By Katie Moosbrugger and Rachel Hoeing

We know, we know. Spring cleaning is not a fun topic nor is it something to celebrate. But, thanks to some help from our friends at Harris Teeter, we are changing that notion! This month, Harris Teeter kicked off a Clean Spring Sweepstakes to give Triad moms the chance to win products, gift cards, coupons and more. Participants have until midnight on May 19 to enter. Six winners will be randomly selected at the end of the sweepstakes period, and winners will receive a prize package delivered directly to your doorstep! To register, simply click HERE and complete a short form online. It’s a great way to kick-start your spring with fresh ideas, recipes and How-Tos from Harris Teeter. For more creative ideas, click HERE to follow Harris Teeter on Pinterest.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, Rachel and I are sharing our Top 10 favorite ways to make the process simpler. Lots of our ideas feature ways to involve the kids, and many products we suggest can be found at your local Harris Teeter store. Happy cleaning, and good luck in the Clean Spring Sweepstakes!

#1 – De-cluttering Toys

Take three bins into your child’s room or playroom and label them: KEEP, GIVE  AWAY and TRASH.  (If you like to consign toys or put them on EBay, add a fourth bin for SELL.)  As long as your child is over age two, he/she can learn a valuable lesson by asking them to assist with this project.   I sit down with my child and we go through every toy and trinket in the room.  I hold it up and my child will say, “keep, give away, or trash.”  Although it sounds like the odds of a child saying “give away” are slim, you would not believe how much we end up adding to that bin.  My children quickly got the hang of it when we talked about how children usually outgrow toys and how nice it is to pass the toy along to someone who will appreciate it.   The trash bin usually only gets filled with the surprise food particles, and other trash that are hidden in the toy cabinets!

Once you are finished sorting through everything, go through the KEEP bin and give every toy a new home in the room and talk to your child about keeping it there when it is not in use.  As for the GIVE AWAY bin, we like to donate our toys to the Vietnam Vets (they will pick up your donations at your house!), Goodwill, or Catholic Social Services.  We have also had a lot of success reaching out to local preschools and day cares who may not have the funds to purchase new books and toys for their facility.

#2 – Eliminate Odors

To eliminate odors, pour vanilla extract into a bowl with a paper towel and wipe down the refrigerator walls.  Take that same bowl and heat it up in a microwave for three minutes and use it to wipe surfaces for stubborn residue and stains in the microwave.

#3 – Clean up with Baking Soda

– Wipe interior microwave surfaces with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart water to remove food stains.
– Use a sponge with a mixture of ½ cup bleach, ¼ cup baking soda and four cups warm water to avoid yellowing of white appliances. Let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing and drying.
–  To remove hard water stains and soap scum, use a cut lemon to scrub. For more scrubbing power, pour baking soda on the lemon half and the grit of the baking powder will help to remove the build-up.
– For stove drip pans, Soak them in boiling water with 1/2 cup baking soda for 15 minutes and stir with wooden spoon until dissolved. Carefully remove and scrub – and caked on food will easily fall off. For more stubborn stains, have them soak overnight.
– Sprinkle baking soda on carpets before you vacuum to freshen up your room!

#4 Freshen up the Garbage Disposal

-To eliminate odors, place handful of ice cubes and citrus peels in garbage disposal, turn on cold water and then the disposal for 15-30 seconds. After turning off disposal continue to rinse with hot water for 15 more seconds.
-To remove grease buildup from garbage disposal, turn on hot water, then disposal. Squeeze tablespoon of dish washing liquid in disposal, and run hot water for 15-30 seconds. Turn off disposal and let hot water run until suds are gone.
-We also found a product called “Plink” that works wonders. This is a package of small pellets that you simply drop into your disposal and it leaves the entire kitchen with a fresh lemon scent.

#5 – Be good to the Environment and Your Home!

Holy Cow All Purpose Cleaner – This cleaner can be used for just about anything and everything.  It is non-toxic, biodegradable, safe for kids and animals, and includes no harmful chemicals.  It is fabulous for pet stains, soap scum, bathrooms, stovetops, tile, etc.  It even cleans jewelry!

#6 – Make Use of Products at Home

Why not make your own glass cleaner? This recipe works great! It does a great job taking the stubborn doggy nose prints off of my glass front door! Windex even had a hard time doing that…and required a lot of elbow grease! LOL! It also works great on the never ending supply of fingerprints! The alcohol makes it evaporate quickly and without streaking. I had some residue left on my windshield by a window sticker. I just sprayed that spot first, cleaned the rest of the windshield, then came back to that spot. It wiped off completely!
Homemade Glass Cleaner
15 ounces warm water
15 ounces isopropyl rubbing alcohol
2 TBSP white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Mix into a 32 ounce spray bottle.  Don’t forget to label it!

#7 – Dust Light bulbs

– Unscrew light bulbs and polish the bulbs with a microfiber cloth dampened with water (avoid wetting the metal screw base). Clean the bulbs in recessed ceiling fixtures with a telescoping lamb’s wool duster.
– To add lasting fragrance to your room, rub non-flammable scented oils on your light bulb (while they are cool!) to scent up your house!

#8 – Cleaning Lampshades

– Keep your fabric lampshades dust-free with an adhesive lint roller. Hold the shade steady, and pass the roller over the exterior. What a bright idea!

# 9 – Wash Your Blinds the Easy Way

– Cover a vacuum cleaner wand with old panty hose and then vacuum your blinds. The suction will help pull the dust off and the panty hose will help to keep the dust from blowing around and landing on other surfaces.

#10 – Don’t Forget to Make Spring Cleaning Fun

“Cleaning” and “fun” are two words that are not usually used in the same sentence for most people, BUT turn on some music, open your windows, drag out those cute dish washing gloves and aprons, and get to it!

 Sponsored by Harris Teeter