Thursday, March 1, 2012

Let the light shine in!

It's March first!  It's March first!  Daylight Savings time begins in ten days!  Bulbs are sprouting!  My CSA basket has asparagus in it!

Spring!  Spring is thisclose to being HERE!  I love Spring.  I love it so much that I always capitalize it.  Spring! It's the inspiration for symphonies and young love and when you search the Google for images of "Spring" you get bright colors and clear skies and baby chicks.

It's when you open the curtains all the way, and you realize that your blinds are covered in a year's worth (or more... no judgement from me) of yuck, so you open the blinds and you realize that the windows are even worse.  Because who cleans windows every week?  I certainly don't.  As much as I'd like to think that I'm this?

Um, I'm not that.

Yeah, my windows look like your windows.  And that's cool.  Because every year about this time, I get inspired to clean up anything that isn't able to clean itself (in recent years this also included people, but fortunately Boo will enthusiastically partake in a nightly bubble bath).  

The weather gets warmer, so I open the windows and sunlight trickles into the house.  And that early Spring sunlight tends to illuminate things in a way that a houseful of light bulbs cannot (especially those ridiculous CFC twisty looking lights that are just so awful).  Spring cleaning is a big deal.  For me, when the weather warms up, I like to have people over for dinner or a movie or game night (Apples to Apples?  HIGHlarious with the right crowd).  From April until October, it's barbecue season, and even if we're not hosting, I like to reciprocate when I can. I'm more likely to do this when the house is clean.  

For me, it starts with the windows.  I have no illusions about doing them all in one day.  Or in one weekend.  Because I have things to do besides clean windows all damn weekend.  But for a couple of hours?  Like, during naptime?  I'm on it.

The one tool you really do need is something like this.  It telescopes, so you're not on a ladder.  It's one piece, so you're not switching between the spongy thing and the squeegee.
  1. Start in the room you use the most.  Those are the windows you'll be glad you cleaned first.
  2. Go take a look at your screens.  Figure out how to remove them.  Usually, they have tabs or something along one edge on the inside.  Screens bend pretty easily, so be careful, but they should just pop out.  Keep them in order--even if your windows look to be the same size, they may be just different enough that the screens aren't interchangeable.
  3. Lay the screens down on a flat surface (even on the grass...) and hose them off on both sides.  Stand them up so they'll drip-dry.
  4. Fill a plastic bin with hot water, two cups or so of white vinegar, and Dawn dishsoap (add the soap last so it doesn't foam up too much).  
  5. Grab a kitchen towel for wiping the squeegee.  
  6. Start at one end, dunk your spongy thing, start scrubbing.  Get the corners, get the sills, get all that crap off your windows. 
  7. Immediately follow with the squeegee.  Wipe off the blade after each swipe.  One window at a time.
  8. When your screens are dry, put them back on.  Don't rush this.  If you put wet screens back on your windows, you screw up what you just cleaned.  Trust me.
That's it.  It's a job, for sure, and you will not be clean when you're done.  But your windows will be crystal clear.  This is one of those once-a-year jobs, at best.  I did ours last May right after we moved into our house--it had been vacant for years, and cleaning the windows made me feel like we were really taking ownership of the place. I'm well aware that this likely makes me a total psycho.  I don't care. After a year's worth of wind and dust and storms and gunk, cleaning the windows makes it feel like Spring.

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