5 Things You Should Take Outside Right Now
Sunlight is a natural disinfectant—the UV rays can kill off mould, mildew and even bacteria. So take advantage of the sun's power and get these things outside right now.
Over time, all kinds of disgusting stuff can build up in your mattress, including allergens like dust and dust mites and natural body oils. All of this can leave your mattress dirty—and sometimes smelly. (Here’s what could happen if you sleep on an old mattress.)
So, once you've got a clear sunny day, grab the chance to give your mattress some TLC and air it out—outside! Begin by vacuuming it on both sides, then take it outside and lay it on a tarp or plastic sheet to avoid any dampness and dirt, or lean it against a wall or fence. Mattresses are heavy and awkward to carry, so get a buddy to help you wrestle it out of the house.
Three or four hours in the sun is enough to allow your mattress to air thoroughly—six is even better. Make sure you bring it in well before dusk so dampness doesn't seep into the fabric.
Put your mattress back on the bed upside down and the opposite way around so your mattress doesn't sag.
Pillows and Cushions
Cushions and pillows will also benefit from a good airing in the sun. Couch cushions get dirty and dusty, while pillows can even become stained from sweat and saliva.
Remove pillow protectors and cushion covers and clean them according to the fabric care label. It's a good idea to wash your pillows and cushions too before airing them outside. You can choose whether to tumble-dry them in a dryer before airing, or let them dry outside. If you opt to dry naturally, be sure they're totally dry before returning them to your bed.
To air outside, take your pillows and cushions outside and hang them on a washing line with sturdy clothes pins, or lay them out flat in the sun (remembering to turn them over so that the sun and air gets to both sides). Be sure to bring them in before evening dampness sets in.
Did you know this product can whiten your laundry (without bleach)?
Whether your duvet is made from downy feathers or synthetic material, it can become a bit musty from being inside all winter. A good airing outside will help restore its freshness.
It's best to clean it first, either in your washing machine or by dry-cleaning, depending on the care instructions. Many duvets (even feather versions) can be tumble dried, and adding a couple of tennis balls or wool dryer balls will plump the filling up nicely. (Just avoid these habits that shorten the life of your washer and dryer.)
However, be careful when airing your duvet outside, because direct sunlight can dry out the filling and make your duvet lumpy and uncomfortable. Always air duvets in the shade.
All those feet (and maybe muddy paws!) tramping over your rugs makes them another prime candidate for outdoor airing. Vacuum your rugs on both sides to remove any loose dust and dirt, then roll them up and take them outside. (Make sure you avoid these mistakes that are shortening the life of your vacuum cleaner.) It's a good idea to give them a hearty shake when you get outside to remove any stubborn, ground-in dirt and particles; you can even give them a good beating with a broom handle.
A standard clothesline isn't sturdy enough to hold heavy rugs, so string up a bungee cord between trees, spread your rugs out on a tarp or hang them over a deck or railing instead. If possible, protect the patterned side from too much exposure to sunlight because it could fade the colours.
Psst—these traditional cleaning tricks don’t actually work!
It's not only furnishings that need some time outdoors. Your houseplants might be feeling a bit claustrophobic after a winter indoors too, so why not give them a treat and put them outside for some much-needed fresh air? (Find out the best air-cleaning plants for your home.)
Many houseplants can be put outside once the danger of frost is past. It's best to do this gradually, however, because sudden exposure to colder temperatures can shock your precious plants. Open windows for a few days to let in that fresh spring air before putting houseplants outside. Or acclimate them gradually, beginning with one hour outside and gradually increasing the time over a few days. Be sure to watch the weather forecast carefully so you can whisk them inside again if there's an unexpected frost or heavy rain.
Bright sunlight can also shock your plants, so place them in the shade at first, in a sheltered spot out of the wind so the leaves and soil don't dry out. You might need to adjust your feeding and watering routine once they're outside. Keep an eye out for pests and treat accordingly, especially before moving plants back inside.
Next, check out 40 spring cleaning tips you’ll wish you knew sooner.