4 quick and easy winter home maintenance tasks
Winter hibernation – that feeling that we should burrow our heads under the covers until spring — is typically fruitless.
Since scientists warn us to “keep moving” to release endorphins which will help us keep “winter tiredness” at bay, we’ve come up with “exercises” that offer a bonus. They’re quick, they’ll get you moving and your home will look incredible when you’re finished.
Attack the refrigerator
How’s yours looking after the Thanksgiving festivities?
More important – when was the last time you pulled it away from the wall to clean behind it?
If you have pets, especially, the coils should be cleaned at least twice a year if you hope to prolong the appliance’s life.
So, move it away from the wall to give yourself room to work and unplug it. Then, use the vacuum to clean the coils.
Depending on how much fuzz and other grime has accumulated on the coils, you may want to pre-clean them by brushing with a paintbrush. Then, use the vacuum, with the brush attachment, to get the rest.
When you’re finished, sweep and mop the floor, plug the refrigerator back in and move it to its original location.
If your refrigerator’s coils are on the bottom, you can access them through the grill cover at the bottom of the front of the refrigerator.
Appliance manufacturers are now offering refrigerators with condensers enclosed in a compressor casing so they never need cleaning (in fact, GE calls theirs NeverClean Condensers). This location also allows for more efficient airflow.
Dishwashers don’t clean themselves
It’s amazing that a contraption that can clean so many things (silicon oven mitts, tools, toys, makeup brushes, golf balls and more) doesn’t clean itself.
In fact, to keep it running efficiently, you should clean your dishwasher once a month, according to Bob Vila.
Unplug the dishwasher and remove the bottom dish rack. Locate the drain filter at the bottom of the tub. Unscrew the center cylinder, remove it, wash it under hot water and replace it.
The spray arms can be either unscrewed or pull off, depending on the model. You may need a toothpick to get to any small pieces of food stuck inside the holes.
If your dishwasher has a vent on the inside of the door, remove the cover and attack that awful gunk that tends to accumulate there. A stiff toothbrush dipped in vinegar and a bit of scrubbing should remove it.
Clean the showerhead
If your showers aren’t what they used to be, the showerhead may be the culprit. Scaly mineral deposits build up and eventually clog the tiny spray holes. Fortunately, there are several methods you can try to rid the showerhead of the deposits.
Let’s start with the easiest – it doesn’t require removal of the showerhead.
- “Slip a rubber band over the top of the showerhead,” suggests Better Homes & Gardens.
- Pour your preferred liquid cleaning solution (vinegar, CLR, etc.) in a plastic sandwich bag.
- Place the bag over the showerhead and wrap the rubber band around the top of the plastic bag to secure it.
- Allow the bag to remain for about an hour (or according to the product’s instructions).
- Remove the bag and turn on the shower to flush the solution from the showerhead.
If the easy method fails, you’ll need to remove the showerhead and scrub it with an old toothbrush and the cleaning solution.
Plumbingsupply.com offers a handy walk-through of the removal process and how to guard against damaging the showerhead.
Use a small, sharp object, such as a pin or toothpick to dislodge stubborn particles. You may need to soak the showerhead in the solution overnight.
Bob Vila recommends that since you have the showerhead dismantled, you should clean the filter as well. Use the showerhead manufacturer’s instructions about how to locate and detach the filter screen.
It is typically located “near the point where the shower head attaches to the water supply pipe, according to Vila. To clean, use the toothbrush to scrub it under running water.
Clean your computer
If you use your computer as much as we do ours, you’ll agree that digital maintenance is just as necessary as home maintenance. Heavily-used machines take a beating and invariably end up with a lot more than dust to contend with.
Refer to your owner’s manual first.
Not all of them contain information on cleaning but if yours does, because it’s specific to your device, it’s the best advice to follow.
Work from the outside to the inside by cleaning the shell first. Consumer Reports recommends using a small drop of liquid dish soap in a small bowl of warm water. Dip in a sponge, wring it well and wipe down the exterior of the case and the mouse.
Keyboards are like flypaper – they attract anything that happens to float by, from dust to hair to crumbs. Consumer Reports recommends using a portable vacuum cleaner to get at the detritus. Lacking one of those, use a small brush to clean around the keys.
If you use a detached keyboard, give it a couple of gentle shakes and then turn it over and pat gently along the back of it. You may be surprised what falls out of it. Then, wipe the keys with a damp cloth. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is ideal for cleaning the spaces between the keys.
Use a soft brush to wipe the dust from the computer’s vents and then spray condensed air to dislodge any stubborn debris. Consumer Reports recommends that you hold the compressed air can “at an angle so that you’re not blowing the debris deeper into the machine.”
Use care when cleaning the monitor.
Start by using a dry, micro-fiber cleaning cloth to remove as many of the smudges and other grime as possible. If it requires additional cleaning, Matt Elliott with cnet.com recommends using a soft cloth, dipped in a solution of warm water and a drop of dish soap – well-wrung – to gently wipe the screen.
Use a clean, damp cloth to remove the soapy residue and the micro-fiber cloth to dry it.
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