How often should I change my pillows?
November 6, 2007 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Help me construct the ultimate home cleaning/maintenance schedule. I want to know how often things need to be cleaned, changed, or updated in your home?

I am a fairly new homeowner. I was inspired recently by the definitive cleaning schedule found here. What I want to do is go one step further and put together a spreadsheet that lists different items or tasks that I can update when I have replaced/cleaned something, and then will give me the date for the next time that item will need to be replaced or cleaned.

The link I have above is about cleaning. However, I know there are lots of other maintenance issues that could be added to a spreadsheet like this. For instance, how often do I need to replace my air filter? How often should I switch out my toothbrush? I have heard that you should replace your pillows after a certain length of time. I found this prior question about recurring calendar events. It has some really good stuff in it, however for most of the ideas people provide, they don't specify how often these things need to be done. I would really like to know how often I need to replace my smoke detector batteries for instance.

Also, if you have ideas for the best way to set up a spreadsheet like this, I would also be interested in that.
posted by bove to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
Frankly, I always thought this issue was a personnal issue.
I change my toothbrush every 2 months or so, but I never change my pillow - just wash the pillowcase with my bedsheets every second week or so.
As for smoke detector, it's recommended to change it once a year. Air filters, well I guess you can check the product manual - it should say. Or just examine it to see if it's dirty...
Good luck with the cleanliness!
posted by PowerCat at 9:27 AM on November 6, 2007

I know it's tempting to find authoritative answers to how often this stuff needs to be done, but it's easy to go too far with it. Stuff needs to be done when something's dirty or worn out, and this depends on conditions in your particular house. The frequency of changing your furnace filter, for example; how many people live there? How much time do they spend in the house? What about pets? Long hair or short? Published intervals for most maintenance items are only rough approximations, and many are intended to get you to spend money.

My best advice is to periodically walk around every room in the house, all around the outside, all around the yard, and LOOK at your property. Note the inexplicable moisture under the toilet tank, the cracked plaster, the bit of siding that has come loose, the broken roof shingle, the poison ivy or sapling tree that's growing where you don't want it. You may have to do this walk a few times before you start to recognize changes, but it'll happen.
posted by jon1270 at 9:33 AM on November 6, 2007

I have a lot of home-maintenance things listed as events in iCal (I'd imagine any calendaring software could do it).

Smoke detector batteries: when you switch to/from Daylight Savings Time (or every six months. It's just easier to remember if associated with DST if you don't have another way to remind yourself).

Toothbrush: at least every six months or more frequently, when the brush shows wear (depends on your brushing technique, but more often at 2-3 months).

Furnace air filter: change at the beginning of the heating season and again every other month the furnace is running.

Pillows: personally, I keep mine until they can't pillow no more, but I replace the ones in the guest room every couple of years.

other stuff:

brush off fridge cooling coils: every six months

clean out clothes dryer exhaust (not the lint trap but the hose that vents the hot air outside): annually. I'd probably do it 2x a year if it wasn't such a PITA.
posted by jamaro at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get Home Comforts. Then do those things less often than the book says. The author knows how to take care of things, but vacuuming every day? That's way too much.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:42 AM on November 6, 2007

Just put 'undefined' for everything at first or just guess wildly. The second time you do it, decide whether that was too long to wait, or if you could do it less frequently. That gives you a rough starting periodicity. Make a periodic task (like semiannually) to review task periodicity.

It'll eventually come out perfect (for your house).
posted by ctmf at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding Home Comforts. Buy it, read it, view it as something to aspire to.

The section on how to get different kinds of stains out has been a lifesaver for me.
posted by ambrosia at 10:19 AM on November 6, 2007

Sink Reflections
More than you need, as it addresses clutter and getting to a place where you can even begin to do the schedule you are looking for. But, the schedule is in there, along with a way to keep track of it all.
posted by clh at 10:20 AM on November 6, 2007

Your pillow mileage may vary, but I read somewhere once that you should replace your pillow when you can fold it in half and it stays folded or bent, and does not spring back to a flat, sleep-ready position.
posted by pdb at 10:44 AM on November 6, 2007

Response by poster: Any suggestions for tasks that recur that aren't cleaning related? It would also be nice to include some of these in my spreadsheet.
posted by bove at 10:54 AM on November 6, 2007

Car maintenance
Drivers license/passport renewals
Doctor/Dentist checkups
Repainting the fence
Mowing the lawn
posted by blue_beetle at 11:14 AM on November 6, 2007

pest control
posted by willmize at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2007

Most non-feather pillows can be laundered, which is a good thing if you ponder how much drool and hair oil they might absorb over time.
posted by Riverine at 12:11 PM on November 6, 2007

For what it's worth, I just had to replace my entire A/C unit after I built my house in 2003. You need to, at least once or twice a year, take a high-pressure water hose and clean the vents on the outside A/C unit. I'm positive you have one since you are in Arizona. In months where you use a/c, change the air filters every 30 days, dirty or not. In the winter, every six weeks.

In order to REALLY clean your outside a/c unit, have a repair guy who's cheap as you can find come out once a year in spring and put this chemical on it that eats any debris in the vents out like pac-man. If any of that stuff gets dirty or backed up, you're out between three and six grand, so this is probably the most important home-maintenance thing I have to offer.

And water your foundation once a week in summer after the sun goes down. If your foundation cracks, you're screwed (in my opinion).

Have your lawn treated twice a year for fire ants and wasps' nests around the perimeter of your home, minimum. If and/or when they get into your house, it's hell on earth.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:50 PM on November 6, 2007

Seconding Home Comforts. I suck at keeping house, but I'll be damned if I won't get out of my stupor someday and know exactly how to do it :)
posted by Madamina at 5:04 PM on November 6, 2007

A couple of recurring reminders I have set up that haven't been mentioned yet in regards to fixing/replacing things around the house:

Replacing the Brita filter: Depends on how heavily you use it; the package recommends every two months, I wind up replacing it more like very three months since it doesn't get heavy use here.

Various pet-related reminders: Replacing the filters on their water fountains and litterboxes. Again, that's going to depend on you, should you have pets - I have lots of cats, so I replace more often than the packages recommend.

Rummaging through the medicine cabinet and tossing expired meds: I try do this every six months. At a minimum, I do it once a year so I can see what I need to replace and then spend out anything left in my health spending account replacing the expired stuff.

Gathering up unneeded/unwanted stuff and setting up a charity pickup: However often you want. This is another one I try to do at least once a year, possibly twice depending on how much stuff I've been accumulating.

My life is basically run by automated reminders, so I have a ton more of them, but I think those are the main ones related to maintenance around the house that haven't already been mentioned.
posted by Stacey at 6:39 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned the Periodic Table of Cleaning. Although it does not mention pillow replacement - only laundering/dry cleaning them every 6-12 months.
posted by timepiece at 1:15 PM on November 8, 2007

The poster mentioned it in his question as the inspiration for his post.
posted by jamaro at 10:48 PM on November 8, 2007

timepiece: I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned the Periodic Table of Cleaning. Although it does not mention pillow replacement - only laundering/dry cleaning them every 6-12 months.

It's linked to in the original post.
posted by WCityMike at 8:37 PM on December 9, 2007

Eep. Sorry. Jamaro already pointed that out.
posted by WCityMike at 8:37 PM on December 9, 2007

All of this is highly dependent on your home and your location.

Now I live in a 1920's bungalow in Southern California. The schedule of repairs is very different from my 1980's townhouse in Dallas. Climate and construction are big factors.

Your best bet may be to befriend a neighbor who's lived in your neighborhood awhile. He'll know what gets done when. He'll also tell you if you're pruning the trees at the wrong time. Not that my neighbor had to tell me that while I was mid-cut or anything.
posted by 26.2 at 7:30 PM on August 18, 2008

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