Now that spring has arrived, enjoy the weather and get outside to tackle home maintenance and safety tasks that have languished during the dark, cold winter. If you’re short on time this month, go with the action item that has the most SafeWise owls. We gave each task a priority rating, with one owl meaning “maybe someday” and a five-owl rating meaning “just do it.” Because if you have only a few hours, it ought to be spent soaking up that sunshine.
The remnants of hundreds of breakfasts lie at the bottom of your toaster, and those crumbs can pose a serious fire hazard. Most toasters have a trap door that allows you to safely remove crumbs and clean the depository.
Scrub Out Microwave
Pro tip: go easy on yourself by putting a bowl of water in the microwave and warming it for about a minute. The steam will make it easier to scrub off all those caked-on leftovers.
Clean Garbage Disposal
If you’re standing near the sink and wondering what that smell is, your disposal is the culprit. Ensure the disposal is safely disconnected and then eliminate all that food waste with a good scrub and disinfectant.
The dishwasher cleans your dishes, but who cleans it? Give your dishwasher a well-deserved scrub to remove detergent grime and buildup both inside and out. Then run it on the “clean” cycle. Your glassware will thank you.
Bedrooms and Living Areas
Vacuum Under Bed
It’ll be okay. Promise. The only truly scary things under there are dust bunnies. Get some help moving the bed so you can vacuum or sweep underneath. You’ll sleep easier at night.
Launder Throw Pillows and Blankets
Fluffing will get you only so far. Give blankets and pillows covers a turn in the washing machine. Some pillows won’t hold up to being fully submerged, so you’ll have to tackle those with a lint roller and a spot cleaner.
Deep Clean Closets and Donate Unused Items
Spring means a shift in your wardrobe. Dress for success by donating items that don’t fit and rejuvenating your style. Give those hangers and shelves a good dust while you’re at it.
Lampshades? They should be called dust collectors. Give these a good wipe down with a damp cloth, a lint roller, or the brush attachment on your vacuum.
Check Water Softener and Add Salt If Needed
If you’ve noticed your water seems to leave spots everywhere, your softener likely needs attention. Add salt only when the reservoir is completely empty.
Vacuum and Dust HVAC System
Don’t blow it by leaving your HVAC to collect the dust and pollen that circulates throughout your home. A good dusting will do wonders to clear the air.
Check Plumbing System for Leaks
While it might be obvious if you have a gusher, slow leaks can worsen over time and destroy baseboards, cabinets, and flooring. Check for any drips or unusual condensation on your pipes.
Empty Coat Closet and Store Winter Gear
Make way for raincoats and umbrellas by stashing coats and boots in storage.
Wipe Down Cleaning Equipment
This may not have occurred to you, but cleaning tools get dirty. Real dirty. Brooms, mops, and vacuums are the workhorses of your house, and they deserve a once-over now and then.
Run Water and Flush Toilets in Unused Spaces
That bathroom no one ever uses? The toilet probably has quite the ring since you last checked it. Make sure everything is still in tip-top shape and give it a flush.
Test and Change Detector Batteries
These important safety devices don’t do much if they aren’t charged and connected, so test both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Stock up on those double AAs and get it done. Earplugs required.
Dust Stair Handrail
Pretty much everyone who has ever been in your house has touched this. Everybody. Grossed out yet? Disinfect, polish, repeat.
Clean Gutters and Drains
Once you get up there, you’ll realize this was the best idea you’ve ever had. Gutters and drains clogged with leaves and debris don’t handle spring showers well. Clear them out and keep your home from drowning in the deluge.
Clean Out Window Well Debris
Storms have been swirling around your home for months, kicking up all manner of things that are now securely lodged in your window wells. Clear them out and let the sunshine in.
Inspect the House Exterior for Problems
While you’ve been hunkered down inside, your house has been weathering the winter. Inspect your roof and siding for damage and look for other issues, like dead lightbulbs that need to be replaced.
Turn On and Adjust Sprinkler System
If you wait to check your sprinklers until the heat really turns up, you’ll be sorry. And so will your lawn. Test your system now and fix any broken heads or busted lines.
Clean Garbage Cans
Before you kick those cans to the curb, give them a good once over with the hose and some soap.
Spray for Pests around the House Exterior
Spring has arrived, and here come the bugs crawling out of hibernation to make your home their own. Discourage dangerous pests like spiders and wasps by spraying the perimeter of your property.
Aerate and Fertilize Lawn
Ideally, this should be done early in the season before your grass starts to grow. Do it yourself or hire someone to groom your lawn and prepare it for the season.
Clear Out Dead Plants and Shrubs
Make way for green, growing things by weeding out the old stuff. Once you have a clear canvas, you’ll feel inspired to landscape.
Repaint Front Door
It’s taken lots of abuse this winter, so be kind and give your front door a fresh face. Your neighborhood will thank you.
Stay ahead of spring cleaning by scheduling one safety maintenance task per day in your calendar. Before you know it, you’ll have a clean, healthy home that’s ready to throw open the windows to warmer weather.
Written by Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family. Learn more