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My husband and I moved into our new home in April 2015, just in time to experience our first Rocky Mountain spring. There are no words to describe this adequately, but this picture does a great job.

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The thing I noticed the first time I walked into this house—windows. Tons of windows framing our new view and every one of them dirty. It looked to me as if no one had ever washed them.

I did my due diligence in researching local professional window washers. For sure we would have to pay to have them cleaned properly. But it would be one and done. We would keep them clean and that would be an easy task. Of course.

The price was ridiculously high, but the job got done and the windows sparkled. That’s when I set out to discover the best (easiest, fastest, cheapest, sparkly-est) way to keep these windows clean—not only dust-free but also clean.

Surprise. It’s not with Windex, paper towels, newspaper or other methods I may or may not have recommended in the past, which produce a big mess—dripping, soggy, dirty paper towels and windows with streaks that can be difficult to remove.


MORE: How I Dry Cleaned My Windows


The right tools

I have invested in the right window-washing tools. You need the right tools, too, or you are going to waste a lot of time and money trying to get your windows streak-free and sparkling like diamonds. Look for tools like these at your local big box store, home improvement center, or online. For your convenience and also so you can see what I’m referring to below, I have provided Amazon links for each of these specific tools. Read more

There’s an illness that has been documented by poets for centuries and I’ve got it. It’s Spring Fever, that wonderfully amorphous disease we all recognize come April and May.

Spring fever remains a fuzzy medical category, but there has been a great deal of research on how seasonal changes affect our mood and behavior. I know how it affects me—it makes me want to clean!

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While I don’t invite all my friends over to help, I have built quite a team that makes the job, if not fun, at least enjoyable. Today, I’d like to introduce you to each member of my awesome spring clean team.

Deep Cleaning Brushes

I got the initial set as a gift from a friend who knows me well. I love to clean nooks and crannies, which is crazy, but true nonetheless.  OXO Good Grips Kitchen Appliance Cleaning Set specific cleaning tools are perfect but not only for the kitchen. I use them on grout, in corners; along baseboards. And into the dishwasher they go almost daily, to get sanitized. Watch out nooks and crannies. Your dirty days are fast coming to an end.

Squeegee

I suppose that windows would win if I could have only one item on my spring clean list of dirty things to clean. There’s just nothing like looking at spring through sparkling, crystal-clear windows. Want to know the secret to the sparkle? A good squeegee and the best scrubber to go with it.


MORE: Sparkling Clean Windows—Cheaper, Better, Faster!


Microfiber Cloths

Forget the paper towels. And the terry cloth. When it comes to serious cleaning of anything—especially glass and mirrors—there’s nothing more efficient than microfiber because it is lint-free and streak-free. A set will last for years. And years.

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Take a look under the sink where you keep your cleaning products. See a bottle of Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid? Well, say “Hello” to a very versatile and surprisingly multi-purpose household product.

Beautiful, blue dawn over a lake and mountains.

Original Blue Dawn, a product of Procter & Gamble was introduced in 1972. Since then, it has gone through several tweaks, changes and upgrades so that today we see a number of varieties including Dawn Ultra and Dawn Platinum, to name just a few.

My research tells me that the Ultra version is highly concentrated; Dawn Platinum contains enzymes to help break down tough, cooked on foods and that “original” refers to the scent from the original 1972 product, which is still available if you know where to look.

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Does any of this matter when it comes to the amazing ways Dawn can be used so effectively outside the kitchen? Probably not. But does the color matter? I can’t prove it, but I think it does. And if it has “Ultra,” 2X or 4X on the label, it’s highly concentrated so you can use less.

Here’s the bottom line: If it’s Dawn and it’s blue, you can count on it to be an amazing product with tons of very effective if not ingenious uses.

ICE PACK

Partially fill a strong zip-type sandwich bag with Dawn dishwashing liquid, close. Just to be safe, double bag it. Freeze.   Dawn stays cold much longer while remaining flexible, which means it will conform to the place you need an ice pack. It can be re-frozen many times.

TREE SAP

If you get tree sap on your hands, clothes or car, hit it with a bit of Blue Dawn. It will eat through the sap without harming your skin, clothing or the car’s paint finish.

BATHROOM SCUM

Fill a spray bottle half full of white vinegar. Fill the rest of the way with Blue Dawn. Put the spray top on and shake well. Spray on your tub and shower walls, allowing it to sit for a few minutes up to a few hours before rinsing away. This will even take care of the bathtub ring. Let it sit on the shower floor overnight and scrub the scum and gunk away in the morning. More here.

LAUNDRY STAINS

For fresh or old oil-based stains such as lipstick, grease, butter, motor oil, cooking oil, and most pen inks—even stains that have made it through the washer and dryer multiple times—apply full-strength Blue Dawn liquid directly to the stain. Allow to sit for a bit then launder as usual. For really tough challenges, apply Blue Dawn then scrub with a small brush or toothbrush until the oil is removed.

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I often wonder why is it that weeds have no problem at all with drought-like conditions. They don’t require a thing—not water, fertilizer or protection from pests and predators.

Weeds don’t even need soil. They’re happy to grow in cracks in the sidewalk—even asphalt.

Weeds don’t complain, don’t need to be babied and do their best work under the worst of circumstances—the hotter the better! Weeds never give up. I wish I were more like weeds.

Still, weeds are the bane of every gardener; a problem for every homeowner. Read more