While some of our friends and family members elsewhere in the country may still be contending with winter’s deep freeze (it’s okay to feel a little smug) here on Vancouver Island the signs of spring are everywhere. The trees and flowers are in bud and even blooming in some cases, while the morning air is filled with the song of migratory birds. Now is a great time to shake off the winter blahs and to begin freshening up your home for the coming of the warm weather.

But the concept of Spring Cleaning isn’t restricted to the inside alone. The exterior of your home could probably use a sprucing after the months of rain and slush it’s had to endure. During the fall and winter dirt, grime, mold and mildew has had a chance to build up on the outside of the home so now is the perfect time to clean it off. Cleaning is important not just aesthetically but also to help maintain the integrity of the materials on your home.

One of the handiest tools for cleaning a home’s exterior is a pressure washer, which can be easily acquired from any number of local hardware stores, or rented from local supply houses. As the name implies this tool uses high pressure water, taken from your own exterior taps to clear away dirt, grime, moss and just about everything else. Using a system like this doesn’t require too much vigorous scrubbing however it works better when a detergent is used to speed up the process. Again, exterior home cleaners can be readily purchased at local home centers.

It’s important to make sure the cleaner you choose is designed for use in a pressure washer, if that’s how you plan to apply it, and that it’s intended for the type of surface you’ll be cleaning. There are a number of cleaners for specific applications such as siding, decks as well as paved or masonry surfaces.

For many, spring means a return of the barbecue season. But as with the exterior of the home months of neglect must be attended to before you can fire up that first batch of burgers. Before even thinking about cooking give your grill its own spring cleaning. If it’s a charcoal unit, the process is fairly simple, a gas grill will be a bit more involved, but the cooking grate is a good place to start for either. A wire brush and a degreasing detergent will remove the residue from the last cookout and any rust that’s appeared over the winter.

The burners on a gas unit should be cleaned and inspected for deterioration brought on by rust. The tiny holes in the burners should be clean and free of debris. If necessary, use a small piece of wire to clean them out. The bottom of the grill pan itself catches most of the grease (gas or charcoal) so more wire brushing and detergent are needed here. If the outer surface of the grill needs painting prepare it properly by lightly sanding the surface and washing thoroughly to remove all grease. Once its dry, coat it with a high heat spray paint (often called barbecue and stove enamel).

You home’s gutters also need attention after the last few months of neglect. Before the spring run-off can flow through the gutters last fall’s leaves have to come out. With safety always foremost in mind now is a great time to take your ladder and make a visual inspection of the gutters. Remove any debris that could potentially clog the system.

This can either be done by hand or by using a homemade gutter scoop which can be MacGyvered together by cutting down a plastic container such as an automotive antifreeze jug. Keep the jug handle and top and cut away the bottom diagonally. The resulting scoop is just the right width for your gutters.

These are just a few fundamental spring cleaning suggestions. You know what unique challenges your home and property offer. You can either handle them yourself or employ the services of any of the yard care companies found throughout the region. Shop around and perhaps you’ll find some pre-spring bargains. A little effort now will mean a more enjoyable, problem free experience later.