Refresh Your Interior
We often associate the end of summer with back to school. In the fall, we return to routine and get back in the rhythm of things. It’s also the time many people prepare for hibernation before frigid winter weather sets in. When you think of a home reset, you probably think of spring as the perfect time to air out the house in expectation of the hot summer ahead. But don’t discount fall as the ideal cleaning season just yet. There are a host of essential cleaning tasks to tackle before cold weather encourages indoor hibernation. People tend to spend more time indoors during the winter, so it makes sense to wash, clean, and refresh interior spaces before settling in for the long haul. Here are the things you should get to first.
Initiating "cozy mode" should involve more than just putting things away. Before you hunker down for the winter ahead, it’s important to refresh your interior space. Springtime isn’t the only time for cleaning, after all. Here’s what to focus on this fall.
Windows and Window Treatments
Your window treatments have likely been ignored since the spring—and maybe longer. Now is the time to carefully remove and wash your curtains and draperies. Dust curtain rods and read labels before shoving anything into your washing machine or dryer.
Most curtains should be air-dried, which is why fall is the ideal time for washing these oft-ignored accents. Unlike spring, fall is a relatively dry time of year, so you shouldn’t have to battle the elements when leaving your draperies out to dry on the clothesline.
Inside Your Cupboards
Take stock of what’s inside your cupboards and get rid of anything you haven’t used in a while. Check whether you need to replace any missing plates or wine glasses in anticipation of the holiday season. Over time, a thick layer of dust can build up inside your kitchen cabinets, and it can require considerable effort to remove. Using a hose attachment, vacuum what you can and then spray and scrub with your preferred cleaning solution. If you’re making a day of it, clean your pantry, and throw away anything that’s expired.
Sweep the Chimney
Call a professional to get your chimney cleaned before getting cozy by the fire. On average, professional cleaning costs about $243. You may not need to get it fully cleaned each year, but a yearly inspection is recommended. Skipping yearly checkups can leave buildup and nesting animals unnoticed. Both can lead to damage and fires, which are much more costly than a yearly chimney inspection.
Swap out dirty, grimy air filters and remove vent covers for a thorough cleaning. If it’s still warm enough outside, spray them down with your garden hose and let them dry in the sun. Fall is also an excellent time to clean your air ducts. Air filters don’t catch every single speck of dust and debris, which is why your HVAC system needs a helping hand once in a while. Cleaner ducts also mean your system will run more efficiently, eating up less energy and saving money on your energy bill.
Bust the Dust
Sure, you vacuum regularly, but when was the last time you cleaned behind and under large pieces of furniture, like that living room sectional? Do a deep whole-house vacuum job at least once before the winter. Sucking up all that built-up debris will feel incredibly satisfying, and you’ll breathe easier once the task is complete.
Related: 10 Homemade Carpet Cleaning Remedies
Couch Covers and Pillows
People with pets might tackle this cleaning task multiple times a year. But even pet-less individuals should consider a heavy-duty couch cleaning job once in a while. You probably spend a significant chunk of time on your couch doing all manner of things, including eating and drinking. Over time, those pillows get really grimy. Call a professional or rent an upholstery cleaning machine to get all that dirt out of your couch cushions. If you have a couch with a couch cover or removable pillow covers, toss them in the washing machine. (Make sure to thoroughly read the care instructions first.)
Clean Behind Appliances
’Tis the season of comfort food and family meals. Start your cooking stretch fresh by giving your kitchen a deep clean. Wipe everything down, and don’t forget to get behind all your appliances. It won’t be pretty—who knows what kinds of crumbs and lost bits of food are hiding behind your microwave—but it will be worth it. You can settle into your baking routine without worrying about what’s lurking behind your oven.
Clean Your Oven
Speaking of baking, now is the time to clean inside your oven. There will no doubt be many spills ahead, but why not start off with a clean slate? Fall is a great time to use the self-clean setting on your oven: You can open windows to ventilate the kitchen without letting in frigid outdoor air, yet the high oven temps won’t leave you sweating bullets. Avoid running the self-cleaning function if you have any avian pets in your home, though, as they’re susceptible to fumes of all kinds. Before starting the self-clean mode, remove oven racks, open your windows, and make sure that your kitchen fan is on.
Disinfect Trash Cans
Get as much use out of your hose as you can before it’s time to shut off the water supply for the winter. Bring your trash cans outside and hose them down. Fill with diluted bleach and leave to soak for a few hours. Rinse off and scrub away any remaining nasty bits. If your kitchen trash cans are kept inside a sliding cabinet, be sure to wash in there, too.
Summertime means a lot of foot traffic in and out of the home. People with pets especially will notice that this buzz of activity tends to significantly impact baseboards. The muck gravitates there and is hard to remove without a thorough scrubbing. Use a dusting cloth to wipe away surface dust and then get on your hands and knees to scrub away stubborn grime. If your baseboards are particularly stained, it may be worthwhile to spend a day painting them. Paint solves almost everything, after all!
Wipe Down Walls
Your walls are probably filthy after months of summer fun, gardening, and other outdoor antics. And that’s doubly true for people with kids and pets. Clean walls with warm water and gentle dish soap. For extra-dirty walls, add baking soda to the cleaning mix. And if the situation is really grimy, consider adding a fresh coat of paint for a clean slate.
Get Rid of Cobwebs
Spiders are one of the most beneficial-yet-scary house critters out there. And while they’re great for feasting on pests you definitely don’t want around, they can make a mess of things with their cobwebs. After washing your walls, remember to look upward and clear cobwebs from high-up light fixtures, ceiling corners, and window treatments.
Get Into Your Fridge
Before you head into winter, clear out your refrigerator and scrub it from top to bottom. If you have drawers with annoying nooks and crannies, pop them in the dishwasher—provided they fit—to get them sparkling clean. Get rid of any expired or very old condiments and other miscellaneous things in jars. If your shelves are customizable and the old layout wasn’t working for you, consider trying a new one for the winter.
Scrub Pots and Pans
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and if you’re hosting this year, now is the time to get ready. Don’t wait until right before the family arrives to scrub those rarely used pots and pans. Take the time to evaluate your supplies. Do you need to replace any cookware? Is the guest list going to be bigger this year? Maybe that stained casserole dish needs an upgrade.
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Wash Your Washer and Dryer
It’s true: Even your washing machine needs a refresh now and again. Over time, bacteria can build up inside your washer and leave behind foul odors on clothes. Scrub the interior with diluted bleach and rinse when you’re done. Do the same for your dryer, making sure to wipe it dry after scrubbing. (As a shortcut, use washing machine cleaner tablets in your washer.) Don’t forget to wipe down the exterior of both appliances.
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