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Spring cleaning got ya down? Try these creative alternatives

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 5:09 p.m.

NEW YORK — Spring cleaning can make a home feel like new, but let's face it, it's a pain. But it's possible to outsource some of that work without being a millionaire.

If you're willing to spend a few bucks to save on the elbow grease, here are some options to consider:

• Check online: Sure, you could hire a cleaning service, but these days it's easy to find people who will clean your house for you on the cheap. Start with Craigslist, the granddaddy of online service listings.

Another place to look is TaskRabbit, a company started in 2010 that lets people post services they want someone else to do for them. Then, people who sign up for the site have received a background check can bid on the job. The jobs range from pet-sitting to office jobs, and cleaning services are popular tasks as well. Similar sites have been popping up all over the web: check out Zaarly.com or beagle.com, which is focused on college campuses.

And don't be shy in raiding your own family for help, says Atlanta-based organizational expert Monica Ricci.

“Lots of moms forget they have a built-in spring cleaning task force right at home,” she says. “Assign specific spring cleaning tasks to your kids in age-appropriate ways. Little ones can use a sponge to wipe down baseboards, while older kids can help take down window treatments.”

• Ask around: You may be able to find a good deal on a cleaner by talking to friends, relatives and co-workers. Perhaps they know of a college student looking to make extra cash, or who might have a low-cost cleaning service themselves.

At any rate, anyone you find through a referral will have the added benefit of having been vetted by someone you know, always a plus when a person is coming into your home.

• Tag team: If you have some chores you don't mind and others you can't stand, check with your friends and neighbors to see if they might be interested in swapping efforts. It can make a big difference in how you approach spring cleaning and make the whole endeavor less of a drag.

“Team up or trade off with your best friend to tag-team the tasks you each like least to make spring cleaning easier, faster and more fun,” Ricci says.

• Seek out daily deals for cleaning services. Many sites like Groupon, Living Social and Amazon's daily deals often have coupons for cleaning services. A recent Groupon offer in Boston, for example, offered full-house spring cleaning for $69, $80 off the regular $149 price.

LivingSocial in Tampa offered half off carpet cleaning, or $45 for three rooms. Especially as the typical spring cleaning months of March and April approach, look out for these deals and you might snag a cleaning service at a steal. If you can't find a deal, the services themselves might offer a one-time cleaning at a special rate.

“Many professional cleaning services will offer a one-time deep cleaning option, even if you aren't a regular customer,” Ricci says.

• Furniture pickup: One of the most backbreaking spring cleaning tasks, getting rid of old furniture, can actually be done for free. As long as you're willing to donate old furniture to second-hand stores such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, then these stores usually make house calls for items that are hard to transport. Call your local second-hand shop to see if they offer this service.

• Digital spring cleaning: Digital clutter can complicate lives as much as physical clutter. In this case, you can take advantage of your office's IT department to get advice for free. Ask them for tips about how to archive excess e-mail and documents; they can also take a look at the files you have on your computer and delete any unnecessary ones that are taking up too much space.

At home, take advantage of services online such as Carbonite, Mozy or Symantec to back up files.

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