Spring Tips for Exterior Cleanup

Spring has sprung, and the time has come to trade in hot cocoa for pink lemonade and kick off your boots in favor of a pair of flip-flops. With spring’s extra dose of sun comes a new boost of energy, and it’s time to shake off the winter blues and get active again — starting with the outside of your house, which is probably looking as weather-beaten and gray as you’ve been feeling. Here are some often neglected outdoor maintenance projects you might want to consider tackling.

power washing the exteriorPower Wash The Exterior

After a hard winter, your home sweet home may be in need of more of a bath than rain can provide. Spring might be a good time to look into borrowing a pressure washer to wipe away all the grime. A pressure washer can quickly clean the outside of your home, but be careful since the extremely high pressure can damage wood and other soft materials. Certain kinds of siding can’t take the pressure (same goes for peeling paint), so make sure you’ve got the right type and you’ll be good to go. A pressure washer can also come in handy for greasy driveways and wooden decks — just check to see that you’ve got the right amount of pressure for each job.

While scrubbing is not necessary with a pressure washer, adding detergent to the reservoir on the machine serves to loosen stubborn dirt and get the job done faster. Be sure to use a cleaner that is made for pressure washers and intended for the type of surface you’re cleaning by adjusting the setting. Cleaners are available for specific applications such as siding, decks, and masonry surfaces.

You can even get your kids involved with this spring cleaning task; our daughter loved helping us wash the exterior! Start with one part of the house at a time such as the garage door. After you’ve wiped the entire garage door down with soapy water, spray it off with the pressure washer.

Get Rid Of Cobwebs

During the winter months you probably haven’t spent much time outside looking under your eves, and while you weren’t looking those pesky spiders came and made your home their own. No one wants to think of these creepy crawly arachnids getting into our nooks and corners but we all would like to make sure they are gone!

To get rid of them all you need is a Webster Cobweb Poly-Fiber Duster with a telescopic pole. Walk around the outside of your home and capture any webs you find with the Webster. To clean the cobwebs off the Webster, simply roll it around on the lawn or a bush. This is a simple trick, but it works great for getting the sticky webs off!

Clean The Deck

deck cleaningNo one likes fungus, or mildew stains, dirt or weather-beaten patches. Wood decks take excessive abuse from the elements, and they need a good cleaning from time to time to look their best and last longer.

It’s tempting to just bleach the whole thing will-nilly, but don’t give in. Pressure wash the deck and — this is easy enough —  and use an actual deck-cleaner solution. Start by applying a specially formulated deck cleaner in a pump up sprayer. Once it has had time to work, clean the deck with a pressure washer—being careful not to damage the wood—or a long handled scrub brush. Rinse the deck, and allow it to dry. If refinishing is needed, apply a sealer or stain with a pump up sprayer, going over it with a brush to smooth it out. Allow the sealer to dry thoroughly before using the deck.

When you’re done with all the washing, it’s time to restain. There are finishes and colors a-plenty, so you should be able to find whatever it is your heart desires. Look for something with a protective finish to repel water and UV rays.

Wash The Windows

Your gloomy winter outlook may have been the fault of what you were looking out of — dirty windows. Winter storms can leave a nasty residue all over that glass, much like the slushy, sludgy roads can make your tires look gross. After a season of rain, sleet, snow, and ice the windows on your house will look dingy and dirty. When the sun comes out you don’t want to be looking out at water spots, you want to be able to enjoy the sunny view!

spring cleaning outdoor windowsA quick and easy way to wash your windows is with a Steam Machine. Fill the Steam Machine with water, and let it sit until the water is hot. Using the squeegee attachment, steam the window in an upward motion. After you have moved up the window with the steam, squeegee the window on the way back down. Another easy way is with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water which makes a great natural window cleaner. Use crumpled up newspaper, rather than paper towels, to clean and dry your windows.

Work in the shade to keep the cleaner from drying out too quickly. Also, start with the outside windows before taking the show inside, or you won’t be able to tell whether they’re actually clean or not. You’ll be amazed at the gunk that comes off your windows! Use a clean rag to wipe excess water and dirt off the bottom of the window. This is a quick and easy way to wash all your exterior windows, and it gives you professional results!

Clean And Repair Screens

You’ll want to tackle your screens first, in preparation for those perfect, sunny, breezy spring days that just call out for open windows. Take the screens off and take them outside for a gentle bath with a hose or a soak with soapy water in a child’s pool. If they’re especially icky, you might want to rub them with some soapy water and a brush.

To repair small holes in screens, flatten the fibers out and brush on several coats of clear fingernail polish for a seamless repair. Large tears or holes are best fixed by removing the rubber spline from the screen frame and installing a new piece of screen using a screen spline roller tool.

Don’t Forget The Trash Cans

Have you ever walked up to someone’s house and been offended by the smell of trash? I know I have, and it’s quite disgusting! We store our trash cans on the front of our house, so I’m always worried someone will smell our trash when they come over. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to wash out your trash cans and get them smelling fresh!

First, make sure there is no trash in each of the cans. Then pour a little dish soap in each of the cans. Lie them on their sides, and use a pressure washer to wash them out. After each of them has been cleaned, dry the inside of the lid, and stick an odor eliminator to the underside of the lid. Now your trash cans are clean, and the odor eliminators will keep them smelling fresh for up to six months!

Update The Front Porch

Another important place your guests will see is the front porch. For most people, the front porch is the first impression they get of your home, so it’s definitely not an area you want to ignore! There are lots of pieces that make up the front porch: lights, front door, windows, threshold steps and possibly even more. Luckily, even though there are a lot of things to clean, they are all easy to clean.update your front door and paint this spring

Start by removing the light fixture. Empty the dead bugs into the trash, and wash the glass bulb in the sink with dish soap and water. Dry it off completely and secure it back in place. Next sweep the front porch. It’s important to sweep before doing anything else to get rid of the dust because if you sweep last, you’ll be getting things dirty that you already cleaned! Then clean the front door by dampening a clean rag and wiping down your front door. Next use the same rag to wipe down the threshold.

By cleaning the patio and the threshold you’ll keep dirt from getting tracked into your clean home. If you have any decorations on the front porch wipe them down as well. Tidy up and add fresh flowers to make your front porch inviting and a perfect first impression for your guests.

Repair Your Roof

Spring is also a good time to examine your roof to see if winter snow and ice have caused any problems that need special attention. Start by looking for torn or missing shingles that might need replacement or repair. Pay particular attention to flashing around chimneys, plumbing vents, and other openings that are prone to leaks. Seal any gaps with roofing cement. Remove leaves, sticks, and other debris that has built up in valleys and against chimneys, porches, or dormers.

Clean and Repair Gutters

Speaking of roofs, gutters are an often overlooked project that needs special attention in the spring. Cleaning your gutters is not one of our favorite chores, needs to be done to prevent water damage to your house. Once you’re on that ladder, you’re going to need to get rid of all the leaves, twigs and other gunk that’s made a home in your gutter. If you’re doing it by hand instead of with some sort of scoop, we recommend wearing gloves, lest you cut y

spring clean the guttersRemember, downspouts have a tendency to clog, so check them by running water through them, and use a plumber’s snake to unclog if needed. Check for leaks at gutter joints. When dry, repair gutter leaks from inside the gutter with gutter sealant.

Wash Off Patio Furniture

When your guests arrive you’ll want to make sure they have a clean place to sit and relax. Cleaning your patio furniture is the last thing we need to do to have the outside of your home fully prepared for spring!

Remove the cushions and vacuum up any pet hair, leaves, etc. Next clean the cushions by vacuuming them with a cordless vacuum. After vacuuming the cushions, vacuum any pillows you have on your patio furniture to get any dust and pollen out of their stuffing. After you’ve cleaned the cushions, set them aside.

Spray the patio furniture with the soap and water mixture and then wipe it with a clean rag, removing dust, pollen, etc. After you’ve finished washing all the furniture, dampen the second clean rag and wipe all of them down to remove any leftover soap residue. Replace the cushions and pillows, and you’re patio furniture will look good as new!

Freshen Up the Paint

For many of us, spring calls for new clothes. For your house, that might mean a fresh coat of paint. Weather can really take a toll on a paint job. If your formerly pristine shutters are looking a few shades grayer or more bleached-out than before, it might be time for a touch-up. Same goes for the garage door and your front door — what’s more welcoming than a well-taken-care-of facade when you pull in the driveway from work?

If the taupe that came with the house just isn’t cutting it color-wise, you might want to finally try out the red door you’ve dreamed of — or a new mailbox (although you’ll want to check first with your homeowners’ association, if you have one).

Cleaning and repairing the outside of your home doesn’t have to be a spring project, though it is a nice time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather after a long, cold winter spent inside. Spring cleaning is more than merely cleaning every nook and cranny inside your house. It’s also about making your home ready to invite friends over, fire up the grill, and have some warm weather fun. However, many times the outdoor areas of our homes get overlooked.

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