H owa p ro does spring c leaning

April 24, 2013

Even before winter’s departure, Liliane “Lilly” Lima was ready to welcome brighter skies and warmer weather. The 36-year-old owner and founder of Skilled Maids in Silver Spring and her staff were putting together a plan to help Washington area residents scrub away the season’s dust and dirt.

Now, Lima said, every other call her business receives is a new client wanting his or her home scrubbed for spring. Popular requests: pollen and dirt cleaned off outdoor furniture and air ducts thoroughly washed.

“People are really motivated to have a clean home now,” Lima said. “Everyone wants the clutter out of their house.”

Lima started the Skilled Maids cleaning service in 2007, adding staff over the years to fill out her team of 10. The business does primarily residential cleaning, as well as organizing consultations and major cleaning projects following home renovations.

If you’re setting aside time to freshen up your living space, Lima said, think about all the places you skip over during a normal vacuum or dusting.


Spring cleaning illustration. (Allie Ghaman/The Washington Post)

“Get to the areas that are usually out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

For folks who want to tackle the cobwebs themselves, we asked Lima for her best spring cleaning advice. Here is an edited transcript.

What cleaning do you do in your own home for the spring?

I definitely get to all of the windows, making sure to clean all of the windowsills. I also move and get underneath all of my furniture. I will clean my fridge and oven, and do a really, really good scrub in the bathroom. I will also try to clean the hardwood floors. It’s a big project.

How much time should homeowners or renters set aside for spring cleaning, if they want a deep clean?

Oh, my, it depends on the size of the house. For a medium-size house, I’d say about 10 to 12 hours, and that is if the homeowners want to do it by themselves. Otherwise it gets easier if more people are involved.

Is there one area of the home you find needs the most attention?

A big spring cleaning depends on the quality of your regular cleaning. You need to go as much as you can behind the furniture, which gets the least amount of attention, usually. And things like light fixtures. I would focus on those areas.

If this isn’t the year for a major home scrubbing, what are high-priority areas homeowners shouldn’t miss?

Everything is so important, and it depends on the size of the home. But if time is an issue, I would absolutely clean the kitchen and bathrooms, and try to vacuum all around.

Does your company strategize before cleaning? What is a simple go-to strategy?

They always start on the soft surfaces, then hard. You clean areas from left to the right or top to bottom. We have a list we follow for every kind of room. It’s easiest to tackle things in a row. When we go to the bathroom, we start at the shower, then the toilet and so on. Last is mopping, and then moving on to the next room. Every home is different, but planning is important. Don’t try to rush to do everything. Do one project at a time, maybe one or two rooms a day, and clean from top to bottom.

Any ideas or suggestions to help get kids involved in cleaning?

There are cleaning-themed toys out there for kids. They are, of course, really for them to have fun with. But they can at least get the idea of what to do to help keep the house clean. Let them help clean up by picking up their own stuff. Meanwhile, let Mom do the vacuuming.

Margaret Ely is a producer and reporter for Local Living and Weekend. Previously, she was an intern for the Post’s Metro section.
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