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30 Spring Cleaning Tasks to Check Off Your Checklist

Start thinking of spring cleaning as the calendar turns a page. Develop a plan with these tips on what to clean and helpful hints on how to clean them.

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The Family Handyman

Clean Out the Dryer Lint

Thousands of dryer fires are caused by lint every year, yet they can be easily prevented with a few minutes of cleaning. Learn where lint is, how to get at it, and the best way to clean it out.

Don’t miss a single step with your spring cleaning each year, check out our ultimate guide here.

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Clean Air Conditioner Condensers and EvaporatorsFamily Handyman

Clean Air Conditioner Condensers and Evaporators

A little sweat equity now will help both your wallet and your comfort level later when summer's heat sets in. Most of the job can be done without the help of a professional, and by servicing and testing out your cooling system now, you will have plenty of time to make an appointment with an air conditioning contractor if there's any unforeseen issues. After cutting off the electricity to the unit, vacuum the outdoor condenser's exterior fins with a soft-bristled brush, and clear away bushes, weeds and overgrown grass within two feet of the unit. Indoors, replace the furnace filter on the evaporator unit, vacuum the blower compartment, and clean the condensation drain. For the full guide to cleaning the air conditioner, click here.

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Re-Paint the Front DoorThe Family Handyman

Re-Paint the Front Door

Ask any paint manufacturer, painting is a task that's best done when the weather is mild outside, typically above 50 degrees and not too humid. If your front door has seen better days, it might be a good time to give it a fresh coat of paint. For best results, remove the door from the hinges and remove all of its hardware. Give it a good cleaning to allow the paint to adhere properly, and scrape off any buildups of paint or areas where the old paint is chipping off. When your prep is done, use a high-quality brush to edge in around the door's windows and panels, then switch to a high-density foam roller to apply two light coats to the whole door, that will ensure no brush marks. If your home was built before 1979, check the paint for lead before you scrape or sand. For more information, go to www.hud.gov/offices/lead. Get more front-door painting tips and techniques here.

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Repair Rotted WoodThe Family Handyman

Repair Rotted Wood

After winter snow melts and the April showers leave your property damp, it's a good idea to inspect for signs of rotted wood. If you find any areas in need of replacement, use a polyester filler to rebuild the damaged areas. First, use a 5-in-1 tool to remove the rotted wood from the area. Then press the filler into the recesses of the wood with a putty knife, building up the layers as needed until you have a smooth profile. You should have between 10-15 minutes to work with the polyester filler before it begins to harden. The new structure will take paint well and won't rot again in the future. Get a step-by-step on repairing rotted wood here.

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Sharpen Garden ToolsThe Family Handyman

Sharpen Garden Tools

Pruning, clipping and shearing are most useful when clean, precise cuts to the plant are accomplished, and the only way to guarantee that is to regularly maintain your tools. Pruning shears, hedge shears and grass clippers each have two sharp surfaces which are finely ground at the factory to their most efficient angle. Pick up a new 10-inch mill file at your local home center, and file the blades along their original factory bevel. Sharpening the blades along any other edge will ruin an otherwise perfectly good set of shears or clippers. The safest way to achieve this is by clamping the blade firmly in place with a vise. Move the file in one long motion away from you, exposing clean metal, for the best results. Learn more about sharpening garden tools here.

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Check Your DeckThe Family Handyman

Check Your Deck

Now that it's the perfect weather to spend free time entertaining outside on the deck, perform an annual inspection on the whole structure to ensure everything is safe and in top shape for your family and guests. While well-built decks will last for decades, some that are 15 or more years old, when building codes were different, or possibly the work of a DIYer who owned the home before you, warrants careful inspection for certain key things. Problems to look for are rotted or wobbly posts, weak post connections, properly-fastened ledger boards, and missing flasher ledging. Most of the wood deck repair tasks are inexpensive and you should be able to complete them yourself. Click here for the full inspection checklist, as well as detailed wood deck repair steps.

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Re-Caulk OutsideThe Family Handyman

Re-Caulk Outside

Exterior caulking is imperative for keeping water out of susceptible areas around the outside of your home. In the spring, it's a good idea to walk around the outside of the house and look for areas in need of caulk where water may be working its way inside, or signs of existing but failing caulk. When you've identified the problem areas, you'll want to clean out the area and apply either an acrylic or polyurethane formula. Acrylic is easier to use and clean up, and is a good choice for cracks narrower than 1 inch. Polyurethane, which is more difficult to work with, may be worth the effort for concrete, roof, or gaps wider than 1 inch. Once you've picked your product, thoroughly clean the area before application. Learn how to make exterior caulk last longer here.

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Patch Driveway CracksThe Family Handyman

Patch Driveway Cracks

Not only are driveway cracks unsightly, but if left unattended, they can take years off the life of your driveway. The most surefire way to repair cracks for good are by using melt-in filler, which, unlike squeeze bottle and caulk tube-type products, will not shrink over time. Plan on spending a full day to repair several cracks, and wait for a warm day with no rain in the forecast. It's important to widen hairline cracks first with an angle grinder and diamond wheel so the filler will last. Thoroughly clean the cracks of dirt and debris with a leaf blower or air compressor before applying the filler. The prep may be time-consuming, but it's worth it in the long run. Check out the full directions for patching and repairing asphalt cracks.

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Clean Weep HolesThe Family Handyman

Clean Weep Holes

Weep holes may be the tiniest feature of many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows, but they serve a big function. The little holes, located on the exterior bottom of the frame, are an outlet for rainwater to drain away from the home, but they often can become clogged up with debris. To make sure they're working properly, spray the outside of the window with a garden hose – a steady stream of clean water should exit from the holes. If it doesn't, use a wire hanger or compressed air to force the blockage out. Re-test with fresh water to ensure they're completely cleaned. While you're at it, do these 10 more vital home maintenance tasks you'll regret if you forget.

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Tune Up the Lawn MowerThe Family Handyman

Tune Up the Lawn Mower

A few upgrades to your lawn mower in early spring will extend the life of the machine and give your grass a cleaner cut. At the start of the season, empty any old gasoline left over from the previous year into a clearly-marked container and replace it with fresh fuel. Next, change the oil, this should be done every 25 hours of use or so. Run the mower for a few minutes to get the oil warmed up, which will help it to drain more smoothly. Last, swap out the old air filter and change the spark plug. Spark plugs can be found at the hardware store for about $3, and are critical in starting and running the engine. Get the full lawn mower tune-up list here.

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Test and Replace the Batteries in Smoke DetectorsFamily Handyman

Test and Replace the Batteries in Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, and the batteries should be replaced every year, so it's a good habit to make this part of your regular spring maintenance routine. Test the batteries by simply pressing the 'test' button and making sure the unit chirps. Even if it works, replace the battery (or back-up battery, if your is a hardwired model) and re-test it. If the alarm does not pass the test, replace it immediately. Smoke detectors have a lifespan of 10 years, so look for a 'replace by' sticker or date embossed on the inside of the unit to see if it needs to be replaced, even if it passes the chirp test. If you can't find a date, replace it anyway immediately. On new detectors, make sure to write the 'installed' date on the inside cover on a piece of masking tape. Get all the info you need on installing smoke alarms here.

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Tune-Up Outdoor Gas GrillsThe Family Handyman

Tune-Up Outdoor Gas Grills

No matter what your recipe is, the best burgers are cooked on a clean, well-maintained grill. Before cookout season kicks off, give your grill a once-over. Look for food drippings and grease buildup on the exterior, which can attract pests, and scrub these spots with a brass-bristle brush and soapy water. To clean the grates, light the burners, close the lid, and let the grease drip off for 15 minutes. Turn the flame off and let the grill cool until it's warm, which will make easier work of removing any grime. Use a brass-bristled brush or wadded up aluminum foil for this step. To service the burner assembly, unfasten the burner and disconnect the gas tubes from the gas lines. Lift out the whole unit and use a soft cloth and soapy water to clean the gas tubes and burner unit. Finally, clean the drip pan thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Get the full step-by-step grill tune-up instructions here.

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Clean the ‘Tough’ Problems

Shower door soap scum, greasy dirt on lamps and kitchen cabinets…some things around the house just don’t come clean. We talked to professional house cleaners and got them to spill their best-kept cleaning secrets. Use these tips to simplify your housecleaning-and save time and effort.

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Family Handyman

Clean Up After Your Pets

Your dog will soon be shedding that winter coat and with it will come plenty of hair around the house. Fortunately we’ve got solutions on how to corral the loose hair flying around easily. These 14 tips for pet owners offer practical solutions for everything from cleaning up fur to keeping pets off the furniture.

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The Family Handyman

Remove Stains

Remove rust stains from toilets, sinks and bathtubs quickly and easily with the resin bed cleaner used for water softeners.

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The Family Handyman

Eliminate Dust

Studies show that the average six-room home in the United States collects 40 lbs. of dust each year. Sounds impressively awful, right? But don’t confuse all that dust with dirt and bad housekeeping. It’s actually a combination of dead skin, animal fur, dander, decomposing insects, dust mites, food debris, lint, fabric fibers, drywall particles, tracked-in soil, soot and pollen. It also contains hazardous chemicals that migrate from home products and enter through open doors, windows and on the soles of your shoes. Household dust can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. While it’s impossible to get rid of dust completely, here are our top tips for keeping dust at a minimum so you and your family stay healthier.

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Family Handyman

Clean the Bathrooms

Clean a bathroom faster and better with some heavy duty solutions for dirt and grime.

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vacuuming carpetArtFamily/Shutterstock

Vacuum Everything

Vacuum everything around the house this spring but before you get started find the right vacuum cleaner. With so many different choices and price points, how do you know which vacuum cleaner to buy? Whether canister or upright, bagged or bagless, the best models have features that work together to maximize airflow and agitation. We’ll help you narrow your search with great advice from an expert who has 40 years of vacuum savvy.

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Family Handyman

Wash the Floors

If your vinyl floor has tough stains or scuffs that don’t come up with ordinary cleaning, it’s time to break out the chemicals. Here’s a rundown of what to use and where to use it.

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The Family Handyman

Clean the Carpet

Your carpet will need a good cleaning to get rid of any winter residue. And you’ll need to take steps to make sure no one stampedes through the house with muddy shoes. Properly cleaned and maintained carpet will last twice as long. Learn the effective strategies for keeping your carpet looking new and fresh for years.

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FH13NOV_STINKY_01 clean garbage disposalFamily Handyman

Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Does your kitchen sink smell bad? Is it coming from your garbage disposal? It’s a good idea to keep an old toothbrush around to get at your garbage disposal to start to clean out the crud. Here are more tips on how to clean a garbage disposal and get rid of those disgusting odors.

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Family Handyman

Clean Out the Car

Your car will take on loads of grime and salt if you live in a snowy climate so it’s important to get that crud off to prevent potential rust issues. Sweep off the salt and discover simple ways to get your car looking almost brand new for the spring.

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Family Handyman

Clean the Kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen should be routine but the spring is also a good time to dive into a deep clean. No one wants a dirty, smelly kitchen and you won’t have one after seeing how to make yours sparkle and smell great with these simple cleaning tips.

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The Family Handyman

Clean the Utility Spaces

There will be plenty of outdoor projects awaiting you in the spring. But don’t overlook your soffits because it could end up costing you money. Blow out debris from your soffit (eave) vents to maintain good attic ventilation. It’ll save on air conditioning costs in summer and protect your roof from condensation in winter.

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The Family Handyman

Eliminate Bad Smells

Win the battle against stinkiness. The solution can be as simple as a homemade cleaner like baking soda and vinegar. If you’ve got a bad smell in the house, these tips will help you stamp out the stink.

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The Family Handyman

Clean Your Electronics

If you get in front of your computer, then you don’t need to be told what can end up under the keys of your keyboard. Before it gets too gross to look at, make sure you clean out the keyboard. Clean a dirty computer screen and keyboard without harming the computer by using a lint-free cloth, compressed air and a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

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The Family Handyman

Give Your Appliances a Deep Clean

If you ever get stains between the glass panels of an oven door, you know how obnoxious of a sight it is, not to mention a Scarlet letter on your cleaning abilities. Cleaning between the glass panels of an oven door looks impossible, but all you really need to do is disassemble the door. It’s simple. Really.

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The Family Handyman

Clean and Organize the Garage

During the winter the garage is usually one of the last places you want to spend anytime in. So the cleaning work piles up as spring arrives. It’s imperative to start cleaning the garage because you’ll be rummaging through there to get at the lawn mower and other landscaping tools. These tips will help you reduce the clutter and get your garage back in order.

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How to Test for Mold

Remove All Mold and Mildew

Mold can become an issue before you know it so it’s important to keep vigilant to curb its spread. Here’s how to properly handle mold and mildew and keep it from coming back.

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The Family Handyman

Pressure Wash Your House

Gas or electric pressure washers will clean almost anything outdoors, and they work so quickly and dramatically that they’re actually fun. You’ll need one to clean up your fence, deck or driveway in the spring. Learn how to use one safely and efficiently.