Spring cleaning tips for your home, garden and pool
A clean home doesn’t just look and feel good – it’s better for you. Not only does it reduce safety hazards but is one of the best ways to avoid allergies as it reduces dust and other nasty irritants. And there’s no doubt that walking into a clean room is a more calming experience than one filled with chaos and clutter.
Here are a few expert tips to get you started.
Between wood heaters, windy days, dusty conditions and hazard reduction burns, chances are every surface of your home is covered with a delightful layer of dust. Here are a few basic tips to getting your home clean and healthy again.
Wipe walls and ceilings: Use a vacuum to remove dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially on kitchen splashbacks, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t stain the surface).
Clear and clean shelves: Take everything off the shelves and brush them down a microfibre cloth. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books and any trinkets with a clean, soft cloth.
Clean and wipe upholstered furnishings: Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust, then leave in the sun for a while to kill of bacteria and germs. If there are stains, check for care labels and wash accordingly. Use your vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions and don’t forget to wipe the cobwebs from the backs of chairs and lounge suites.
Vacuum and shampoo rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a rotary shampoo machine and a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, require professional cleaning.
Wipe and polish metal doors and window hardware: Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavy duty jobs.
Wipe ceiling fans and doors: Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor.
Wax timber furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. Apply paste wax in a circular motion, a small bit at a time with a cotton cloth. Let wax dry then buff with a clean cloth.
Wash window screens: Using warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush then rinse thoroughly.
Clean window treatments: Many draperies and curtains are machine washable but first check washing instructions. It’s best to dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe metal and vinyl blinds with a damp cloth and warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid.
Check safety equipment: Change batteries in smoke detectors and make sure units are free of dust. Check fire extinguishers if you have them.
Now is the time to watch the garden emerge from its winter slumber and get ready to sow and grow so many fabulous plants, herbs, flowers and vegetables. Angie Thomas from Yates shares her easy spring garden care plan:
- Prune spring bloomers immediately after their show is over. Then, after every pruning job, feed the plant. Dynamic Lifter pellets are good for most shrubs. Look for the specific DL Advanced variants to suit fruit, tomatoes, lawns, roses and, now, camellias and azaleas.
- Roses are at their best in spring. Enjoy the flowers, but don’t forget to begin protecting new leaves with a systemic fungicide such as the one in Yates Rose Gun (Rose Shield is more suitable for larger rose gardens).
- Once the soil is warm, sow summer vegies such as beans, sweet corn, pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers and melons. Plant potatoes and – in warm areas – sweet potatoes.
- Feed the lawn to encourage new growth. Dynamic Lifter for lawns will supply organic (chicken manure) pellets that have been boosted with added nutrients.
- Remove weeds from the lawn with Yates Bindii & Clover Killer (always read the label carefully). Then follow up with a feed. Or take the easy way and use Yates Weed ‘n’ Feed, available in either hose-on or dry formulations.
- Spring’s the ideal season for laying new turf. Before you begin, blend some Dynamic Lifter Turf Starter into the soil. This clever product combines organic pellets and water crystals to gently feed the new grass and, at the same time, hold moisture.
- Start a new herb patch. This is the season to plant basil and dill.
- Geraniums (pelargoniums) give months of summer colour but watch for fungal leaf spots. Yates Rose Gun will help keep leaves disease free. The insecticide in the Rose Gun will also take care of the grubs that chew holes in the buds.
- Watch for weeds springing up in warm weather. On paths and driveways, apply Once-A-Year Pathweeder to keep the surface weed free for up to twelve months.
- Divide clump-forming plants and spread to new parts of the garden. Crowded orchids, too, can be split up (pictured), then fed with Dynamic Lifter pellets.
If the colder winter months have seen you let pool maintenance fall by the wayside, it’s likely your pool water isn’t as clean and healthy as it needs to be in order to enjoy it over the peak swimming season.
Over winter, sunshine and rain dilute pool chemicals, especially chlorine and salt, which turns pool water green and helps algae get a hold and grow. “While microscopic in size, if your pool water lacks the right balance of chemicals, algae can multiply, turning your pool water green and creating patches of yellow, pink or black on the surface of your pool,” says Swimart’s pool and spa expert Rick Graham.
“Aside from making a pool look uninviting, algae can damage pool equipment and make swimmers ill as it often harbours bacteria like E. coli – which is the last thing you want to give pool goers over the summer holidays!”
Swimart’s spring pool cleaning checklist
Step 1. Check and clear your equipment and run the filter and pump: Before you add any products to your pool, turn your pump on and run it for a few hours to help clear debris and dirt from the water. Also check the filter, skimmer box and pump to ensure they are all working efficiently and clear any blockages or calcium build-ups. And if your filter cartridge needs a clean, simply give it a good wash with the hose.
Step 2. Check your pool’s pH level: The recommended pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6 so either use a test kit to determine the current level or take a sample of pool water (ideally from elbow deep) to your local pool professional for a computerised test. The results will indicate whether your pool needs its pH, calcium and total alkaline levels adjusted.
Step 3. Re-balance the pool water: Treat your pool water with the products and dosages recommended by your local pool technician. Depending on your pool’s current water quality, you may need to add chlorine and algaecide and acid to adjust the pH level. Getting your pool water’s pH level right is important as it dictates how much chlorine turns into hypochlorous acid (HCIO), an active ingredient needed to kill germs, algae and bacteria.
Step 4. Add sanitiser: Spring is a good time to give your pool a good shock of sanitiser. Using an Ultra Shock product, dose your pool according to instructions, then keep your pump running and don’t let anyone in the pool for a day or so. After shocking, you can then return to sanitising your pool as normal.
Step 5. Clean your pool’s surface: Brush your pool’s walls steps and benches – and don’t forget those tricky corners – which helps remove algae and loosen dirt, then follow with a vacuum.
Step 6. Check for signs of wear and tear: Years of wear and tear, temperature fluctuations, pressurised water and cleaning chemicals can definitely take its toll on your pool. The four tell-tale signs that your pool’s interior needs immediate attention, include: unstable pH levels, pool surface stains, uneven surface and water leaks.
Step 7. Check the equipment and run the filter and pump: Turn your pump on (if it isn’t running already) and let it run for a few hours. This will help filter out any debris and dirt left in the water. While the pump is going, have a look at your filter, skimmer box, and the pump itself; are they all working efficiently? Are there any blockages, or calcium build-ups forming on any bits of equipment?
Step 8. Test safety equipment: Make sure your fence meets the prescribed height and latching requirements and remove any furniture and pot plants outside the fence that can assist a child to climb over it. Also, check your child-proof gate and latch are in good working order, position a Resuscitation Chart pool side and remember to supervise children when they are in the pool area – especially if they haven’t swum in the pool since last summer.
Clean windows for a healthy house
Chances are this winter your windows were mostly closed, so it’s a good idea to clean away any dust, dirt and cobwebs that have built up on the window sills, blinds, windows and flyscreens. It’s best to do this before you start opening everything up and all the dirt blows into the house. And don’t forget to wear a face mask if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions. (Here are a few pro tricks from HomeHub to make your windows sparkle.)