Midwinter Home Maintenance for January

In the darkest part of the year, it´s tempting to try hibernating through the next couple months. If you can get a plan in place now though, you can get a jump on spring. The following home maintenance checklist provides a “to do” list for January, a list of seasonal sales, and a small kit to organize those items that you always seem to have to rummage for when decorating for Christmas next year.

After the work and mania that accompanies the holiday season, January provides an opportunity to regroup and reorganize.

  • Do end of the year accounting. Set up file folder for current year´s taxes. Organize receipts and paperwork.
  • Take down, clean, and store ornaments, decorations, and exterior lights. Recycle or store tree.
  • Declutter Christmas stuff. Give away or toss old, broken, or unused ornaments, decorations, lights, and those very sad ribbons.
  • Declutter a closet. Pick just one. Empty it. Sort by things to save, donate or sell, toss. Take the garbage out and set donations aside the same day. Clean the closet thoroughly.

Of the stuff to save, put everything that belongs somewhere else where it belongs. Organize the stuff that belongs in that closet and put it back. Pat yourself on the back and go have some fun. (If you have lots to declutter, pace yourself otherwise you´ll never be able to finish. Some experts suggest making decluttering appointments with yourself and making it a priority.)

  • Replace drawer liners and shelf papers.
  • Wander the house with a screwdriver and make a list of minor household repairs that can be done in a weekend. Tighten screws on drawers, doors, and furniture. Make a list of broken electrical face plates, missing pulls or knobs, locks that need lubrication, and spots that need caulking around sinks and tubs. Go to the home improvement store and buy everything you need to make all of your little repairs at once.
  • Call the utility company to do an energy audit. By now you´ll have received your first big winter heating bill, and unless you live in Phoenix, you may be motivated to see how you can improve your home´s energy efficiency. While you´re at it, ask the utility if they can also test for radon gas—especially important if you don´t know if it´s ever been done.
  • Plan annuals if you intend to start plants from seed. Start shopping for seeds and seed starting mix at the end of January. Use 1/2 gallon milk or orange juice containers cut down their length and stapled at the ends for starting trays.


Late Winter Home Maintenance for February

It´s not spring yet, but February is the perfect month to start preparing for spring cleaning and gearing up for gardening.

  • Make a list of all major indoor projects that need to be done.
  • Prioritize them so you can get the most urgent out of the way before the garden and yard claims your attention.
  • For major projects, call and get estimates now.
  • Check and clean grout between tiles in your kitchen and bath. Regrout if necessary. Add sealer to finish
  • Check flooring and carpet. If it needs repair or replacement, take advantage of sales now.
  • Start seeds if you plan to grow your own. Many seeds need to be started 6-8 weeks before the last frost. In many areas of the country—depending on germination time and when to transplant—the best time to start seeds is in February. Prune roses—18 inches is the optimum height.
  • Fertilize perennials in temperate areas and rototill empty garden beds if soil is dry enough.
  • Reorganize the pantry. Assess what you have on hand and if you haven´t been using stuff, make a meal plan that incorporates canned goods and freezer stocks (frozen foods are often on sale in March, so it´s a good time to stock up…if you have room). If you have goods that you don´t think you´ll use before their expiration dates, donate them to a food bank. There´s no reason to hang on to the Vienna wieners if you are now a practicing vegan. Take everything out. Wash shelves and add fresh shelf liner.
  • Spare time? Organize the laundry area. Clear everything out. Sort, toss, and organize shelves by task: washing stuff together, cleansers, sponges, rags in their own bins. Check your ironing board; replace the cover if it´s old, stained, or just ratty.


Early Spring Home Maintenance for March

If you haven´t made a plan for your spring cleaning and fix-up projects already, now´s your chance. Winter´s almost over.

  • Prepare for vacation. Schedule time off. Make reservations and schedule flights for summer months.
  • Depending on region, do spring yard clean up. Edge beds.
  • Top dress and reseed lawns. Mow when grass gets to be 4″ high. Don´t mow it too short.
  • Fertilize almost everything.
  • Time to start transplanting cool season veggies to garden. Build arbors and trellises before transplanting or sowing seeds for vines and gourds.
  • Cut back herbs.
  • Organize your paper life. Root out and recycle old magazines, newspapers, and assorted mementos. Build a new file system or clear out old files that are past being useful.
  • Prepare taxes or have them done, if you haven´t already. File electronically this year. If you owe, write the check and prepare to mail…on April 15 and not a minute sooner.
  • As spring starts, check your basement for cracks or leaks. If you see moisture, call a professional to check it out. Many homeowner´s insurance policies no longer cover fungus or mildew damage, so sealing basements is more important than ever.


Mid-spring Home Maintenance for April

  • Use your vacuum and dishwasher to clean more efficiently. Start at the ceiling line with the vacuum: Vacuum walls, baseboards, and furniture before vacuuming floors. Empty the bag as soon as it starts getting full. Use the
    dishwasher for everything that fits. On some models, you can take out the top shelf for oversized items you might not have considered like the bathroom garbage cans, broiler pans, and bath caddies.
  • Check smoke alarm. Replace batteries if necessary. (Some people do this when they change their clocks for Daylight Savings Time.)
  • Take studs off car tires if you´re using them. Many states have laws that specify when they must be removed.
  • You still have time to reseed patchy areas of the lawn. Now is good while everything is in growth mode.
  • Transplant and move plants that are still dormant or just starting to wake up. If you wait, they may be too leafed out and more susceptible to transplant shock.
  • Wash windows inside.
  • Empty clothing closets, toy boxes, cupboards, and drawers. (If you´ve been decluttering and cleaning throughout the year, you know which ones you can ignore.) Vacuum, dust, or wash shelves, drawers, and cabinets depending on when they were last cleaned. Repaint or wallpaper a closet if you have time.
  • Sort winter clothes for tossing, donating, tag sales, or storage. Wash or dryclean woolens and down-filled clothing then store with cedar chips. Replace winter bedding with summer bedding. Air, then clean, comforters, blankets, flannel sheets before storing.
  • Get out summer clothing and bedding.
  • Take down pictures and artwork. Clean frames and glass.
  • Take plants outside and give them a good bath. Wipe dust off leaves.
  • Move appliances and heavy furniture. Clean underneath.
  • Clean oven and refrigerator.
  • Dust, vacuum, or wash walls and ceilings. (Wash the kitchen ceiling unless you never cook.)
  • Dust and wash blades on ceiling fans.
  • Wash floors, then treat per manufacturer´s instructions.
  • Clean and shampoo carpets. If you can, hire someone to do this; it will save a lot of time and free you up to do other things.
  • Wax furniture. Make minor repairs as you find them.
  • Wash woodwork including moldings, baseboards, and doors.
  • Clean light fixtures and chandeliers. Put what you can in the dishwasher. Don´t do that with crystal or painted glass shades though; put crystal in warm soapy water, then rinse and dry. Delicate or fragile things will need to be carefully cleaned then set them out of the way where they won´t get broken if you can´t put them where they belong right away. Dust lampshades. Replace now if they are getting old and ratty.
  • Take down curtains and drapes. Wash or dry clean.
  • Wash mini-blinds, blinds, or shades. If damaged, repair or replace.
  • Go through bookshelves. Get rid of any books that you no longer need. Donate or set them aside for a tag sale. Dust and replace on clean shelves.
  • Sort through videos, DVDs, electronic games, and music CDs. Toss damaged tapes and CDs. Sell or donate old games, CDs, and movies.
  • Sort through computer clutter. Donate usable software, manuals, and equipment. Find a recycling center for dead equipment. Pitch disks and floppies that you can´t read on your current systems.
  • Polish silver, brass, and copper pieces.
  • Wash china and crystal.
  • Set aside garage sale items, drop off donations, and haul garbage to the dump or dumpster.
  • Check sprinkler systems.


Late Spring Home Maintenance for May

By May, we´ve started planting and, with luck, have our home´s interior tidied up and organized for the next few months. May is great for spring cleaning, or if you started, but ran short of time, it´s a good time to wrap it up. Memorial weekend at the end of the month is typically a great time to do a couple painting projects as well as some of those fix-up projects around the yard. When you´re done, a barbecue is a dandy way to unwind with family and friends.

  • Plan a garage or tag sale for this May or June. The days are long and lots of people like to hit sales early in the morning.
  • Finish spring cleaning projects.
  • Mother´s Day. Call your mom, send a card, buy flowers.
  • Check gutters, downspouts, and roof for leaks. Schedule roofing repair if needed.
  • Check siding for winter damage. Schedule repair.
  • If planning to paint exterior, start prep now. Call painter to schedule job.
  • Clean fireplace or stove. Call to schedule chimney cleaning. Have chimney repointed if needed.
  • Clean around AC compressor.
  • Remove storm windows. Inspect for damage, clean, repair, then store. Wash windows, then put in screens.
  • Clear out debris from under decks or porches.
  • Plant annuals. Make a hanging basket with annuals for porch or patio.
  • Cut back any trees or branches that are touching the siding or roof.
  • If you need pest control, call now and schedule exterminators.
  • Clean and repair patio furniture.
  • Check any outdoor play equipment for damage, then repair.


Early Summer Home Maintenance for June

It´s bright, sunny and the days are long. There´s a lot to do. The kids are out of school and looking for things to do. Your schedule can get complicated with summer school, sports, camp, and other activities. In addition to the annual chores, there´s plenty to do to keep up with a growing garden and yard, as well as everyday maintenance.

  • Order firewood for the fall. Give it the extra summer months to season.
  • Check gutters.
  • Paint interior or exterior if needed.
  • If you haven´t cleaned the freezer recently and used up what you have, now is a good time. That way you can take advantage of the huge array of seasonal produce that will be available for the next few months.
  • Buy fresh strawberries and make shortcake from scratch. Top with real whipped cream.
  • Make strawberry freezer jam while you´re at it. Eat it in December on waffles.
  • Check all recreational equipment and make sure it´s in good repair, especially swimming pools.
  • Check hoses on washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher. If they show signs of deterioration, replace them.
  • If you have wood decks, check them for signs of wear or deterioration. Repair or replace as needed. If you have nails popping up, consider replacing them with galvanized screws instead.
  • Clean and seal decks.
  • Check exterior railings and stairs. Repair if they are loose or showing signs of wear.
  • Clothes dryer vents should be checked at least once a year to make sure they are clear of any lint buildup that could cause a fire.
  • Service furnace or heating system.
  • Make sure attic vents work properly. Consider installing a whole house fan.
  • Plant more annuals.


Midsummer Home Maintenance for July

July starts out with a bang on the 4th of July weekend. Usually the warmest month of the year, July is best spent relaxing, but there are still plenty of tasks that can be done any time and now is good. Gardens are in the height of their bloom and fruits and vegetables are showing up in profusion at the farmer´s markets. You may find that doing as much as possible during the spring and fall will free up your time for the ongoing chores your yard and garden require.

  • Freeze fresh blueberries.
  • Check your project list. If you´re postponing projects, either hire someone to come in and get them done, or do them yourself. Chances are they´ll just get worse over time. Many projects, while not inexpensive, are worth doing just for the peace of mind.
  • Paint projects? With windows open, July is a great month to paint.
  • Patch driveway or fill potholes with gravel.
  • Clean the garage. Get rid of junk.
  • Organize tools and garden equipment
  • Check with local government regarding waste disposal of old paint, solvents, and other toxic substances you might have. Use it up if you can, otherwise dispose of responsibly. NEVER pour toxic substances down the drain or throw them into the landfill.
  • Check fences. Repair or replace damaged portions.
  • Have septic tank pumped if you have a septic system.


Late Summer Home Maintenance for August

Getting ready for school and catching that last chance for a summer break, makes August another busy month. If you have a vegetable garden, most of your plants will start producing most heavily. August is still a popular month for summer vacations, but if you´ve already had yours, now is the time to get ready for school, fall, and the holidays at the end of the year.

  • Make blackberry freezer jam.
  • If you like to make Christmas gifts you already know August is getting a late start for some projects. Still, no time like the present.
  • Check windows and doors to make sure locks work properly and that they are in good condition. Clean tracks and lubricate hinges. Repair or replace any cracked windows.
  • Perform garage door maintenance.
  • Repair minor brick and mortar cracks. Call a professional if necessary, especially concerning foundations.
  • Think you need more attic insulation? Add it now.
  • If you haven´t cleaned gutters for awhile, check them now. You can replace damaged or leaking gutters now, or add leaf guards that will allow leaves to slide off. Now there´s a thought! No more painstaking gutter cleaning!


Early Autumn Home Maintenance for September

Summer is winding down and the yard starts looking a little spent, the kids are back in school, and it´s time to make sure that your home is ready for the winter.

  • Drain hot water heater. Flush and refill.
  • Change the furnace filter.
  • Wash out garbage cans, disinfect, then rinse thoroughly.
  • For areas where you have great Indian Summers, take advantage of a few last barbecues before the weather changes. Otherwise, clean, repair, and store patio furniture.
  • If you haven´t already, check basement for cracks or leaks. Seal if necessary.
  • If you have a sump pump, test, clean and lubricate.
  • For plants that are starting to die back, remove litter and deadhead flowers.
  • Add compost, manure, and mulch to garden beds.
  • Plant late autumn vegetables like cabbage, peas, spinach, and swiss chard.
  • Divide perennials, iris, and bulbs.
  • Remove sick or dead trees and shrubs.
  • Seed lawn if your yard has patchy spots. Fertilizing now also encourages good root development.
  • Before it gets cold, have an automatic irrigation system installed. (Scheduling is easier with less competition than in the spring and summer.) Do your “spring” cleaning now before the chilly weather sets in and enjoy a clean house for the holidays.


Mid-autumn Home Maintenance for October

October is often the month of Indian summer days and crisp fall evenings. Days get shorter and the garden produces its last burst of color before the first frosts. It´s a big gardening month for most of the country before hunkering down for the winter.


  • Keep leaves raked to prevent smothering new grass.
  • Plant early spring bulbs and fertilize established bulb beds, including garlic.
  • Plant herb baskets and bulbs for forcing if you want to give them as gifts.
  • Clean yard. Clear debris from perimeter of house and outbuildings. Trim any trees or shrubs that touch the house.
  • At the end of the month, check system and fix leaks, then drain and turn off lawn sprinkler system.
  • Store hoses.
  • Take window screens out. Wash and store. Repair or replace now. Label so you can put them up quickly next spring.
  • Wash windows before installing storm windows.
  • Cover woodpile. Split some kindling and store for ready supply.
  • Harvest seeds for next year´s garden. For free information on how to save seeds, see the International Seed Saving Institute.
  • Move tender perennials into the house, garage, or greenhouse.


  • Turn mattresses.
  • Store summer bedding and towels. Before storing, check condition. Make rags out of damaged sheets and towels.
  • Store summer clothing. Check condition to cull worn items for donation or tossing. Unless you have enough kids to warrant hand-me-downs, send kids´ clothes to donation center, church, or a homeless shelter. Clean before
  • Get out winter clothing and bedding. Swap cotton summer sheets for flannel sheets and duvet covers.
  • Do a big cleaning now while the weather is still relatively warm. You´ll be able to clear out the dust and dirt that got tracked in during the summer.
  • Have carpets cleaned.
  • Schedule appointment to have air conditioner serviced.
  • Replace weatherstripping and caulk around doors and windows.
  • Switch to Daylight Savings Time. Check smoke detector. Replace batteries if needed.
  • Replace all your spices and herbs. Buy baking supplies: flour, sugar, and fresh baking soda if you´re a seasonal baker.
  • Plan holiday meals. Order meats and specialty items. If you´re hosting, make a plan. Check linens, glassware, and dishes. Purchase or rent if you´re short. Get what you need well in advance.
  • Lay a fire for the first nippy evening.


Late Fall Home Maintenance for November

The holiday season is just around the next bend. With a plan and a system, you can get everything done and still enjoy Thanksgiving.

  • Cut back plants that have been killed by frost.
  • Clean flower and vegetable beds, then work mulch and compost into soil to prepare for next spring.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Sharpen, clean, and oil lawn mower.
  • Clean, oil, store garden tools.
  • Clean spray equipment before storing for season. Have automatic irrigation system serviced.
  • Organize gardening supplies and equipment. Inventory needed products and materials based on year´s consumption and prepare a list for spring garden shopping.
  • Prepare for holidays. If traveling, have car serviced.
  • If it´s on your game plan, put Christmas lights up after Thanksgiving.
  • Organize gifts and prepare to ship out of state gifts by the end of November.
  • Make cookies and turkey. Enjoy your family. Watch football.


Early Winter Home Maintenance for December

December is often a manically busy month. Make sure you schedule down time for yourself to regroup, relax, and enjoy the holidays.

  • Mail gifts and Christmas cards. The earlier the better.
  • Finish shopping. Wrap gifts.
  • Decorate house. Pull out ornaments and decorations. Purchase needed items. Put up tree, wreath, and garland.
  • Last chance to make donations to charities and claim the tax benefits for the current year. Don´t forget to get a receipt.
  • Having guests? Clean out the guest room (or space). Dust, vacuum, change linens. Prepare a care package of whatever you think your guest might enjoy. Spend the night in your guest room to make sure it´s comfortable.
  • Take Fido and FiFi out to have them groomed and clipped. No point being stuck inside with a stinky dog.
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and try to avoid eating and drinking too much. It will reduce your stress and you´ll enjoy the season more. When January rolls around you won´t be freaking out about the five new pounds that you found attached to your butt New Year´s Day.