Home & Garden

Local Professionals Offer Tips for Annual Cleaning, Organizing and More

Gutter cleaning should be at the top of the fall to-do list, say home-care experts.
Gutter cleaning should be at the top of the fall to-do list, say home-care experts. TNS

Spring cleaning – that time-honored ritual of thoroughly dusting, scrubbing and organizing beyond the periodic “redding up” of a person’s space – originally took hold in places with colder climates where the windows could be thrown open, the stale inside air flushed out and the rugs brought outside for a proper beating.

But here on the Grand Strand, we’re not constrained by the dictates of mother nature when it comes to the decision to do our yearly cleaning. Spring cleaning can be fall cleaning or just about any time we want to get things shipshape.

With this in mind, The Sun News spoke with local professionals about best practices and tips to make your home, office and digital life sing with cleanliness, organization and productivity.

CLEAN YOUR HOUSE

A Clean Sweep is a commercial and residential cleaning service with locations in Myrtle Beach and New York. In business 15 years, A Clean Sweep also offers cleaning for vacation and long-term rentals, laundry and linen services, consulting and construction clean-up.

“We always recommend deep cleaning your home at least once per year. A clean home is a healthy home. Doing an annual deep cleaning not only helps to protect your family, but also gives your home longevity,” owner Melissa Deafenbaugh said.

Deafenbaugh added that deep cleanings include detailed cleaning of baseboards, blinds, cabinets, light fixtures and doors, furniture polishing and many other items that are forgotten about over the course of the year.

Many tasks above and beyond the quick, everyday items can become cause for procrastination.

“I believe people put this off unintentionally,” she said. “Most people try to keep up with the daily cleaning, but the deep cleaning aspects normally get thrown to wayside because it’s time consuming. Who wants to work all week and then come home to clean their house? Once it gets to the point of no return, most people just give up because it’s too overwhelming. It’s the snowball effect, essentially.”

Sometimes the do-it- yourself approach can be daunting. Deafenbaugh said there are many benefits to hiring a professional cleaning company.

“The most important reason is because our knowledge, expertise and quality of work will allow us to see your house in a different perspective therefore being able to clean it more thoroughly,” she said.

GET ORGANIZED

Professional organizer Diane Aversano has been making life easier and more productive for Myrtle Beach residents since 2007. Her business, Organizing Made Simple, specializes in residential organizing. Aversano said she utterly loves organizing.

“The folks I work with are surprisingly infected with that joy as we tackle things they have been dreading for a very long time. I confidentially and without judgment work side by side with people of all ages – hands-on – to restore calm and simplicity to their living areas. I also help folks pack and unpack their belongings when moving,” she said.

She believes in the simplicity of the phrase, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” but will also be the first to agree that this can be difficult.

“It’s true. Everything in your home or office needs a place of its own, and those places need to be convenient to access so things can be returned easily. Think about it. Have you ever lost your refrigerator, frantically looking around knowing ‘it has to be somewhere?’ No, because it is always in the same place. Just apply the same principle to every bolt, shoe, and pan. It is worth the time to set it all up. Start by doing a walk-through of your area to see where piles have built up. That is evidence that special places need to be made for specific things.”

Aversano said the most common mistake people make that causes them to lose sight of being organized is to think of organizing as a one-time deal.

“It is ongoing because it is hard to be vigilant in putting things away,” she said. “It is evolving because places need to be altered from time to time. And it is time-consuming because it is. Organizing sessions need to be periodically scheduled to stay on top of clutter. And that takes a commitment, not unlike working out.”

She said lack of time and energy are obstacles to getting organized – and that’s it’s easier to just plop things on the counter and deal with them later. But later never comes and piles start to emerge.

“Pretty soon it is so overwhelming since more piles have started that it is hard to decide where to start and it gets ignored altogether. In the end, it is all about making decisions as you go.”

According to Aversano, it’s best to call a pro when that first feeling of being out of control with your possessions rears its ugly head.

“A consultation at that point is a less time-consuming proposition than engaging in a full-tilt decluttering event of whole room, garage or house later on,” she said.

Organizing tip No. 1: Basic Method for decluttering anything from a junk drawer to a walk-in closet, toy room or garage:

“Empty the entire space, piece-by piece - consolidating like-pieces as you go into plain containers or boxes of different sizes previously gathered. Purge as you go, and carry pieces away that belong elsewhere. Once the area is empty, decide where things will be returned to and buy containers or shelves for them.”

Organizing tip No. 2: “Store items vertically wherever you can – in the pantry, the medicine closet, the spice cabinet, on your desk. Put interlocking shelves on flat surfaces. Put shelves on shelves. Hang shelves from shelves. Hang hooks from shelves.”

CARPET CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Ashton Moore opened his business, Xtreme Dry Carpet Cleaning, in 2012. He said he has been using the Dry Extraction System since 2009 – a process that does not use water but separates spots, spills and heavily-soiled areas from carpets, leaving them clean and dry immediately.

Moore said that carpet manufacturers recommend having your carpets cleaned every 12 to 18 months in order for warranties to stay valid, but recommends cleaning them once or twice a year, depending on such factors as traffic, the types of traffic (pets/children/large gatherings) and frequency of maintenance.

“Do you vacuum frequently, spot clean when there is an accident and rotate or move furniture around from time to time? This will disperse and cut down on the traffic pattern being used all of the time,” he said.

Moore said all carpets must be vacuumed three to four times a week with the proper vacuum and beater brush. If in doubt, check your carpet care manual.

When it comes to carpet cleaning, Moore said this should be professionally done with a system that is certified through the Carpet and Rug Institute [CRI].

“Both our system and our Xtreme Spot Remover are Certified through the CRI. We recommend that you spot clean in between cleanings. Stay away from cleaners that leave a soapy residue, as this will attract dust and dirt to the area, causing more spotting.”

He said that regular cleanings with Xtreme Dry Carpet Cleaning will remove dust, dust mites, dirt, dander and allergens that are trapped in your carpets.

“These things along with the sand from our beaches act like sandpaper as it rubs against the fibers, causing noticeable wear patterns and can distort the texture (breakdown) as well as the appearance of your carpets.”

HEATING AND AIR

When it comes to keeping your AC unit running smoothly, Matthew Finch of beach Air, LLC, said the main causes of concern would be clogged condensation lines in your system, leaves or debris around the outdoor unit and dirty filters.

“I suggest checking your filter every 30 to 60 days if you have a disposable filter,” he said.

Be sure to check furnaces at least twice a year. Change filters and check heat exchangers, cleaning them if necessary.

With furnaces – especially gas furnaces – Finch says that ventilation is key.

“Make sure the vent on your gas furnace is unobstructed,” he said. “A lot of times during the summer, you might get squirrels or birds nesting where the flue pipe exits your home. You want to make sure that it is free of anything like that because it could cause house fires or your system not to work properly.”

Beach Air was started two years ago by Chris Quade, who has been in the HVAC industry for 20 years.

Finch himself has been working in the industry for 17 years, and in this area since 2008. Finch advises against wasting money on expensive filters.

“Pleated filters sometimes range from five to 10 dollars apiece. Depending on the size of your ductwork, they can actually obstruct the airflow in your system and adversely affect efficiency and functionality.

Stick with the cheap filters and change them more often,” he said.

If allergens are a problem, he suggests having somebody come by and inspect the system for options.

“There are several different air purification systems that only have to be serviced once or twice a year.”

DRYER VENTS

Matthew Evans of Evans Dryer Vent Service of Myrtle Beach said that clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of house fires in the United States.

Evans, a U.S. Army veteran, worked for a time in the HVAC industry before setting out on his own to focus exclusively on dryer vent services.

“In January 2011, I decided to start my own company because I saw a need – and nobody specialized just in dryer vent cleaning, repair and installation,” he said, adding that he built up his business primarily through word-of-mouth.

His process involves pulling the dryer away from the wall, hooking up a high-pressure blower on the outside, and running a four-inch soft-bristled brush through the vent and duct, via a system similar to a plumbing snake.

Evans said that yearly dryer vent cleaning can extend the life of your dryer.

“It will also lessen the run times on your loads and saves kilowatt hours on your electricity,” he said. “If anybody has a dryer vent that goes more than 10 feet, they should have it cleaned on a regular basis. And another thing: Don’t leave dryers running when you are not there.”

CLEAN UP YOUR DIGITAL LIFE

For social media consultant Dorien Morin-van Dam of More In Media, her digital devices are a big part of her livelihood. Because a person’s digital life needs a thorough cleaning too, The Sun News asked her for tips on best practices in this regard.

The first order of business, she said, is to understand the capabilities of your devices. In her case, these are the iPhone, MacBook and iMac.

“I got some professional help picking out my machines and setting up and synching my devices properly, as neither of these were my strong suit,” she said. “Getting started right ensured that I have not ever lost important documents or pictures, have access to my files while mobile and can get to my files and images in an instant.”

Once everything was set up and backed up, she created a recurring to-do list item – “organize files” every few months.

“I go through my files periodically and purge those I no longer need or are no longer valid, and I reorganize files in folders. I recommend doing this every season or so, more often if you use a lot of images like me,” she said.

She feels that once a year is not often enough.

“I would recommend every season - so up to four times per year,” she said.” That way it’s manageable and not too time consuming. I also do this when a project ends, or I take on a new client. I always take time to set up new folders or delete expired folders.”

With the widespread availability of cloud-based storage, Morin-van Dam advocates for a physical storage drive as well.

“I personally have double/triple back up of everything and I recommend you do as well.”

First, everything is backed up on her MacBook’s hard drive. She then uses the paid version of Dropbox for large file storage in the cloud.

“I also back up my mobile pictures in Google Photos, then I use Time Machine with my MacBook with an external hard drive, to double-back- up all my files. This device can be (and is) left at home when I travel. In case something happens with my MacBook, I can still have access to my files on any other device,” she said.

We all suffer from what is known as fragmentation – with files and photos strewn across the web, in cloud storage – or on various devices. Morin-van Dam said it’s important that you [or somebody who can do this for you] set up your file system in a way that makes sense to you.

Label your files as descriptively and tag photos for maximum searchability.

“Each picture that gets downloaded needs to be tagged properly for it to be searchable,” she said.

“Downloading multiple pictures in a zip file as ‘Pic 1,’ ‘Pic 2,’ ‘Pic 3’ will not help you when you need to search for ‘Flower pictures taken in Costa Rica in 2015’. Labeling those pictures as ‘Costa Rica 2015’ and ‘Flowers’ will help you find them when needed.

Morin-van Dam said that paying for storage and getting help with the initial set up are the easiest way to combat fragmentation.

“You will know where your files are, how to access them and that they are safe and secure,” she said. “Understanding your storage limitations and your device capabilities goes a long way to staying digitally organized.”

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