6 steps to make your outdoor space sparkle
Homes and apartments with terraces and balconies provide a welcome retreat for fresh air and barbecue cooking. Unfortunately, they also collect dust, grease, and bird droppings from our feathered friends who build nests in nooks.
Cleaning your balcony or terrace on a quarterly basis will make the chore less difficult than if you only tackle the task once a year. Because many of us live in apartments with neighbors who don’t want water running down onto their property, we offer steps for both dry and wet cleaning.
1. Empty your outdoor space
The first step toward making your terrace as spotless as possible is to remove all plants and furniture. If you live in a high rise building, and need to bring items indoors, clean them off first with a damp cloth while outside. Lay down a large piece of plastic, an old sheet, or a drop cloth so you don’t soil interior floors and carpets.
2. Clean out debris and dust
Next, sweep or vacuum the area to pick up cobwebs, dead insects and other debris. A handheld wet/dry vacuum just for outdoors is a helpful tool.
Always use the top down approach when cleaning. Begin cleaning high places first as debris and dust will fall to the floor. Check your local market for cleaning tools that offer extension rods for cleaning out of reach places. Be courteous to neighbors and use a dust pan. Don’t sweep debris over the side.
3. Wash your balcony
Using a hose or power washer to clean is a great temptation because it is convenient. But neighbors may not appreciate water cascading over the side of your balcony or terrace. Cement manufacturers warn against the use of power washers because as water exits the nozzle at a high pressure it creates flakes and voids in the concrete’s surface. Over time, this can erode the surface and cause the cement to soak up water like a sponge.
A gentle mixture of one part bleach to one part water applied with a brush or mop will sterilize the ceiling corners, floor and railing. Use a mop and a bucket with wringer to keep water from spreading to unwanted areas. If you are concerned about water dripping over your balcony, roll up towels and place them around the perimeter of the space.
4. Rinse out cleaning products
After sterilizing, clean with a soapy liquid cleaner to remove extra grease and grime. Then clean once more with plain water to remove any soap residue. Use old towels to dry the surface.
5. Clean the barbecue
To soak up grease from a grill, try putting baking soda or kitty litter over the stain. Let it sit for at least 24 hours. Then try a concentrated detergent or degreasing product to remove the rest.
6. Clean the French windows
Large glass doors can be cleaned with a mixture of vinegar and water or glass cleaner. To minimize streaking, experts suggest using a squeegee and the “S” method to clean. Make “S” motions as you pull the squeegee down the glass.
Of course, the easiest way to keep your terrace or balcony looking great all year long is to prevent dirt from forming. Place a mat under the barbeque grill for capturing spills. Use outdoor carpets that you can vacuum, shake out or wash. Wind chimes and other decorative items that discourage birds from nesting in nooks or flying into glass windows are also helpful.