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snow flurries on rhododendron leaves

(image: Jim)

We may not live inside a Game of Thrones episode, but we’re all noticing the ominous times upon us: Winter… is coming.

The sun dips lower on the horizon daily, daylight shortens, and temperatures begin to fall, signalling the onslaught of long, cold nights in the coming weeks.

It makes good sense to do some cleaning, household projects, and basic maintenance early, so you’re on top of the seasonal shift and ready for full-on nesting when that brutal weather hits and the holidays roll in. Here’s an idea of things you can do to transition nicely.

Cleaning

Your heaters have been off for quite a while, if you’re lucky, so it means there’ll be a rude awakening the first time you crank ‘em on. Mm, burnt dust. I know I love that smell.

Clean your radiators, change any air filters, clean ducts that are easily accessible, and do anything else needed to get your heater ready for the new season.

furnace filter

But cleaning for winter can include so much more. After months of having your windows open for all that fresh air (and the pollutants and dust that sailed in with it), your curtains are full of dust and dirt you’re not really aware of just how much until the heaters come on and windows close up. Pick a day and  wash all your curtains, throw blankets, pillow cases, and any other textiles just sitting around your living space.

Another thing that needs seasonal cleaning is your grill, if it’s going out of commission for the season. Give it a thorough cleaning, fire it up, and season it all with olive oil (let it cook off a bit) before it goes away for the season, or you might be unwittingly attracting pests.

Purging

While you’re doing your deep clean with the curtains and everything else, put the rest of your home on notice too. Make a pact to get rid of things that were broken in the last few months and still sit unrepaired. Turf the stuff that’s past its best-before date.

Don’t just put your summer clothes away and bring the winter ones out. Do it properly so it’s less work every time. Is anything torn, stained, beyond hope? It’s time to go. Get that out the door. For everything you’re keeping for next spring/summer, wash it all, fold it nicely, then put it all inside plastic bags you can seal shut properly with good tape, like duct tape, so they don’t get dusty before next year.

While dusting and cleaning elsewhere in the home, seek to find more things you can offload to compensate for all the new things that entered your home in recent months.

Maintaining

Check your doors for gaps. Some weather-stripping can make the difference on those nights when the mercury plunges and the winds howl.

Have a new tube of caulking on hand, and look at floors, windows, counters, and anywhere else that could use a nice fresh bit of caulking to protect against seasonal moisture and cold air. Proceed properly and let it cure as suggested before mucking around in that area again.

caulking gun sealing window

If you’re a homeowner, check your rain gutters and downspouts. Are they all attached securely? You don’t want them banging around in windstorms! Are they clean? There could be bird’s nests, unhatched eggs, dirt, leaves, and all kinds of other things up there that could cause water to backup and become an issue for your walls or roof. Secure any loose downspouts too and give the ground drainage a good look. Lord knows you don’t want waste water puddling up near your home.

Give safety its due as well. Check your lighting outside. Have you got all your safety lights working? Do you have back-up lightbulbs for when they’ll burn out? Best to have them on-hand.

Thinking ahead

Don’t shoot the messenger, but when you’re doing all this organizing, maintaining, and cleaning, and you have to rifle through storage to do so, be mindful of what’s coming up in a less than a month — Thanksgiving and beyond. Get your decor pushed into an accessible area so you’re not waging battle when you’re back for more in the coming weeks.

The big pay-off

Let’s be honest: No one loves to do these things. Anyone who does, really, we kind of mock a bit, right?

But it pays off so well when you plan ahead and do it right. Autumn and winter are best spent nesting, cooking slow food in the kitchen, watching movies, cuddling with a warm blanket, reading books. They’re less enjoyable with dusty rooms, wind whistling through doors, gutters rattling in a rainstorm, seasonal mold on window frames, and all that unpleasant stuff.

With two or three weekends peppered with a few home-readying projects, you can be ready to relax before the big weather of the winter months roll in.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.