The Year-Long Home Maintenance Checklist: When to Do Big Chores?

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Every year you aim to start good habits with your health, your career, your relationships. But what about your home? The space you spend time in every.single.day should receive some TLC and attention, too.

Instead of vowing to get your body in shape, let’s get your home in shape! In 2018, you may have neglected your home and we’re not judging. (I mean, who really knows the last time they changed their air filter?)

Your 2019 Home Checklist

But 2019 is the year to change that! We’ve curated a handy-dandy checklist to map out the year ahead. If you accomplish each task every month, your home is going to be a well-oiled machine. Now let’s get to it!

Note: Tasks marked with * are recurring tasks you’ll complete multiple times over the course of the year.

Winter Tasks

When you’re stuck inside due to the cold, you might as well put your downtime to good use. We both love starting the year with a nice purge. And if you haven’t seen the new Marie Kondo show on Netflix (seriously, where have you been??), then it just may give you the kick in the pants to part with all of your stuff.

While there will always be recurring tasks to complete on the checklist, the winter time is all about purging and organizing every nook and cranny in your home.

Split it up over the next 3 months and it won’t be quite as overwhelming!

January

February

  • Compile tax documents; set up a time to complete taxes
  • Purge and donate kitchen gadgets
  • Purge and donate pantry foods
  • Wipe down fridge*
  • Clean garbage disposal*
  • Change furnace filter*

March

  • Purge and organize toiletries
  • Purge and organize the linen closet
  • Check caulking around bathtubs and showers
  • Clean car inside and out*

Spring Tasks

No duh: the springtime is all about spring cleaning! You spent the past few months purging and organizing spaces in your home, but now it’s time to give everything a nice deep clean. (And don’t forget to clean these 6 overlooked areas).

Not to mention, the springtime is the start of all your big outdoor projects. Get your lawn and garden cleaned, manicured, and ready for new life to grow. These are especially crucial because you really can’t do anything about it once you miss your window!

April

  • Get air conditioner serviced
  • Aerate lawn
  • Wash drapes, rugs, upholstery
  • Launder shower curtain and liner
  • Wash windows and screens*
  • Clear your gutters*
  • Dust light fixtures*
  • Wipe down baseboards*

May

  • Setup outdoor patio furniture
  • Inspect home’s exterior and roof for necessary repairs
  • Prune overgrown bushes
  • Clear dead plants and shrubs (early May)
  • Plant flowers (late May)
  • Change furnace filter*
  • Change batteries in smoke & CO2 detectors*

June

  • Replace outdoor lights that have burned out
  • Clean grill and check propane tank
  • Clean deck and make necessary repairs
  • Power wash sidewalks and walkways
  • Clean car inside and out*

Summer Tasks

Oh, the sweet summertime. It can be easy to let your household chores slide during the summer months. We get it, summer is about vacations and relaxing. But these are worthwhile tasks to accomplish when the temps are warmer and you’re spending more time outside (hopefully).

Also, as you near Labor Day, school will be on the mind. That’s when you’ll want to make sure your home is still organized from your hard work earlier this year. Purge paper clutter and books so you can start the school year fresh!

July

  • Fix broken screen doors
  • Add fresh mulch to landscaping
  • Organize and sweep out the garage
  • Dust light fixtures*
  • Wipe down baseboards*

August

  • Hose down garbage cans
  • Purge office and organize paperwork for the upcoming school year
  • Purge and donate books
  • Clean faucet and shower heads
  • Wipe down fridge*
  • Change furnace filter*

September

  • Service chimney
  • Empty out planters
  • Store lawn furniture
  • Clean car inside and out*
  • Wash windows and screens*

Fall Tasks

Keep that momentum going into the fall season! Fall is the time to prepare for the cold months ahead. Focus on prepping the exterior of your home to protect it against the snow and ice that will soon be here.

With the holidays approaching, this is also a time when you’re the most likely to host guests. Luckily, your home should be running smoothly with all of the work you’ve put in this year. We also encourage you to keep December a little light on the home projects, since you will most likely have limited free time.

October

  • Plant spring blooming plants, shrubs, tall grasses, etc.
  • Remove hoses from water spickets
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Check your sump pump
  • Clear your gutters*
  • Dust light fixtures*
  • Wipe down baseboards*

November

  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows
  • Have heating systems serviced
  • Rake and gather leaves
  • Purge pantry and donate (good timing for the holidays!)
  • Change furnace filter*
  • Change batteries in smoke & CO2 detectors*

December

Free Printable – Home Checklist

If you’re ready to make 2019 the best year yet for your home, then we encourage you to download or screenshot this free printable. That way, you can print it out and check things off as you go. (Trust us, there is no better feeling than checking off those little boxes!)


Illustrations by M. Dean

If You Have Kids, Test Your Home for These Things Right Now

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I recently moved while pregnant and let me tell you, the struggle is real! Although there were some unexpected perks (it helps to have a literal built-in excuse not to have to do the heavy lifting), there were also a slew of concerns and precautionary steps I took to keep me and Baby Mac safe throughout the process. (In case you’re wondering, he’s due in February!)
I’m definitely not here to scare any future moms. We all know there’s plenty of material available that can do that. But I also didn’t want to go into my move blind to the potential hazards that a new house can pose to you or your baby’s health.
So as an expecting mom and a special education teacher who sees the effects of these household dangers far too often, I’m here to share important research so we can be diligent in taking the necessary steps to keep our babies safe.

You Need to Get Your New Home Tested for Lead

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), 1 in every 38 kids is impacted by lead poisoning. Exposure to lead at a young age can come from many things, but usually include these lead-based sources:
  • Lead paint
  • Lead in a tainted water supply
  • Lead fumes during construction
When a child is exposed to this dangerous toxin, they are at high risk of developing a learning disability, a lower IQ and/or damaged organs. In some extreme cases, it can even cause death.
We can all agree that we would never want to expose our babies or young children to lead, but the scary part is that sometimes we do so without even realizing it. That’s why with just a little research and the right tools, you can arm yourself with the resources you need to test for lead products. And often times, all you really need is yourself!

How to Test for Lead

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Large companies, such as 3M, sell DIY lead checking products (some for under $10!) that you can purchase and use to test the paint in your home. The directions will coach you on how to swipe the painted surface and almost instantly identify whether or not that paint is contaminated.

If you are an avid DIY-er like us, be sure to use these strips to test any furniture you may be giving a makeover for the new nursery, too. You definitely don’t want to sand down an old dresser that was previously painted with lead paint. That dust can be extremely dangerous when it becomes airborne. You also don’t want to paint over it since your little one could peel away that paint some day and ingest it. There are plenty of old dressers that need a lot of DIY love (so don’t ditch this creative idea entirely!), just be sure to choose one that doesn’t have a history with lead.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10-20 percent of our exposure to lead comes from water. This is especially dangerous because we may not even realize we are mixing lead-infused water in our baby’s formula and potentially causing serious damage in the process. To test the water in your new home, simply contact your water supplier and ask for it to be tested. If this is not a service they provide, the EPA has contact information for approved testing labs you can reference right here. Just click on your state and search your state government’s resources!

What to Do If Your Child Has Already Been Exposed to Lead

If you have little ones and are concerned that they may have already been exposed to lead (sometimes it can be inhaled through contaminated dust without you even realizing it), don’t freak out – you can often get their lead levels tested at your local pediatrician, just make the appointment today.

Take the precautionary steps to avoid this contamination, and you are your little one will be safe. Just be sure you use the resources available to confirm that your new home is clear of any risk before it’s too late. The bottom line is that lead poisoning is extremely dangerous and fetuses and small children are unfortunately at the highest risk of the side effects.

Get Your Home Tested for Radon

Who knew some old houses could have a dangerous build-up of radon lurking within? I had no idea until right before I moved into my new house and did some investigating. I’m definitely not a pro on the topic, but here’s all the info I found out through my moving experience.

Radon is a dangerous gas that radiates out of the soil over time and is more prominent in some areas of the country versus others. Those areas’ homes catch these gases, trapping them inside and increasing the levels of radon to a point that can be dangerous to live in over long periods of time. According to the American Lung Association, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer … right behind smoking! I don’t want my baby exposed to second-hand smoke and I don’t want him exposed to high radon levels either.

How Do I Get a Radon Test? How Much Does it Cost?

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The great news is that high levels of radon in your home don’t need to be a deal breaker because there are solutions to lower the levels of gases. Each state’s EPA shares resources on which companies you can call to test your home for radon right here. This test costs a couple hundred bucks (depending on location, house size, etc.) and it takes a few days to complete. To test for it, a tracker is placed in your new home, usually in the basement. Note that the longer the tracker can stay in the home, the more accurate the read will be.

For reference, the average level of radon in households across America is 1.3 picocuries per liter and according to the EPA, you need to take action on reducing radon on or above 4.0 pCi/L. Talking to the company who tested your home will be the best resource to start identifying what specific steps you can take to decrease these radon levels now and eliminate them from rising in the future.

Other Harmful Chemicals to Consider

Okay, the two biggest chemicals that may lurk in your home prior to moving in are out-of-the-way, but we don’t want you to forget about the ones that may pop up throughout the moving or nesting process. Here’s a list of other common products that could be useful as you get settled in, but ones you need to take precaution so you are not exposed to:
  • Rodent/Insect pesticides
  • Landscaping pesticides or fertilizers
  • Paints with VOC
  • Polyurethane finishes for floors
  • Paint removing liquids
  • Spray paints (it’s better to roll/brush no-VOC paints if possible!)
  • Arsenic (which is a substance that a lot of outdoor decks or wood is treated with)

Especially if you’re pregnant like me and someone in your home needs to use these listed products, be sure to use proper ventilation, steer clear, or even see if you could stay at a friend’s place until the fumes are gone. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, right?

Overall, I went into my move feeling a lot more at ease about these potential dangers because I invested a little time and money into having my house tested for both lead paint and radon levels. Also diving into these topics a little deeper helped me identify how I can take steps later in my pregnancy (or in future pregnancies) to stay safe, which I’m very grateful for. If you’re looking to move while pregnant, I hope you too can find peace of mind by getting your home tested (and cleared!)

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