It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through January. Before you know it, spring will be here, and it will be time to start your spring cleaning all over again.
If that seems daunting to you, don’t sweat it. You can break up your spring cleaning by starting a little earlier and breaking up the work. You’ll feel less overwhelmed as you start your cleaning, and you’ll be able to make time for more fun activities, such as trips to a museum or the zoo with your children. If you can get some of the bigger tasks out of the way now, your spring cleaning list will look a lot shorter, and you’ll feel that smaller tasks are much more manageable.
Think of it this way: You’re stuck inside anyway during the wintertime. You might as well get a little work done now.
Here’s how to get your home ready for spring before the first flowers start to sprout from your garden.
Inside your home
You may not be ready to go through all your closets and deep clean your bathrooms, but there are a lot of small tasks that you can accomplish around your home to make those deep cleans easier.
Your first task should be to start paying attention to the things that you use and do not use around your home. How many times have you started decluttering and then thought, “Wait, do I still use this? Maybe I do.” And then you’ve saved it for another year. Overtime, your clutter starts to build up and spill out into multiple closets, and you’re keeping a lot of stuff that you just don’t use.
Now is the time to start noticing what you’re not using. That can be anything from small kitchen appliances to toys that your kids are starting to grow out of. When you start paying attention now, you’ll feel more confident in what you need and want to get rid of, and you can start thinking about how you’ll rearrange things with so much more free space.
If you want, you can start gathering some of these things and putting them in boxes to be dropped off or even start selling them on letgo or Facebook Marketplace. These apps can be great for getting rid of old furniture that you’re not using but don’t want to throw away. Price it low or even list it for free to get it out of your home — and maybe help someone else who’s in need of a toaster.
As you’re starting to take stock of what you want to get rid of, now you need to:
- Catch up on your recycling: With so many Amazon boxes coming to your home over the holidays, you probably have a lot of cardboard boxes and empty wine bottles left over from all the parties. But don’t throw these recyclable materials out altogether. Sort what you have and set them out according to your neighborhood’s recycling plan. If you don’t have a recycling pick-up service, load up your car and drop it all off on the way home from work one afternoon.
- Wash your bedspreads and blankets: You have weekly laundry of course, but since you’re inside anyway, now is a good time to throw in your blankets and bedspreads. Since you’re not overwhelmed with other cleaning jobs, take your time and make sure you’re following the directions on your blankets and bedspreads. Hang them out if they need it and make room for everything to dry. If anything needs to be dry cleaned, load it up and drop it off.
- Check windows: All winter long, you should be checking your windows for a draft. If you feel a draft, it means your window needs to be recaulked or new weather stripping. Take a day each month in winter and feel around your windows to see if you feel a difference in temperature. Warm or cold air could be escaping, which means you’re going to end up paying more in your electric bill.
- Drop off dry cleaning: Speaking of dry cleaning, now would be a good time to go through your own closet and get your dry cleaning taken care of before spring. You probably have some nice clothing that needs to be dry cleaned after the holidays. Getting it done now is one less thing to do in spring.
Doing a little bit over time around your home will make spring cleaning go faster, and you’ll be halfway done by the time spring actually gets here. When you start working on clutter ahead of time, you’ll feel confident in what you need to get rid of, and you’ll have the energy to get rid of it in a sustainable way — rather than just throwing it all in the garbage.
Outside your home
You may have to wait until the tail end of winter to start working outside, but there are a lot of small things you can do to keep your home in good condition and ready for spring.
The one thing that you should be doing even in the winter months is inspecting your home. Although winters are mild in Houston, there’s always the chance that a heavy rain storm or even an ice storm might have damaged your property in some way. Little bits of damage can build up over time and lead to bigger problems, but small problems and damage can be difficult to spot. You might think that some damage has been there all along and is therefore not a big deal. When you make a point of patrolling your the exterior of your home, you’ll notice subtle changes to your property, which will allow you to spot small problems before they become big problems.
Here’s what you need to look for around your home:
- Roof: Grab a pair of binoculars and take a close look at your roof. Leave the ladder inside, you don’t need it for now. Look carefully at your shingles and notice any cracks or spots where shingles might have fallen off altogether. Nails can also become loose and push up shingles, allowing water to get in. These can be adjusted by a professional to help keep your roof in the best condition possible.
- Exterior walls: No matter what type of exterior walls you have — brick, siding, stucco — it all needs to be monitored. It’s not enough just to look at the sides of your home You need to get up close and look for cracks or even holes. If you notice discoloration, it could be a water stain, which indicates a problem with your gutters. Any holes can be entry points for pests, so it’s important to get up close to your siding.
- Gutters: Speaking of gutters, you should be inspecting them as well as you inspect the siding. Your gutters move water safely off your roof and down to the ground. If water is leaking, then you may have a crack in your gutter. All that water can hurt your siding, as mentioned, and your foundation. That can be a serious problem, so make sure you inspect your gutters closely.
Monitoring the exterior of your home is key to making spring cleaning easier for you. You’ll know what needs to be done, and you can schedule a professional in advance to get the work taken care of while you focus on other tasks around your home.
In an area that never sees much cold weather or snow, it probably looks as if your yard doesn’t need much work at all. Though none of your flowers may be blooming just yet and the ground may look sad and brown, have patience. Before you know it, your garden is going to be bright and green.
That is, if you take care of it.
If you want your garden to grow bright and green in spring, there are some things you can do in the late winter months to get your yard on track. Here’s how to prepare your yard for spring.
Loosen and aerate your soil
When the temperature drops in Houston, the soil in the your garden will harden and become dense. This makes it difficult for water and air to get down to the roots of your plants, allowing them to grow. When the weather warms up, the soil will loosen up naturally anyway, but you can do a little more to get the process going by aerating your own soil.
The process works like this: A till pulls up bits of soil and then deposits them back into the ground. In a way, it’s kind of like fluffing your soil. The soil particles will loosen up as their deposited back into the ground. Your ground will look a little overturned for a bit, but the soil will sink back down before long. You can do this process any time when the temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil will be thawed by then if it was a particularly cold winter.
Overtime, you’ll see your grass start to grow in thick and lush. Before long, your grass will look green and ready for spring.
If you have a till at home, you can use it on your soil as the temperature rises, but if you don’t, you can rent one from your local hardware store. Tills can be pretty heavy and difficult to operate, so if you’d rather not do it yourself, you can hire a landscaping company to do the work for you.
Mow away the old grass
Out with the old and in with the new, as they say. During the winter months, the grass in your yard becomes dead at its ends, and it often grows out additional leaves and stems. All in all, the grass looks messy, and what’s more, it’s much more dense than the grass you’ll be planting in the spring. When it’s so dense, the grass can stop seeds from reaching the soil as well as water and air from reaching the seeds in the soil.
The key is to get rid of this grass and mow it down so new grass seeds can reach the soil. Set your mower to a low setting so it will give your lawn a sort of buzz-like cut. This will remove the dead ends and allow new grass to finally grow.
Once you’re done mowing, lay out the grass clippings in your yard and flower beds. Grass clippings are a great fertilizer, so they will help new plants grow big and strong.
Now you may like your grass to be a bit longer, but starting out short at the beginning of the season can help you out in a big way. When the grass is slow at the beginning of summer, it allows more sunlight to get to the soil and deliver essential nutrients to your plants. It will also help warm the soil. With so much sunlight, your grass will look bright and green in now time.
Add fertilizers and begin weeding
You may not be ready to plant just yet, but you can start getting the soil ready and healthy for your plants. You should also be looking out for potential weeds that want to grow and hinder your own flowers and plants.
If you’ve been composting (and we recommend you do, it’s great for your yard and the environment), this will be a great time to start mixing in your compost with the soil in your yard. The nutrients in the compost will mix in with the soil, and when you start planting, you’ll find that your plants grow stronger and look healthier.
Once the temperature reaches 70 degrees or higher, it’s safe to use your preferred fertilizer. You can also start trimming weeds and making room for your plants.
Spring cleaning is really a misnomer. You need to be taking care of your home all year round, and you don’t get a break just because it’s a little cold out. Taking care of your home all year long will ensure that everything stays in good condition, and it will save you money over time. Rather than doing a big, expensive repair, you’ll do smaller, more minor repairs.
Share with us: What’s your pre-spring cleaning checklist look like? Tell us more in a comment below.