There are many annoying chores that need to be done daily: washing dishes, spraying and wiping down kitchen counters, picking toys up off the floor, sweeping. And then there are those that are blessedly much less frequent. It will always suck that we have to do more things, but at least some of them are merely occasional — and thankfully, the following household chores need only be done once a year.
Cleaning your gutters
Once a year, after all the leaves have fallen, a thorough gutter cleaning is in order. When gutters accumulate debris, they become a breeding ground for rodents, pest, and mould. Gutters clogged with leaves, sticks, and those blasted, spiky gum tree seeds can lead to drainage issues, a leaky roof, or water damage to the interior or exterior of your hom; according to Maple Roofing & Construction, rainwater that gutters are supposed to funnel away from the house can end up dripping too close to the foundation, compromising its stability. If you care to take on the task yourself, you’ll need a sturdy ladder, thick gloves, and a hose — or simply find a local gutter cleaning service. The best time to do it is in late November/early December.
Wash (the outside of) your windows
While most of us may spritz Windex inside our windows on an as-needed basis (like after a child gleefully drags an entire Go-Gurt across one), it’s easy to forget they have outsides, too. You may want to enlist professional help for upper floors, but ground level windows can be easily washed with soap, water, and a sponge, mop, or squeegee. The Spruce recommends doing this in late fall, to let more light in after the dreaded loss of Daylight Saving Time.
Launder your curtains, drapes, and shades
After collecting dust, odours, grease, and hairspray all year, window treatments need love, too. Once a year, take down curtains and drapes, read their care instructions, and clean them accordingly — either at home on the gentle cycle or at the dry cleaners. (Dust the curtain rods while you’re at it.) Grab a step stool and a handheld vacuum (or your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment) to remove dust from valances, and a microfiber cloth to wipe down shades.
Clean the fireplace
The National Fire Protection Association recommends chimneys and wood-burning fireplaces be cleaned and inspected at least once a year to ward against creosote buildup and prevent home fires. To clean the fireplace, vacuum out all the ashes, close the damper, and wipe down the andirons with a solution of white vinegar and water. Getting the chimney taken care of will probably require a professional brave enough to climb around on your roof. Note: Somewhat counterintuitively, gas fireplaces need to be cleaned more often.
Rid your mattress of crud
To quote myself: mattresses are fucking disgusting. For those who may not purify their sleep haven regularly, here’s your reminder: not only are they bacteria-breeding graveyards for our saliva, sweat, and dead skin cells, they are basically a swank gated housing community for millions of dust mites. So, once a year, remove and wash the cover in hot water, vacuum the top and sides, spot clean any stains with hydrogen peroxide, then give it a thorough baking soda or vinegar spray bath. (Alternately, you can steam clean it.) Whatever method you choose, we implore you, just do it.
Clear out the garage
While it’s tempting to let bikes, as-yet-to-be-donated clothes, and old gardening tools pile up, if you care about efficient storage, your sanity, and being able to walk around the car without tripping, it’s not recommended. Once a year, resolve to spiff up and organise the garage. Do a thorough purge of old or unused items, sweep out the dust and leaves, and check for moisture damage or insect infestations.
Shampoo your carpet and upholstered furniture
Listen, carpets we knew about. But all our upholstery, too? This was unwelcome news, but to keep it looking ship-shape, and lasting longer, it’s best to deep clean once a year. Hire a specialist, or do it yourself with a rented cleaning machine or your vacuum cleaner, some baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and vinegar.
Clear out the pantry
Sometime during the fall, give your pantry a makeover. Take everything out, wipe down the shelves, put down new contact paper, check expiration dates, and reorganise (placing items closest to their expiration dates in plain view). Toss old baking ingredients, make sure you’ve got the supplies you need for holiday baking, and — if you’re feeling extra ambitious — take on the kitchen cabinets and drawers as well. It may not be fun, but the relief you’ll feel when you can reach for something on your water bottle shelf without four unrelated things crashing down? Priceless.