Bad Home Habits to Break Right Now

Save yourself time, money, and headache

Bad habits can be hard to break — especially if you don’t even realize what you’re doing is harmful! When it comes to caring for your home, it may not be because you’re lazy about chores; you just may not know the right way to care for your appliances, fixtures, and other parts of your home. The preventative tips below provide some guidance for properly caring for your home, so you can avoid the damage these bad habits can cause.

The Bad: Slamming doors.

Slamming doors — especially heavy doors — not only damages the hinges and handles, it can also pull the door out of alignment, which can lead to a damaged frame, which can lead to even greater structural damage … you get the picture.

The Good: Replace the hinges.

You’ve seen those soft-close kitchen drawers, but did you know you can get soft-close hinges for your doors? Bonus: You won’t have to yell at the kids to “Stop slamming those doors” anymore!

The Bad: Letting gutters stay cluttered.

Your gutters should be cleaned out at least twice a year, but many of us just never seem to get around to it. Unfortunately, that sets us up for water damage on the roof and even the foundation as water spills out and down along the sides of the house rather than being directed away from the foundation. (Not to mention, clogged gutters are an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes. No, thanks!)

The Good: Clean them regularly or cover them.

For DIYers, be sure you use a ladder that does not need to lean against the soft metal gutters for support, which could cause more damage by bending or warping them. Not into heights? There are gutter cleaning companies that can also check for breakages and check over your roof at the same time, giving you a heads up on potential issues before they become real problems. (Almost) never want to think about it again? Check out gutter guards and screens. There are many varieties, including some that work better in cold-weather climes, so be sure to do your homework before choosing one. And remember they aren’t totally maintenance-free!​

PRO TIP: Never, ever walk on your roof to clean your gutters. Not only can you damage the roof, but you could void any warranties on it!

The Bad: Using one cleaning product for everything.

Even though you have a garbage disposal, it’s not meant to chop up half a plate’s worth of spaghetti or the peels from a pound of potatoes. And you should never put anything down the toilet except toilet paper: not tissues, or paper towels, or cotton balls. Even “flushable” wipes really aren't good for your pipes or the sewer system. And while there are plenty of de-cloggers on the market these days, many are extremely corrosive and can damage your pipes, especially older ones, leading to extremely costly plumbing repairs.

The Good: Go natural or go specific.

All-natural cleaners are generally safe to use on multiple types of finishes. For example, vinegar is generally safe for wood and tile — but it’s not recommended for granite or marble. To really ensure you’re caring for your finishes properly and keep them looking their best for as long as possible, use cleaners specifically designed for the material you need to clean.

The Bad: Dumping everything down the drain.

Granite counters, bamboo floors, and tile foyers need to be maintained with cleaners made especially for them. Using a one-size-fits-all formula can break down protective finishes, leave residues, and even create marks and stains.

The Good: When in doubt, throw it out.

Prevention here is key. To help protect your drains and pipes, remember these rules:

  • Your garbage disposal is not an alternative trash can. It’s for little bits and pieces of biodegradable food products, and never for coffee grounds, pasta, stone fruit pits, potato peels, non-food items, or grease (we’re looking at you, bacon lovers).

  • Install screens on sink and bathtub drains to prevent hairs from going down the tubes.

  • Flush drains regularly with hot water. Yep, just plain hot water can help keep them open and clear.

  • Clean sink stoppers and the rubber flanges in your kitchen sink regularly and well to prevent odor-causing bacteria from settling in.

  • Toilet paper is the only product that should be going down the toilet.

The Bad: Letting filters get dirty and clogged.

We all know we should change our air filters every three months, and more often if we have pets. But knowing it and doing it are two different things! Plus, are you cleaning out the filter in your clothes dryer? Buildup there can actually cause a fire!

The Good: Regularly clean and replace them.

One great way to remember this is to them all at once. While you should be cleaning out the lint trap after almost every use of your clothes dryer, you can replace the HVAC filter, wash out the dishwasher filter, vacuum out the dryer exhaust hose and outlet, replace the water filter in your icemaker, scrub the filter in your range hood, and replace the filter in your vacuum cleaner all at once to make sure you don’t forget anything. That’s a good day’s work done!

Just like with your own health, taking preventative steps to keep your home in good working order can save you time, money, and headache down the road.

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