From Jeff Campbell’s book, Good As New, below are easy to follow rules for maintaining your possessions in excellent, “Good As New,” condition.
Rule One: Schedule Your Maintenance
Most actual (as opposed to imaginary) maintenance is scheduled for a definite date, not “next month,” “when I get around to it,” or “as soon as I have a free Saturday.” Indefinite dates never arrive, and, as everyone knows, there is no such thing as a free Saturday. Some maintenance dates are determine by the season, such as servicing your air conditioner before the warm season begins.
But many maintenance days are determined by your home and your living style. If the manufacturer tells everyone in the world to clean the freezer’s condenser coils every three months, test that advice for yourself and then check them in three months. If the coils are again dirty, clean them again. But if they’re still clean, recheck them monthly until they really are dirty. Now you have a maintenance interval that’s more meaningful than what the manufacturer recommended; remember to enter this into your maintenance journal (see Rule Thirteen).
Rule Two: Treating Your Belongings with Care Will Reduce Maintenance
In many cases, patterns or daily use are more importance than maintenance in determining how long an item will last. Be gentle: you can break almost anything if you try – purposely or not. Little plastic pieces are sometimes the most important part of a device and are easily broken off.
A good example is my hummingbird feeder – if a little plastic hook is snapped off, the whole feeder is useless. I know, you’re always in a hurry, but habitually stuffing twenty-six pounds of laundry into an eighteen-pound capacity washer, instead of doing two smaller loads, will take years of life off the washing machine.
Rule Three: All Things are NOT Created Equal (As Far As Maintenance Goes)
By this, I mean that things used heavily need more attention than things used lightly. If you maintain the entire carpet on the same schedule, high-traffic areas will be worn out before the balance of the carpet shows any signs of wear at all. Also, over time, low-quality items often cost more to maintain, wearing out quicker, and requiring refinishing, repairing, or cleaning more often, and must be replaced faster than quality items – which means they also end-up costing more in the long run. Do not settle for high-maintenance, low-cost items if waiting a bit before making a purchase will allow you to afford better quality.
Rule Four: Make Informed Purchases
Don’t buy any product without knowing exactly what care it needs, how often that care is required, what cleaning is involved, and what product(s) you need to have on hand for the cleaning and maintenance.
Rule Five: Cleaning is a Major Part of Preventative Maintenance – And Often the Cure for Failures or Problems
For example, the most common problem with CD and DVD players is skipping; the cause is most often a dirty disc or laser lens; the cure, in either case, is cleaning.
Rule Six: Water is the Enemy
Even seemingly small amounts of water are more dangerous than dirt to your house. A little drip behind the washer, or a tiny leak in the shower, will eventually ruin the drywall, then the studs, then the flooring and joists. This is also true for water oozing in around windows, doors, and other openings to the outside. A leak is almost guaranteed to cost thousands of dollars of damage if ignored: some of that water will eventually make its way to the frame underneath and start the inevitable process of deterioration. And water that soaks the soil underneath the building will attract termites and all sorts of other nefarious creatures.
Rule Seven: Ditto for Direct Sunlight
Keep most things out of direct sunlight: carpets, wood floors, and many fibers will fade; leather dries out; fibers are weakened; plastic warps; and paper yellows.
Rule Eight: The More Moving Parts, the More Imperative to Keep the Item Clean!
If a unit has moving parts, dirt is particularly dangerous. Moving parts also need lubrication unless they’re factory sealed.
Rule Nine: If You Find Yourself Even Thinking about It, It’s Time to Change Filters
It is just about impossible to change filters too often; they usually aren’t expensive, so go ahead and replace them regularly rather than cleaning them or ignoring them.
Rule Ten: Buy Good Floor Mats
You’ve probably heard it before, but everything they say about good floor mats is true: they can prevent lots of dirt from making it into places where it can (and will) cause damage. Good floor mats are not the cute little ones made of hemp of rubber that say WELCOME. Good floor mats are the ones you see both inside and outside the doors of banks and other public buildings: they are big enough to take several steps on, they are made from nylon fiber or polypropylene fiber with heavy rubber backing. These mats belong both inside and outside all entrances to your home. (Note: You should be cautious about placing rubber-backed mats on linoleum flooring – it can cause a yellow discoloration.)
Rule Eleven: Take Advantage of a Move or Repair
Anytime you disassemble something or move something heavy out of place, clean everything carefully before reassembling to moving it back into position. So when the refrigerator is pulled-out to be repaired, clean the floor where the refrigerator was and vacuum the coils, the motor, and anything else that can’t ordinarily be reached.
Rule Twelve: When in Doubt, Seal It
If instructions say to apply a protective seal on a product, do so. Grout of all sorts will last longer, stay cleaner, and resist stains and water damage far better if you do so. This is also true for various types of tile and natural stone products. Like making a bed or painting a room, sealants must be renewed at regular intervals.
Rule Thirteen: Keep Notes or a Journal of Your Maintenance Activities
When you learn how often different maintenance chores need to be done, write it down. Date each entry so you know for sure when it’s time to do it again. Be sure to include notes on anything that looks odd or suggests the possibility of a future problem.
You’ll also want to check-out Jeff’s other cleaning rules and the books they’re from:
Speed Cleaning Rules: Rules for speed cleaning tasks, from Jeff’s Speed Cleaning book.
Spring Cleaning Rules: Rules for tackling spring cleaning, from Jeff’s Spring Cleaning book.
Clutter Control Rules: Rules for control clutter, from Jeff’s Clutter Control book.
Talking Dirt Rules: Cleaning questions and answers from Jeff’s book Talking Dirt.