7 Keys to Make Your Home's Exterior Shine

(ARA) - A spring breeze wafting through a freshly-cleaned home is one of the best feelings in the world. And as you relax in your sparkling clean interior, don't forget that the outside of your home also needs attention.

"Nothing welcomes people to your home like a well-tended exterior," says home care expert Gerry Luepke. "The patio furniture and yard accessories extend your first greeting. With a little planning and the right products, outdoor spring-cleaning will go smoothly and you'll be proud of your results."

It is important to get dirt, mildew and other weathering signs cleaned from the outdoor surfaces such as vinyl, wood, wrought iron, and stone. Springtime usually means window washing and painting as well.

Choosing the rights tools and cleaning products is important. "Gather your tools before you start. You will need several soft scrub brushes in different sizes, along with sponges for washing and rinsing, and cleaning cloths or paper towels for drying," Luepke says. All of these can be found at your local hardware store.

Luepke recommends a good all-purpose cleaner, such as Professional Strength Soilax, and plenty of water to get successful results. "Be sure to follow package directions to mix up your cleaning solutions and dissolve all the ingredients well. Always test the surfaces by cleaning a small, inconspicuous area first," Luepke says.

Complete your cleaning kit with several sizes of buckets, household gloves, and maybe a plastic tote basket to keep everything together. There will be no need to make a trip to the store for missing supplies; you'll only stop to admire your handiwork!

Luepke recommends this recipe:

- 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent

- 2/3 cup Soilax

- 3 quarts water

NOTE: If mildew is a problem, add 1 quart 5% chlorine bleach

VINYL, WOOD - siding, decks, furniture and fencing

Vinyl is a common outdoor surface that is durable and stays looking good with basic care. Wood furniture looks better for longer if it is covered and stored for the winter.

To clean these surfaces, wash with a Soilax solution, using a scrub brush if necessary, and rinse well. A bucket, pump sprayer or power washer may be used to apply the washing solution.

WINDOWS

Sparkling clean windows brighten up the whole house, inside and out. Clean windows on a cloudy day, so they won't dry too quickly and leave streaks. A helpful hint - dry the windows using newsprint to minimize streaking.

To clean screens, wash them with a cleaning solution, rinse well, and let them air dry. Make window washing a team effort, with one person washing the inside and one person washing the outside. This makes it much easier to see that there are no streaks left behind.

PAINTING PREPARATION

Many people choose spring to do major paint jobs on the outside of houses, garages and sheds. It's important that surfaces be as clean as possible to insure proper paint adhesion. A mixture of cup of Soilax per gallon of warm water can be used because it requires no rinsing and dries quickly.

WROUGHT IRON - furniture and ornaments

Wrought iron adds a touch of elegance to any yard. To clean wrought iron, wash with clear water using a damp cloth or sponge and wipe dry. Adding a protective coat of liquid wax makes cleaning easier and guards against rust. Be sure to read all the instructions first. Use a commercial rust cleaner as necessary, following the directions on the container.

CLAY POTS

Grouping decorative plants on the patio adds a special touch. Using acrylics to paint designs on patio planters is a popular way to liven up the exterior of clay pots. Prepare the pots for painting by cleaning the surface thoroughly. Give previously used "plain" pots a springtime cleanup by scrubbing away the unsightly mineral deposits left by watering on both the inside and outside of the pots. Soak the pots in clear water first to loosen the deposits. Use a washing solution and a scrub brush to clean the pots. Rinse well.

STONE - pathways, walls, statuary

Stone ornamentation adds special character to the yard. To clean stone, wash with a mild cleaning solution. Rinse well with clear water and let dry.

"Have fun while you get ready for spring. Work outdoors when you can and let the kids help," says Luepke. "When your spring cleaning tasks are completed, treat yourself - fire up the barbecue grill and enjoy."

For more tips and suggestions, call Gerry Luepke at (800) 284-2023.

Courtesy of Article Resource Association, www.aracopy.com, e-mail: info@aracopy.com

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