Four easy steps to jump-start outdoor spring cleaning

If the warmer temperatures, bright sunshine and greening of spring give you the urge to clean, you’re not alone. If you want to make spring cleaning easier, especially outdoor spring cleaning, a little planning will save lots of elbow grease.

Make outdoor spring cleaning a breeze with these four simple tips to ensure that you’re ready for warm weather fun:

1. Get the grill ready – Barbecues and picnics are as much a part of summer as baseball and trips to the beach. Your grill is central to the fun when you’re cooking and dining outdoors, so get it ready with a good cleaning. If you were diligent about cleaning the grill after every use last year, a good cleaning with a wire brush may be all the cooking grates need. If your grates have a lot of build-up and burnt-on food, remove and soak them in warm soapy water to loosen the debris. Use a wire brush and a little soapy water to clean out the inside surfaces of your grill, including the inside of the lid. Check the hose connection for the propane tank and repair or replace it if needed.

2. Clean outdoor surfaces without scrubbing – Over time, wood and composite decks, concrete, railings, awnings and outdoor furniture can accumulate mold, moss, mildew and algae. An environmentally-sensitive mold and mildew cleaner like Wet & Forget works over time to gently remove outdoor stains on virtually any exterior surface without scrubbing. Perfect for mildew and mold removal, the non-caustic, non-acidic and bleach-free, biodegradable formula can be easily applied with a pump garden sprayer instead of a more labor-intense power washer. The multi-surface outdoor cleaner reduces water usage and is designed for use around landscaping plants.

3. Spruce up your view – Clean windows not only brighten the interior of your home, they can make the exterior look fresher, too. Spring is a great time to remove screens (if you haven’t stored them for the winter) and give them a good cleaning. Hosing them off should do the trick, but if they’re very dirty try cleaning with a little soapy water and a soft scrub brush. Before you replace the screens, give the windows a good cleaning. Arm yourself with lots of paper towels and a good glass cleaner. One that contains vinegar will be effective and eco-friendly if you’re concerned about exposing your landscaping to harsh chemicals. Be sure to clean the outside of your windows first. It will make another popular spring cleaning chore – washing the inside of windows – a bit easier.

4. Taking care of your tools – Yard work and gardening are realities of warm weather. All your landscaping maintenance chores will be easier if your tools are clean and in good repair. Unload the tool shed or garage of all the equipment you’ll use this summer – from rakes and hoes to lawn mowers and trimmers. While you probably cleaned your garden tools before you stored them for winter, they’ll still have accumulated dust – and possibly rust – from sitting idle for so many months. Clean rust spots and dirt from metal tools, and use a coating of mineral oil to ensure the rust doesn’t return. Clean lawn mower and trimmer blades, and replace the line on string trimmers. Get blades sharpened if necessary, and run through all the maintenance tasks recommended in the manufacturer’s handbook for your power equipment.