There's never a bad time to start spring-cleaning. Whenever I clean, I use some good old down-and-dirty cleaning tips to get the job done like a pro. You should practice these ideas every few months, regardless of the season.

Bed pillows are an item we don't often think of washing, but unless the care instructions say otherwise, most foam-filled and synthetic pillows can be easily machine-washed. Don't just throw them in the wash with your blue jeans. Wash them separately, using the gentle cycle, warm water and a mild powdered detergent.

You can line-dry pillows or place them in dryer on moderate heat. Throw in some clean towels to help speed up drying process, and add a clean tennis ball to help fluff the pillow.

As far as down and feather pillows, you never want to machine wash. Trust me, they will never be the same!

Instead, place your down pillow in a sink filled with warm water and powdered detergent. Hold the pillow underwater until completely soaked, and knead gently. Drain the dirty water out and press down to extract as much water as possible.

Next, roll it in a dry towel to prevent dripping, unwrap it and give it a spin in a washing machine for three cycles before hanging to dry.

Here's something you don't ever want to do: Try cleaning windows in the hot sun. Direct sunlight can cause the cleaner to evaporate before it is wiped off, leaving those nasty streaks we all dread. So, the best time to clean your windows is in the morning or early evening when windows cool down. Try the touch test—if the window is hot to touch, then it's too hot to clean.

To clean your windows, apply cleaner to windows with a slightly dampened sponge and wipe the entire window. Then, with a squeegee, wipe across the window, cleaning the squeegee after each pass.

To clean up any drips, ditch the paper towel and use yesterday's newspaper instead.

Get the dirty little secrets for cleaning curtains, drapes, upholstery and floors.


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