Hi guys! Welcome to 2021! The new year always seems to bring an air of new beginnings and a fresh start. I get extra motivation to clean and organize my home around this time of year. To be honest, I actually started my new years cleaning last week. From excitement to wave goodbye to 2020? Perhaps… but cleaning has always been one of my happy places anyway. Call me weird if you want to, but I NEED a clean house. After I got started, I realized most of what I was doing was not routine cleaning. They were the kind of things you may not otherwise think about cleaning. The things you clean only a few times a year, every quarter or so, that give a big impact to freshening up your space.
I’ve narrowed it down to 7 main things that everyone should pay attention to cleaning every few months.
#1: Bed, Mattress, and Box Spring
Take the time to vacuum your mattress and box spring at least once every season. I have the Shark DuoClean Powered Lift Away. I’ve had it for 3 years and have been very happy with. It’s a solid vacuum with a lot of helpful attachments. It doesn’t look like the model that I have (NV800W) is being sold anymore, but the ZU782 model on Shark’s website is very close. This is most likely the updated version of the one that I have. I have an upholstered bed, so I vacuum the bed itself along with the mattress and the box spring using the upholstery attachment. Even if you can’t see it, dirt and dust accumulate on these surfaces over time, and it’s important to clean them. I use a mattress protector, but I still vacuumed up some dust and debris that wasn’t visible to the naked eye. The next thing I want to invest in is some sort of portable powered spot cleaner so that I can give my bed an even deeper clean. I’ll let you know which one I pick if I decide to get one.
#2: Air Ducts
The jury is still out on whether or not this is necessary, but it is recommended by the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) for good reasons. The recommended frequency varied based on the internet searches I did, but the general rule of thumb appeared to be to hire a professional to clean your air ducts every 3 to 5 years as part of routine HVAC system maintenance. Beyond that, the frequency is really based on your preference as a homeowner and whether there are smokers in the household, pets that shed hair and dander, after renovating or remodeling a home, or prior to occupancy of a new home. I’ve had my house for 11 years and have had a major renovation, but have never gotten my ducts cleaned. I’ll be scheduling my appointment soon!
#3: Ceiling Fans
More specifically, the blades. Ceiling fans can be notorious for collecting dirt and dust over time. Ever been in the room when you turn on your fan after it’s been off for a long time? Yea, it can look like a mini tornado of dust if the blades haven’t been cleaned. (shield your eyes!) About once every season, I pull out a stepladder and use a multi-surface cleaner and microfiber cloth to clean the ceiling fan blades and housing. I used to use a duster for this but found that actually getting up there, spraying cleaner onto a cloth, and wiping by hand cleaned better. If you have very high ceilings, for safety purposes, I’d say just use a good quality duster with extendable handle or pole. If you’re daring and use a large ladder, make sure to be careful, wear closed-toed shoes, and have a spotter!
Now, this one may take you a while depending on how big your home is, but it’s a good activity to get your kids to help with. Crank up some music and make it fun. About once every season, take a microfiber cloth or use a good quality duster and wipe down those baseboards. Dirt and debris accumulate there just like on any other surface. If you have white baseboards, the dirt there can actually make your whole home seem a little dirtier. Wipe those down to help freshen up every room.
#5: Ceiling Corners
Here’s where that duster comes in again. About once a season or so, get a good duster on an extendable pole and wipe along your walls where they meet the ceiling. Make sure to get into those corners. That’s where spiders often like to build their webs, but they don’t pay rent, so they gotta go! If you have some stained areas of your walls or doors, this would be a good time to clean those as well. A magic eraser is usually fine for most paint and doors, but do a patch test before using them or any other cleaner to make sure they aren’t damaging before you tackle the whole job. Don’t forget to clean those doorknobs while you’re at it! I usually clean my doorknobs and light switches at least once a month with an antibacterial cleaner. Spic and Span is my favorite for this as well as to clean my bathrooms and kitchen.
#6: Under Appliances & Furniture
I’ve mentioned this briefly already, but one of the things I love about my vacuum are all of the helpful attachments that work with it. I purchased the Under Appliance Wand as a part of a promotion when I bought my vacuum. I have to say though that for my stove, most of the time I just pull it away from the wall and sweep by hand then mop to clean the floor underneath. But no matter what method you use, don’t forget to clean under your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Small pieces of food (I don’t know about your household, but we spill stuff sometimes), dirt, and dust build up over time and can attract pests and interfere with the motor and fan performance. Also, don’t forget to move larger furniture and vacuum and spot clean as needed under that as well. Again, at least once a season is ideal, but I do clean under my stove a bit more often – probably every 6 to 8 weeks.
Let that light in! If you have little ones, you may want to clean your windows a little more often than once every season. Windows are magnets for little finger (and face) prints. After an uphill battle with streaks on my bathroom mirrors, I went on the hunt for new cloths and cleaner. I switched from regular microfiber cloths to lint-free cloths and now use the Sprayway Glass Cleaner. Both are amazing on my windows and mirrors.
- Change your air filters at least once every 3 months, and pay attention to the best MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) recommended for your HVAC system. A MERV of roughly 8 to 12 appear to be what is commonly used in most households with higher values used in hospitals and general surgery settings. For your home, keep in mind that higher does not necessarily mean better. Higher MERV ratings are better at trapping specific types of particles because they have smaller pores, but smaller pores may create more restriction in the airflow than your system is designed to manage which can make it inefficient. It’s all about which filter provides the best airflow and particle filtration for the way your system was designed. If you’re in the middle of a remodel or renovation, you may want to change your filter out more frequently (once a month or so) since much more dirt and dust will be in the air than normal.
- Wash your washing machine. Have you ever washed your clothes, but they came out smelling a little stale? The detergent and fabric softener that we use can actually form a film on the inside of the drum over time and make the washing process less efficient. The dirt and bacteria that we’re washing off of our clothes build up in the same way. I have a front loading washer, so I also pay attention to mildew that can accumulate around the rubber rim. My machine has a self-cleaning cycle that is designed to clean areas of the tub or drum where moisture and detergent residue may accumulate, but I take it up a notch by adding about 2 cups of baking soda inside the drum and distilled white vinegar instead of detergent in the detergent dispenser, then running the machine on the hottest water cycle possible. The white vinegar removes and prevents bacterial growth and, with the baking soda, acts as a gentle abrasive as well as deodorizer inside the drum. Once this cycle finishes, I run a second cycle either with the hottest water possible or with my machines self-cleaning PureCycle function to clear away the build up that was loosened from the first cycle. Don’t forget to also clean your dispensing trays. I do this every 6 weeks.
Easy right! I know the list may seem a little daunting, but keep in mind that you do not, and likely cannot, do all of this in one day. Spread it out and get help where you can. Make it a family affair. After all, the whole family benefits from having a clean house. The icing on the cake is being able to turn on your favorite scent in the air diffuser or lighting your favorite candle after the cleaning is done. Your home will not only sparkle but smell wonderful. It can also remove the scent of any cleaning solutions lingering in the air if there was any.
I hope you find this helpful!