How to Get Your Home Delightfully Clean for Fall
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So, the last few years I’ve always given my oldest kids the option on backpacks: Either buy the more expensive and nicer one and keep it for 2 years, or buy the cheapo one and get another one when school starts again. It feels like we were JUST going round and round about a new backpack, and here I am ordering a new one–because school is here again. Bleh. BUT–that means FALL is on the way!! (This is pretty crazy that I’m all for fall, because I grew up in Florida where I LIVED for summer!) But in my older age (and being married to total mountains fanatic), I’ve come to really appreciate the milder weather where you can actually get out of the house without your whole face melting off in 10 seconds. HOWEVER–this does also invoke a weird urge to start fall cleaning, purging, and organizing. (Maybe because I never finished spring cleaning, but that’s neither here nor there.)
So what should be involved in Fall Cleaning? Hmm, probably the same-ish things as Spring Cleaning. But some of them in reverse. I really used to be obsessed with these things you *should* be doing according to Martha Stewart, because I wanted to learn to be super domesticated. That obsession quickly went by the wayside once I started actual #adulting, but I still put in a strong effort. And now that we have 4 kids, the more in-depth I get with this Fall (or Spring) Cleaning, the better my mental state is. Purging is SO INCREDIBLY LIBERATING!!
So I’ve put together a guide for your Fall Cleaning (inside and outside) to get ready for this beautiful weather ahead!
- First things first–do a deep cleaning. You know, pull all items away from back edge of the counter top and wipe underneath everything, scrub out the sink, etc. (Unless you think you’ll make a big mess while doing everything else–then save this for last.)
- Next (in no particular order) it’s time to clean out the fridge and pantries. While doing this part, it’s a good idea to think about creating a lunch and snack prep area for kids to make school lunches/snacks. I’ve found that just one of these bins in the fridge and a few others in the pantry corral lunch and snack stuff + cheese sticks, etc beautifully!
- Next you’ll want to go through cabinets and purge items you don’t ever use and definitely that you don’t need (this is especially true for the tupperware cabinet, and the cabinet where you have kid cups/dinnerware, as well as things like popsicle molds, etc.)
- Then it’s time to clean the microwave inside and out, run cleaner through dishwasher, then wipe down all cabinets. (Microwave and cabinets can easily be cleaned with a vinegar/water solution!)
- The last thing I suggest is cleaning the oven–because normally you either have to use oven cleaner or do the self-cleaning option, which is best done when you can open some windows and leave the house for a few hours. (I really love this option for oven cleaners because it’s made with citrus oils to clean + creates a non-stick barrier to make future cleanup really easy!) Personally, I’ve grown tired of cleaning the oven (we cook pizzas right on the rack and it makes a huge mess!) So I’ve invested in these oven liners. Place it in the bottom under the coils, and when they’re dirty, just take em out and clean em! BAM! No oven cleaner or killing birds with the oven fumes!
- Pretty much every room is best cleaned from top to bottom (remember Annie?) So I like to start with ceiling fans, then move to lamp shades and blinds. Lamp shades are easily vacuumed with the brush attachment on your vacuum. But for dusting– Swiffer does a decent job of this, but if you really want to get serious cleaning done (especially if you have allergy sufferers [hand raised]) you’ll want to wet-dust. I’ve found that this handy invention makes it easy to do that–just spray your dusting solution onto the cloth part before you wipe the fan blades.
- And while you’re up there, you’ll want to go ahead and dust/wipe down light fixtures and replace any bulbs that are out. **DON’T wet-wipe warm bulbs–they will shatter!
- For blinds, I’ve tried these little things before using a dusting solution as well, but my hands cramp after a while. If you have that problem, too, these dusting gloves are pretty ingenious!
- Moving to the middle-ish of the room, next would be cabinets for TV/games/movies, etc. You wouldn’t believe how dust accumulates inside here. What’s so bad is that the electronics will start to suck the dust into the cooling vents and cause a lot of wear on your electronics, so keep these areas clean!! Here’s a great organic option to clean your electronics that’s also safe for the screens. Also pay attention to toy areas (purge and clean out/clean any toys necessary.) Toys accumulate a lot of dust as well. If there are small plastic toys, these can actually be washed in the dishwasher, or even throw a bunch of toys into the washer in one of these bags.
- While you’ve got your cleaning cloths out, disinfect and wipe down light switches, remotes, and door frames. Remotes and light switches are some of the germiest places in the house (I’ve read. On the internet. So it must be true.) Ok, so even if it isn’t, think of all the food grime and oil from everybody’s hands that are always on these things. Ew.
- Next is the upholstery–sofas, pillows, and chairs (ottomans, too?) Any upholstery needs to be vacuumed, and while you’re at it, remove the cushions and vacuum under them all. And if you notice any stains, either spot-clean or schedule a steam cleaning. (From experience, sofas–basically anywhere kids congregate–are disgusting!! The first time I steamed our sofa I was SHOCKED at how dirty it was. I’m talking brown water, folks. Dead serious.) This is the steamer we use. However, if you need a smaller option just for upholstery, this steamer is pretty darn highly rated!
- Last will be the floor–the understory of the living room jungle. Pull out furniture and vacuum/mop underneath. Vacuum all rugs and carpets, and mop all hard floors. Schedule a carpet steaming if it’s needed.
- Starting at the top again, dust ceiling fans, clean light fixtures, and replace bulbs. Go ahead and take down any drapery/curtains/valances that can be washed. If they can’t be washed, use the vacuum brush attachment to vacuum.
- Clean blinds, and clean windows.
- Wash or replace pillows (these things should be washed every 3-6 months to keep dust mites out!) Wash bedding/blankets and either store and switch out for fall bedding, or replace once bedroom is all clean.
- While all the bedding is off, use baking soda + vacuum mattresses/spray with vinegar solution. This will disinfect and pull out any smells. If your mattress has a cover on it, strip it off as well and wash in hot water.
- Purge clutter and toys–toss any broken ones and donate what you can.
- Purge magazines and paper (this might be a good time to take note of magazines you never have time to read. Are they just sitting around unread? Unsubscribe!)
- Purge arts/crafts (usually for kids’ bedrooms)
- Purge/clean pet areas. Wash pet beds as well.
- Clean out clothes and closets. Purge items not used and donate. (Including clothes. Use this crazy useful guide!)
- Again starting at the top, clean all light fixtures and replace any bulbs necessary.
- Remove shower curtains and wash or replace. Ready for an easy alternative to the stinky (and dangerously fumy) PVC liners? Try this one! It’s antibacterial, waterproof, and fabric!
- Once the curtains are down, go ahead and purge and clear out all shampoos/soaps/body washes, etc. Once those are cleared out, clean the shower surround. (You know you never clean this thing!) This stuff is great for keeping up with this tedious job! And don’t forget to clean out all the mildew!
- Go ahead and fill a sandwich baggie with either vinegar or a mineral scale cleaner, wrap it around your shower head, and use a rubber band to secure it into place. This will clean out all the holes in the shower head.
- If you have a jetted tub, you absolutely need to clean that system out!
- While your cleaning rags are out, wipe down the light switches, doors, door knobs, and door frames. These areas accumulate grime like nobody’s business!
- Inventory towels/washcloths/hand towels and make a list of things you need to replenish.
- Purge/clean/organize under sink areas and medicine cabinets. Also the cabinet over the toilet if you have one. We try to make sure things like TP, washcloths, and towels are in easy reach for the kids. Make sure any place that has cleaners has childproof latches! These latches can be installed without even drilling!
- Do your regular deep cleaning (bathtub, toilet–including disinfecting the outside of the bowl, counters, sinks.)
- Throw rugs in the wash (or replace if needed.)
- Sweep (including behind the toilet–it gets dusty back there!) and mop.
- Take inventory and organize if necessary. I’ve begun labeling shelves to make things easier on everyone. I can’t remember everything always forever. I use this label maker. It makes it a thousand times easier to put all of each size sheet set on different shelves/areas so they don’t get mixed up. Nobody likes having to refold sheets because they were the wrong size.
- If your shelves tend to put off an old-lady stench like ours do, add in a deodorizer (even just a box of baking soda) or some herb sachets like these.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a full-on mudroom, I hate you. Just kidding. We don’t have one–our house (like so many, many others) has the garage door lead straight through the laundry room, which we friggin’ hate. My solution was to use the little closet that’s by the door (that HAS to open the wrong way, of course) as the mudroom ‘area’. I removed the bi-fold doors, painted some fun stripes on the back wall, and installed shelves. Sorry about the tangent.
- Firstly, purge the area. Take all shoes, coats, backpacks, bags, etc out and figure out what needs to be washed/cleaned before putting back into closets. Throw away everything you can.
- Clean light fixtures and replace any bulbs necessary.
- Reorganize landing stations. I found this awesome wooden tray that’s divided AND expandable to place sunglasses lens-side up + put any extra keys or mail that needs to be dealt with on the way in or out the door.
- Once everything is off shelves, dust everything, reorganize, and replace all keepers.
- Wipe down light switches, doors, door knobs, and door frames.
- Sweep and mop.
- Wash rugs.
- From the top, clean light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs. Dust ceiling fans.
- Take down and wash curtains.
- Clean blinds and windows.
- Get paperwork under control–here’s a great post on Conquering the Paper Monster if you need mega help with creating a system for staying on top of paperwork.
- File everything needed/toss/purge. If you don’t already have a time of year set to go through your paperwork and file what needs to be kept for 7 years, this is a great time to do it. Maybe do it twice a year to stay on top: spring and fall?
- Purge office supplies. Organize them all. I use this great system to organize my supplies and keep them in reach. It’s versatile, durable, + requires zero drilling! Score!!
- Top: Clean light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs. Clean windows and blinds.
- Empty cabinets and purge unneeded items. (Toss or donate.) Wipe out cabinets and replace items, organized. (Label-maker is helpful here.)
- Clean off top of washer and dryer. Wipe these down completely to get rid of dust and lint. (Including the cords and vents in the back.)
- Dust down/wipe the walls (you’d be shocked at how much dust + lint accumulates in this room!)
- Deep clean lint screen and slot (ours is so thin the only thing I can get into it is a wire clothes hanger that I bent to ‘hook’ blobs of lint.
- Schedule dryer vent cleaning. (Seriously–if it’s never been done or it’s been a while, this could be a fire hazard.)
- Run cleaner through the washer. Clean the gasket around the door–if you have a front-loader. These things get super gross and harbor mildew and smell.
- Deep clean the sink area.
- Wash rugs.
- Wipe all doors, door knobs, light switches, and door frames.
- Clean all light fixtures, replace necessary bulbs.
- Dust all pictures.
- Dust all shelves and knickknacks.
- Wipe doors, door frames, door knobs, light switches.
- Vacuum or sweep and mop.
- Spot clean rugs/carpet or schedule carpet steaming.
- A/C filters--check and change them
- Check all fridges and freezers for air seals--if you can pull a dollar bill through the seal when the door is closed, it’s time to get a new seal.
- Defrost freezers and clean if needed
- Wet clean all baseboards and corners of rooms on floor (vacuum edge of baseboards + behind doors; wet clean edge of baseboards on tile/wood floors and corners/behind doors.)
- Clean out. Purge using bucket system: Keep, Donate, or Toss.
- Organize. This is soooo hard, I know!! But do your best–using things like these peg boards, and awesome ideas like these on Pinterest will get you in the right direction!
- Once everything’s in its place, sweep the entire garage–it’s easier using a giant push broom like this one.
- Then either wash the floor out with a water hose and large squeegie, or even mop.
- Clean tools that are keepers with this stuff, or even just some linseed oil.
- Take stock and list what else needed
- Reorganize area
- Furniture (clean, purge.) Store it if it’s not needed for fall/winter.
- Toys–purge and toss or store or put up.
- Clean or wash outdoor cushions. Toss what’s damaged beyond repair, or have repairs made. Store or put back out for wonderful fall weather!
- If covered, clean fans and light fixtures. Replace necessary bulbs.
- Clean grill with a non-toxic cleaner (is nobody else concerned about putting your food on heated toxic cleaner??)
- Clean grilling tools and organize storage. Tools usually have a hole at the end to hang–we just keep ours outside on hooks similar to these so they’re ready for use after they get washed. If you don’t have anywhere to mount a bar like that, these magnetic hooks are perfect for mounting on the side of the grill.
- Shake out and replace any rugs necessary.
- Sweep off entire patio, or use the blower to get dirt and leaves off.
- Spray off patio or power wash. Or schedule a power washing if needed.
- Purge toys that are damaged and toss them, or repair inflatables that can be repaired with patching.
- Clean out storage area.
- Organize/store all pool toys. We use a giant storage bin like this one, and it’s awesome!!
- Make sure chemicals needed are in stock and out of reach of kids.
- Make list of chemicals needed.
- Clean skimmers.
- Schedule any pre-winter servicing.
- Power wash.
- Anything else POA requires.
- Schedule any other repairs necessary.
- Clean out or schedule cleaning.
- Inspect for damage (gutter and board behind for rot.)
- Schedule any repairs needed.
- Remove screens.
- Scrub and spray off screens.
- Wash outside and inside (if not done already) of windows.
- Replace screens once dry.
- Inspect lawn equipment.
- Repair or clean lawn equipment, or schedule repair.
- Schedule any fall services and pre-winter services.
How is your fall cleaning going? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!