THE HOUSE CLEANING SERIES TIPS: THE CORRIDOR AND THE BALCONY
Smaller Spaces Need Love Too
We all have those smaller spaces around our home that serve one purpose but end up wearing many hats; many hats usually in the form of dumping grounds for our “stuff”. For example, the corridor and balcony. The corridor might simply connect one space to another in your home and the balcony serves as an outdoor living room. You might drop the kid’s books on a chair in the corridor with the intention of putting them away the next time you go that direction or you might put a dirty rug on the balcony with the intention of balcony cleaning tomorrow. You see these spaces every day but you don’t necessarily live in them every day so it’s easy to walk past and ignore them.
Those spaces need your attention just like the other spaces in your house. The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ does not apply here.
On your way to a classy corridor
You don’t often think about your corridor. It’s just there. The only purpose it serves is to get you from the living space to your sleeping space. It might have a rug, a chair or two, or maybe a table against the wall. It might have the family portrait or even the empty boxes you’ve been meaning to fill for next week’s garage sale. No matter what your corridor looks like, with a little bit of effort, it will look immaculate before you know it.
The first step in cleaning the corridor is to remove what doesn’t belong there in the first place. The holiday decorations you should have put away three months ago are still lingering. The bag of clothes that need to be returned are still there as well. The basket of clean laundry you asked the kids to put away…yes…still there. After you’ve removed the clutter, think about if you’re using the space in the way you intended. If the kids are always dropping their backpacks and shoes on the floor, maybe you could use that old cabinet in the den for an impromptu storage cabinet.
Once the space is up to your liking, it’s time to clean. Start by dusting. This includes the walls, baseboards, light fixtures and furniture. Microfiber cloths work great for trapping dust. Another option is to use a multi-surface spray and clean rag to trap dust before it has a chance to travel back into the air. Next, move on to the floor. Vacuum carpet and rugs and sweep and mop tile, concrete or hardwood. If this is a high traffic area and you have carpet, you might consider a rug or runner to extend the life of the carpet.
Overall, the corridor isn’t a difficult space to clean but it can often be one that is overlooked. If you remember to keep the area picked up and lump it into the cleaning schedule of a room nearby, you’ll always have a neat, orderly and tidy space.
Next, it’s all about the balcony cleaning.
Making Your Outside Space Sparkle
You planned the perfect evening. You are so excited to have your significant other over to have dinner on your balcony. It’s supposed to be the first warm day of the season. You fix a nice dinner and have some of your favorite beverages. You both sit down and start the meal. You realize you forgot something. As you walk into the house, your guest laughs. The backside of your dark outfit is now covered in dust. Your perfect plan didn’t take balcony cleaning into consideration.
We’ve all taken the time to plan something out to the very last detail and yet, something was left off the list that completely slipped our minds. Although your balcony is an extension of your living space, it isn’t always top of mind when it comes to cleaning.
Here are a few tips to whip that outdoor oasis in shape.
Pack it up and move it out
Ok, don’t literally pack everything up but you need to move it out. Make sure your space is free and clear of your clutter so the balcony cleaning can begin.
Start high and end low. Start by using a stiff hand held brush to get rid of the cob webs and other debris that found its way onto your balcony. While you’re at it, lightly brush down the walls as well. If you have wrought iron railing, going over each rail with a stiff brush should do the trick. The stuck-on particles should fall right off. You can use a spray bottle of water with a small amount of dish soap to wash away the dirt. Finish by rinsing the rails with clean water. This is also a great time to clean out your light fixture. Remove the light bulbs and gently brush out the buildup that is within the fixture. If possible, clean the glass as well with glass cleaner and paper towels.
Next, work on your windows. You stare outside the same window on a daily basis. You see the park across the street and the beautiful green trees swaying in the wind and even the ducks on the pond. You’ll be amazed and how much more vivid the colors will become once you remove the dirt and grime stuck to your windows. The easiest way to clean your windows is to purchase that blue, commercial liquid at the hardware store. Spray a thick coat on to the widow, starting at the top and go from side to side. Let it slowly make its way down the window. Crumple up a sheet of newspaper or use a clean paper towel and clean in a circular motion. Be sure to get all the way to the edges. Don’t forget to clean the fame itself.
Now, it’s on to the most used surface of your balcony: the floor. First, no matter the type of floor, sweep it up. Make sure to get every nook and cranny. If you have a tile floor in your balcony, take the time to clean the grout since all of your belongings have been removed. You’ll need a stiff toothbrush along with a gallon of water plus ¾ cup of bleach. Wear disposable rubber gloves and goggles in the event the bleach splashes on you. Lightly scrub the grout with the toothbrush. If this doesn’t do the trick, you can make a paste out of baking soda and water. Mix 3 parts baking soda to one part water. Apply the paste to the grout. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use the toothbrush to lightly scrub the grout. If this still doesn’t do the trick for heavy stains, try a commercial grade product from your local hardware store or you might even consider removing the grout and replacing it.
If you have a concrete floor, mop it after you sweep it. There are a number of mops available on the market today so check them out to see which one will work best for your job. A simple cleaner includes adding ½ cup distilled white vinegar to a gallon of warm water. Or, you could even use the pre-moistened mop pads from the local hardware store for easy clean up.
Replace and reuse
After an extensive balcony cleaning, it’s time to put your balcony back together. But wait! You’ve spent time, effort and energy to get the space itself clean so don’t forget to clean your belongings. If you have plastic, aluminum or wrought iron furniture: Mix a mild dish detergent in a bucket with warm water. Wipe your furniture down. If you are able to use a hose to wash it down, do so. If not, use a clean cloth with clean water and wipe everything down. For wood based furniture like teak or even wicker, use a mild oil-based soap and rinse with clean water. If you removed flower pots balcony cleaning and there are flowers or plants inside, use a stiff brush to wipe away debris. For caked-on messes, use a damp paper towel or a scrubbing sponge to clean the pot.
Something that you might not think about during balcony cleaning: clean plants. Yes, clean plants. If your balcony windows are dirty, so are the leaves of your plants. If you haven’t given your plant a thorough misting of clean, room temperature water, do so. For plants with long leaves, try misting and gently wiping the leaves down with a clean paper towel. You will be surprised at the amount of buildup one leaf can endure.
If you had a BBQ grill on the balcony, cleaning this can be tricky. I usually resort to cleaning solutions that you might have around the house. For this job, I highly recommend a commercial cleaner. Your local hardware store will undoubtedly have multiple options from which you can choose. Make sure you purchase one with a degreaser and one that is suitable for your type of grill. You will more than likely need to spray the cleaning solution on to your grill, let it sit for a moment and wipe it off. Paper towels do the trick. You might also have a clean scrubbing sponge on hand as well.
Whether you are able to use your balcony year round or just a few months out of the year, there’s nothing like the feeling of being outside at home. You clean the inside of your home on a regular basis and should hold the same rule for your outdoor space as well. You never know: you might get more use out of it.
— Amanda Pokorny