Prevent Water Damage and Fires With Cleaning and Organization
Residential Damage

Cleaning and Organizing Tips to Prevent Costly Damage in the New Year

For many, the new year offers a fresh start. Whether you’ve set a new goal to become more organized or just clean up your home a little more frequently, our cleaning and organization guide will help you kick off the new year on the right track. Plus, we’ll also help you spot signs of residential damage before they become major or expensive problems.

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Put Away Your Holiday Decorations

The best place to start with cleaning and organizing your home in the new year is by boxing up all of your holiday decorations. Put items back in their original box whenever possible. If you don’t have the box or it’s seen better days, wrap fragile items in tissue paper and store in a new box or container.

Whenever possible, store cardboard boxes in a larger, watertight plastic container to limit the chance of a water event damaging your decorations. Labeling containers will make locating specific decorations easier next year too. Alternatively, you can use clear plastic containers.

Organize Your Storage Spaces

Since you’ll be putting away your decorations anyway, take a little extra time to organize your storage spaces. From basement or attic storage to the closet in your extra room, completely empty the space and do a quick inventory. Replace damaged or worn out boxes with new containers and set aside a pile of items to donate.

While organizing, you should also check for signs of water damage, mold, animals, and insects. Water stains are a common sign of water damage. Mold appears many colors, from white to black, and requires some source of moisture. Animals are likely to leave behind droppings or nests, while insects may burrow into wood or other materials.

Clean Your Bathrooms

No one likes to clean the bathroom. Even when we do, we often skip those hard to reach places. Now’s the time to book an afternoon to do a deep clean. Wipe down your bathroom from top to bottom with a solution of bleach and water. Hit all of those hard to reach spots, like behind the toilet and along the bathtub grout lines.

Clean your drains with baking soda and vinegar to keep your drains flowing smoothing and prevent a sewage backup. Check the connections on your drains, faucet, and toilet to ensure they aren’t leaking. Replace worn out supply hoses and make drain repairs as necessary.

Inspect around your bathtub and faucets and look for cracks and dried out sections of caulk. If necessary, apply new caulk around your bathtub to prevent mold from growing behind the wall.

Clean Your Kitchen

Clean your sink drain with vinegar and baking soda to keep your drains flowing and preventing a sewage backup. Look at the caulk around the sink and reapply if necessary. Wipe down the counters, backsplashes, and walls around your sink with bleach or another disinfectant.

Check the connections on the water lines and drains to ensure they aren’t leaking. Look underneath the sink and around your dishwasher for signs of water damage. Make repairs as necessary to prevent additional damage.

Empty out your refrigerator and wipe down every surface with a solution of bleach and water to kill bacteria. If you have a water or ice dispenser, clean the dispensing nozzles with bleach or another disinfectant. Also, inspect the water line for signs of damage and look behind and underneath your fridge for water leaks and mold growth.

To clean a dirty oven, pour some ammonia in a glass bowl and allow it to sit in the oven with the door closed overnight. Then wipe surfaces clean with a rag soaked in hot water. Clean stubborn cooktop stains with vinegar and baking soda. Use a vacuum to clean crumbs from behind the stove and other hard to reach spaces.

Deodorize Your Carpeting and Furniture

Another great way to start off the new year is by refreshing your carpeting and furniture. There are chemicals on the market that offer to eliminate odors, but few things are cheaper and more effective than baking soda.

Just sprinkle it on your carpeting or furniture and gently rub it in before bed. Allow it to sit overnight, then vacuum it up in the morning. If you have smokers in the house or it’s been a while since you deodorized, you may need to repeat the process a few times.

It’s also worth pulling up the carpeting at the corners to look underneath. Roll it back and check that the carpet padding is still in good condition. Replacing sections of padding is inexpensive and will help make your carpet last longer.

Also look for signs of water damage or mold on the subflooring, the carpet padding, and on the carpet backing. Water typically appears as light colored rings on wood and darker rings on carpeting and padding. Mold may appear any color from white to black.

Do a Complete Interior Inspection

In addition to cleaning, take an hour to walk around and really inspect the inside of your home for signs of damage. Start on the lowest floor and work your way to the top. Check the corners of each room, the seams along the floor and ceiling, and follow your chimney from top to bottom.

Look for Water Damage

Water damage can happen anywhere, from your basement to your attic. Water stains are usually yellowish-brown on drywall or light colored on wooden surfaces. However, you may not always see a stain.

Common signs of water damage are:

  • Yellowish-brown stains
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Deteriorating drywall or wood
  • Soft or spongy walls or surfaces
  • Cracks in the walls or ceiling
  • Loose tiles or missing grout
  • Dried out caulk
  • Warped or buckling wood
  • Musty or damp odors

If you see signs of water damage, try to trace it back to the originating source so you can make necessary repairs. While this is usually easy in bathrooms and kitchen, it can be more difficult in rooms without plumbing fixtures.

Look for Mold

Mold requires a consistent source of moisture to thrive within your home. While this can be a persistent water leak, it also includes condensation from your shower or regular cooking in the kitchen.

Mold can appear any color from white to black. Although there is a lot of concerns about so-called toxic black mold, you cannot identify the species of a mold by color alone. Seeing mold indicates a problem, but you won’t always be able to see it.

Common signs of mold problems are:

  • Light to dark stains
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Deteriorating drywall or wood
  • Soft or spongy walls or surfaces
  • Loose tiles or missing grout
  • Dried out caulk
  • Musty or damp odors

Many of the signs of mold damage are very similar to those of water damage because of the relationship between water and mold. However, not all water damage indicates the presence of mold.

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