Fall is the perfect season to get your home clean and cozy for winter and the holiday season and complete household chores that may have been neglected during summer vacations. The heat of summer has passed, and the weather is still mild enough to be outdoors to make sure everything is ready for cold weather. If you follow a checklist for spring cleaning, it’s time to repeat many of the same tasks. This time, you should start with the outdoor tasks and then move indoors as the weather becomes colder. By doing some extra work now, you’ll be ready to enjoy a snug winter without as many worries. See the list of areas and items in your home you should clean, repair, or inspect (or all three!) during fall below, and read on for expert tips for tackling each item on your fall cleaning checklist

1. Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture

While residents of some regions can enjoy outdoor living spaces year-round, many cannot. As the season changes, pick a dry, sunny day to give outdoor furniture a good cleaning to prepare it for storage. It is particularly important to treat stains at this time, because allowing them to remain on upholstery or outdoor umbrella fabric for several months will make the task extremely difficult later. If you do not have space to move furniture into a storage area, protect it with custom covers or weatherproof tarps secured with bungee cords. Place a tarp under metal furniture and accessories to help prevent rust stains on the patio floor.

2. Service and Store Gardening Equipment

Just as your garden goes dormant during winter months, so does your lawn and garden equipment. Now is the time to give each tool a good cleaning and make any needed repairs. Lawnmowers and any gas-powered equipment should be winterized properly so they will be in top shape when the first hint of spring arrives.

3. Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Autumn leaves are beautiful—until they clog gutters and downspouts. In addition to looking messy, gutters filled with leaves and pine straw can cause moisture and mildew problems on soffits, resulting in rotting wood and roof leaks. You may need to clean the gutters out several times during the fall as leaves continue to fall. Always be sure to use good safety practices and a very sturdy ladder.

4. Winterize Outdoor Pools and Water Features

If you have an outdoor pool, spa, or water features that is not heated, drain the water or use a cover. Take the time to winterize exposed pipes and faucets to avoid costly repairs.

5. Remove Window Screens and Install Storm Windows

Many homes still have storm windows and doors that should be installed to help insulate and make homes more energy-efficient during cold weather. As screens and window air conditioners are removed after the summer, give them a good cleaning and make any needed repairs.

6. Wash Exterior and Indoor Windows

While you’re winterizing windows, multi-task: This is the perfect time to wash the glass. Start with the outside of the windows. Even if you need to rinse them off again after all of the gutter cleaning is done, you’ll be glad you have them cleaned during the long winter days. As you move inside to clean windows, freshen up the window treatments as well. Some fabrics can be tossed in the washer, but most drapery requires dry cleaning. This is the perfect time to dust and clean blinds and shades and wipe down window sills.

7. Complete an Outdoor Home Inspection

Before the weather turns cold, take the time to walk around the outside of your home and make a note of areas that need to be winterized. If you don’t know much about home repairs, hire a professional inspector to help you.

  1. Inspect the roof for any cracking or loose shingles after the heat of summer. Make repairs before winter snow, wind, and rain cause leaks.
  2. Do some pest control to prevent mice and other rodents and insects from seeking shelter inside your home.
  3. Inspect the foundation of your home to look for cracks and make those repairs.
  4. Check windows and doors for any broken seals and replace damaged caulk for more energy efficiency.
  5. Schedule a maintenance check-up for your heating system.

8. Sweep and Inspect Chimneys and Fireplaces

A chimney should be cleaned and inspected yearly. A chimney sweep will help protect your home from accidental fires caused by creosote build-up. If you didn’t give your interior fireplace surround a good cleaning at the end of last winter, do it now. Waiting another season will just add to the build-up of soot and make cleaning even more difficult. Gas logs and fireplaces should also be inspected and cleaned so that they are safe and ready for use.

9. Change Smoke Detector Batteries

A change of seasons also signals a time to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This is one essential chore that can help protect everyone in your household.

10. Clean or Replace HVAC Filters

In addition to having an HVAC technician check your heating system, it is important to regularly change the filters in your heating and air conditioning system. Changing or cleaning filters will improve the air quality of your home and reduce the wear and tear on your furnace.

11. Clean and Reverse Ceiling Fans

If the ceiling fans in your home have been running all summer, it’s time to turn them off and clean the fan. Then, look for the small switch on the fan body that reverses the blades so that the heated air will be redirected in a downward flow to keep you warmer during chilly days.

12. Deep-Clean Inside the House

If you’ve taken it easy during the summer and only gotten rid of the most visible grime, it’s time to do a deeper cleaning, especially in those places that you have been forgetting to clean, including your cleaning tools. As you move through the rooms in your home, follow our list to make sure everything gets the attention it needs.

In the Bedroom:

  • Vacuum under the bed and all furniture.
  • Wash or freshen heavier winter bedding.
  • Vacuum and flip mattress.
  • Clean carpets and rugs.

In the Bathroom:

  • Treat any mold or mildew in the shower stall.
  • Clean out bathroom cabinets and properly discard out-of-date products.
  • Wash shower curtains and bathmats.
  • Clean all fixtures including switch plates and doorknobs.
  • Replace toothbrushes.

In the Living Room:

  • Vacuum all upholstered furniture, including under the cushions.
  • Clean all keyboards, remotes, and electronic devices.
  • Dust baseboards, tops of furniture, and books.
  • Clean walls and remove scuff marks.
  • Clean wood floors, wool rugs, and carpet.

In the Kitchen:

  • Empty and clean the pantry. Make a list of holiday baking supplies that you will need, particularly if you have to toss expired essentials that you’ll need again come the holidays.
  • Clean the oven and vent hood.
  • Clean the refrigerator and freezer and discard unusable items. Dust and clean the refrigerator coils.
  • Inspect and clean small appliances.

13. Store Summer Clothes and Inspect Winter Wardrobes

While you’re cleaning, don’t forget your closet and summer clothes. Empty each clothes closet and sort summer clothes before storing them away. Choose clothes that you want to store until next year to be laundered or dry cleaned. The rest should be sold, donated, or discarded. 

While the closet is empty, check that no pests that can ruin clothes are lurking inside by vacuuming it out well.

By Mary Marlow Leverette for The Spruce

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