20 great things you can do around the house
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic? That’s a good opportunity to get in the spirit of spring cleaning and renewal and spruce up your home.
1. Clear out the closets and other storage spaces. Designate items as recycle, donate, sell, keep or trash and follow through on those designations. While it’s tempting to think that someday you’ll get back to that hobby, clothing size or project, it’s more likely you won’t ever need items you haven’t used in the past 12 months.
2. Clear out the cupboards and drawers. As with closets, toss, recycle or donate items you haven’t used in a year (like the lids with no containers or gadgets that you don’t use). Pay attention to expiration dates on foods, cosmetics, vitamins, sunscreen and medications and dispose of old items properly. Don’t flush medication or place unused prescriptions in the trash. Many pharmacies accept these items.
3. Organize your closets and storage spaces. Assess the additional space you now have and arrange your items better. Cascading clothing hangers can help you hang more garments in less space. As needed, install additional shelves and rods. Repurpose storage devices such as a hanging sweater holder to stow lightweight objects like board games in a hall closet or an over-the-door shoe caddy to store spices on a pantry door. Small items tend to pile up as clutter, so categorize them and corral them into containers that make sense for the space.
4. Organize cupboards and drawers. Small changes like hooks for hanging mugs and tiers to separate stacks of plates can make a big difference in your cupboards’ tidiness. Silverware organizers work wonders in desk drawers to keep small objects neat.
5. Clear out the fridge and freezer. While you likely clean out uneaten leftovers often, the condiment shelf and freezer are often overlooked. Take every single item out and scrub all the shelves. Go through the freezer and pitch anything past date or that appears freezer burned or that you can’t remember when it went in. Return the shelves what you’re retaining in a way that makes sense, such as by food category. A few small, labeled bins can help make it tidier.
6. Re-grout tile. Whether it’s grubby beyond redemption or in poor repair, grout isn’t that difficult to redo. Select the right grout for the job.
7. Clean your tools. Room by room, take some time to clean hair brushes and combs, makeup brushes, brooms and other frequently used tools.
8. Clean your equipment and appliances. When did you last clean the vacuum cleaner, refrigerator coils, computer vents, coffee maker and other appliances in your home?
9. Purge paper. Fill up the recycle bin with old magazines and newspapers, letters you don’t need, and paper files that you could just as well scan and store electronically. Go through your bookshelves and donate books you no longer want. For the paper items you do need, file in an accordion file or a file cabinet according to a labeled system that makes sense to you.
10. Organize photos. Whether you have mostly digital photos, print photos or a combination, they don’t do much good out of sight. Sort through them to eliminate blurry shots and organize them in albums. Print and frame the ones you want to display. Pass along duplicate prints to people who would want them.
11. Deep clean. It’s a great time to get the windows washed, clean the drapes, shampoo the carpeting, scrub all the cupboard fronts and baseboards, behind heavy furniture and appliances and any other areas you may not typically clean week by week.
12. Touch up paint and woodwork.
13. Fix those little items. Most people can handle repairing squeaky hinges, wobbly knobs, loose shingles and more. Gather your tools and go room by room and then around the outside of your house to take care of those repairs you can handle—and make a list of the things a professional should do.
14. Improve your creature comforts. Turn your mattress, add a few bright throw pillows to the sofa, break out some scented candles and replace any threadbare sheets, towels and bathmats.
15. Assess your home’s safety. Do you have smoke detectors in the kitchen, on each level of your home (including the basement and attic), and in each bedroom? How about carbon monoxide detectors? Have you changed their batteries lately? Most experts recommend changing the batteries every six months or on Memorial Day and Labor Day to make it easier to remember. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the garage and in the kitchen? Do you have deadbolt locks on exterior doors? Are all weapons safely stored, separate from ammunition?
16. Improve visibility inside and out. Add lights where needed to closets, walkways, basement and attic. If you haven’t looked at home lighting options lately, you may be surprised at the number of options available that don’t require an electrician’s experience to install. For some areas, reflective tape may make steps easier to navigate.
17. Clean up your landscaping. Rake up fallen twigs and leaves, tidy up those flowerbeds and plant some new items to bring some color to your home.
18. Touch up exterior paint. From trim to siding to the front door, clean and then touch up any chips and blemishes you notice outside. Completely changing the front door’s color can greatly enhance your home’s curb appeal.
19. Remove outdoor clutter. Objectively apprise your home’s appearance and get rid of junk, like debris from a home improvement project, dead potted plants or broken lawn furniture.
20. Tidy up pet areas. Experts recommend periodically replacing litter boxes. Clean pet beds, scratching posts, crates and pets’ eating areas using cleaners safe for pets.