Spring is like the headlining act of the cleaning world: Everyone pays a lot more attention to Katy Perry than to the local band filling in as opening act. But in reality, fall deserves equal billing: The entry into the cooler season—and the start of another academic year—offers another ideal opportunity to purge items you no longer need, organize the ones you keep and to prepare for the coming holiday season and winter. Read on for a few fall cleaning tips to help make this your best autumn yet.
Once Labor Day weekend has come and gone, it’s time to stow away your bathing suits and sundresses and pull out all those wool sweaters, jackets and other cold-weather clothing items. Seize the opportunity to make some tax-deductible clothing donations to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army; after all, if you didn’t wear an item within the last wear, you’ll probably never wear it again.
Take overcoats and pullovers to the dry cleaner to get them ready for the coming season; and toss your scarves, gloves and hats in the washing machine for their dose of soap and water. You’ll kill any germs that may have lain dormant since last winter, and you’ll also get rid of wrinkles and creases resulting from items being crumpled in storage bins all summer.
Cold-weather footwear takes up a lot more space than sandals and flip-flops, so it makes sense to get rid of any pairs that are worn out or have gone out of style. Once you’ve purged the excess pairs, take a little time to organize your remaining shoes; tall boots should stand up rather than folding over, so stick a rolled-up magazine inside the shaft to keep them upright.
Beyond the closet, give your windows and window treatments a good cleaning. Vacuum or dust your curtains to remove any dirt that’s accumulated over the summer. Use wadded-up newspaper and vinegar to get the glass gleaming; doing so will make sure your windows are prepped for holiday decorations. When the time comes, you want to make sure your neighbors can see your carefully decorated real or artificial Christmas tree and all your beautiful ornaments.
Speaking of ornaments, early fall is the best time of year to sift through your seasonal décor to sort out what to keep and what to throw away. You have plenty of time on your hands right now and aren’t yet frazzled by the stresses of the holiday season. Plus, you’re likely to find great deals on last year’s holiday merchandise right now if you should decide to update your stock.
The fall is also a great time for a semi-annual check of the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you replace the batteries, note the date somewhere you won’t lose it—on your phone, perhaps, or in a document saved on your computer—so you can remember for next time.
The joys of a good fall cleaning are not unlike those of discovering a cool indie band when you show up early for that Katy Perry concert. So roll up your sleeves, pull out the vacuum and enjoy the musical stylings of cleaning in the fall: Your cleaner house—and broader horizons—will thank you.