spots, sap, grease, oil, food spills, pet stains, hard water, grass stains, ground-in dirt and rust stains. It's best to use an oxygenated cleaner that will sink deep into the material to clean the lower layers as well as on the surface.

Never use a chlorine based deck cleaner, as it is extremely corrosive and will eventually discolor and damage your deck boards. Plus, it is unsafe to use around plants and in areas frequented by children or pets. If a cleaning product contains Sodium Hypochlorite, it contains bleach.

Here's how to properly clean your composite deck.