If you haven't caught on yet, I'm posting a list of relevant to-do-this-month things that need to be done sometime, but often get put on the back burner, well... indefinitely. Martha Stewart calls them "gentle reminders" and I love them. Here's your get-it-done list for March (coming from 5 years of March issues of Martha Stewart Living).
- Now's the time to plan a family vacation. Use the Internet to research destinations and prices. Begin submitting summer camp applications, too.
- Clean ceiling fans. Turn off the fan and any attached light fixture at the circuit breaker, and, standing on a sturdy latter, wipe the blades with a soft cloth dampened with household cleaner; then dry with a clean cloth. Use glass cleaner for the light fixture. Dust motor housing with a dry cloth. To keep blades free of dust between cleanings, use a feather duster on an extension pole.
- Take delicate or structured curtains to be professionally cleaned. Hand-wash those that can be laundered at home, then let them line-dry out of direct sunlight. Press and steam before rehanging. Blinds and shades should also be cleaned. Don't forget to wash windows before replacing curtains.
- Clear gutters of debris. Check troughs and downspouts for clogs or a buildup of leaves and bark. Examine the drainage system for damage as you go, and call a professional to schedule any repairs that are required. (Do this in Spring and Fall.)
- Deep-clean carpets and rugs. For synthetic carpeting, rent or buy a shampooer/extractor-a machine that cleans the fibers and removes traces of soap using hot water. Open windows and let air flow to help carpets dry. If you have wool carpets or rugs, or any that are valuable or delicate, contact a professional for cleaning.
- For even wear, rotate your mattress twice a year. Alternate between flipping it end-over-end and side-over-side. This is also a good time to launder the mattress cover and, while the cover is removed, vacuum the mattress itself thoroughly. Air out the mattress by taking it outdoors on a sunny day and letting it sit in the sun for at least three hours. It this is not possible, open windows on a breezy day and leave the mattress uncovered for several hours.
- Dress beds in season-appropriate linens. Launder down comforters and woolen blankets before packing them for storage.
- Do a safety check every six months. When you turn the clocks forward for daylight saving time, test household alarms and schedule a fire drill for your family. Also be sure exterior lights are working and no bulbs are burned out.
- Clean the inside of the dishwasher. Wipe down its walls with a soft sponge dampened with warm water and several drops of a liquid automatic-dishwasher detergent. When you're finished, sprinkle the interior with baking soda, and run the light cycle.