Your Ultimate Fall Cleaning Checklist

While spring cleaning is often the trend after the new year, doing a bit of fall cleaning will make weathering the winter season ahead much easier. Since fall and winter are when we tend to spend more time indoors, it’s actually the perfect season to catch up on dusting, organizing, and all those other household chores you may have put off over the summer.

Clean Out Your Pantry

While you’ve been eating fresh veggies from farmers markets all summer, some of your canned goods may have expired. Throw out any expired cans and if you have a surplus of unexpired cans, consider donating to a local food bank if you need to make room. Now that you’ve cleared some space, you can stock up on the essential canned ingredients so you’ll be ready to whip up your favorite autumn slow-cooker recipes like chili and hearty vegetable soups.

Organize Your Outdoor Storage

Before it’s time to pull all those outdoor cushions and decor inside, get your storage area in order. Whether you have storage racks in your garage or a separate tool shed, take an inventory of what’s in there right now and consider what you might want to store there once cooler weather hits. Make sure your outdoor cushions and pillows are brushed off and cleaned before storing — this will help them keep their color and maintain their quality.

In the frenzy of summer landscaping projects or planting vegetable gardens, your yard tools might be in disarray. Now is the time to get everything reorganized and in order, then stored away properly so they can last you more than one season!

Test Your Smoke Detectors

When it’s cold outside and all the windows and doors are closed tight, we start using furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters – all bringing a higher risk of fire and dangerous buildup of smoke or chemicals inside. Though fun and festive, when you add holiday candles, extra lights, and decorations to the mix, you also compound the dangers.

Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are clean and functioning properly so they can alert you in time to protect you and your family. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. You should also replace the smoke detector itself after 10 years or sooner, depending on manufacturer instructions. Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available for as little as $25 or $30 – including an easy-to-install all-battery-powered device. You’ll find a handy review of the best smoke and carbon monoxide detectors from Spruce

Dust All Surfaces and Knickknacks

You’re about to spend more of your time indoors, so this is the perfect opportunity to do a deep clean and get rid of all that dust (and pollen!) that built up over the summer. When dusting, go from top to bottom. Start with your light fixtures and fan blades, then move on to your window blinds, which can be a common spot that builds up a lot of dust. Lastly, dust all your shelves and tabletop items. Once all the dusting is done, you’ll find that some debris has ended up on the floor, so finish up your dusting with a quick Swiffer or vacuum.

Tackle Leaves and Check Gutters

All those leaves that look so gorgeous in autumn aren’t nearly as attractive when they’re piled up in your yard or clogging the gutters. Stock up on extra leaf bags early in the fall season so you can easily clean them up when they start to fall. You can also save on bags by recycling a lot of the leaves by using them as free mulch or starting a compost pile.

While the weather is still pleasant, grab a ladder and (carefully!) take a look at your gutters to make sure they’re not filled with debris. Clogged gutters can lead to far more expensive maintenance issues like roof leaks, rotting wood, and even foundation damage. Yet cleaning gutters is no easy job and can be downright dangerous if you don’t have the right ladder or tools. If you’d rather let the professionals do it (and who could blame you), schedule a gutter cleaning to ensure they’re functioning properly when the rain arrives. Most roof and gutter cleaning companies offer a full service for fall, which includes a leaf cleanout right after the bulk of the leaves have fallen.

Fall in your area might just mean there’s a bit of a chill in the air, or it could mean the winter freeze is right around the corner. Either way, there’s plenty you can do to prepare. From indoor cleaning to exterior maintenance, doing a bit of work ahead of time will help you protect your home and get the most out of the busy holiday season.