Cold winter weather sends most of us indoors, where we spend time with our families and mugs of hot cocoa. We might venture outside for some snowman-building sessions or brisk walks with the dog, but that time outdoors never usually lasts too long.

Although hibernating through the entire winter is tempting, you could make good use of your time indoors by getting a jump on spring cleaning. While the kids are at school, you can tackle some simple tasks that will shorten your home maintenance checklist by the time spring rolls around. We’ve collected a few winter cleaning ideas to get you started.

1. Refresh Your Furnace

young woman opens curtains to let light inIdeally, you have your furnace checked for problems on a routine basis, usually in the late summer or early fall, before it starts working full time. But if you haven’t taken a closer look at the furnace in a while, now is a good time to do so.

Changing the filter is one quick and easy way to ensure it runs smoothly since fresh filters keep the air flowing and your furnace working efficiently. Most filters are easily found at your local home improvement store.

The machine itself might be covered in dirt and grime, so take the time to clean the exterior. Finally, be sure the thermostat is in good working order, as it is not uncommon for older thermostats to fail.

2. Clean Your Kitchen

While we frequently surface-clean our kitchen countertops and floors, there are plenty of areas, such as the top of cabinets and the kickplates near the floor, that don’t get enough attention.

Use warm water with a mild soap to wipe down your cabinets and appliances, and vacuum the dust bunnies from the top of the cabinets.

Take the time to wipe the ceiling as well; it can get dirty from cooking fumes that leave behind hard-to-see grime deposits.

3. Clean the Windows

It’s too chilly for cleaning the outside surface of your windows, but you can get a start on the inside. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, chances are there is a film of soot on your windows.

Add in sticky handprints from your kids and smudges from the dog’s nose, and your windows could need some serious attention.

Vinegar and water make a good cleaning solution, and once the windows are clean, remember that opening the curtains on bright, sunny days can help warm your house naturally.

4. Deep Clean Carpets and Floors

woman cleaning carpet in living roomYour family and friends track in a lot of debris from their shoes during the winter. Snow, salt, and dirt are easily trapped by carpet fibers, so bust out your carpet cleaning machine or call a professional for assistance.

After cleaning, set up fans on a low speed to help expedite the drying process. If your hardwoods are dirty from debris that’s tracked in, give them a good cleaning, and then remind your family to take off their shoes before coming inside.

5. Dust Everything

Our homes get pretty dusty during the cold months since the lack of fresh air circulation and increased number of bodies can lead to more settling dust than usual.

Your winter home maintenance routine should include a good dusting, especially all those nooks and crannies that don’t usually get a lot of attention. Less dust in the air and resting on surfaces will improve the indoor air quality for your family, too.

If you’ve got some spare time this winter, take advantage of it by knocking a few chores off your home maintenance checklist. By springtime, you’ll already be ahead of the game.