Spring cleaning: 10 things that get overlooked
When's the last time you changed a furnace filter, or looked behind your fridge?
You may have a spring cleaning routine that rounds up the usual suspects – dirty fridge, cluttered storage room or garage, dusty moulding, etc. – before you call it a day. But there's a good chance you've overlooked or forgotten a number of important tasks that, in some cases, haven't been tackled for years on end.
Here are 10 often missed items that should be on everybody's spring cleaning list. And don't forget that as you find items that you need to get rid of there are great ways to avoid sending them to the landfill, and a whole lot of items that should be recycled.
Kick start your spring cleaning
1. Dust and clean window coverings
The next time you consider putting off this chore, remember what your drapes or high-end window coverings cost you in the first place, then double the cost. That's how much it could take to replace them once they've been so dirty for so long that cleaning them is impossible.
Use a vacuum to clean valences, curtains and drapes. And if it's been awhile since the last cleaning, you may need to consult your window covering's cleaning tag or look online for cleaning instructions. Some fabrics can be cleaned on the delicate cycle in your washing machine, while others are dry clean only.
For vinyl and metal, a wipe down with water and vinegar should do the trick. Or they could need a good soak in the tub with laundry or dish soap added to the water. Use the showerhead to rinse them when you're done.
2. Check your fridge door seal, then clean the coils
Emptying your fridge for an interior deep clean is the obvious chore. Less obvious is checking your fridge door's seal and replacing it if needed.
While you're at it, make sure the temperature inside your fridge is between 2°C and 3°C and the temperature in your freezer is set between -15° and -18°C. If set to the appropriate temperature range, your fridge and freezer will keep your food cold without over-chilling or causing freezer burn.
3. Check the expiry date on the fire extinguisher
If you're lucky, you've never had to use the household fire extinguisher to put out a kitchen fire or other flame up. But if you're like most people, you probably haven't checked to see if you need to replace the extinguisher.
While you're checking, ask yourself: Does everyone in your home know where the fire extinguisher is, and how to use it? Open up the discussion to a broader look at all the safety equipment, emergency kits, the water shutoff and breaker panel in your home. Do you have an emergency plan for your family?
4. Clean fan and furnace filters, and dryer ducts
Bathroom fans, range hood fans, and dryer exhaust ducts can easily be neglected. And if you're not regularly changing your furnace filter – or cleaning your heat pump filter – you're stressing and possibly damaging your HVAC system, which could be working much harder than it should,
Generally speaking, the smaller your furnace filter, the more often it should be changed, with the smallest requiring changes as often as one to three months.
Clean and change your heat pump filters according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Dust, dirt, pollen, and pet hair can accumulate in your heat pump's filters over time and reduce airflow. Regularly changing filters provides better indoor air quality for occupants, and you should clean filters in between replacements. Get details on how to maintain your heat pump.
Not sure how to clean HVAC or fan filters? There are numerous helpful YouTube videos detailing how to do it.
5. Vacuum, and maybe deep clean, those couch cushions
You wash your clothes regularly, but when's the last time you cleaned your couch? Especially if your cushions are darker in colour, you may not have noticed how much oil and dirt has collected on them. Vacuum them regularly, but use spring cleaning to do a deeper clean.
Look for the cleaning tags on your couch and/or chairs for cleaning instructions, or search up the product online to get the details. If you're lucky, you'll have removable fabric that can be washed or dry cleaned. If not, there are several options and methods for cleaning cushions and couch material, including these ideas at anitashousekeeping.com.
6. Wash your bed pillows, not just the pillowcases
You may be washing pillowcases and bedding regularly, but what about the pillows themselves. Most can be washed in your washing machine – foam pillows are a general exception – with warm water on a gentle cycle, but always check the product's washing instructions first.
7. Clean your kitchen cleaning pads and tools
Yuck. Start by making it a habit to switch out and wash your kitchen sponges and dishcloths at least once a week – studies have shown that the cloth you use for dishes can have more bacteria than your toilet bowl. Sponges are particularly bad, so it's a good idea to zap sponges in a microwave on high for 30 seconds every few days.
Meanwhile, use spring cleaning as a reminder to clean all sponges and brooms, and to do a thorough cleaning of your vacuum.
8. Clean your washing machine and dishwasher
It's been a long, long lonely winter... and your washing machine needs your help. When dirt and lint collect in plumbing traps, and soap builds up, your machine doesn't work as efficiently and you can be inviting mold to the wash party. The Home Depot has great instructions online on how to clean a front-load washer.
For your dishwasher, follow The Home Depot's guide that also includes help with cleaning the filter in units that don't have self-cleaning filters.
9. Sanitize TV remotes and light switches
Think about all the stuff you've snacked on in front of the TV. Now ask yourself when was the last time you really cleaned all your remotes or the light switches around your home.
Wipe everything down with disinfectant to remove bacteria and germs, and take the batteries out of your remotes before cleaning. Once everything's dry, put the batteries back in.
10. Discard expired prescriptions, and update your first aid kit
Grab a baggie and do a major uncluttering of your bathrooms drawers, discarding all expired medications and over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, vitamins, and natural health products. Never dump medications down the drain – take the bag to your local drug store, which will safely dispose of the meds.
Give your first aid kit some TLC, along with any grab-and-go or other emergency kits you have on hand. Is your emergency bottled water or food supply expired? Check those supplies too.