Winterizing Your Cottage: Essential Tips and Products for a Cozy Winter Closure

Written by: Roger Stephan



Time to read min

As the air turns crisp, and we swap flip-flops for cozy sweaters, it's that time of the year again when I can't help but think about one thing – winterizing.

In our family, Thanksgiving wasn’t just about relaxing around the table, eating turkey and mashed potatoes. It was also the weekend we took on the task of closing our family cottage, knowing that a job well done meant a hassle-free spring opening.


And as owners of a Home Hardware in Kawartha Lakes, we’ve had the privilege of meeting countless customers getting their own retreats ready for winter. We've picked up a few tricks along the way and become the go-to place for all things winterizing.

In this blog, we’ll be sharing with you our own experiences and the practical wisdom we've gathered from our wonderful staff and customers. Whether you're a seasoned cottage or trailer owner, or new to the winterizing game, consider this your spot for straightforward advice and top-quality products to make your winterizing chore a breeze.

Clean and Declutter Before Winter

Even though the idea of cleaning and decluttering just to close up your cottage might not be the most exciting task, it's a crucial step you don't want to overlook. Here's why:

a) Prevent Pests and Unpleasant Surprises:

As the winter chill sets in, your cottage becomes an inviting shelter for all sorts of critters seeking warmth. To keep pesky mice at bay, here are some practical tips:

  • Remove Perishable Food: Don't leave any perishable food items behind. Empty your pantry, fridge, and cupboards to avoid attracting rodents.Clean Thoroughly: Wipe down countertops, clean out crumbs in cupboards, and give your fridge a thorough cleaning. Mice love food residue.
  • Store Non-Perishables Securely: Invest in rubbermaid containers with lids or ziplock bags for items like soap, which mice find quite appetizing. They also like to get into open boxes of tissue or paper towel to make their nests so if you’re leaving items like this in your cottage over the winter then put them in packaging that mice can’t get into. 
  • Secure Linens: Place your linens in garbage bags and tie them up tightly to prevent mice from making nests in them. A trick we use is placing Bounce dryer sheets in the garbage bags full of linens, as well as in cupboard drawers. We also put Bounce sheets on the mattresses. For some reason mice don’t like the smell of scented dryer sheets. 
  • Use Deterrents: Consider placing mothballs or cedar balls in areas where you want to keep mice out. These scents are known to deter rodents.

b)  Mold and Mildew Prevention:


During the winter months, when your cottage is closed and less ventilated, moisture can accumulate, creating an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. Left unchecked, mold and mildew can damage wood, fabric, and even pose health risks to anyone spending time in the cottage. Cleaning surfaces, especially in areas prone to moisture like bathrooms and kitchens, and ensuring there's no food residue can help reduce the risk of mold and mildew formation. A great product we use when cleaning and drying areas prone to moisture is called “Mold Control” by Concrobium. 


After cleaning we then strategically place moisture absorbers in areas prone to dampness such as closets, bathrooms, laundry, pantries, under the sink and vanity as well as in our boat. Popular moisture absorbers at our store are “Damp Rid” by Microban and “Moisture Grabbers” by Concrobium.

c) Protect Your Furniture and Upholstery:


Your cottage's furniture and upholstery are essential elements that deserve protection during the winter closure. To keep them in top-notch condition, consider investing in furniture covers. These covers serve as a protective barrier, shielding your tables, chairs, and sofas from dust, potential moisture, and even unwanted critters. When spring returns, it’s so nice to find your furniture looking just as inviting as when you left. If you prefer not to invest in covers, using a tarp or a heavy-duty blanket can offer a budget-friendly alternative to safeguard your cherished furnishings.

d) Aesthetics and Comfort: 


A clean and organized cottage not only feels more inviting but also contributes to a more pleasant environment. Returning to a spotless, well-kept cottage in the spring enhances your overall enjoyment and comfort. It's the difference between feeling like you're entering a cozy retreat and stepping into a neglected space. 

Drain and Winterize Your Water Systems

As temperatures drop, one of the critical steps in winterizing your cottage is properly draining the water systems, including water heaters and irrigation, if applicable. Failing to do so can result in frozen and burst pipes, including those connected to your water heater, which can lead to costly repairs. To prevent this, make sure to thoroughly drain your pipes and systems. Additionally, it's essential to use antifreeze in the right places to protect your plumbing from extreme cold. Given the potential negative consequences of improper winterization, such as damage to your water heater and plumbing, we recommend consulting or hiring a professional if you're not confident in handling this task yourself. 

Protect Against Pests: Mouse Control

During the winter, one of the top concerns for cottage owners is keeping pests at bay. Mice, in particular, pose a significant risk as they seek warmth and shelter indoors. An unchecked mouse infestation can lead to property damage and unpleasant surprises upon your return in the spring. To tackle this, your local Home Hardware or hardware store will offer a range of mouse control products, including traps, repellents, and barriers, to help keep these unwanted guests out of your cottage.


Speaking from our own experience, we've been winterizing our boat house for the past few years, and a product we highly recommend is "Pest Chaser" by Victor. 

It emits a high-frequency noise that's inaudible to humans but intolerable to rodents, serving as a poison-free and non-toxic option to safeguard your cottage against mice. This effective solution has been a game-changer for many cottage owners in our community, ensuring a pest-free winter.

Seal Gaps and Cracks

When it comes to winterizing your cottage, one task that often gets overlooked is sealing gaps and cracks. It's a simple yet crucial step with multiple benefits. Not only does it keep pests like mice and insects out, but it also plays a significant role in keeping your cottage well-contained and clean throughout the winter months, protecting it from the elements outside. By sealing openings around windows, doors, pipes, and other potential entry points, you create a barrier against unwanted intruders seeking shelter from the cold. Moreover, a well-sealed cottage is more energy-efficient, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature and potentially reducing heating costs.

 It also prevents drafts and moisture infiltration, which can lead to damage and mold growth. So, in addition to pest prevention, taking the time to seal gaps and cracks contributes to a cleaner, cozier, and more cost-effective winter experience at your cottage.

Winterize Your Engines

When it comes to winterizing your equipment and vehicles, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the fuel system. Stale or untreated fuel can lead to engine issues, particularly during long periods of inactivity in the winter months. That's where products like SeaFoam come to the rescue. Adding a fuel stabilizer like SeaFoam to your tanks can prevent fuel from breaking down, help clean carbon deposits, and ensure your engine is in top shape when you're ready to put it back to work in the spring. So, before you store your boat, vehicle, or lawn equipment for the winter, consider this vital step in your winterization process to keep your engine ready and reliable when the cold weather subsides or be sure to seek out an expert to help you. 

Clean Your Roof and Gutters

Keeping your roof and gutters clear of leaves and debris is essential to the overall maintenance of your cottage. As the fall leaves begin to fall, they can accumulate on your roof and clog your gutters, causing potential water damage and structural issues. To tackle this, consider using tools such as a sturdy ladder, a leaf blower, or a roof rake to safely clear away debris and always be extremely careful doing this task or consider hiring a professional. Regular maintenance ensures proper water drainage and extends the lifespan of your roof and gutter systems.

Secure and Cover Outdoor Items:

Before closing up your cottage for the winter, it's crucial to secure outdoor furniture and equipment. Harsh winter winds and snowstorms can wreak havoc on unsecured items, causing damage and making a mess. To protect your outdoor investments, use products like tarps to cover and shield furniture, bungee cords to secure loose items, and storage solutions such as sheds or containers for seasonal equipment. By taking these precautions, you'll not only preserve the condition of your outdoor belongings but also ensure a tidy and hassle-free spring opening.

Home Security:

Ensuring the security of your cottage is paramount, especially during the winter months when it may be unattended for extended periods. Consider investing in security measures such as motion detector lights, which can deter potential intruders by flooding the area with light upon detecting motion. Solar-powered options are both eco-friendly and efficient. At our family cottage, we found that securing the property's perimeter with a chain across the driveway served as a visible deterrent to trespassers, signalling that the property was attended to and protected. Explore these options to find the right combination of security measures that suits your cottage's needs and provides peace of mind during the winter season.

In addition to motion detector lights, there are several other security ideas you can implement to safeguard your cottage. Consider installing window and door sensors that alert you to any unauthorized entry attempts. Smart home security systems can provide remote monitoring and alerts via your smartphone, offering real-time peace of mind. If your cottage is in a remote area, you might also explore neighborhood watch programs or establish a good rapport with local law enforcement for added security. By taking these proactive steps, you can help protect your cottage from potential threats, ensuring it remains a secure and well-kept haven throughout the winter.

In cottage country, winterization is not just a task but a tradition—a way to ensure your beloved summer retreat remains cozy and inviting. From cleaning and pest prevention to safeguarding your utilities and enhancing security, each step you take is a labor of love. So, as you prepare to close up your cottage or trailer for the winter, remember that every effort you make now brings you one step closer to the joy of spring's return, when you can once again appreciate the beauty and serenity of your haven. 


And if you’re winterizing in the Kawartha Lakes then be sure to come visit us at our store for all the products and great advice to get the job done well!

Sincerely, Roger and Rose