Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8CALIFORNIA LIFE

Home Checklist

It's not your imagination; Thanksgiving comes early this year. That means the holiday rush is already upon us. But is your home ready for the holidays?

Save time – and sanity – with this pre-holiday advice from the cleaning experts at Merry Maids.

"Time and energy are two essentials," said Steve Mumm, who operates Merry Maids cleaning service in Granite Bay and Folsom. "Starting early, having a plan and following these hassle-free steps can help you enjoy the holidays."

• Prioritize and plan ahead: Right now, time is your friend. Make a list of what needs to be done, who will do it and when it will be done.

• Clear clutter: If you can't put it away, it's clutter, Mumm said. Divide this extra stuff into three groups: Junk, charity and undecided. Toss the junk, give away the charitable remainders and store the rest out of sight in a box or bag until you decide whether it's really worth keeping. Now there's room for holiday decorations.

• Know your numbers: How many people are coming? Do you have enough chairs, tables, plates, glasses, etc.? What time are you eating? How long do the turkey and other dishes need to bake? Getting accurate counts in advance aids in planning. Mumm's tip: Always be prepared for more.

• Clean starts at the front door: Keep the dirt outside. Make a habit of taking shoes off at the front door (especially kids). According to Mumm, 80 percent of dirt comes through that entrance. Put a basket by the door, so kids are reminded and it's easy to do. Another Merry Maids tip: Use only one entry door into your home. Put a sturdy doormat on the outside and another on the inside. That will cut down on dirt, too.

• Clean top to bottom: Attack every room from the top down, starting with cobwebs or dusty ceiling fans. Dust first, vacuum last. Vacuum from east to west, then again north to south. Scrub, wipe and polish in straight lines instead of circles.

• Use the clock and the right tools: Give cleaning solutions time to work. Spritz counters, mirrors and surfaces in the bath and kitchen while you scrub the sink, tub and toilet. Then wipe them clean. Cotton diapers are great for most jobs, but some tasks require a specialist. Try a damp sponge to quickly remove pet hair from upholstery and pillows. A dry sponge erases grime from acoustical tiles. Wear cotton gloves and clean mini-blinds by hand.

• Clean windows and mirrors like a pro: Squeegee the surface with an initial horizontal stroke across the top, then vertical strokes, wiping the blade after each swipe.

• Create a cleaning carry-all: Store all your basic cleaning supplies in a cleaner's apron or bucket, and carry them with you from task to task. Some of the equipment useful in making the most of your time includes microfiber cloths, all-purpose cleaner, floor-cleaning solution, vacuum attachments, toilet brush and trash bags.

• Guests arriving soon: Hit the bathrooms, dust and vacuum the room where guests will sleep. Change the sheets and put clean towels out. A fresh flower from your garden in a vase next to the bed says "welcome," Mumm added.

• When needed, get help: Call the experts when you need them.

For more tips or advice, click on www.merrymaids.com.

Garden Checklist

• For holiday blooms indoors, plant paper-white narcissi now. Fill a shallow bowl or dish with 2 inches of rocks or pebbles. Place bulbs in the dish with the root end nestled in rocks. Add water until it just touches the bottom of the bulbs. Place dish in a sunny window. Add water as needed. The bulbs will bloom in four to six weeks.

• Unsure if your lawn still needs watering after a rain storm? If one inch or more of rain falls, turn off the automatic sprinklers for five days. If another half-inch falls during that period, keep the sprinklers off until there are five days without rain.

• Outdoors, plant daffodils and other spring bulbs. Don't forget tulips and hyacinths that you may have chilling in the refrigerator. They need to go in the ground now.

• Stop leaf curl from making a return appearance next spring. After they drop their leaves, spray peach, nectarine and apricot trees with a copper spray, available at nurseries and home-improvement stores.

• Rake and compost leaves. But dispose of any leaves that show signs of disease, such as rust.

– Debbie Arrington

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