With cold weather and the holidays fast approaching, this month’s to-do list focuses on some of the less obvious, but very important, indoor cleaning and repair tasks to get your home in tip-top shape for holiday guests.

From cleaning your garbage disposal and faucet aerators to fixing squeaky door hinges and sticky locks, our November home to-do list covers the bases without breaking your back or budget. Most of these chores are quick and easy; and, best of all, they take few materials or tools.

So set aside an afternoon in November to knock out this home maintenance to-do list, then sit back and enjoy a cup of hot cider!

Water running over a garbage disposal
Pour boiling water down a garbage disposal to clean it. (DepositPhotos)

To-Do #1: Clean Garbage Disposal

Before hosting a big Thanksgiving party, take a few minutes to clean and freshen up your garbage disposal first. This chore couldn’t be easier, here’s how.

To Clean a Garbage Disposal:

  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the disposal.
  • Follow it with a cup of white vinegar. The vinegar and baking soda will react to form frothy bubbles.
  • When the bubbles subside, pour a pot of boiling water down the disposal and let it sit for about five minutes.
  • Turn on the water in the sink and the disposal, and let it run until the disposal is rinsed out.

To keep your disposal smelling fresh, put some leftover chunks of lemon in an ice cube tray, cover them with water, and freeze. Whenever your garbage disposal gets a bit funky, run a few “lemon cubes” through the disposal for a quick freshen-up.

The ice chunks will scour the blades and scrape away stuck-on debris inside the disposal!

Watch our video on How to Clean a Garbage Disposal to find out more.

Woman unscrewing a faucet aerator.
So many homeowners forget to clean out their faucet aerators. Do you? (DepositPhotos)

To-Do #2: Clean Sink Faucet Aerators

Clogged sink aerators can cause reduced water flow or an unevenly spray when you turn on bathroom or kitchen faucets. This is another easy task using white vinegar, and the hard work is done while you’re sleeping!

To clean a faucet aerator:

  • Unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet.
  • Drop the aerator in a bowl of white vinegar.
  • Let the aerator sit overnight.
  • The next day, rinse the vinegar off the aerator.
  • Screw the aerator back on the faucet, and you’re done!

Watch our video on Cleaning a Faucet Aerator to find out more.

Cleaning the water line filters on a clothes washer.
Cleaning a water line filter on a clothes washer.

To-Do #3: Clean Clothes Washer Water Line Filters

Water lines on washing machines have filters to prevent sediment from getting into the machine. If it seems like your washer is taking longer to fill up, clogged filters may be the culprit. It may be a little awkward to get to the washer water inlets; but once you do, cleaning water filters is quick and easy, here’s how.

To Clean Washer Water Line Filters:

  • Turn off the water supply valves, located in the supply box behind or beside your washer.
  • If possible, pull the washer out from the wall so that you can get behind it. If this isn’t feasible, you’ll need to reach over or behind the washer to get to the inlet lines.
  • Unscrew the supply lines from the washer, and locate the filters on the machine inlets.
  • Use a spray bottle and small, stiff brush to scrub away any dirt or debris on the filters.
  • Reconnect the water hoses, making sure the hot and cold lines are attached to the correct intakes.
  • Turn the water valves back on and check for leaks.

Watch our video on How To Clean Washer Water Filters to see how it’s done.

Squirting powdered graphite in a deadbolt door lock to lubricate it.
Squirting powdered graphite in a deadbolt door lock to lubricate it.

To-Do #4: Lubricate Door Locks

When you’re busy and on the go during the holidays, sticky door locks can really slow you down. Fortunately, the solution is quick and easy.

Pick up a small tube or bottle of graphite at your home center or hardware store, making sure to choose one with a narrow tip for easy application. Graphite is a dry powder, which makes it the perfect lubricant for door locks, since it doesn’t attract dust or dirt.

Put down a piece of newspaper or plastic to protect the floor under the door lock, and squirt a small amount of powdered graphite into the keyhole. Insert the key and turn it a few times to distribute the lubricant throughout the lock mechanism, and you’re done!

Watch our video on How to Fix a Sticky Door Lock to find out more.

Lubricating a door hinge pin with machine oil to stop it from squeaking.
Lubricating a door hinge pin with machine oil to stop it from squeaking.

To-Do #5: Fix Squeaky Door Hinges

While you’re at it, give some attention to those squeaky door hinges as well. It won’t be long before Christmas is here, and you wouldn’t want a squeaky hinge calling attention to any sneaky elves!

You can use powdered graphite for door hinges, but the black powder can sift down and stain your floors. For better results, pick up a small container of white lithium grease or machine oil.

To Lubricate Door Hinges:

  • Close and latch the door.
  • Use a hammer and nail, or a nail set, to tap out the hinge pin.
  • Coat the hinge pin with a small amount of white lithium grease or machine oil. A little goes a long way!
  • Tap the hinge pin back in the hinge.
  • Open and close the door a few times to distribute the lubricate.
  • Use a rag to wipe up any extra grease or oil that squeezes out of the hinge.

Watch How to Fix Squeaky Door Hinges to see how it’s done.

Smoke detector
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so go ahead and test your smoke detector once a month to make sure it does its job.

To-Do #6: Test Smoke and CO AlarmsWith cold weather arriving and furnaces and fireplaces cranking up, this is a good time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to make sure they’re functioning properly.

Press and hold the “test” button on the smoke or CO detector to make sure the alarm goes off. Replace the batteries if the alarm doesn’t work, or if the batteries are more than a year old, then test again.

Be sure to write the date the battery was replaced on the battery or on a piece of tape stuck to the back of the alarm. It’s also a good idea to blow out smoke and CO alarms with canned air periodically to remove dust. Also, be sure to replace any alarms that are over than 10 years.

Check out our article on Fire Safety for Your Home to find out more.

Applying silicone caulk to a bathtub
Apply silicone caulk to a bathtub, as needed, to keep it looking great. (DepositPhotos)

To-Do #7: Check and Repair Bathtub Caulk

Last, but not least, head into the bathroom to give a little attention to the caulk around the bathtub. When the caulk gets cracked or falls out, water can get behind the tub and cause water damage to your home’s framing, as well as mold growth.

Inspect the caulk around your tub. If it’s worn or cracked (or stained and unsightly), it’s time to replace it, here’s how.

How To Replace Bathtub Caulk

  • Use a putty knife or chisel to scrape out and remove the existing caulk, being careful not to scratch your bathtub.
  • Use diluted bleach in a spray bottle to kill any mold or mildew growing in or around the tub joint.
  • Dry the crack completely with a hairdryer.
  • Apply a bead of 100% silicone caulk to the joint between the tub and surround. Be sure not to overdo it, a narrow bead of caulk looks better than a wide one!
  • Smooth out the caulk by misting caulk with denatured alcohol, or dipping your finger in mineral spirits, and running your finger along the caulk bead. For best results, smooth the entire bead with one stroke. Be sure to put on disposable gloves first!

For more information, check out our video on How To Caulk Around a Tub.

For more home maintenance to-do lists, check out:

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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