I love the promises of March. Spring is right around the corner and with it warmer weather and more time to spend outside with our families doing all of the things that we enjoy.

One thing I DON’T ENJOY about March, however, is the onset of spring cleaning. It seems as if everywhere I turn there’s something else to clean out—the attic, the garage, even the closets. There’s so much stuff to slug through that I got to thinking that it might help all of us to have a checklist of some of the most commonly missed or forgotten places that require an annual tune up.

Remembering to wash bedding and dust lampshades is the easy part. And we all know that our spice cabinets and cupboards could use a quick once over. But what are the really important things that we forget to clean and maintain?

This list isn’t just about checking under the kids’ beds and getting to the top shelves in the garage. This is real, honest-to-good list that will help you rummage through the things that seem to accumulate over the year in each of our homes. Maintaining these area of your homes will not only make your fixtures and appliances last longer, but will keep you breathing easy all summer long, reducing the risk of expensive failure and maintenance, or even worse, FIRE!

Air Conditioner

After running the heat through all of those cold months, spring cleaning is the perfect time to touch-up your air conditioning unit to get it ready for the warmer months ahead. First of all you should clean or replace any filters. You may also want to clean any return vents throughout your home. One commonly forgotten step to prepping an A/C unit for warm weather months is to clean the vents as well. Check to see if you can unscrew the outside vent covers, so you can easily access the vents from the outside for simplified cleaning.

Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector

While checking your smoke/carbon monoxide detector may not be a task directly related to cleaning out your home, the spring and fall months are perfect reminders for the recommended six-month check-up these devices require. Remember, if it’s been more than six months, it’s time to change those batteries!

Refrigerator

It’s easy to remember to clean out the head of lettuce or Tupperware of leftovers that’s been lurking in the back of the fridge, but cleaning and maintaining your refrigerator goes a lot further than that. It’s a good idea to dust down the top, bottom, and sides of the machine. Then pull the unit our and clean behind it. Most importantly, you’ll want to vacuum the coils. Dusty coils can lead to inefficiency and in some cases can cause a fire hazard.

Washer/Dryer

As parts on your washer and dryer age, there is recommended maintenance to keep the machine running at top tier. First, replace any old hoses. The recommended timeline for this is every five years, but if the hoses look cracked or misshapen, you may want to replace them earlier. The change will increase the efficiency and lifespan of your machine. Another great option for maintaining you dryer is to replace the standard metal dryer duct with a vinyl one. Be sure to label all of the replaced parts, so you know when your machines will need this sort of maintenance again.

Cars

The cold can do a big number on the most important appliance we own—our cars. With age and changes in temperature, it’s really important that you or a professional take a look under the hood. Batteries, plugs and wires are all stressed in winter months, decreasing their efficiency up to 60%, so the spring is a great time to replace old or weak components, before you’re stuck with a break down. Also, changes in temperature can cause changes in tire pressure, so it’s important that you make sure all of your tires are balanced and inflated. And just like with your washer/dryer units, you’ll want to make sure that you replace any worn or cracked belts and hoses to increase the efficiency and life expectancy of your vehicle.

Well, that’s all I have for now. My honey-do list is a mile long. Good luck to you folks and happy cleaning!