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Experts offer cleaning tips for a sparkling home this season
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Spring cleaning tips for pet owners

  • Flip and clean mattresses for humans and pets. Whether Fido sleeps with you or has his own bed, launder his regularly. 
  • Check collars, tags and leashes and ensure they are clean and writing is legible. 
  • Clean out the pet pantry and toss expired food or treats.
  • Go through your pet’s toy box and clean or throw away old toys.
  • Some household cleaners contain chlorine as a main ingredient. They are toxic to dogs, including all-purpose cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergent and dishwashing detergents. Check the label. 
  • Some flowers are toxic to dogs if ingested, such as azaleas, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, lilies, mushrooms, so keep dogs away from them.
  • Cleaners safe to use around dogs are vinegar-baking soda spray or a mixture of hydrogen-peroxide baking soda.

Signs your pet may have ingested something toxic

  • Coughing, sneezing, phlegm
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

Source: Dr. Meghan Seabolt, veterinarian at Hall County Animal Shelter.

While real rabbits are springing up outside this season, it’s the dust bunnies in your home you may want to locate.

“One of the biggest things to do is to declutter,” said Carin Booth, family and consumer science extension agent at the University of Georgia Extension Office in Hall County. “One of the reasons people should do that is because it can collect dust, dirt and allergens.”

She explained even when residents think they have cleaned piles of stuff laying around the house, they still can collect dust, dirt, allergens and pollen from outside.

Getting rid of those piles is a good idea, she said.

But to stop the dust, dirt and pollen from getting inside, Booth said people can stop them at the door, literally. She recommends removing shoes before entering the home to keep the outside elements out. Booth said 30- to 40- percent of contaminants are brought in on shoes and can trigger health problems.

Martha McMullen, who works as a Gainesville-area housekeeper and cleans office buildings such as The Times, suggests spring as a good time to go through closets and get rid of unworn items.

“If there’s stuff in there all winter that you never wore, give it to Goodwill or another thrift store,” she said.

Quilts that won’t be used during warmer months also should be sealed in a container for safe keeping.

After eliminating or packing away winter wear, it’s time to clean those easy- and hard-to-reach places.

McMullen advises residents to pull all the dishes out of cabinets and wipe down the cupboards inside and out. While in the kitchen, pull out the stove and refrigerator and mop behind them to remove food particles, dust and dirt.

In the living room and bedrooms, blinds, window treatments and window sills should be cleaned. McCallum recommends wiping down walls, baseboards and ceilings to free them of spider webs and dust.

“It takes a little time, so you can’t really do everything on one day,” she said. “Give yourself a couple days.”

But do that chore after you change the direction of your ceiling fan.

“Run them counterclockwise in the spring and summer, because that helps push the cool air down to the floor,” McMullen said, explaining ceiling fans that run clockwise in fall and winter pull up cool air and push down heat.

She suggested standing directly under the ceiling to feel a direct breeze and know it’s running counterclockwise.

And don’t forget to rearrange other furniture and clean under areas that don’t often get cleaned, McMullen said.

During the process, Booth suggested switching to green cleaning products. She said one of the initiatives of the Extension office is to encourage the use of green products.

“Traditional cleaning products have things we can’t even pronounce,” Booth said. “Harmful ingredients.”

Antibacterial cleaning products can actually weaken immune systems, she said.

“They affect the way we react to antibiotics,” Booth said.

She recommends using a kitchen cleaner made of two tablespoons white vinegar, two pints of water and four drops of an essential oil of your choice. Then put it in a glass spray bottle.

“You can spray it on kitchen services,” Booth said. “It won’t harm children, pets or food.”

The Extension office also has recipes for furniture polish, wood floor cleaner, refrigerator cleaner and garbage disposal cleaner on its website.

“You’re saving a lot of money and making sure you get all of it wiped up