Spring has sprung, the weather is warming, the days are getting longer, and that sweet smell of freshly cut Alabama Bermuda will soon be on the breeze. It’s a great time of year to take a cue from nature by reorganizing and refreshing those living spaces.

The first step is to take cleaning at least semi-seriously. According to a 2010 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, household dust can contain not only allergens like soot particles and pollen, but traces of dangerous chemicals like lead, arsenic and DDT. And while a home may never be completely dust free, it is important for a healthy lifestyle to clean thoroughly and regularly.

Kristie Sparks of Bryant Cleaning Service in Oxford suggests cleaning windows, curtains and blinds first, not only because they collect a lot of dust and debris, but to brighten up your spring cleaning experience.

“It’s so much easier to clean your baseboards and things when you can see them,” Sparks said. “Pick a sunny day, clean those windows and open them right up. It’ll make cleaning inside easier and more fun. It puts you in a good mood.”

Jeff Digby, owner of Digby’s Commercial Cleaning Solutions in Anniston, says the key to any good clean is working top-to-bottom.

“A lot of people forget to dust the high corners of ceilings, the tops of their ceiling fans, places like that,” Digby said. “Start at the top of a room and work down from there. It makes cleaning a lot easier and more efficient. Plus you’re less likely to miss a spot.”

To cut down on airborne allergens, Digby also recommends a thorough, professional carpet cleaning twice a year. Pet owners should opt for once every quarter to minimize dander. A professional cleaning also extends carpet life in heavy-traffic areas, he says.

Beyond hiring a pro, there are plenty of simple, solid cleaning choices that can be made in the home.

Lakitta Thompson, owner of Anniston’s Creme Dela Creme Domestic House Keeping Service, advises staying away from harsh chemicals.

“They often stink and can sometimes be dangerous, if you’re not careful. You don’t want to go mixing things you’re not supposed to,” Thompson said. “You also don’t want the first thing that people smell when they walk into your home to be chemicals.”

When it comes to cleaning products, she says to think green. “There are a lot of amazing organic cleaners out there that you can buy, or even make yourself, that work just as well as smelly old bleach.”

Traditional mopping is great for messes and spills on sealed floors, according to Digby. But for disinfecting and leaving a great shine, steam mopping is the way to go.

“Do what is right for your floor type,” Digby said. “But a lot of floors benefit much more from a steam mopping than by trying to clean it with a bucket of soapy water. You can buy those gentle steam mops for your home now, they’re great.”

One tip that almost all of the pros agree on is the power of putting a little hard work into your spring cleaning.

“Nothing really beats elbow grease,” Thompson said, laughing. “Try not to be in a hurry, and if you want to keep your home looking nice, you can’t be afraid to get in there and scrub.”

Andrew Holderfield is a freelance writer in Jacksonville. Contact him at Andrew.Holderfield@gmail.com.