Treva Caltrider of Marietta would rather clean than do most anything else.
“The happiest I ever was working was when I was cleaning my own office,” said Caltrider of Marietta. “My husband always knows if I’ve had a bad day because I’m home washing down walls.”
It’s spring, a time when flowers are blooming, birds are singing, warm breezes are blowing and soapy water is sloshing in a bucket.
For generations, spring cleaning was a ritual and rite of spring. Women attacked their houses with a bucket and scrub brush from top to bottom, not leaving a square inch of dust to tell the tale.
There were walls to be washed, wood floors scrubbed, windows polished until sparkling, curtains carefully laundered and rugs beaten to get the dust out.
Heaven help the child or dog who bounced through the parlor with muddy feet or paws.
Today, the seasonal ritual once practiced religiously in nearly every American home is becoming a relic of a past generation.
“With both parents working, there just isn’t time for spring cleaning,” Caltrider said. “I always suggest people take one room a week, organize everything first. Organization can be a life-changing experience.”
Caltrider, former executive director of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, today is owner of Simply Regal Cleaning, a local service. She and her staff take pride in doing more than the “obvious” cleaning chores.
“We do things like woodwork, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and we do them every month,” she said.
Don Caltrider, Treva’s father-in-law, remembers those days of the coal furnace and the annual spring cleaning ritual.
“I remember beating my mother’s rugs in the back yard over a line in the spring,” the retired Marietta accountant said. “I also remember washing the lace curtains and hanging them outside on a special rack with pins, so they would dry nice.”
It was a gentle time when there was little wall-to-wall carpet, with mostly hardwood flooring in homes, decorated with area rugs. Even room-size rugs were taken outdoors to beat.
Rug beaters, historic instruments of torture for tapestries, can still be found in antique and collectible shops. It was a spring job most children looked forward to with glee.
“We had a coal stove in the kitchen, and there was a lot of dirt from coal,” Don Caltrider said. “People would wash their walls down every spring to get rid of the dust or just put wallpaper over it.”
Up to a few years ago, Carolyn Farmer, 54, of Marietta was among those who really took spring cleaning seriously.
“I’d clean twice a year, washed down every wall and cabinet,” Farmer said. “Not any more. It’s just me and my husband here now, a couple of pets, and I just don’t do it anymore.”
Houses are a lot cleaner year-round today, both the Caltriders and Farmer agree.
“We used to use our fireplace quite a bit and that made a lot of soot in the house,” Farmer said. “Ashes would get out on the floor, and I’d have to clean the carpets. We just aren’t using it much now.”
Treva Caltrider said one of the worst problems today is clutter and too much “stuff.”
“Kids have way more stuff and toys than we ever had,” she said. “It’s hard to keep a house clean (uncluttered) when there are plastic toys all over.”
Caltrider suggests going through toys twice a year — with the child’s help — and giving little-used and least-favorite items to charity.
“We explain to our son (age 8) that his toys will be enjoyed by a child less fortunate, and that seems to be fine with him,” she said.
Experts say that once you make your mind up to clean, start from the top down, inside to outside to avoid getting what you just cleaned dirty again.
First, and most important, invest in good, flexible rubber or vinyl gloves to protect your skin and nails. Have a ladder or step stool handy, and even knee pads might be worth it.
Enlist a carrier of some sort, even an old bucket, to tote supplies from room to room. Have plenty of sponges, old rags, paper towels, newspaper, available for the job.
Do one room or one area at a time and avoid having too many tasks going at once. Make small repairs, as needed, as you go.
Caltrider doesn’t believe in an army of the usual cleaning products.
She’s gone “green.”
Her arsenal of weapons to attack dirt and grime consists of a small number of products which include vinegar, baking soda, lemons and water.
“Vinegar and water clean most glass, mirrors, windows beautifully,” she said. “I use a lot of baking soda, which has just enough abrasive to bring stains off of countertops, stovetops, and it makes ceramic shine.”
Another trick is to use newspaper instead of a cloth rag or paper towels.
Products sold under the line “Green Works” are also favorites of Caltrider. Besides being more environmentally friendly, these new cleaning products are less harsh to use and cheaper to buy.
“They smell good too,” Treva Caltrider said.
Fact BoxSpring cleaning tips and tricks
¯ When you dust, start at the top and work down.
¯ Take all your cleaning tools with you; avoid unnecessary trips back and forth.
¯ Clean as you go. It takes a lot less time to remove new dirt than old.
¯ Leave baking soda on carpeting overnight to absorb musty odors.
¯ Wash walls from the bottom up, to avoid streaking.
¯ Use old socks as mitts for cleaning difficult woodwork.
¯ Wash small knickknacks instead of dusting.
¯ To remove heel marks, use pencil eraser and rub them off.
¯ Don’t mix cleaning products. Ammonia and bleach together are toxic.
¯ Remember that common cleaners such as Windex and Comet also meet this rule. Do not mix.
¯ Allowing cleaners to set for several minutes will ease the cleaning job.
Spring cleaning checklist
o Vacuum refrigerator grill and coil.
o Wipe the inside of the freezer.
o Rotate heavy curtains, rugs and throws for lightweight ones.
o Replace cool-weather bedding with warm-weather bedding.
o Launder or dry-clean blankets.
o Discard expired cosmetics, beauty products and medications.
o Clean out files.
o Review and update insurance policies, contracts and household inventories.
o Clean computer keyboard and monitor.
o Reorganize and clean desk.
o Reorganize closets, giving away unwanted items.
o Replace cool-weather clothing with warm-weather clothing.
o Remove lint from the hose attached to the back of the clothes dryer.
o Clean the attic and basement, giving away or discarding unwanted items.
o Vacuum and mop attic and basement floors.
o Scrub porch ceilings and walls.
o Scrub porch floors, decks, patios, driveway and walkways.
o Scrub outdoor furniture, umbrellas and swings.
o Wash light-fixture covers.
o Clean house gutters.
Throughout the house
o Vacuum and wipe walls and ceilings.
o Shampoo wall-to-wall carpets and area rugs with backing.
o Send area rugs without backings out for professional cleaning.
o Steam-clean upholstery.
o Dust radiators.
o Reseal stone surfaces.
o Launder machine-washable window treatments.
o Dry-clean non-machine-washable window treatments.
o Take books off shelves, dust shelves and books.
o Polish metal door and window hardware.
o Oil window and door hinges.
o Wax wood furniture.
o Wax wood, stone, concrete, brick and unglazed tile floors.
o Strip and renew vinyl and linoleum floors.
o Wash windows and window screens.
o Remove, wash and store storm windows.