Here’s Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Shopping List

Spring cleaning is hard work. But with the right tools, sprucing up your home can take a little less elbow grease.

It’s been a long winter, and hibernating has not done us any favors — many of us have probably put off giving our caves a deep spring cleaning. But now that it’s (mostly) above freezing, it’s time to throw open those windows, let in some fresh air and get scrubbing.

A few friendly financial notes before you get going: While you’re sprucing up your home, it might be a good time to do the same with your finances. You can begin by getting a free credit report snapshot, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com. Also, be sure you don’t go overboard when it comes to buying Spring cleaning supplies. If you’re good about staying on budget, consider a solid shopping credit card to reap rewards off of your purchases. Just be sure to pay that balance off at the end of the month, so you don’t wind up losing those points, miles or cash back to interest.

With all that money stuff in mind, here’s what you need to know before you tackle the deepest clean of the year.

1. Spring Cleaning Tools

Sure, you’ve been vacuuming all along, but it’s time to go deeper. There’s no need to scrub on your hands and knees or wrestle with a mop. The Duop System ($29.99 and up) can be used with a handle or your hand. Created for professional cleaners, it’s designed to reduce the risk of injury while cleaning. The handle height is easy to adjust, whether you’re dusting the ceiling or washing the kitchen floor. The interchangeable microfiber pads, which come in a variety of sizes, can be used dry or wet, moistened with water or a mild cleanser.

For other areas, Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning likes the General Purpose Cloth or the Kitchen Cloth from e-cloth ($7.99 each). Like the Duop, the cloths are microfiber so they often require nothing but water.

“If you have some spots that have a buildup of grease, you can spray the area with a touch of rubbing alcohol to break up the buildup and then wipe with the e-cloth,” she said. “The fibers in the cloth work to get underneath the dirt and lift it off without harming even delicate surfaces, like cabinets.”

As you move around the house with your Duop and e-cloth, bring your water in a lightweight bucket, like the colorful Kikkerland Collapsible Bucket ($10). When you’re done cleaning, it collapses flat for easy storage.

2. All-Purpose Cleaner

For tasks that require more than water, there’s no need to purchase a product with a long list of mysterious — and potentially toxic — ingredients. The Force of Nature Electrolyzed Cleaning Starter Kit ($59.95) converts salt, water and vinegar into a powerful cleaner by electrolyzing them. The kit includes everything you need to create several batches of non-toxic, fragrance-free cleaning solution. It also comes with travel-sized spray bottles to take on the go.

3. The Many Uses of Vinegar

Alyssa Kaldahl, merchandising manager at women’s apparel site Jane.com, suggests using vinegar for tough cleaning jobs. For instance, use equal parts vinegar and water on a sock to clean your blinds. Cleaning the fridge is a dreaded spring cleaning task, but here’s her fix.

“Throw away any expired food and then wipe down all the shelves and drawers with vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle,” she said. “You can also add some lemon or other citrus essential oil to your mix if you want to leave a nice scent.”

To get out stubborn carpet stains, she suggests spraying the spot with one part vinegar and two parts water, putting a damp rag over the spot and ironing the rag. Repeat until stain is gone.

4. Homemade Stain Remover

Lisa Batra, founder of My Kid’s Threads, an online consignment shop for kids’ clothes, knows stains. She said while it’s ideal to treat a stain ASAP, her team often doesn’t know how long a stain has been there. They inspect about 1,000 items each week and have had success with a homemade stain-remover recipe:

Combine one tablespoon baking soda, four tablespoons dish soap and eight tablespoons hydrogen peroxide in a small container and stir well. “Apply directly to the stain and rub gently with your finger, a piece of fabric or an old toothbrush,” she said. “Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes and then wash normally.”

For surface stains, like on cabinets or counters, decluttering expert Kelly McClenahan, of the Live Uncluttered blog on PriceSelfStorage.com, suggests Mr. Clean MagicErasers ($5.76 at Walmart — check out our review of the Walmart credit card here).

“Use them to remove almost any surface stains, especially the burner areas of the flat-top stove and those occasional crayon marks you may find on your walls,” McClenahan said.

She also recommends using cotton swabs and old toothbrushes “to get down to the details with hard-to-reach, itty-bitty spaces.”

5. Get Organized

According to McClenahan, no spring cleaning is complete without sorting your stuff. “Box up items you no longer need in your home,” she said. “Separate things you want to keep, store, donate and trash.”

A great way to organize the items that you’re keeping but not using currently is to store them in boxes with labels. The Brother P-Touch Label Maker ($39.99 at Staples) is fun and easy to use. It has different fonts and modes to add your own flair. For storage boxes, my go-to is the Container Store, which carries boxes of virtually any size, shape or color.

If you’re worried more about your wallet than your abode as winter breaks, we’ve got 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start right here.

Image: omgimages

The post Here’s Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Shopping List appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Things You Shouldn’t Just Throw Away When You’re Spring Cleaning

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It’s that time of year again. You’re getting ready to clean out your closet — and your wallet. But be wary of simply throwing out every stray item you come across. Certain items can lead to big problems if they fall into the wrong hands, particularly when it comes to identity theft.

Here are four things you shouldn’t simply throw away while you’re spring cleaning this year.

1. Old Identification

Avoid chucking your old driver’s license and passport, no matter how bad your hair may have been in the photo. While the pictures can change, some of the personally identifiable information (PII) may stay the same. (Take your Social Security number, for instance.) Thieves can also glean info from the biometrics page on your old passports and this information can be used to perpetrate all kinds of identity theft. In lieu of trashing, store old IDs someplace others won’t think to look or can’t easily remove like a safe. Or run them through a cross-shredder before trashing.

2. Credit Cards

If you’ve been dealing with debt, it may seem like a good idea to trash those extra credit cards in your wallet. But there’s no guarantee a dumpster-diving thief won’t find the payment method and run up a big balance in your name. Formally cancel any credit card accounts you no longer wish to use (consider first whether or not doing so is what’s best for your credit score.) And cut up old/expired cards, too, in lieu of just chucking, to be extra-safe.

3. Financial Statements

There may not appear to be enough information on any of your old financial statements to cause too much harm, but thieves can be more savvy than you think. They could potentially use small bits of info contained in those pages to bypass security questions guarding an account. (Ever have a customer service rep ask for your home address before proceeding with your questions?) Put hard copies of documents through a shredder or consider switching to e-statements if you’re looking to accumulate less trash.

4. Junk Mail

It may seem counterintuitive to keep your junk mail, given its name, but you should think twice before tossing this correspondence in the trash. It could give clever thieves enough information to commit fraud or steal your identity. Pre-approved credit card solicitations, for instance, are particularly problematic, since criminals may be able actually apply for the credit card with a few other pieces of pilfered information. You can opt out of receiving these applications in the mail by calling 888-5-OPTOUT. In the meantime, take these through a shredder, too.

Remember, if you do have reason to believe any of your personal information has been compromised, you can keep an eye on your credit. A sudden drop in credit scores or mysterious line items on your credit reports are signs identity theft is occurring. You can look for red flags by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

If you do find errors related to fraud or otherwise, you should dispute them with the three major credit reporting agencies

More on Identity Theft:

Image: Marili Forastieri

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