5 Things You Should Take Outside Right Now
Sunlight is a natural disinfectant—the UV rays can kill off mold, mildew and even bacteria. So take advantage of the sun's power and get these things outside right now.
Over time, all kinds of disgusting stuff can build up in your mattress, including allergens like dust and dust mites and natural body oils. All this leaves your mattress dirty (and sometimes smelly).
So, once you've got a clear sunny day, grab the chance to give your mattress some TLC and air it out, outside. Begin by vacuuming it on both sides, then take it outside and lay it on a tarp or plastic sheet to avoid any dampness and dirt. Or, lean against a wall or fence. Mattresses are heavy and awkward to carry so get a buddy to help you wrestle it out of the house.
Keep an eye on your mattress while it's outdoors, especially if rodents are plentiful in your neighborhood.
Three or four hours in the sun is enough to allow your mattress to air thoroughly—six is even better. But, make sure you bring it in well before dusk so dampness doesn't seep in.
Put your mattress back on the bed upside down and the opposite way around so your mattress doesn't sag.
Did you discover bed bugs in your mattress? Here's how to get rid of them.
Pillows and Cushions
Cushions and pillows will also benefit from a good airing in the sun. Couch cushions get dirty and dusty, while pillows can even become stained from sweat and saliva. You can whiten stained bed pillows in the washing machine very easily. Here's how.
Remove pillow protectors and cushion covers and clean them according to the care label. It's a good idea to wash your pillows and cushions too before airing them outside. You probably should be washing your pillows way more often than you do! You can choose whether to tumble-dry them in a drier before airing, or let them dry outside. If you opt to dry naturally, be sure they're totally dry before returning them to your bed.
To air outside, take your pillows and cushions outside and hang them on a washing line with sturdy clothes pins, or lay them out flat in the sun (remembering to turn them over so that the sun and air gets to both sides). Be sure to bring them in before evening dampness sets in.
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Whether your duvet is made from downy feathers or synthetic material, it can become a bit musty from being inside all winter. So a good airing outside will restore its freshness.
It's best to clean it first, either in your washing machine or by dry cleaning, depending on the care instructions. Many duvets (even feather versions) can be tumble dried, and adding a couple of tennis balls or wool dryer balls will plump the filling up nicely.
However, be careful when airing your duvet outside, because direct sunlight can dry out the filling and make your duvet lumpy and uncomfortable, so always air duvets in the shade.
You might want to change your winter duvet for a lightweight summer one, so check out our tips for storing seasonal bedding.
All those feet (and maybe muddy paws!) tramping over your rugs makes them another prime candidate for some outdoor airing. Vacuum your rugs on both sides to remove any loose dust and dirt, then roll them up and take them outside. It's a good idea to give them a hearty shake when you get there to remove any final detritus and if they still look a bit dirt-ridden, you can give them a good old-fashioned beating with a broom handle.
A standard clothesline isn't sturdy enough to hold heavy rugs, so string up a bungee cord between trees, spread your rugs out on a tarp or hang them over a deck or stair railing instead. And if possible, protect the patterned side from too much exposure to sunlight because it could fade the colors. Your rugs will benefit from a spell in the sun, but the outdoors is the perfect spot to shampoo your area rugs too.
It's not only furnishings that need some time outdoors. Your houseplants might be feeling a bit claustrophobic after a winter indoors too, so why not give them a treat and put them outside for some much needed fresh spring air?
Many houseplants can be put outside once the danger of frost is past. But remember to do this gradually, because sudden exposure colder temperatures can shock your precious plants. Open windows for a few days to let air in before putting houseplants outside. Or acclimate them gradually, beginning with one hour outside and gradually increasing the time over a few days. And, watch the weather forecast carefully so you can whisk them inside again if there's an unexpected frost or heavy rain.
Bright sunlight can also shock your plants, so place them in the shade at first, in a sheltered spot out of the wind so the leaves and soil don't dry out. You might need to adjust your feeding and watering routine once they're outside.
And watch out for outdoor pests and treat accordingly—especially before moving plants back inside.