Maintaining a house requires effort, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Here are 25 tips to get you well on your way to a happy home.
Whether you’re planning to purchase a home, are selling your home, or just spending a hell of a lot more time in it (thanks COVID), tips for proper home maintenance are always in order.
Poorly kept areas, if allowed to go unchecked, not only put a damper on your quality of life--they can also morph into much more expensive problems and even decrease the value of your property. (A huge bummer if you decide to sell!)
Far be it from us to allow your home to be anything less than exceptional. Ahead, 25 tips for keeping it in top condition.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
Proper Drain Cleaning
If your kitchen or bathroom constantly greets you with a suspicious aroma, chances are you’ve got a clogged drain. The first line of defense against this problem is to avoid allowing anything solid to slip down there (unless you have a garbage disposal, which, even then, should be used with caution). Use mesh sink strainers to catch debris before it goes down the drain, or get fancy with a Tub Shroom.
Accidents happen, though! If unwanted waste has crept into your drains, depending on the severity of the clog, you can eradicate it using:
a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water,
a chemical cleaner (such as Drain-O)*,
or a plunger. (Yup, they make those for kitchens, too.)
*Chemical solvents should not be your first choice, especially for homes with older plumbing, as they can eat away at the pipes.
Garbage disposals should also be cleaned regularly. The easiest (and most fragrant!) method is with natural citrus oils. Simply toss half a cut lemon or lime in and run with hot water for a minute.
When it comes to plumbing, you may be tempted to think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Not so fast. Leaky pipes are sneaky pipes--meaning, many times, slow leaks won’t become evident until it’s too late.
Regular plumbing inspections can save you from the headaches of uninhibited leaks, namely: arduous cleanup, water damage to walls, ceilings, and floors, and MOLD.
Clean Floors and Walls
Kitchen and bathroom areas are highly susceptible to mold growth due to moisture concentration. (Think: steamy showers, dishwashers, sinks…) A little maintenance goes a long way to keeping mold at bay, though. Once a week, give your tiles, walls, countertops, sinks, showers, and toilets a quick wipe with an antibacterial cleaner (or natural cleaning solution).
Pro tip: “Antibacterial” is the operative word there. Regular all-purpose cleaners are great for light sprucing, but they aren’t made to kill mold-causing bacteria.
If you’ve already got some sporous visitors, the same cleaners will do the job--you may just need to throw in a little more elbow grease.
Toilets have one job, and that job is not as an all-purpose garbage bin. Non-biodegradable items will clog your toilet over time (if they don’t cause overflow right away).
So, rule number one: stick to toilet paper and, if you must, “flushable” wipes. (Use those sparingly to avoid causing issues in the sewage system, such as “fatbergs.” Yes, that’s a thing.)
If you end up with a clog, we probably don’t have to tell you to reach for the plunger. If that doesn’t work, you can DIY a fix or call a pro to help.
Install More Storage
Especially in smaller homes, bathrooms and kitchens are often lacking in the storage department. Limited storage can cause daily annoyance, but it also creates more places for grime to develop on the downlow.
Think about it: old bottles of shampoo, sponges, makeup, toiletries, cleaning products...what else have you tossed under a sink, never to be seen again? Implementing simple storage solutions can help you separate the necessities from the junk and keep cabinet space clear and free of grit.
A couple of suggestions to get you started: install floating shelves in the bathroom to store towels and toiletries, and consider a hanging pot and pan rack or a versatile bar cart for the kitchen.
Maintaining Your Living Room and Entrance Ways
Wash Carpets and Upholstery
Your carpets and upholstery may look relatively clean on the surface, but did you know they could be harboring thousands of dust mites and bacteria? Ew.
What’s more, stains and general wear and tear can leave carpets looking dingy, and upholstery old and worn.
For carpets, you can hire a professional cleaner or rent one of your own. (Be sure to check with your neighbors before paying top dollar at a big box store!) Upholstery care varies a lot based on the fabric, so be sure to do your research.
Not only are ants, cockroaches, termites, and other insects generally unwelcome guests, they can also do serious damage to walls, cabinets, floors, and even your home’s foundation. (Pests like cockroaches also pose a health risk, as harbors of bacteria.)
Make sure to get routine insect inspections and, if you do find yourself with an infestation, call in the pros or use pet-friendly, chemical-free solutions, like Diatomaceous Earth, to clear the creepy crawlers yourself.
Window Cleaning and Maintenance
If you have high-quality windows, they won’t require much maintenance. Still, being exposed to the elements--sun, rain, wind, and more--day in and day out can take a toll.
Best practice for proper window maintenance is to inspect them annually, paying close attention to caulking, tracks (make sure they’re clean and lubricated), and any gapping or other wonkiness in the window’s fit. An exterior window wash once a year (or more) wouldn’t go amiss either.
Fit is extra important because it directly correlates to the energy efficiency of your home. Poorly fitted windows allow air in and out of the house, making for uncomfortable living and higher energy expenditure.
Clean Floors Regularly
You probably sweep or vacuum your floors regularly, but sometimes they need a little extra TLC. Everyday use can lead to grimey build-up and, even if it’s hard to see, it can make your home appear dull--particularly if your flooring is made of luxe materials like wood, ceramic, or marble.
Not all floor cleaners are created equal, so be sure to snag the one that’s suited to your floor type.
Fill Holes and Repaint
One of the quickest ways to make a house feel like home is to mount art, shelving, television screens, and other hangable accouterments on the walls. Problem is, what goes up will likely need to come down eventually, leaving you with unsightly nails, screws, anchors, and holes. Filling holes can be a pain--particularly if they’re large. Check out these great tips for filling holes and even repairing drywall.
Once that’s done, it’s time to repaint. Keep it simple with touch-up paint of the existing color, or take the opportunity to switch things up with a new paint color.
Upkeep in All the Bedrooms
Wash Walls Regularly
Walls may look clean on the surface, but they can attract dust, cobwebs, and more if you don’t clean them regularly. Give bedroom walls a quick swipe with a paint-safe cleaner (which will vary based on what kind of paint is on the walls) and a microfiber cloth to keep things clean and cozy.
Especially if your home is located where heat spikes are common, having air conditioning can be critical for a peaceful night’s sleep--but AC units should be maintained regularly to prevent them from circulating dusty, contaminated air. Be sure to change your filters regularly, according to your unit’s unique instructions.
Wash Linen and Deep Clean Mattresses
Aside from the cozy satisfaction of a freshly washed set of linens, proper bedroom hygiene decreases your risk of attracting undesirable guests, such as bed bugs.
For an optimum clean, wash linens every week and clean your mattress every 6 months or so.
Clean Blinds and Wash Curtains
It’s not just your linens that need regular attention; it’s your window dressing as well. Curtains should be removed and laundered twice a year as they, too, accumulate dust (which, may we remind you, is largely dead skin cells).
Blinds should be dusted slightly more often, and windows wiped to a sparkly shine.
Open Up Your Windows
Weather permitting, opening windows is the best way to eradicate odors and get fresh oxygen circulating, improving the room’s overall air quality.
This may not feel like “home maintenance,” but foul smells and stale air can compound over time, making it more difficult to get that fresh, breezy feeling.
Maintaining Your Garden and Outdoor Structures
Seal Wooden Structures
Outdoor wooden structures, such as decks and pergolas, will be damaged by the elements if you don’t take care of them. Coat your wooden structures in a sealant to protect them from sun and water damage, as well as pest infestations.
Rid Your Garden of Weeds
Not only do weeds make your garden look unkempt, but they also rudely steal nutrients from all your plants! When ridding outdoor areas of weeds, be sure to use sharp, reliable tools and, for an extra dose of love to Mother Earth, consider composting, when you can.
Use Water Catchers
Speaking of sustainable gardening practices--water catchers are a great way to ensure your outdoor spaces get all the water they need without taxing the Earth’s (or your home’s!) resources.
Repair the Roof
Depending on your roof’s material, it may only need to be replaced every 20 years or so. In the meantime, though, adverse weather can damage individual tiles. Depending on the type of tiles you have, it may be possible to replace or repair them yourself, but we recommend always getting a professional opinion.
And, for Pete’s sake, BE CAREFUL strolling around on the roof!
Pressure Washing, Painting, and General External Maintenance
If the exterior of your home is looking a little worse for wear, a good pressure washing--and even a fresh coat of paint--will do wonders for its appearance.
While you’re out there, make sure to check out driveways, patios, porches, and any other high-traffic areas that might have dangerous or unseemly damages.
Swimming Pool Maintenance
Keep It Debris-Free
Swimming pool water is a bit high maintenance. Fungi can grow on the sides of the pool, chemicals need to be properly balanced, and leaves and other natural debris can dirty the water. You’ll need a few tools to help keep your pool clean. To start:
- Leaf traps
- Pool brushes
- Leaf bagger
- Telescoping pole for skimming and brushing
Purify the Water
Chemical balance is key to clean, fungi-free pool water. An ideal chlorine concentration will fall somewhere between 1 and 3 ppm (parts per million).
Clean the Pool Floor and Walls
The easiest way to keep pool floors and walls in good-as-new condition is to run a pool vacuum over the floor regularly and to consistently scrub the walls with a proper brush and chlorine-based cleaner to prevent algae growth.
Backwashing your pool is important to maintain the crystal clear color of the water. How often you backwash your pool filters will be determined by how often the pool is used, and how quickly and to what extent it gets dirty.
“Regular” backwashing means roughly six times per year, but other events--such as storms or a filter pressure gauge that reads between 8 and 10 PSI--may trigger additional maintenance,
Get a Pool Cover
Cover your pool when you’re not using it or during the winter to keep the water clean. Pool covers also serve a safety purpose, especially if you have children or animals that play outside regularly.
Yes. Swimming pools are high maintenance.
Maintaining a house doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult, but it does require some effort. Patience, consistency, and the right tools are all key. Plan ahead by scheduling inspections and maintenance--both professional and DIY--and always mind the nooks and crannies. Happy home-owning!