Few people get excited about House Maintenance. They’re like adult chores. In lieu of emptying the dishwasher or doing your homework, you’re changing batteries and repairing grout. Although Home Maintenance may not be on the top of your “Fun Things To Do” list, it doesn’t have to that time consuming or painful. And we’re here to help.
Ten Simple Steps To A Better Maintained Home
Spring cleaning is not that far away. Before you start going through the basement or attic, there are some simple and fundamental things many people overlook but are necessary to keep your home in tip-top shape. Rather than muttering expletives when that shower head isn’t functioning properly or that screen door squeaks yet again, take a deep breath and begin at the beginning.
1. Replacing Batteries.
They’re in your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, clocks and more. And they need to be changed. This is not even worthy of a groan. A stepladder and a package of Double AAs and you’re pretty much done. Change them all at the same time so it’s an easier task. We suggest doing this once or twice a year on a day you’ll remember, such as Daylight Savings Day when you need to change your clocks anyway. And don’t forget the remote controls.
2. WD-40 is your best friend.
You’d be amazed at what walking around your home with a can of WD-40 can do for you. Not only can you spray it on door and cabinet hinges, drawer slides, sash windows, sticky old scissors, etc. to operate smoothly and eliminate squeaks, it has many lesser known uses around the home as outlined by this article in Reader’s Digest. It can be used to remove scuff marks from the floor, to clean the toilet bowl and even to kill insects on the spot. FYI: use graphite lubricant for door and cabinet locks – NOT WD-40. Put the graphite on your key, and then simply use the key in the lock to lubricate it.
3. Making Your Faucets and Showerheads Flow Freely.
Chances are, you’ve lived with poor water pressure for so long that you may not realize it. Hard water, limestone and minerals form inside our faucets over time, clogging them and slowing down the flow.
Bathroom and kitchen faucets may merely need the aerator screen cleaned or replaced. Just unscrew the aerator from the housing (here’s a video on youtube that shows you how to do it) and you can scrub it with an old toothbrush and some vinegar or CLR. Don’t get confused by the myriad of parts you may have to unscrew. Just lay them out in the order you removed them and putting them back is easy.
Showerheads can actually be screwed off and soaked in white or cider vinegar (CLR works well, too) for a few hours (overnight if the showerhead is seriously clogged). Use a toothpick or something similar to remove the built up scum from the holes. When you’re finished you’ll realize it’s like having put in new faucets and showerheads!
4. Clean that Fridge.
Your refrigerator is one appliance that uses up more energy than almost any other in the home. And it needs cleaning on both the interior AND the exterior. Keeping it free of dust and muck is crucial to keep it running effectively. This will reduce your energy bill AND gas emissions which are bad for the planet. According to the Consumer Energy Center, just cleaning the coils can reduce the amount of energy that your fridge uses by up to 30 percent.
Most refrigerator coils are mounted on the back of the fridge. Simply move the refrigerator from the wall enough to get back there and vacuum those dust-laden coils. When pushing it back, remember to leave it a few inches from the wall for better circulation. Don’t forget to dust off the top of the fridge, while you’re at it.
Now that your refrigerator can breathe, it’s time to clean the inside. It may seem a daunting task, but you’ll be surprised how quickly and easily it’s completed. Just take everything out and wipe down the shelves and bins (most can be removed for easy cleaning).
Overstocking your fridge can prevent cold air from circulating properly, so toss out all those items you’re never going to eat, consolidate the ones you are and check those expiration dates on condiments and dressings. When it comes to putting the foods back in the fridge, there’s actually a proper way to organize them based on the temperature zones (see below).
According to Saveur, the proper way to stock food items in the refrigerator is as follows:
1. The top shelves of the fridge tend to be the warmest; store things that won’t perish as quickly here, like beverages and fruit.
2. The lower shelves, which are colder, are ideal for storing leftovers, dairy, and other foods that can spoil quickly.
3. High humidity levels in the crisper drawers maintain the right levels of moisture to keep leafy greens and vegetables fresh and crisp. This is also the best place to store cheese (wrapped in cheese paper or parchment paper followed by plastic wrap).
4. The bottom drawer of the fridge is perfect for meats and seafood—it’s coldest here, and there’s no risk of drips contaminating fresh foods below.
5. Store butter in a closed compartment, since it readily absorbs other odors.
6. Herbs stay fresh when they’re stored like flowers; place them in jars with a couple inches of water and cover them with an upturned plastic bag. Place them in the door, where it’s slightly warmer and they won’t be as easily knocked over.
5. Brighten and Repair Grouting.
Grimy or loosened grout is unsightly and can make a clean tiled surface look dirty. Over time, wall and floor tiles get built up with grease, soap scum, mold or just plain dirt. Restoring the grout to its original color can look as though you re-tiled. Bleach is toxic and difficult to work with, plus it can destroy stone tiles. DIY sites suggest a solution of half vinegar and half warm water or a paste of baking soda and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. While these can work, many are not strong enough for truly stained grout.
We recommend Sodium Carbonate Peroxide (aka powdered Oxygen Bleach) or alkaline grout cleaners for removing stains from grout.
Mix the powdered Oxygen bleach with water to create a paste that you apply to grout directly. Let is sit 5–10 minutes, then scrub with a grout brush or any stiff-bristle nylon brush. Rinse with water and wipe the clean with a cloth.
Amazon has several Alkaline products made specifically to clean grout, you can find here.
6. Change those filters!
Besides the Air Conditioner filter which you don’t change frequently enough, there are also replaceable filters for your vacuum, for your range hood, charcoal water filters for your coffee maker, your heating vents and your air purifiers, all of which will benefit from a filter change. Each will function more powerfully and efficiently with frequent filter changes. Don’t forget to clean your dryer’s lint screen with each use as well.
7. Cleaning Window and Door screens
An often overlooked project, cleaning doors and window screens makes a big difference and clears your home of allergens and dust. This is easy to do. If the screens are removable, you can just lay them on a towel and vacuum both sides with a vacuum attachment brush (you can also do this with screens in place).
If your screens are truly filthy (smoke, pollen and spiderwebs), you may want to give them a good wash. Simply mix 1/4 cup of liquid all-purpose cleaner with 1/2 gallon of water and, with the screen in an upright position, use a sponge or microfiber cloth to wash. Then rinse. Replace the screens. Don’t forget to take this opportunity to vacuum the debris from the window sills and door jams. To prevent water from dripping on the floor when cleaning a screen door, put a rolled-up towel at the base.
8. Dust the forgotten nooks and crannies
It’s likely you dust your home fairly frequently but the hard to reach areas like pendant lights, the top of bookshelves and armoires are often neglected, allowing dust and dirt to build-up. Using either your vacuum with an extension or feather duster, climb upon a step ladder and dust off those fan blades, those wall sconces, the tops and bases of table lamps or exposed lightbulbs, the top of your headboard, the back of your television and the top of your framed art and mirrors.
9. The rain gutters. Yuck.
The least fun job on our list is one that really has to be done, or it will cause long term problems and expensive repairs. Your rain gutters have likely accumulated leaves from the fall, sediment from the winter snows or pollen from the spring bloom and need to be cleaned out – at least once each Spring and Fall. For most houses, it takes two cleanings in the Fall. While it sounds like a big job, it’s really not. A ladder, a tarp to protect the ground or landscaping, some trash bags and rubber gloves are all it takes. A trowel, if you’ve got one, can be a great help. If you can, wait until they are dry to clean them because cleaning them while wet can be pretty disgusting. Be sure to have a stable ladder or someone there to hold it. If your gutters are too high up, don’t risk it. Call a professional. The Wills Company will be happy to help.
10.The little things that often go overlooked.
Sometimes cleaning or sprucing up little things can make a big difference in appearance. Consider cleaning your switch plates and outlet covers. In most cases, they are easily removable and clearing the smudges and fingerprints from them can make them look light new.
That range hood is likely to be greasy and should be cleaned with warm water and a cleaning solution. Those zippered cushion covers? They can be washed or dry-cleaned (that’s why they have zippers). Dust the blinds. Shake out the doormats. Polish your door hardware.
There. Now you’re ready to invite The Queen to tea.
The Wills Company provides handyman services for families and individuals with accessibility needs. Additionally, our team can be a trusted resource for out of town children with parents who wish to remain in a family home but may need assistance to do so. Please visit us here to learn more.