Everyone’s familiar with the concept of spring cleaning. It might be a better idea to focus your cleaning efforts before winter sets in though. People tend to spend more time indoors during winter, and a good, thorough cleaning beforehand not only lessens the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do in the spring, but also makes your living environment a healthier place to be when you’re stuck inside.
Your carpet is your home’s biggest filter. It catches dust, dirt, dead skin cells, hair, crumbs of food, and other allergens. All filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly, and your carpet is no exception. Regular vacuuming is good for getting surface debris, but may not get particles deeper in the carpet. For that, you’ll need to have it washed and cleaned. This is something you can do yourself or hire professionals to do. If you choose to do it yourself, start by vacuuming, following up with a stain treatment for stained and heavily soiled areas. A mixture of equal parts salt, borax, and vinegar should do the trick. Apply it, let it dry, and vacuum what’s left. Skip the shampoo and use a carpet steamer with really hot water to wash the carpet. Make sure you suck up as much water as you can. Let the carpet dry before replacing the furniture.
How often you should clean your oven will depend in part on how much you use it, but the general rule is about every three months. Winter means you’ll probably be using the oven more, so it’s a good idea to give it a good, thorough cleaning before you really get going. Some ovens have a self cleaning cycle which can take a lot of the elbow grease out of the cleaning. It’s not really a good idea to use this if your oven is heavily soiled though. If that sounds like your oven, you’ll need to use something else. Commercial cleaners or a baking soda, water, and vinegar approach can be good for handling tough messes.
The middle of winter is exactly when you don’t want to be dealing with problems with your heaters, water or HVAC. Flush your water heater periodically to get rid of any dirt or debris that have built up inside. Have your furnace inspected and tuned up before winter sets in to help it run longer and with greater efficiency. It’s also important to clean or replace your filters. Different filters have different degrees of efficacy, but even the ones designed to last the longest will fail if they become too dirty. It’s a good idea to wipe down vents and registers as well.
A dirty fireplace is a dangerous fireplace. Flammable deposits will build up in your chimney over time and can cause serious house fires if not cleaned out. Additionally, keeping your chimney clean will help create a more efficient fireplace. Cleaning the chimney is something best left to professionals. Chimney sweeps have the tools and training to get the job done properly and efficiently. As for the actual fireplace itself, that’s something you should be able to handle on your own if you want to. Cleaning your fireplace can get pretty messy if you’re dealing with a bunch of ash though, so prepare accordingly.
Your heater and filters aren’t the only part of your HVAC system that needs a good cleaning. Since you’re breathing the air passing through the air ducts in your home, it’s a good idea to have those cleaned as well. Over time, dirt, dust, hair, and other debris tend to make their way into your ducts and can hurt the quality of the air in your home. This isn’t something you should take a DIY approach to. You’ll need special tools and the knowledge to use them properly, so leave this one to the professionals.
Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter. If you or someone you know suffers from SAD, you’re probably familiar with how much of a difference spending time in the sun can make. Having clear, clean windows is a good way to allow more natural light into your home, helping to boost your mental health. A mixture containing 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1/4-1/2 tsp eco-friendly dish detergent, and 2 cups of water provides you with a homemade, inexpensive, non-toxic window cleaning solution that you can use both inside and outside of your home. Wipe the windows clean after applying, and follow up with a microfiber cloth for a good polish.
It might be kind of odd to think about using your ceiling fans during the winter, but it can be a really good idea. Reversing your fans to rotate slowly in a clockwise direction pushes the warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down towards the floor. Of course, you don’t want to turn on the fan for the first time in weeks or months only to be greeted by a shower of dust and cobwebs. To avoid this, clean your ceiling fans regularly, but especially before turning them on for the first time in a while.
Your refrigerator is another food-related appliance that could probably use some more attention. Regular cleaning helps keep it running efficiently and can even help extend the life of your refrigerator. Make sure you pay attention to all areas of the fridge, inside and out. Give special attention to your condenser coils, which can be found either in the back or underneath the fridge. They are essential to keeping your refrigerator running properly, and should be cleaned every six months.
It’s a good idea to do a thorough cleaning of your house before winter sets in. Give attention to your carpet, your oven and refrigerator, heaters and air ducts, fireplace, windows, and ceiling fans. This will help reduce the germs and dust you’ll otherwise be sharing living space with all winter long, making your home a healthier place to be.
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