First, allow me to manage your expectations: This is not a comprehensive fall deep-cleaning cleaning checklist. There’s nothing complete or ultimate about it (because frankly those lists give us anxiety).
This is a list for those among us (me) who realize their home needs some care as we head into the cooler months, but don’t have the patience or time to deep clean every crevice (also me). So, we’ll be skipping over suggestions like completing an outdoor home inspection, vacuuming all the window treatments, scrubbing the bathroom grout, and dusting your plants.
That said, there are some top-line items that should be tended to before the mercury drops. Above and beyond any regular cleaning you do on a weekly or monthly basis, here’s a practical, not-too-overwhelming fall cleaning checklist.
What to clean and organize this fall
Store summer clothes and switch to your cold weather wardrobe: This one’s obvious, but the piece that we often forget is to actually inspect those sweaters for holes, stains, and stinks before we need to wear them, and do the necessary mending and cleaning.
Vacuum, flip, and deodorize mattresses: For their nastiness is truly beyond the pale.
Wash mattress covers and switch to seasonal bedding: It’s flannel sheets, velvet throw pillow, and cozy fleece season. Resurrect the heavier bedding you’ve been storing and enjoy “re-decorating.” (But wash your mattress cover first.)
Examine your pantry: Toss expired items and stock up on some of the most common fall cooking and baking staples: canned pumpkin, broths, beans, nuts, and oats, to name a few.
Switch out toothbrushes: It’s time. Also, bath mats. If it’s been a while since they’ve visited the laundry room, round them up and give them a tumble.
Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Fireplace and space heater season is coming. Make sure your detectors are ready.
Replace HVAC filters: We haven’t turned the heat on yet, but we know the day is coming soon. Clean and/or replace your HVAC filters to keep heating bills down and make sure the air circulating in your home is free from as many dust particles and allergens as possible.
Dust ceiling fans, and change their spin direction: In summer, the blades should turn counter clockwise to push air down. In cooler months, according to Bob Vila, setting the blades to turn clockwise on low speed “pulls cold air up to the ceiling and more evenly distributes the warmth the room receives from your central heating system.”
Clean and store outdoor furniture and equipment: This includes chairs, tables, cushions, umbrellas, outdoor toys, (drained) garden hoses, and gardening tools. For things that can’t be moved, like a BBQ grill or heavy table, use fitted storage covers or tarps secured with bungee cords, zip ties, or rope.
Clean gutters and downspouts: While some gutter experts say to clean your gutters and downspouts in early fall and some say to do it later (after all the leaves have fallen), the bottom line is: Do it in fall. Here’s how.
Sweep chimney and fireplaces: The National Fire Protection Association recommends chimneys be cleaned and inspected at least once a year to ward against creosote buildup and prevent home fires.
Clean major appliances: Your washing machine, dishwasher, and oven could use a little love—and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Many ovens have a self-cleaning feature, if not, you can make your own baking soda cleaning paste and let it sit overnight. Sanitize your washing machine with vinegar and wipe the gunk out of your dishwasher drain to keep those plates sparkling.
Vacuum on X Games mode: If you feel like going the extra mile, consider vacuuming upholstered couches and chairs, under furniture, outside vent covers, inside your dryer lint trap, and behind major appliances. (But also feel free to pour yourself a glass of vino. You’ve been working hard.)
File under: ‘Nice to haves’
We don’t want to ruin your weekend by suggesting you spend all of it cleaning. You’re definitely not being graded on this, but if you’ve got any energy left, here are a couple other recommended, and sometimes forgotten, places to clean. And a little refrigerator and garage clean-up motivation, if you’re into that kind of thing. But if you’d rather go apple picking, we’re here for it.