July 28, 2007
De-Clutter and Organize
Don't forget when you de-clutter to donate your no-longer-used items to charity rather than throwing them in landfills.
Clean out old paperwork
I admit that I'm guilty of keeping old papers for years after I need to have them. Once a month, go through your files and toss anything that's obviously out of date.
Clean out and organize cabinets, drawers, and shelves
We often get lazy and clutter up our cabinets and drawers gradually throughout the month. This is the time to tackle those areas before they get out of control.
Clean out and organize closets
Get rid of anything you don't wear or can't fit into anymore.
Clean out and organize medicine chest
Get rid of any expired medication. Don't forget to add replacement medicines to your shopping list, so you'll have the important stuff (pain reliever, anti-diarrheal, first-aid supplies, etc.).
Clean out and organize garages, hobby areas, and workshops
These are places we tend to neglect. Keep them clean and functional by putting everything back in its place and getting rid of anything you don't need.
Dust / Polish / Wipe Down
Clean air filters and vents
If you have a furnace or air conditioner, clean out the filters monthly, and if necessary replace them every three months. If you have an air purifier, make sure you clean or change the filter.
Vacuum and Cleaning Floors
Vacuum infrequently vacuumed places
Closets, under your couch, under your bed, the back room you rarely use, and any other place that rarely sees your vacuum needs to get a quick cleaning.
Clean your carpets and rugs
If you have your own rug cleaner, this is the time to get it out of storage. Otherwise, rent one and clean as much of the floor as possible. If renting a rug cleaner monthly is too expensive, just rent one every three to six months and during the rest of the year, use a scrub brush and towels with your favorite rub cleaning solution to clean high traffic areas.
Make sure you check inside your house as well as outside. Every few months, even get in your crawlspace, in your attic, and on your roof (or get a qualified person to do it for you) to look around. Make a list of everything that needs to be repaired or improved.
Look for wear and tear
Look around your foundation, walls, floors, ceilings, walkways, chimneys, fireplaces, windows, doors, doorways, roofs, counters, etc. for cracks, buckles, depressions, deterioration, warping, paint chipping, missing pieces (missing bricks, missing shingles, etc.), etc.
Look for leaks and moisture buildup
Check around pipes, faucets, sinks, baths, showers, toilets, and other areas where water normally flows for any moisture or dampness. Look in your crawlspace for any puddles or wet spots. Walk around your yard and take notice of any area that doesn't seem to drain properly. Inspect your hoses and sprinklers.
Look for insulation problems
Look around windows and doors to ensure that their weather stripping is intact and functional by using a lit candle or lighter; if the flame flickers, there's probably a draft (don't set anything on fire and keep a fire extinguisher nearby). Turn off your heaters, fans, and air conditioners, and walk around your house looking for drafts, hot spots, cold spots, etc.
Cut back plants next to your house
Any bushes, trees, flowers, ivy, etc. next to your home should be trimmed back, so there is a space of at least 1 foot (1/3 meter) between the plant and your house. Cut back any trees that hang over your house (they shouldn't hang over your house at all). This will reduce pests, fungal growth, and fire risks.
Look for security problems
Make sure all outdoor lights work. Test your alarm. Inspect all doors and windows to ensure their locks work properly. Keep all tools, ladders, etc. locked up in sheds, garages, or workshops (don't leave them unlocked or sitting around in your yard). Test smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. and replace as needed.
Look for toxicity problems
Check your well water quality. Inspect all hazardous materials to ensure their containers are sealed properly and aren't deteriorating.
Add enzymes to your septic tanks
Purchase commercial enzymes that help break down waste in septic tanks to keep them from backing up. Use these products once per month or as directed.
Look for electrical problems
Test your circuit breakers and GFCI outlets. Check all outlets, switches, cords, etc. for wear and tear. Keep note of any problems that happen, such as frequent breaker tripping, and talk to a licensed electrician to discuss the problem.
Look for furnace and air conditioner problems
Get out your owner's manual and follow the directions for maintaining your system. Schedule at least one professional inspection and tune-up yearly.