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10 Things You Have to Clean Only Once a Year (or Less!)

Whether you’re a daily scrubber or you break out the vacuum just for special occasions, these chores can be tackled only once a year—phew!

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Washing machine

The faithful workhorse that keeps our clothes and linens fresh needs its own thorough yearly scrubbing. Use a vinegar and baking soda treatment to soak the inside of the washer, then follow up with detail cleaning and an extensive wipe-down, both inside and out. Your washer will sparkle, and your clothes will get a bonus boost to boot.

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Clothes dryer

Since you’re already in the laundry room, go ahead and give that dryer some TLC too. The lint filter needs just a bit of soapy water, and the dryer drum can easily be wiped down with a damp cloth. Then it’s time to get serious. Dryer exhaust vents are a leading cause of dryer fires and therefore should be cleaned (and inspected) yearly. Relocate anything blocking the outside vent opening (such as an animal nest), and then remove the lint inside using a brush, an air compressor, or a long vacuum hose. Don’t forget to vacuum behind and underneath the dryer—lint likes to hide in these spaces! Don’t miss these other things smart homeowners do once a year.

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Window treatments

Unless you happen to have white curtains and a two-year-old—in which case this advice doesn’t apply to you—your curtains, drapes, and blinds need a deep clean no more than once a year, though a light dusting may be required more often. Wipe down blinds with a damp cloth or clean more thoroughly with soapy water where necessary, and launder (or dry clean) drapes and curtains as instructed. This is how often you should be cleaning everything in your house.

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The inside of your pantry and cabinets

This is a perfect opportunity to cross more than one item off your tidying-up list. Once a year, undertake the chore of pulling down everything from your cabinets and off your pantry shelves. First, cull your inventory: Pack a box for your local food bank, take stock of which food staples are running low and donate any top-shelf dinnerware you haven’t seen at all in the last 365 days. Next, wipe down the shelves. As you put everything away, reorganize as needed.

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Light fixtures

Light fixtures are amazing at collecting dust. You can also wipe them down with a microfiber cloth or soak them in a sink full of soapy water. Work through one room at a time, and then make your way around the outside of your home. While you’re at it, take care of all those burnt out bulbs you’ve been meaning to replace. Here’s what smart homeowners should do once a month.

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Beneath heavy furniture and large appliances

One day each year, roll up your sleeves and go head-to-head with the dust bunnies beneath your couch or bed and the collection of crumbs behind your stove. Don’t try to lift large pieces of furniture and heavy appliances yourself: Recruit a helper or attach a towel to a broom for long reaches. Don’t miss these things professional housecleaners do every day in their own homes.

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Porch and patio furniture

As the weather warms, pick an afternoon to unpack furniture from storage and scrub down anything that’s been stationed outside in the elements. Fill a bucket with soapy water and give everything a thorough wash to kick off a new season of sunshine and cookouts.

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Windows

Window-washing can be a tough chore, but it can also transform your space in a way that’s truly breathtaking. One hot tip is to toss the paper towels and invest in a squeegee or a strip applicator. A little dishsoap in a bucket of hot water or a multipurpose cleaner go a long way in making the windows of your home look picture perfect. Make sure you’re not making these cleaning mistakes that are actually making your home dirtier.

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Gutters

This job is no picnic, but it’s particularly important because of the impact that clogged gutters can have on your home’s roof, siding, and foundation. Save the money and agony of long-term damage by taking on this yearly task (or, if you prefer chores that don’t involve a ladder, hire a professional).

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Garage or shed

If Pinterest is leaving you with garage envy, set aside one weekend a year to dig into this project. Aim for easy and sensible organization over something that looks like it belongs in a magazine spread—function is important. Throw out old and broken toys or tools, pack up the car with outgrown items that can be donated, and use a ShopVac to get rid of dust, cobwebs, leaves, and small debris. Then organize what’s left into a clean, useful space—at least until next year.

Next, don’t miss the ways you might be overcleaning some things in your home.