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Ahh, it’s almost spring in the Northwest! The birds will fly north and begin singing again, the rain will subside and you will once again see the faint glimmer of sunshine through the branches of those soon-to-be-budding trees. There are already little signs of hope in your muddy and moss filled “lawn.” All of the sudden, you are struck by a deep need to open all of your windows, air out your house and stop ignoring the thin layer of mud that covers the floors of your mudroom and entryway. It is time for some serious oldfashioned spring cleaning. Here are few tips and ideas on the best ways to spend your precious hours allocated to this arduous, if satisfying task.

The first order of business is safety. This is the time to check all of your smoke detectors — even the ones so high that you have to use a broom handle to reach the test button. Change the batteries, make sure there are no dust bunnies covering sensors and review your family emergency plan. As we live in earthquake and volcano country now is also a good time to check your first aid kit and disaster supplies and make sure you have supplies both at home and in the car. If you’re feeling truly enterprising, this is a great time of year to host a Map Your Neighborhood disaster preparedness meeting for your immediate neighbors. Offered through the state’s Emergency Management Division, Map Your Neighborhood helps neighbors organize resources and materials for emergencies.

The next big step in cleaning your house is cleaning your upholstered furniture. Grab your couch cushions and take them outside. Gently beat them to get dust out, and to redistribute the filling. Use your vacuum crevice tool to get your couch and easy chairs clean. Be sure to mine your furniture for large Lego pieces or large coins—they can get stuck and break your vacuum. Removing stains from the arms and other non-washable parts of your upholstery can be tricky business. Furniture manufacturers recommend “dry suds” which are specially formulated for upholstery. Using water and vinegar mixes can work, but they can also leave water stains in their wake. Before using any kind of detergent or formula, test on a small patch that isn’t visible.

After getting the furniture in shape, it’s time to freshen your bed. Rotate your mattress, wash your down comforter, and wash your pillows. Most pillows and comforters can, indeed, be machine-washed. Machine-washing kills mold, odors and bacteria — all nasties you don’t want near your head! Follow the recommendations on your comforter’s label,
and dry your comforter with clean tennis balls to fluff it back up. If your washers and dryers are too small, choose one of the laundromats in town — you can take in all of your pillows and bedding, monopolize several machines and be done in an afternoon. Q Laundry, which is new in Bellingham, even has locking machines that text you when your machine is done so you get some shopping done while you wait without worrying that someone will leave your linens a sopping wet mess in a cart.

Next on the list is the bathroom. Clean out your bathroom drawers. Throw away old make-up — nothing lasts more than
6 months once opened regardless of how long you wish your ’70s style Amy Adams in American Hustle blue eye shadow
will serve you. There are probably some old mystery pennies and a few half-melted cough drops in there, too. Throw out old lotions and creams — your skin will thank you. Dispose of old, outdated medicine at Costco, Haggen or other participating pharmacy. Getting rid of old meds not only protects your household from accidental overdoses, it’s good for our watersheds. And, while you’re at it, get that old toothpaste up. It’s just nasty.

Now you have cleaned your house from top to bottom. Consider buying some new sheets or a duvet cover, fresh towels
and a fancy candle. Put some fern fronds and a few spring flowers from your garden in a pretty vase and relax. You have worked hard and it is time to revel in the freshness with a ‘spa day’ right in your own home!

"It is time for some serious oldfashioned spring cleaning. Here are few tips and ideas on the best ways to spend your precious hours allocated to this arduous, if satisfying task."