I do not jest here people. Keeping your house clean can save you more money than you may realize! How so you may ask...so glad you asked!
The number one reason for having to replace anything is wear and tear. This can take place from using the item repeatedly. Things do give out it is true but you can seriously extend the life of an item by maintaining it. A few minutes here and there can add years of use meaning huge savings long term. It may also keep your family safer as well.
The top 15 things to clean and maintain are (in my opinion - which being my blog means the gospel!):
15 - the furnace/air conditioning unit. These are probably the most pricey things to replace in a home. Inside you should have your furnace/air co serviced at least every other year and get your ducts cleaned too! Quite often you can get packaged deals to do it all at once but make sure you call the BBB to check up on the company. Also make sure you replace those filters. A blocked filter will keep your furnace running longer to get the house heated up. Vacuum or sweep the room your furnace is in regularly to cut down on the amount of dust and hair being sucked in there too. In the winter make sure you place a large board on top of the air conditioning unit, weighted down with a brick to protect it. I always thought you should wrap it up but my service guy said that can build up condensation and lead to rusting. In the spring hose down the side to dislodge all the debris but NEVER spray down from the top as this can break your compressor. And the compressor is 90% of the cost. If your air conditioner or furnace stops working/breaks down don't rush to replace it. I was told by FIVE different people our air conditioner was shot and we needed a new one. Well, actually it needed a new switch and a doohickey - service, parts and labour cost me $400...much better than $5000 replacement. So make sure you ask around and find an honest repair person.
14 - beds. A good bed is expensive, really expensive. And considering how much time you (should) spend sleeping it is important you have a decent bed. It is important to vacuum the bed regularly and rotate it if you can't flip it. A lot of the pillow tops can't be flipped. This will ensure that you don't end up with a divot in your bed from your weight being in one spot all the time. Vacuuming it will get rid of some of the dust mites and keep it fresh. I would also recommend a mattress cover. Even though I am well past bed wetting I have a water proof cover on my mattress. I drink tea in bed, water and have been found with the odd bowl of ice cream. This means if I make a mess, rather when I do make a mess, it doesn't damage the mattress underneath. And the mattress still breaths along the sides. And did you know if you get the tiniest stain on your mattress it voids your warranty? Well worth the investment as some beds have 10 year or 25 year warranties.
13 - washer and dryers. How often do you clean your lint catcher? Not the tray but actually take it all apart and clean it? Not only is this a fire hazard but really adds years to your machine. Do you wipe out the inside? All that fabric softener builds up over the years which can lead to spotting on your clothes. Do you ever wash out your washing machine? Sounds funny to recommend that but soap, liquid fabric softener all sorts of other goodies build up in there. That soap tray getting all gummed up means it might not be fitting in tight resulting it small amounts of water leaking in an around - yikes rust - rust is bad! Some hot water with a little white vinegar is great for wiping both down inside and out. Make sure you unplug the machines and if you can move them and clean behind once a year...a pile of dust, hair and other yuckies away you. Also make sure that your dryer vent leading to the outside is venting clearly. No bushes, yard waste etc. And finally make sure the taps aren't leaking when the machine isn't in use. We had a flood for this reason...a 25 cent washer could have saved me tons of money and hours of headache!
12 - dishwasher. Lime build up, little bits of food etc all shorten the life of the dishwasher. Make sure you give it a good clean out, making sure not to forget the seals where gunk can build up. Also check your hose to make sure it hasn't dried out or looks like it might crack. Though I am not a big pusher of chemicals, a monthly cycle with one of the cleaners will keep the arm nozzles clean and water flowing freely.
11 - fridge and stove. Sorry but a clean oven, as much as we hate to do it, means your oven heats better. Clean elements hold temperature better. Also making sure you clean up spill right away means no harsh scrubbing which can result in chipping enamel or scratches. Inside of the fridge needs to be cleaned often to keep smells from worming their way into plastic. Also don't forget to vacuum the back of the fridge. If you have exposed coils this means it will help your fridge running smoother and not over heating. Even if you have enclosed coils vacuum it off and along the bottom, air circulates and dust does build up. If you have to defrost your fridge I am very sorry for you lol. Just don't chip at it with a knife. You will scratch it sooner or larger. Or worse take a chunk out. Hair dryers take forever...use a bowl of warm water and close the door. Even better try and have a week where you eat everything up and turn it off for a couple hours. Clean it all top to bottom and air it out.
10 - clothes. True you don't have to wash something as soon as you wear it but keep in mind dirt gets in the fibers and acts like a tiny little knife sawing away that nice sweater Auntie Agnes gave you. Make up, pollution, smoking, perfume, pet hair etc all put wear and tear on your clothes. If you want to make your clothes last listen to your Mom and hang them up. This allows the clothes to air out and dry out as well. We all sweat....A quick tumble in air fluff, no heat needed, can get rid of a lot of stuff as well.
9 - shoes. Clean them, polish them and seal them. Your shoes get a ton of wear and tear, even if it's dry out. Grit and all sorts of other things that make me gag are out there and we are walking through it! If walking through snow you are coming into contact with a lot of salt and sand. A damp cloth dipped in some diluted white vinegar is great for removing salt. Use Vaseline if they have a shiny leather finish. I won't go into the scientific amount of water we sweat into our shoes daily because it ranks high on the nasty scale....let us just agree with the recommendation that you should not try and wear the same pair of shoes twice in a row. Letting them air out and giving them a chance to dry will keep them smelling fresh and last longer. If you have stinky foot syndrome...fill the shoes full of crumpled newspaper and tie up in a bag. Let sit for three or more days. It will suck the stink right out! Newspaper is amazing...come on we use to give birth on the stuff!
8 - windows. These are important to keep clean because it tells our neighbours we are better than them. Seriously, besides the fact it saves us money by allowing all that warm sun into the house in the winter maintaining them will extend their life. Watch for mould around the seals, especially in older windows. When the warm air in the house hits the cold glass in the winter you may notice moisture build up (and in reverse in the summer). Mould loves this stuff and grows, and eats away at the seal making your windows drafty. A simple solution of hot water and a tiny bit of bleach on a cloth wiped along these spots will hold this off. Just be sure not to clean your windows at the same time. Mixing chemicals is bad....the only mixing we do here is cocktails! Don't forget to dust those sky lights and watch for mold there as well.
7 - computers. In the back of your computer tower is a little fan that spins away keeping the mice that power it cool. If these air intakes and air outputs get block with dust or smoking it causes the CPU to overheat. This is bad. It can cause all sorts of issues from discs not reading to your hard drive going all wonky. Easy solution is to vacuum it on a regular basis. If you have a 10 year old in the house those cheeky computer whiz es can also open it out and blow it out with a can of compressed air for you as well. Also make sure you dust your monitor front and back and vacuum that keyboard as well. If your mouse isn't rolling properly, just unscrew the bottom and clean it out and wipe the ball off with a cloth. You will be surprised what can build up in there.
6 - electronics in general. Do you vacuum the back of your TV? Do you put a disc cleaner in your DVD player once in awhile? You should. Since everything has become so high tech, and they want it to fall apart in 6 months so you have to buy another one...keeping dust, pet hair and other things in the air out is very important on extending the life. Next time you pop a CD into the stereo take a look...a lot of dust build up in there. But a warning, NEVER EVER TOUCH THE EYE OF THE LASER. This will ruin your appliance. If you have kids that like playing video games there are some excellent cleaning products out there to keep the discs clean. It extends the life of both the system and the game. We personally use the Wizard cleaning products but ask at your favorite gaming shop. I am sure they will love to sell you some!
5 - furniture, cloth/leather. Leather furniture always made me think of pimp daddies or single guys with no taste. Well I am so wrong as it has come a long way! I was talked into buying a leather couch because it is the best thing for the kids to pummel. All I have to do is wipe it down with a warm damp cloth and open the windows to let the sun dry it up. It cleans it and as it dries tightens the leather up at the same time. Shame it doesn't work on various body parts. This couch is now 3 years old and looks brand new. A fabric couch would now have had 3 sets of slip covers on it! If you have a fabric couch make sure to get it professional cleaned and scotch guarded if you haven't done so yet. If it is scotch guarded a quick blot with soda water should get up any spills. Also make sure to vacuum it very well regularly including down the seat etc. Also rotate and flip cushions so that they wear evenly. And if you can work it into your decorating, arm covers are great to prolong the life.
4 - furniture, wood. It is very important, especially with antiques, that you oil them at least twice a year. This prevents wood from splitting, cracking and splintering. Use a good furniture oil, use a clean soft cloth and go WITH the grain. Due to temperature changes wood with expand and contract. Being well oiled will ensure that it can do this without damage. I have my great great grand mother's writing desk and it looks better than my one marriage furniture from IKEA! It isn't fun but does make it look nice and easier to dust in between. By the way, products like Pledge are horrid for furniture. It causes a build up that dulls over time and the only way to bring the sheen back is to use more Pledge...sounds like they have figured something out! Want a cheap oil to use? Mineral oil is great for unfinished wood and is safe for kids/pets. Get it at the drug store cheap. I use lemon oil for the rest of the furniture. Costs about $4 and I have been using the same bottle for 6 years...plus makes your house smell great!
3 - cars. I don't own one but my dad use to lecture me forever on car maintenance. Keeping the inside clean, free from food, dirt etc no only makes it smell better but also keeps the value up. And did you know food let in cars attracts cockroaches. I kid you not. About 80% of public buses have roaches (according to the guys at Greyhound that I know). They seek out food. And then you throw a bag in there and then you bring the bag into the house...you get the picture! Keeping the windows clean on the inside helps you see better plus who wants their hands sticking to the steering wheel! Taking your car through the car wash gets rid of salt, dirt and grime. Doing so will slow the rusting of the under body. My dad use to take the car every couple years and get the engine washed as well. Also flushing fluids and oils changes keep the car clean inside. Considering that he drove a car 15 years old that until we got rid of it passed the E-test...maybe these are good ideas.
2 - rugs/floors. Laminate flooring is popular and looks nice if maintained. No scratch laminate flooring CAN be scratched if not cleaned regularly due to dirt slowly and gently rubbing the protective finish off. We found this out the hard way by the front door. It is important not to use anything but what is recommended by the manufacturer to clean them. Also very important is to wipe up anything that is spilled immediately. It was recommended to us that you place a folded towel where the spill was and put a couple heavy books on top of the towel. This will draw out any of the moisture that may have gotten into where the boards join. I would recommend this as well for wet spots on carpets. That under pad sucks up wet mighty fast. If you clean your own carpets with a steam cleaner keep in mind they want you to use far more soap than you have too. Why? a - it is expensive and they want your money and b - it leaves a slight sticky film which dirt sticks to so you clean it even more than usual please refer to point a! When I had carpets I would clean once with shampoo and the next couple times with just hot water. My neighbour at the time had the same machine and my carpets looked cleaner and were fluffier.
1 - teeth. Okay go ahead and giggle. But in the house they can be the most expensive thing to repair if you don't have a health plan through work. And besides think of wages lost to go and get a filling! Brush twice a day and floss. Money saved over you life time? Thousands. Going to the great beyond with all your own teeth? Priceless. Can't brush your teeth? Eat a piece of hard cheese, this actually cleans the plaque away until you can get to your brush. Carrots and celery also work great. The latter two are also good for your gums. Save your self the pain and look after those pearly whites!
Other things to maintain:
- the roof, clean those gutters. Be careful though - did you know walking on your roof can void your warranty?
- door knobs and locks. They do loosen over time and a quick twist with a screw driver keeps them turning smoothly.
- light bulbs. The new curly ones need the odd dusting to prolong their life and keep them burning bright.
- sinks. Soap, toothpaste and other sticky things can build up over time. Baking soda and some vinegar down the drain will foam up and cut the sludge. Let sit and then follow with a kettle full of boiling water. They will smell better too.
- basement drains. I pour cheap mouthwash down these once a year to kill all the bacteria build up and keep them fresh.
- tub/shower drains. Make sure you pull all that hair out. And then treat like you would a sink.
- pillows. Not for down filled (these need to be dry cleaned) but poly filled ones should get washed in hot and dried on the hottest setting possible. This kills mites and bacteria, also fluffs them up nicely. I then put protective pillow covers on them. This really cuts down on allergies, shortens colds etc. And I hate to tell you EVERYONE drools in their sleep!
Coming up next : Feeding the starving hoards for very little!