4-Week Home-Improvement Challenge
February is a time for affection and kindness, so why not give your home some tender loving care this month? These small but important tasks should be easy to accomplish, even though February is the shortest month of the year. Follow this week-by-week organizing challenge to get the most out of your efforts.
Week 1: Make a good first impression
Create a proper welcome
Use this opportunity to get rid of grime in your entryway that you might have missed during regular cleanings. Moisten a cloth with warm soapy water, and wipe any dirt off your front door’s interior and scuff marks off adjacent walls and moldings. Add a welcome mat if you don’t already have one to prevent dirt from getting past your home’s entrance.
Tidy a main living area
Pick a space where you spend most of your time, such as your living or family room. Use a basket or a box to collect anything that’s out of place. Give away or toss what isn’t needed, and put other items where they belong. Dust hard surfaces with a microfiber cloth, and vacuum.
Week 2: Tidy the kitchen
Empty and sanitize your freezer
Discard packaged foods with expiration dates that have passed. Foods frozen too long can lose taste and quality, so throw out anything that has been stored longer than a year. If your freezer needs defrosting, move your food to a cooler before doing so. Use a cloth and hot, soapy water to clean your freezer’s interior, and follow up by wiping with a clean, wet rag and towel drying. Use freezer labels to mark your freezer’s contents and freeze dates, and then transfer any remaining food back into your appliance.
Get rid of hidden dust
Months of debris can collect underneath and behind your refrigerator. To remedy this, first pull your refrigerator toward you and unplug it, being careful with your fridge’s water line. Clean the coils in the back of your refrigerator with a duster or a microfiber cloth. (If there is a cover over the coils, you can remove it with a screwdriver.) Vacuum up any dirt that is hidden underneath and behind the fridge. Wipe the walls and the floor with a cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner, and put everything back as it was. If you’d rather not (or cannot) move your fridge, try dusting underneath and behind it with a flat microfiber duster made specifically for cleaning under appliances.
Deep-clean your oven
Chemical oven cleaners and your oven’s deep-cleaning function can fill your home with smoke and fumes. To clean your oven without filling it with smoke, remove the oven racks and soak them in hot, soapy water for a few hours. Make a thick paste of approximately ¾ cup baking soda and ¼ cup warm water, and spread it throughout your oven, avoiding the door and bare metal surfaces. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight remove the paste using a damp cloth or a nonscratch sponge. While the oven door is open, wipe everything but the gasket with equal parts water and vinegar. To help keep your appliance pristine, put a roasting tin on the bottom shelf to catch drippings the next time you cook in it.
Week 3: Clean hard-to-reach spots
Vacuum underneath furniture
It can be difficult to clean below your bed, sofa, and other heavy furnishings, especially if you have to move them. To tackle these areas, move all the furniture that you can in one room and vacuum where they stood. You can repeat this process in other areas of your home as you have the time. You can also put furniture sliders underneath your furniture to make them easier to move.
Scrub vent covers
The grates over your vents can get quite dusty, especially if they are located high up or behind furniture. Turn your heat off, use a screwdriver to remove the vent covers, and soak them in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Wipe them with a microfiber cloth, rub them dry with a towel, and put them back in place. If you haven’t already done so recently, replace your furnace filter so fresh air can circulate throughout your home.
Week 4: Make final touches
Swap out your curtains
Spring isn’t far away, so switch out heavy drapes with lightweight curtains. If you dress your windows with valances or gauzy panels, more light will flow into your home. You can launder the window dressings you took down and put them away to use later in the year, or you could donate them.
Check safety features
Look for safety updates or upgrades you can make to your home. Make sure you have at least one working fire extinguisher for every level of your home and that they are not past their expiration dates. Verify that your home’s smoke alarms are in working order, and add lighting to poorly lit areas. For example, you could get a motion-sensor night light to illuminate a dark hallway or install solar-powered security lights to brighten your home’s exterior at night for extra security.