Winter Fresh: Keeping Your Home as Sparkling as the Snow
As dark and desolate as the cold-weather months can be, I simply love stepping outside and taking in a big breath of fresh, crisp, winter air. The blanket of snow that covers everything — roads, yards, trees, houses — looks to me like a clean canvas from which a new year can spring to life. Meanwhile, as everyone is cooped up indoors for the long, chilly season, oftentimes our homes become messy, grimy, and unbearable to live in.
Instead of slogging through the winter in a dirty house, you can enjoy the freshness of winter inside and out. Here’s what I do to keep my home sparkling clean from the first frost to the last.
Floor and Ceiling
Even before the first snowfall, you should be gearing up for a long, hard winter of deep cleaning your floors. The salt and mud from the outdoors will absolutely trash every floor in your home if you aren’t diligent with your scrubbing. Once a month, you should spend time steaming your carpets and rugs to lift out harmful grit from the fibers; likely, you’ll be surprised at the amount of grime that comes out after just a month of use. Additionally, at least once a week, you should get down and dirty with a sponge to scour your tile and hardwood of dangerous saltwater and filth. To lessen the amount of damage caused by dirty winter boots, you can place extra towels and an abundance of bristly floor mats inside and outside your entryways to dry puddles and catch some muck.
However, while you spend time watching your floors for grit, you might forget to look up at another common place for grime. During the winter, ceilings can get nasty — especially in the kitchen, where steam, smoke, and other fumes can accumulate to form a film of filth. Because so much cooking occurs during the winter holidays, ceilings around the house can suffer from food funk. Fortunately, the solution is simple: Mix a squirt of dish soap in a bucket of warm water and cleanse the ceilings lightly with a barely damp sponge.
Heating and Cooling
There are two good reasons to keep your heating and cooling systems clean:
- Clean vents and filters are more energy efficient, saving you money.
- Clean vents and filters are less dangerous, saving your lives.
First, you absolutely must set a schedule for swapping your HVAC filters. Year-round, these filters prevent all sorts of particulates from entering your indoor air — unless they become saturated, at which point all the pet dander, pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria, and more pass into your home and into your lungs. Every 60 days, you should replace them, but it is especially vital to remember during the winter, when you will be spending most of your time inside.
Additionally, you may not realize it but your dryer vent has a major impact on your home’s ability to heat and cool properly. Once a year — ideally before the winter season — you should pull out your dryer, disconnect the hose, and vacuum out the piles of lint you find clogging the vent.
Finally, you should remember that windows are an age-old source of warmth during the winter. In truth, well-designed structures rely entirely on the sun shining through windows to keep the indoors warm during the winter. Thus, to save on energy (and welcome soul-nourishing sunlight into your home) you should make sure your windows are spotless.
Closets and Cupboards
Clean doesn’t always mean free from dirt and grime; you should also strive to rid your home of excess junk before the holidays packs your cherished storage space with more. Decrapifying can be hard, emotionally and physically, but it is essential for a serious winter sparkle, and I guarantee you will be amazed at all the stuff you can live without.
You can start in your cupboards and closets indoors, locating clothing you never wear, toys your kids never play with, and other stuff that never leaves storage. Then, you should tackle the garage or shed and sort through the boxes of items you have saved to find more meaningless items. You can even get rid of an old boat or car if you haven’t used it in eons. Once you have a carload or more of junk, you can donate it to an appropriate charitable organization, give it away to friends and family, sell it, or just throw it out.
Nooks and Crannies
While places like floors and filters are obvious sources of dirt in your home, there are plenty of small places where muck likes to hide. During your winter scourge, you shouldn’t neglect searching out grime in the bottoms of trash cans, on the tops of door and picture frames, beneath furniture and the fridge, and anywhere else you rarely look. Then, you can step outside, take a deep breath of clean winter air, and reflect on your spick-and-span, sparkling home.