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Spring cleaning on LI: What to know about sprucing up your home, inside and out

Jocelyn Weston and Paul Oresky of Oceanside clean

Jocelyn Weston and Paul Oresky of Oceanside clean air conditioners and place new filters in central air conditioning as part of their spring cleaning ritual each year. Credit: Debbie Egan_Chin

It's a yearly ritual that might have taken on a new meaning.

After hibernating in their homes for months, COVID-weary Long Islanders are ready for a change. And what better way to start than by getting organized, decluttering and sprucing up?

"Springtime’s a great time to make a list and have a plan," said Vinnie Giacalone, president and owner of The Organized Guy, an organizing business in Massapequa. "Go through that plan methodically."

Whether or not you start with a list, spring cleaning can be as simple or ambitious as you want, ranging from cleaning houses and apartments to cars to storing clothes, a tradition as much a part of this time, for many, as doing taxes.

"You come out of the winter hibernation and start cleaning. That goes for the inside and out," said Lenny Mirabile, president of Autumn Leaf Landscape Design, in Centerport.

Tidying up is all the more important with many LIers spending almost all their time at home.

"Because of COVID, people have been home since March, working remotely," said Adam Lance, vice president of Long Island Steam Cleaners, in Mount Sinai. "Kids have been home more. Houses are kind of a mess."

Here are some tips for your to-do list, indoors and outdoors:

Decluttering: Focus on what you need

Objects can accumulate over the years, filing corners, closets and spaces from garages to drawers. Spring can be a good time to clean up and clean out — declutter and regain space. That can mean taking an inventory of what you have — and what you need. "Decluttering is a means to help you regain control of your space, your life, and improve your overall state of being," Giacalone said.

A storage room before it was cleaned and
Here is the result of the project. Racks

A storage room before and after it was cleaned and organized by Vinnie Giacalone of The Organized Guy, of Massapequa, for a client. Giacalone installed racks and set them up with all of the cleaning supplies, paper goods and other items. (Photos by Vinnie Giacalone, The Organized Guy)

Storing clothes: ‘See what you have’

It’s time to take out spring clothes and put away the winter wardrobe. "Having a clear bin helps," Giacalone said of storage. "I prefer them to be transparent. You need to see what you have."

You can also label bins — transparent or not. "Storage vacuum bags are a great idea," Giacalone added. "You can get more productivity out of the space that’s available." Some people store out-of-season clothing in attics but be careful about where you put it, and how.

You also may want to donate items you don’t need.

Cleaning carpets: Pet owners may need pros

Adam Lance, vice president of Long Island Steam Cleaners, based in Mount Sinai, recommends cleaning carpets professionally once a year and every six months if you have pets. "Most people hunker down in the winter, spending more time at home," he said. "You get a lot of grime that clings to the carpet that a regular vacuum can’t get out."

Lance’s company typically charges $50 a room and $85 with pets for steam cleaning, which should increase a carpet’s life, he said. Deep cleaning tiles and grouts – commonly in kitchens and bathrooms – typically costs 85 cents to $1.25 per square foot, businesses say.

Changing batteries: Included

Any time is good to check smoke/carbon monoxide detectorsbatteries, but spring makes sense. Some require battery changes, while others are built with power to last the detector’s life. "When we do spring forward, I say ‘Remember to change the smoke detector and CO2 batteries,’" Giacalone said. "Keep your home as safe as possible." Check to see whether it’s time to replace detectors as well as batteries.

Replacing AC filters: Clear the air

Air conditioners should be cleaned and new filters placed in central air conditioning. "Change the air conditioning filter," Paul Oresky, of Oceanside, said. "Ours is relatively straightforward." Sometimes, this means repairs to get ready for warmer weather. "There have been years where we’ve had issues with the air conditioning," Jocelyn Weston, Oresky’s spouse, said. "And then it’s fixed."

A service contract can help, Weston said. "Anything that goes wrong with central air is expensive," she added. Weston sometimes also has the ducts cleaned.

Cleaning windows: Let there be sight

Spring can mean the beautiful outdoors, but you want a clear view. Be careful if you clean your own windows inside and out, using proper equipment, water and cleaning fluid. Professionals often use low-pressure steam and brushes, so fluid dries evenly, Lance said.

Squeegees work on the inside. Improper chemicals can leave marks. "Nobody wants to look at a window with streaks," Lance said. Window cleaning -- inside and outside, including screens -- ranges from $12 to $15 per window, Lance said.

Power washing outside: Grime busters

That moss that builds up on the side of the house continues into spring. Power wash siding, roofs, pavers, porches and decks. You can even do the driveway. "If you leave moss on your roof, eventually you’ll need a new roof," Lance said.

Power washing makes surfaces look good, but also protects them. "If you don’t power wash and keep the wood or vinyl clean, you end up with problems. This is preventive maintenance." Lance said power washing siding, done by cleaning companies such as Long Island Steam Cleaners, ranges from $200 to $700, depending on the size of the house with the average cost about $375. He said cleaning decks typically costs $250, pavers $250 and pool areas $350.

Pavers and paths: Way to go

Mirabile says spring’s a good time to "rejuvenate the look of your paving stones." A cleaning and sealing service can power clean and seal paving stones to remove organic stains. Companies can resand joints with a polymer-based joint filling material. "You have the option to put a sealer on it," Mirabile said. Spring also is a good time to adjust or add new LED lights for landscape and paths. Check bulbs and stanchions, Mirabile said. "Adjust them to focus on the accents they were intended for," Mirabile said. Pathways and entryways are key areas to light. Motion sensors can trigger lights for safety in areas of concern.

Pruning shrubs: A trim look

Clean up branches and other tree debris from your yard, Mirabile said. Prune back trees or shrubs, but don’t prune flowering trees and shrubs that depend on old wood to bloom, he added. Spruce up perennials. Remove last year’s growth and cut back plants that didn’t get trimmed last fall. Fertilize flower gardens and recut flower bed edges, Mirabile said. Weston is planning a new flower bed this year, after removing a pool. "We had all of this land that was just grass," she said. "Little by little we’ve been adding a tree or two every year." They added a magnolia tree last spring. Unpack and clean garden furniture. Weston also reinstalls the valance on a roll-away awning.

Turn on sprinklers: Test the waters

Turn on your sprinkler system, go through all the zones to make sure all areas are covered and replace broken heads, Mirabile said. Weston hires a company to start the system and checks the spigots in the garden. "Sometimes the spigot breaks off in the winter due to snow or ice," Weston said, noting gardeners also can damage sprinklers. Turn on outside hose faucets and check for leaks. "If they are leaking, check to see if the round rubber gasket needs replacement," Mirabile said.

Cleaning the garage: For wheel

Each spring, Oresky cleans out their garage.

"I vacuum it, take everything out and put it back," he said. "Anything I don’t need, let’s throw away." He cleans half of the garage at a time. "If I get energetic, I remove everything from one side on one weekend. I vacuum that side," he said. "I go through everything I removed." Spring cleaning often means cleaning out. "Inevitably I throw out what we no longer need or whatever breaks," he said.

Oresky also works on his vehicles in the spring. He tunes up his motorcycle, removes snow shovels and scrapers from the trunk of his car and gives it a wash, he said.

Weston also gets the bicycles tuned up. "When I go to pump them up," she said, "they’re new."

Giving can help, too

Donating stuff you don't need can help you declutter.

Various charities as well as local churches, temples, mosques and religious organizations accept donations. Here are a few groups that accept clothing, furniture and other items.

People can give books to The Book Fairies in Freeport, which donates to schools.

Veterans organizations, such as AmVets, a national group with a location in Copiague, often accept clothing and furniture.

ReStore, a store in Hauppauge run by Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, is a good place to donate objects such as tools and building supplies that they can use to build homes or sell.

Claude Solnik

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