Bob Vila’s 10 “Must Do” Projects for February

February's here, which means at least six more weeks of winter. Now's the time to take care of some end-of-the-season indoor projects, and start looking forward to the joys spring brings.
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Though it’s the shortest month of the year, there’s still plenty to be done in February, including organizing the contents of drawers and closets, and preparing last year’s taxes and this year’s gardens. Warm weather will be here before we know it, which is why now’s also the time to repair window screens, clean garden tools, and prepare for another season of outdoor living.

1. Plan Your Garden

iStock-1028264082 must do february projects senior man and boy planting seeds indoors in small clay pots

While it is too early to think about planting a garden (at least that’s true in most parts of the country), it’s not too early to start planning one. Now is a great time to order seed catalogs and shop online retailers and start choosing the flowers and vegetables for this summer’s garden beds. Starting seeds indoors in February will give them just enough time to sprout and mature for transplanting come planting season. Be sure to check the first and last frost dates for your USDA hardiness zone so that you’ll time your starts correctly.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Seed Starting Mixes

2. Store More in the Kitchen

iStock-905477904 must do february projects White glossy kitchen interior design with hanging utensils stock photo

A cluttered kitchen can disrupt a cook’s workflow. Take control of disorganized pots and pans and disorderly drawers by putting unused kitchen space to use: Consider installing a metallic knife rack, for example, or hanging a pegboard on which you can corral tools and pans.

RELATED: 12 Storage Hacks for a More Organized Kitchen

3. Turn Your Mind Toward Taxes

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While you’re in an organizing frame of mind, start collecting bank and investment statements, charitable contribution receipts, and everything else you or your accountant will need to prepare your taxes. This is particularly important if you sold or purchased a home last year, or if you made updates to your home that entitle you to a tax credit or deduction.

RELATED: How to Turn Donated Goods Into a Bigger Tax Refund

4. Clean Your Cleaning Tools

iStock-842452824 must do february projects replacing the air filter in a vacuum

Chances are, your cleaning tools and appliances got quite a workout during the holidays. Have they been looking a little gunky since then? Take these simple steps to keep from spreading dirt throughout your house: change your vacuum filter, launder your mop head in the washing machine, wash and dry your broom bristles, and replace all of your dish sponges. While you’re at it, do an inventory of your cleaning sprays and potions, and restock any dwindled supplies (check our roundup of our favorite eco-friendly cleaning supplies for some terrific nontoxic options). Now you’re ready for spring cleaning!

5. Upgrade Your Home Theater System

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If winter’s rain, sleet, and snow has you hiding indoors, a TV outfitted with an updated sound system will help you pass the time. Turn your living room into the best ticket in town by installing a better home theater system. While you’re poking around behind your receiver and under your TV, take the time to hide the TV cords and wires out of sight.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Wireless Surround-Sound Systems We Tested This Year

6. Carve Out a Place to Hang Your Hat

iStock-528194329 must do february projects mudroom in winter

By mid-winter, our home entryways are usually overrun with boots, coats, and scarves, and gloves. Clean it up by converting a closet into a mudroom: Remove the door and fit the interior space with shelves, cubbies, and a storage bench. For a less drastic change, buy a new coat rack or fashion a new organizer for boots and shoes.

7. Check the Washer Hose for Wear

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When was the last time you clapped eyes on any of the hoses or cords in your laundry room? When a washing machine leaks, the culprit is sometimes a cracked washer hose. It’s a good idea to check these connectors periodically to ensure that they are not worn or cracking, and now is as good a time as any. This inspection involves moving the washer away from the wall and giving the washing machine hose a once-over. If you see signs of wear you’ll want to replace the hose but before you do, be sure to shut off the water and the power to the machine.

RELATED: How to Drain a Washing Machine

8. Mend Window Screens

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Spring is on the way, and that means you’ll be opening the windows again to get some fresh air into the house. Before you do, check for torn or missing window screens and replace or repair any that need it. If you notice discolored wood around the windows, it could be a sign of moisture or rot. Make a note of any damaged areas and identify the source of the leak in order to prevent additional damage. Repair the rotted wood along the interior or exterior of the house as the weather allows.

9. Sharpen and Scrub Your Garden Tools

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Before giving your garden tools a workout this spring, take a little time to recondition them now. Dull blades should be sharpened and broken tools and handles must be repaired. Tools with moving parts, like shears and loppers, should be properly oiled to keep them in peak condition.

RELATED: 10 Ergonomic Garden Tools That Make Gardening Virtually Painless

10. Flip the Mattress

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Flipping your mattress every 6 months makes it last longer. By changing the orientation of the mattress, you’ll distribute weight and wear more evenly and thereby prevent it from sagging. Keep in mind that not all mattresses can be flipped. If that’s true of your model, rotate it 180 degrees.