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Tips to take the stress out of spring cleaning

Friday - 3/21/2014, 7:13am  ET

Spring cleaning: It's time to scrub winter away. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON -- The official start to spring means it's officially time to give your house a good scrub -- especially after the abuse it endured during this long winter of snow, salt and mud.

From washing windows to scrubbing tiles and flipping mattresses, spring cleaning can seem daunting. But Kim Myles, from OWN's "Home Made Simple," offers some tips to make the ritual less stressful and more approachable.

"A top-to-bottom clean is a really important thing to do, even if you only do it once a year," Myles says. "It changes how your home feels and it changes your mindset."

Kick the Chemical Cleaners to the Curb

One tip Myles offers for spring cleaning is to keep it simple, starting with the cleaning products and chemicals you use on your home. She says baking soda does it all for her.

Painting one wall is an easy and inexpensive way to freshen the look of your home for spring. (AP Photo)

"It's one product, but it can tackle multiple projects," she says.

Myles uses dry baking soda to freshen couch cushions, mattresses and other upholstered pieces of furniture.

To wash the floors, she mixes it with warm water. Baking soda combined with water is also great for wiping down walls, soaking stove burner grates and cleaning window screens.

In the bathroom, mix ˝ cup of baking soda with ˝ cup vinegar to unclog drains.

"It's natural, it's effective and it's really gentle," Myles says.

Wash the Carpets

The carpet is another part of the house that's important to clean.

"Let's face it. You can open the windows all you want to air the house out, but if you haven't tackled all of the snow and the salt and everything that gets tracked in after a winter like we just had, you're still going to have that musty winter smell," Myles says.

And a routine vacuum isn't going to cut it. Myles says washing the carpets is necessary.

There are a variety of lightweight carpet washers on the market for under $100, and many home improvement stores rent carpet cleaners for a day.

Small Organization, Décor Projects

Hallway Closet: Confronting the hallway closet is another small project that helps de-clutter the house without a major time commitment.

"It's really satisfying because that's the entry to your home," Myles says.

Wash all the scarves, hats and gloves and put them away in organized baskets or containers. Pull out the winter jackets and wash them or take them to the dry cleaners.

Don't forget to donate any items you no longer use, or throw out the things that can't be used again next year.

Guest Baskets: After she's washed the sheets, quilts and towels and stacked them in the linen closet, Myles says she likes to get ready for potential spring and summer guests by making guest baskets.

In them, she includes all the essentials for visitors: towels, contact solution, a toothbrush, toothpaste, razors and a bit of chocolate.

Change the Curtains: Myles says that once the house is clean, making a few small décor changes helps elevate the overall clean feeling of your home. And changing out heavy or dark curtains for white or cream-colored curtains can have a big impact.

"Nothing says spring like crisp, white or cream curtains," says Myles, who adds that these colors go with every color palate. Plus, the switch doesn't require much work.

Hardware: Hardware, or "home jewelry," is another quick fix that leaves a big impression -- and all you need is a screwdriver.

Changing out the knobs and pulls in the kitchen, the bathroom and on dressers is an easy way to modernize your home without touching the "renovation" word.

Paint: The best way to bring a new look to the interior of your home is to paint -- even if it's just on a small space, such as an entryway.

Myles says it doesn't have to be complicated or even require a lot of thought: Pick out your favorite color and get going. The project is inexpensive and can be done in a day.

"That is a super easy refresh that really, literally, does change the space," she says.

The Outside of the House

When it comes to spring cleaning the outside of the house, Myles' go-to tool is the phone book.

She says some major projects -- such as cleaning the gutters, cleaning the chimney or undertaking a major landscaping overhaul -- aren't worth the time and energy they require.

"I'm a huge fan of DIY, I built a career on it, I totally believe in it, but I also know when to cry uncle," Myles says. "At that point, save your DIY energy for the things that are really doable and bite size, and just call in the professional."

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