Over here at Don’t Ask, Do, we wanted to start off the new year feeling prepared for anything 2019 could throw our way. Preventing a problem can be way easier than solving one, so we decided to make some checklists of our own to keep our bodies, homes and vehicles in good working order. January is the perfect time to catch up on the annual tasks we need to check off our around-the-house-to-do-list. Your home will thank you!
Swap Your Filters
Not only does regularly swapping out your air filter keep you from breathing in dirt, pollen, dust, mold and pet dander...it also extends the life of your expensive HVAC system. How often should you change your filter? Air filters are ranked by the MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value), the higher the MERV number, the better the filtration is. A MERV 6 filter may can filter out big particles like dust and pollen, but a MERV 13 also filters out smoke, mold, pet dander, and other tiny nasties. If you’re living in a polluted city with bad air quality, suffer from allergies, or live with a pack of furry family members, a filter with a higher MERV rating is worth springing for.
Check your filter once a month and replaces as soon as the filter looks visibly dirty and can’t do the job anymore. If you know you’re going to forget, websites like www.filtereasy.com have a subscription plan that will automatically send you the filters when it’s time to replace them.
Keeping Clean, Safe and Green...
Turns out those dirty dishes in the sink aren’t the only things that need cleaning! A year’s worth of grease and grime can put a strain on your appliances, but a deep clean will keep them running smoothly for another year. Turn off the power to your fridge by unplugging it, pull it away from the wall and check and clean/vacuum the dust and grime off of the coils. While you’ve got the vacuum out, remove the lint trap from your dryer and clean out anything stuck down in there. Rogue dryer lint is a huge home fire hazard!
The range hood above your stove has a little filter that you can pop out and scrub off in the sink with some dishwashing liquid and baking soda.
Look under the kitchen sink for any leaks and clean the rubber baffle around the disposal with a soapy sponge (just take any precautions needed to make sure it doesn’t accidentally turn on during this task). Pour ½ cup of baking soda followed by ½ cup of white vinegar down the drain and run some hot water...not only will this bring back grade school science class volcano memories, but it will also de-stink your sink. Toss a few ice cubes and run the disposal again to knock loose any other gunky stuff.
Molding, cracking or yellowing caulk means there’s not a reliable seal and water could be seeping through and damaging your walls. When mold or mildew starts to spread in the walls, it can be really dangerous to your health. If you see any signs that it’s time to re-caulk your tub, shower, or sink backsplash, get yourself a can of silicone based caulk (you don’t need a caulk gun for this), a caulk tool to apply the fresh coat, and a window scraper (a flat blade version of a box cutter) to remove the old gunk.
Give the oven a deep clean by creating a paste with ½ cup of baking soda and a few tbsp of water, and coat the inside of the oven with the mixture, really getting it into all the nooks and crannies (rubber gloves are a good idea here). Let it sit overnight, and wipe out the next day with a damp dishcloth. Spray a little vinegar (we always keep a spray bottle filled with ½ distilled water, ½ white vinegar for basic kitchen cleaning purposes), which will make the remaining baking soda foam up and easier to wipe away.
Vinegar is also the only thing you need to remove hard mineral deposits from your shower head and sink aerators (the little filters that screw right off from the faucet). To remove any hardened deposits, unscrew your shower head and sink aerators, and leave them overnight in a bowl of vinegar. Or if you don't want to unscrew your shower head, try this little hack. Fill a plastic baggie with vinegar, pull it up over the shower head so that it is fully submerged in the vinegar, and secure with a rubber band. Leave it over night, in the morning remove your baggie for a clean shower head!
Check all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to see if their batteries need to be replaced. While you’re doing a walk through of your home, look for any light bulbs that need to be replaced and swapped out with energy efficient models.
Your home gives you shelter, safety, and a placed to be at peace...don’t forget to show it a little love this year.