Tips for Fall Cleaning

Everyone knows about the importance of spring cleaning, but what about fall cleaning? Though fall cleaning is not a common household term, it is an excellent way to get your home ready for the holiday season and the cold weather.

You may wonder what should be included in fall cleaning. Surely fall cleaning need not be as in-depth with spring cleaning is already in place. This is true; however, fall cleaning can be a great opportunity to clean the spots that you often miss during the springtime. Fall cleaning also works to prepare your home for the colder months. Consider it “preventative cleaning” for the winter. 

The following article from Mother Nature Network gives tips on how to make the most of your fall cleaning. The article also focuses on fall cleaning tips that are environmentally friendly.  

Clean sweep: Fall cleaning 101

Looking for a project this last official weekend of summer? Get a head start on fall cleaning tasks — that's right, fall cleaning tasks — that will improve the air quality and energy efficiency of your home when the winter months hit.

Wow. That wasn't too subtle at all. With a few strong gusts of wind, a touch of rain, and some seriously lowered (but still comfortable) temperatures, fall officially blew into my neck of the woods last night. Evidence: I'm wearing socks around the house today.

To mark the occasion, here's a re-post of a few fall-centric eco-cleaning tips and tidbits that I published at around this time last year. As I stressed before, autumn is the season for preventative cleaning so that you don’t spend all winter — when you’d rather be curled up in bed or entertaining holiday houseguests — futzing with mundane household odd and ends.  If there are any biggies I forgot, tell me about 'em in the comments section.

So happy unofficially fall, ya'll. Now get to.

The heat is (almost) on

Before firing up your furnace and/or fireplace it’s crucial to ensure that everything is in working order. This way, you’ll lessen the chance of a dreaded “oh my god, something’s wrong and I don’t know how to fix it” situation in the dead of winter and keep you energy costs in check.

Start off with the fireplace if you have one. Make sure that everything is clean and functioning. If it’s been a while since your fireplace has gotten a deep clean and inspection, consider hiring a professional chimney sweep to clean the flue and tackle any repairs, if needed. If your fireplace damper is damaged or nonexistent, install a chimney balloon to keep warm air in and cold air out of your home.

A less daunting task is replacing or cleaning a furnace filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Before you do, sweep or vacuum the area around your furnace. Regular cleaning or replacing of a furnace filter increases efficiently and prevents dirt and allergens from circulating around your home. And while you're at it, sweep or vacuum in and around heat registers to get rid of accumulated dust and dander.

Finally, inspect caulk around windows and doors to ensure that any leaks are nipped in the bud before winter hits. Fall is also a good time to venture up to the attic and check on the condition of the insulation. For inexpensive, DIY "heat in, cold out" tasks that can be performed in fall, check out my “Weatherize this” series where I discuss everything from foam outlet gaskets to attic stair covers to water heater blankets

The air in there

Since fall cleaning involves efficiently buttoning up your home for the winter, you'll want to make sure that the air inside your home is as clean as possible — obviously, as fall turns to winter you're going to be doing a whole lot less window opening to let fresh air in. As described above, ensuring that your primary heat sources are clean is one step but you should also clean or replace the filters of any air purifiers or humidifiers. It wouldn't hurt to introduce a few new air-purifying houseplants to your home, too. 

And while you clean, take a good look at your arsenal of cleaning products. Many conventional cleaning remedies contain caustic chemicals that can compromise the indoor air quality of your home — oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and drain openers  are top offenders — so consider replacing them with plant-based alternatives or inexpensive DIY concoctions (more on this, below). 

Yesterday’s pit-stained t-shirt, today’s handmade draftstopper

Need to make room for all those bulky winter sweaters that you’re bringing out of storage? Fall is an excellent time to root through your wardrobe for sartorial castaways and free up closet space.

Since some of your summer clothes and linens may not have survived the season — I’m talking about frayed beach towels and white shirts bearing the stubborn summer stain trifecta of underarm sweat, ketchup/BBQ sauce, and grass — you may not want to donate them or haul them off to a consignment store. For items that don’t make the donation/resale cut, keep them around as cleaning rags or incorporate them into craft projects for when you’re stuck inside in January in two feet of snow.

Nontoxic DIY cleaners: Now is the thyme

Fall’s the time to start prepping the pantry for the holiday baking season and for have-the-munchies-but-too-cold-to-leave-the-house kind of days. While you’re fiddling around with foodstuffs and taking kitchen cabinet inventory, why not experiment with staples like baking sodavinegar, and lemon juice and make your own natural cleaning and laundering solutions? If you’ve never done it before, you’ll be surprised at their effectiveness (not to mention their money-saving appeal).

If DIY cleaners aren’t your proverbial cup of tea and you’re concerned about the presence of back to school germs in your home, try Method Antibac antibacterial cleaners which includes all-purpose wipes, bathroom cleaner, and kitchen cleaner. Like Seventh Generation’s botanical disinfecting line, Method Antibac products are “powered” by CleanWell’s effective, EPA-registered thyme-based disinfecting technology.

And if you haven’t already, purge your home of any and all antibacterial cleaning and personal care products containing the dastardly chemical, triclosan

Not necessarily green but still a good idea ...

Flip mattresses 

Inspect (and clean, if needed) the gutters

Vacuum drapes/window treatments and upholstered furniture

Clean the "four C's": carpets, cupboards, chandeliers, and (refrigerator) coils

Wipe down outdoor/patio furniture before storing 

Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors

Wash the windows

Polish the silver

Drain and store your garden hoses

Organize your kitchen

Launder all linens and bedding (give cold water washing a shot and/or line drying outdoors before the weather turns too damp/cold). 

Consider creating a fall cleaning checklist that you can complete throughout the season so that you aren’t stuck doing all of your fall cleaning on one day. You can combine a lot of the above fall cleaning with winterizing your home, but remember to do any messy DIY projects before you clean your home to avoid doing twice the work.  

Once you have completed your fall cleaning, you will be able to rest easy during the cold winter months knowing that the most important fall cleaning tasks are out of the way.

Don’t have enough time to complete fall cleaning in time for the holidays? Contact The Maids. We work year-round to help you with all of your green cleaning needs.