It’s officially fall! And while pumpkin spice everything has been lining store shelves for weeks, you’ve now got the calendar on your side to indulge in all the cozy comforts of the season. Before you curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, though, maybe give your space a once-over to see if it needs some sprucing.
Why should spring have all the fun, anyway? Ahem.
Plus, as the temperature drops and the leaves begin to fall, you’ll probably find yourself spending more time inside. And after a summer of adventuring in the great outdoors, you might suddenly realize that your house could use some attention.
Whether there’s sand in the corners, dust on the furniture or grime on the windows, it’s time to set your sights on fall cleaning.
A whole-house deep clean might be more enticing when flowers start to bloom, but a good scrubbing knows no season. In fact, days with crisp breezes and chilly rains may be the perfect time to freshen up your space for the not-too-distant winter.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to tackle fall cleaning.
Start with the clutter.
Before you know it, new holiday presents will find their way into your home. Before that happens, take stock and clean out the old clutter.
- Sort items into three piles: things to keep, things to donate and things to throw away.
- Get rid of items you don’t use regularly unless they’re keepsakes with sentimental value.
- Toys, clothes, books and small kitchen appliances are worthwhile items for donation. Anything you keep should be given its own designated spot in your home.
Getting rid of clutter isn’t just a good way to make space for new items. It will also make it easier to accomplish the rest of the tasks on your list. That’s because it’s easier to see what needs attention when you’re not distracted by piles of excess.
Evaluate your pantry.
Now that kids have returned to school, you may be back to the routine of packing lunches each day. Cleaning out your pantry can speed up this job. The right organization might even encourage you to pack healthier, more well-balanced meals for your family.
- Dig deep in your cabinets to find any stale or expired food.
- After you’ve tossed the old and dated, take everything else out.
- Use your vacuum’s hose attachment to suck up dirt and crumbs from corners. You can use a small broom or dust cloth if you don’t have a vacuum. And if needed, replace the shelf paper, too.
- If you have any food that you know you won’t eat but it’s not expired, consider donating it to a local food kitchen or pantry.
Before you put food back in the cabinets, consider whether there’s a better way to organize your dry goods. Place healthy snacks like fruit cups, raisins and applesauce pouches in a front-and-center basket, and put treats in a more out-of-the-way spot. You could also organize by food type (e.g., canned goods vs. breakfast staples).
A freshly organized pantry could also help you save on groceries. Once you take stock of what you have, you can plan meals more efficiently and cut down on waste when you’re shopping.
Let the light in.
Feel a bit down when it’s cold out? You’re not alone. The winter blues are a real, documented phenomenon. Many people are troubled by seasonal affective disorder during the coldest parts of the year.
Light therapy can help combat this problem, so let as much natural sunshine into your home as you can. Start by cleaning your windows (inside and out).
- Choose a clear but cloudy day to restore their sparkle. You’ll find it easier to detect streaks and spots when there’s not bright sunlight pouring through the windows.
- Spritz the glass with window cleaner, and wipe it off with a soft microfiber cloth.
- Take down the screens and wash them, too.
- After that, wipe all dust and dirt from the sills and frames. Then clean the window treatments using the hose attachment on your vacuum.
For interior window treatments, check the tags for washing instructions. You may be able to wipe the blinds down with soap and water, but don’t assume anything.
Follow the same protocols for exterior windows. But if you have trouble reaching them, consider getting a pro involved. A handyman or window washing service may be worth the investment.
Tackle the dust.
You probably already know that dust can aggravate your allergies, but that’s not the only hazard that comes from letting dust build up on your bookcases.
Tiny dust particles can contain unsafe chemicals like phthalates, flame retardants and BPA that you may breathe in or ingest.
Keeping your windows open throughout the spring and summer may have added extra dust to your collection. Once open-window season ends, it’s time to wipe down all hard surfaces in your home.
- Use a damp cloth for the job. It’ll do a better job of trapping dust particles than a dry rag.
- Don’t forget the out-of-the-way spots, too. Run your duster over the tops of picture frames and doors, as well as the ceiling fans.
- And once you’ve dusted the fans, set their rotation to clockwise, which will help circulate warm air when the furnace is running.
Spruce up the floors.
Fall’s arrival signals that holiday gatherings are on their way. When people pile into your home, they may end up sitting here, there and everywhere, including on the floor. Deep clean your floors now so you’ll be prepared to welcome company in the coming weeks.
- For starters, thoroughly sweep and mop hard surfaces. Get down on your hands and knees to scrub the corners and baseboards. A “magic eraser” tool will help with this tedious task.
- After running the vacuum over carpeted areas, sprinkle baking soda over the whole floor. Let it sit for several hours to absorb odors, and then vacuum again to remove all traces of the powder. (While you’re at it, you can give upholstered furniture this same treatment.)
You may need to call in professional carpet cleaners for tough stains. Professional services will also help to reduce the number of allergens and bacteria that are hiding in your carpet. Aim to have this service performed once a year.
Remember the outside, too.
You might have plenty of indoor cleaning jobs to tackle, but the outside of your home also needs attention in the fall. In fact, your home’s exterior could use even more help before autumn winds start loading up your gutter and everyone’s too busy cozying up inside to remember the patio.
- To extend the life of your patio furniture, wipe down each piece thoroughly. Then move it to a garage or shed where it can be locked away for the cold months.
- Disconnect your garden hose, and winterize your swimming pool if you have one.
- Tackle the gutters carefully. Better yet, hire a pro to do this job if you have any hesitation about your skills. People do this kind of fall prep work for a living, so don’t be afraid to pay someone to take care of your gutters. And while you’ve got a professional there, ask about checking your roof for damage. It’s important to check your roof every six months or so to make sure there aren’t any weak spots.
As for your leaves, make a plan for cleaning up the excess. Leaves left on the deck or walkway can become a slipping hazard. You may not need to rake, either, at least not entirely. Mulching is a smart way to nourish the soil, and you can do it with your lawnmower.
Finally, check doors, windows and pipes for caulk or weatherstripping that needs to be replaced. Once you’ve taken care of that job, you can return inside to enjoy a cozy autumn in your fresh, clean home.