The weather’s warming up, so hopefully you’ve already started thinking about spring maintenance so your home is in top shape before the beautiful weather pulls you away to more exciting activities. Spring cleaning and maintenance can often feel like an overwhelming and daunting task, so we’ve done some of the work for you and organized this massive project into three simple steps.
Clear away that clutter and keep only what you need!
Week 1: Pitch It
Over the last few months, we’ve been encouraging homeowners to get rid of any extra clutter around the house. Extra items seem to pile up in closets and under beds, especially after the holiday season. The best way to start your spring cleaning is to get rid of all clothing, items, and furniture cluttering your space and adding to the chaos in your home. Before you start cleaning and fixing up the home, spend some time sorting through problematic spaces and throw out or donate anything that isn’t adding value to your life. Cleaning and fixing up the home will become much easier once you’ve reduced the amount of clutter in your living space. Take a look at the City of Toronto’s Waste Wizard and ReUseIt guide for information on curbside pickup and donation services.
Cleaning out the eavestrough - via Tarion
Extra weight doesn’t only build up inside the home. After a long fall and winter, gunk can accumulate in your home’s gutters and downspouts. Gutter buildup will cause excess water to fall down the side of the house, ruining any landscaping below and causing damage to your foundation and roof. Once all the snow melts be sure to remove and dispose of all leaves and debris from your gutters to prevent expensive water damage during spring showers. This project doesn’t require an expert or expensive tools; Houselogic recommends using a plastic scoop or children’s sand shovel to remove gunk and suggests laying a plastic tarp below your workspace to collect debris and make cleanup easy.
So much dust accumulates on top of ceiling fans!
Week 2: Clean It
After a long winter of hibernation and months of wind, snow, and ice, the home may be ready for a good thorough clean inside and out. Indoors, it’s best to start with a good general cleaning, focusing on spots that often go untouched during routine cleans. Spend time dusting areas that are usually out of reach or sight, such as ceiling fans, vents, and the tops of cabinets and shelving. This is also a good time to launder any fabric drapes and vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses to remove dust, mites, and allergens that settled in during the winter.
In the bedroom, flip your mattress. This simple step will help you get more use out of your mattress and can potentially improve your sleep! In the kitchen, look for grease buildup and do a thorough check of the bathroom for mold or mildew. There’s no need to purchase expensive cleaners to tackle these jobs - simply use baking soda and an abrasive sponge to cut through grease, and kill mold with tea tree oil or a homemade vinegar concoction. Your windows can usually use a good cleaning (inside and out) at this time of year. For an effective, natural, and inexpensive window cleaner, Apartment Therapy suggests mixing one cup of white vinegar and a dash of lemon juice in one gallon of water. This environmentally friendly solution will help you give your windows a good cleaning and reduce streaking.
Try making an environmentally friendly cleaner!
Spring is also the time when we begin working in the garden and touching up the landscaping. It is therefore worthwhile to spend some time cleaning and checking outdoor lawn equipment before the summer starts. Garden tools with blades may need a good cleaning and sharpening, while batteries should be recharged or replaced after a long winter of disuse. If the snow has melted, this might also be a good time to take out your lawn furniture and give it a quick clean with a mild detergent to remove accumulated dirt, dust, and rust. Finally, give your patio or deck a good cleaning. Leaves, debris, and dirt often accumulate between the boards of decks or cracks in a patio and can be easily removed with a good power washer or simply a garden hose.
There are some outdoor cleaning projects that may require the help and expertise of a professional. Consider calling an expert to come and service your chimney (especially if its been in use all winter), and be sure to consult a qualified professional to clean the coils of your air conditioning system to keep it working efficiently.
Replacing the old sump pump
Week 3: Fix It
Indoors, start from the bottom and work your way up. Begin in the basement, which is particularly vulnerable to water leakage and infestations. Look for cracks and signs of insect and rodent activity. On the main floor, start in the bathroom and look for areas where the grout has worn away and repair immediately. If left unattended these small fixes can turn into large and expensive projects. Fortunately, Bob Vila has published this simple tutorial (with pictures) to assist you in re-grouting your bathroom tile. The laundry room is also a vulnerable space that often goes overlooked in spring cleaning projects. Spend a few minutes behind the washer and dryer ensuring all hoses are properly connected and that there are no leaks that could potentially create water damage over time. Finally, if you have an attic spend some time making sure this space is dry, rodent free, and properly insulated.
Outdoors, start from the top and work your way down the exterior of the home. Start by scanning your roof for missing shingles or any areas where nails have pushed shingles up, creating ideal pockets for water to seep in and cause damage. Then move onto the windows, making sure there are no leaks or spots where the caulking has deteriorated. This is especially pertinent if you plan to have your air conditioning running this summer. Tightly sealed windows will keep cool air inside and reduce energy waste and extra costs. The DIY Network suggests holding a candle to the window frame - if the flame bends, you’ve got a draft! They also have a great and thorough tutorial on re-caulking windows for those who find a few air leaks. If you have a grill, Bob Vila recommends giving it a good clean, and getting in the habit of checking burner jets and gas hose connections to ensure everything is running safely and smoothly.
Maybe you need to replace your shingles completely?
If you think your home requires a more comprehensive spring cleaning, take a look at the Apartment Therapy Cure - an eight-week program designed to help you create a positive living space and healthy home. Regardless of how many weeks you dedicate to spring cleaning and maintenance, make sure you have a solid plan and follow a checklist to ensure your home is up and running smoothly by the time warm weather arrives in the city.