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It might not seem like springtime to some of you, but it is. Time for those spring-cleaning projects. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then cleaning up a deck or patio is a priority. Here are the steps we suggest you take to get the job done so you’ll be ready for that first family barbecue.

Start by taking everything off the surface. Once that’s done, you can clean the deck or patio. A power washer will do a good job on just about any surface. Use the recommended cleaners for your washer. For stubborn stains, you can spot clean with bleach, TSP or other cleaners made for specific stains.

Concrete surfaces might benefit from a water seal, which can be sprayed on fairly easily to protect the surface from stains and moisture damage.

Decks might look better with some stain or paint. Make sure they are dry and prepped properly for the best results.

Before moving furniture and other things back onto the surface, give them a thorough cleaning. Add rubber or plastic “feet” to your furniture pieces to keep them from scratching or rusting on your patio or deck. Paint rusty areas.

Clean and ready your grill. If it drips grease, consider adding a mat under it to keep it from soiling your patio or deck. A nice cover won’t cost you much and can protect your grill when you are not using it.

If you place potted plants on your patio, use feet or trays to keep water from pooling on the surface and leaving mold or mildew behind. Plastic trays work better than clay because they are not porous.

Make sure to switch old light bulbs out to LED or CFL bulbs. They last longer and use less electricity. You can add more lights if you don’t have enough. You can purchase nice-looking floor and table lamps these days that are made to use outdoors and can stand up to the weather nicely.

Do a little light cleaning once a month or so, and your patio or deck will be ready for all of your family get-togethers all summer long!

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Q: I have some stains on my bathroom counter that were made years ago by cigarettes. I have tried most bathroom cleaners but have been afraid to use abrasives or stronger cleaners just yet. Is there anyway to remove them? The counter is a fake marble surface. What should I use? – T.P.

A: Make a paste with cream of tartar (a cooking spice) and household hydrogen peroxide and cover each spot with this. Check after an hour or two to see if it’s working. If it is, leave it on the spots overnight.

If the surface is dark, do a test spot first to prevent too much bleaching. If that doesn’t work, email us again and we’ll try something else. Good luck!

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Vinegar is one of those everyday, household products that we all have in our homes. It has tons of uses there as well as in the shop and even outdoors. It’s really inexpensive and can save you money in many cases.

We have put together a list of some of our favorite, tried-and-true uses for the stuff. If you are interested in finding out more and would like a copy of our list, visit our website at www.thesuperhandyman.com. Have a SUPER DAY!