Spring cleaning is a sometimes dreaded but often necessary activity to keep a comfortable and healthy living environment, and it can save money and prevent frustration down the line.
For Wayne Edelman, the CEO of Meurice — the garment care and house cleaning company founded by his father, Larry Edelman, more than half a century ago — the aim is to go beyond cleaning. He likes to think about the effort that goes into taking care of a home and its contents not as cleaning, but as maintenance that protects an investment.
“There’s a big difference between cleaning and maintenance, and I’m a firm believer in maintenance,” Edelman said during a recent phone interview.
His business’s storefronts include Clean By Meurice in East Hampton Village and Meurice Garment Care in Manhasset, and up until the pandemic, the Meurice flagship was located at University Place in Manhattan. The clothing, linens, handbags and other items that customers drop off are taken to the Meurice’s Bronx facility for cleaning, tailoring and repairs. Meurice’s interiors cleaning division offers including house and office cleaning, post-construction cleaning and disaster restoration.
Speaking from the Bronx, Edelman shared some on the most commonly overlooked yet important areas of the home during spring cleaning — or spring maintenance.
“Routine vacuuming on these types of items as a preventative maintenance is something that’s often overlooked, and ‘A,’ will improve the quality of life environmentally in the home, and ‘B,’ extend the life of the asset,” Edelman said.
He recommends vacuuming both the window-facing side and the room-facing side of drapes, and he emphasized that it’s important to use a HEPA vacuum. Without a HEPA filter, dirt, pollen, dander and spores will just go right back into the air of the home, he noted
When it comes to sheer curtains that can be easily sucked up into the vacuum hose, Edelman points out that vacuums have adjustable suction and multiple hose attachments for that very reason. Turn down the suction to be gentle on the curtains.
While working on the curtains, remember to clean the window screens as well. Edelman said the screens are a given, but what is commonly overlooked is the area between the window sashes and the screen. “As soon as you open up that window, whatever is collected from the outside is going to come blowing into the house,” he said. “So we recommend vacuuming that area out and then using a light cleaner or a damp cloth to get the rest of the dirt out of that area.”
“It’s amazing what could be done with a vacuum,” he said.
And while cleaning couches, remember to rotate the cushions for even wear. If someone has a favorite spot on the couch, it can show in the cushions, but changing the arrangement of the cushions regularly will extend the life of the whole couch.
Air coming from the outside may carry dust, pollen and other allergens, and indoor air will likely contain volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, from paint, floor coverings and other finishes, Edelman noted
“You want to change air in the home, but you also want to filter,” he said. “A lot of the home air purifiers are great, but again, if you don’t maintain these, you are doing yourself a disservice.”
He runs two commercial-grade dehumidifiers in his 1890 house, one in the basement and one on the top floor. He said it’s amazing what the third-floor dehumidifier filter catches compared to the basement dehumidifier. He attributes that to warm air rising and bringing dust with it.
Even clothes that looked clean when they were put away at the end of the season may not look clean at all when they come out of the closet again.
“Clothes should be put away clean,” Edelman said. “You’re doing yourself a disservice to the investment you make in your wardrobe if you don’t put them away clean.”
At the top of his list of reasons is moths. Moths love soft textiles, and they go after soiled areas first, he said.
Then there are the stains that are not visible to the eye initially but change color and cause further damage if left unattended.
“Certain sugary type stains — white wine, champagne, even ginger ale — will caramelize over a period of time,” Edelman said. If the soiled clothes sit in the closet all winter, the stains will turn brown.
Oil stains become more visible as they oxidize and can leave little X’s that are the result of the oil, due to its viscosity, following the pattern of the clothing’s fibers. Moisturizers and the natural oils on skin come in contact with the collars and cuffs of outer jackets, and those areas should be addressed before putting the coat away, he said.
Many articles of clothing that are typically brought to be dry cleaned don’t have to be professionally laundered. Edelman said home washing machines can often achieve good results. What it comes down to is how much time someone has to spare. “In my opinion, my time is my greatest asset,” he said.
Never store clothes in a basement or attic.
“We always recommend storing clothes somewhere where they’re not exposed to extreme changes in temperature and humidity,” Edelman said. “You know, if you wouldn’t want to live there, don’t keep your clothes there — unless you don’t care about them. I can’t tell you how many fur coats we find in boiler rooms.”
It wasn’t always the case that home washing machines could compete with professional cleaning. Edelman said the evolution of front-loading washing machines has made it easy for anyone to care for their garments at home. New machines offer variable speeds and temperatures, such as woolen cycles and gentle cycles, giving the public the option to “wet clean” at home, he said.
Front-loaders do require some extra care and attention compared to top-loaders. The doors should be left open when not in use to prevent mold, and if there is a built-in maintenance cycle, don’t forget to run it.
Front-loaders also have a drain pump filter that should be routinely cleaned.
“People neglect it until it doesn’t work, and then they call a maintenance repair company in — and look at this we came full circle because once again we’re talking about maintaining versus repairing,” Edelman said.
Drier vents should be cleaned semiannually, according to Edelman. Meurice’s disaster recovery division has seen quite a few drier vent fires. Cleaning out the lint twice a year goes a long way toward prevention.
He uses the start and end of Daylight Saving Time as his reminders to perform washer, dryer and other appliance maintenance, the same dates that fire departments use to remind homeowners to check their smoke detectors.
Many people don’t even know the coils need to be vacuumed, Edelman said; that is, until their appliance fails and they call in a repair company.
If he finds dust, it makes him crazy.
He gets his meticulous nature from his father, who would have been 95 on March 28 but died five years ago.
“Even if his late 80s, he would still come in here,” Edelman said of his father. “He would have an aide … he had his walker, and he would walk around and he would look at the finished product going out and lift the bags and inspect the garments and point out things that he didn’t think were right.”
He praised his father’s attention to detail and said he hopes to be as good as him.
“I’m not in the dry cleaning business, I’m not in the laundry business, I’m not in the fire restoration business,” Edelman said. “I’m in the customer service business, and within that realm, it’s all in the attention to detail.”