Checklist of things to do around the house


Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 11:15 p.m.

Our annual list of things to do around the house will either get you up and at 'em this weekend, or it will send you back to bed groaning, feeling guilty and exhausted.

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McClatchy Newspapers

Be not dismayed. Consider these suggestions, not commands, and spread them out over the year. But start with our "In 10 minutes … " section, where you're sure to find something you can do and cross off your list, feeling you've made a good start.

Happy new year! Now, get busy. At least for 10 minutes.

IN 10 MINUTES…

· Turn the mattress.

· Dust the ceiling fan blades.

· Clean out that one impossibly messy drawer.

· Replace that burned-out lightbulb.

· Grab a sponge and a spray bottle of cleaner and wipe away those fingerprints or streaks you've been staring at for weeks.

· Clean the top of the refrigerator.

· Throw out the burned-to-a-stub candles you've been using all holiday season.

· Wash a window.

· Clean the ceiling light fixtures to get rid of dead insects.

· Grab a broom and knock down the spiderwebs and dead bugs at the front entry.

NOW, THE BASICS.

· Roll out the refrigerator and vacuum the coils. Dust the top of the refrigerator.

· Pull out the range and clean under and behind it.

· Repair the dripping faucet and the running toilet.

· Get smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and flashlights for every room. If you already have detectors, test the batteries and replace if necessary.

· Go through the freezer and throw out food you can't identify or won't eat. Label everything you keep.

· What's the one item you're constantly running out of. Garbage bags? Dishwashing detergent? Paper napkins? Toothpicks? Make this the weekend to go buy a dozen boxes, bottles or packages.

GIVE IT A FRESH LOOK

· Replace the knobs on your kitchen cabinets. Those scratched brass knobs are starting to look old and dated.

· Upgrade the boring builder-special ceiling fixture and fan.

· Get rid of the worn and faded kitchen and bathroom towels. Add a new tub mat, tumbler and toothbrush holder in the bathroom.

GET READY FOR FUN

· What would make it easier and more fun to entertain: pizza cutter, cocktail napkins, martini glasses or beer mugs, coasters, an ice bucket, serving platters for chips and dip? Go get 'em, especially during after-Christmas sales.

· Are you ready for overnight guests? Check the pillows, linens and towels you'll offer your guests. If they're worn, soiled or frowsy, replace them.

ON THE PAPERWORK FRONT

· Check your life insurance policies. Are they adequate and up-to-date? Increase them if necessary.

· Make copies of important paperwork (birth certificates, deeds, insurance policies) and store the copies in several locations so a fire or hurricane doesn't leave you without the documents you need.

GO GREEN THIS YEAR

· Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents. They use only a third the energy of incandescents to provide the same light, last 10 times longer, save $30 in energy costs over their lifetime and generate 70 percent less heat.

"If every American home replaced just one lightbulb with a compact fluorescent," the Energy Star program says, "we'd save enough energy to light more than 2.5-million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars."

· Schedule a home energy audit by your utility company.

· Increase your insulation, block leaks and gaps with expandable foam or weatherstripping, install a programmable thermostat.

· Replace aging, energy-guzzling appliances with efficient new models.

PICK A DAY AND …

· Make it "return day": Return the tools, sweaters, books, sports equipment and other items you've been intending to take back; bring castoff clothing and household goods to a charity dropoff point.

· Clean the blinds. (Put on some music while you do it.)

· Bundle up the magazines you've been stockpiling. Take them to your doctor's office, a senior housing complex, the hair salon, the dentist.

· Sort through the linen closet. Get rid of the odds and ends of mismatched sheets and towels. (Shelters will be glad to take them off your hands.)

ELIMINATE THE IRRITANTS

Zero in on the day-to-day annoyances and eliminate them. For example:

· If you have to move half a dozen items to reach the controls on the dryer, clear off the dryer top and find new homes for the clutter.

· Is your desktop a mess every other day with unsorted papers and other items? Rethink your filing system and come up with one that works.

· Would another pair of scissors, pencil sharpener, cordless phone, laundry basket, hook or shelf eliminate clutter, constant trips to the other end of the house, or daily annoyance? Get them.

· Oil what squeaks, sandpaper what grates, spray what sticks with WD-40. Tighten the loose screws.

· Add an over-the-door rack or a basket for hats and caps.

PLAN YOUR BIG-TICKET ITEMS

Walk through your home and garden and identify some major projects to accomplish in the new year:

· Paint the living room.

· Refinish the floors, or order wall-to-wall carpet.

· Upgrade your countertops from laminate to a solid surface (Corian, quartz, granite).

· Reseed or resod the lawn.

· Replace or paint the fence.

· Trim away shrubbery and tree branches that mask your house.

IN THE KITCHEN

· Does your kitchen reflect the way you cook and eat? If you mainly cook for two or four, maybe you don't need china and glassware for 12 jamming the cabinets. Store the extras in a remote location and bring them out for the once-a-year occasions when you host a crowd.

· Go through your storageware and get rid of topless bottoms and bottomless tops. Recycle the dozens of spaghetti sauce jars you save but never use. Buy plastic storageware in the shapes and sizes that meet your family's needs.

· Get rid of the extras you don't need how many potato mashers are called for? but add duplicates where they'd speed the job (measuring cups and spoons, for example).

· Get rid of the small appliances you never use (they seemed like such a good idea at the time!): the salad shooter, the pasta machine, the yogurtmaker.

· Replace cracked, stained cutting boards.

· Sharpen the knives.

· Get rid of chipped, cracked mugs.

· Store infrequently used cookware (the turkey roaster that you won't need until next Thanksgiving, the big platter for the once-a-year ham) in a remote location to free up space for items you use every day.

· Clean the oven.

IN THE BATHROOM

· Clean out the medicine cabinet. Safely dispose of old prescription drugs.

· Inventory your first-aid kit and restock: plastic bandages, antiseptic cream, burn ointment, pain relief, cold and indigestion remedies.

· Get rid of bottles and tubes with the last crusted quarter-inch of who knows what.

· Fill a plastic caddy with the cleaning implements and products you need, and store it under the sink. It's easier to clean the mirror or wipe the countertops if you don't have to walk down the hall to get the equipment you need.

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK

Some of this is the grunt work of home-ownership. Listen to some music while you…

· Clean the hard-water stains from faucets (Lime-Away is one brand of cleaner that works here).

· Scrub away the soap scum in soap dishes and the mold in shower stalls.

· Clean the roller tracks on your sliding glass doors.

· Scrub and reseal the grout in tile floors.

· Clean out your dryer vent. Impacted lint is a fire hazard. (Or hire someone to do this task.)

There's more to this list, but we'll leave it at that for now. Look for the second part next week. Remember, small tasks get you started on the bigger projects.

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