Fall presents all kinds of challenges. First, it’s back-to-school, followed by extracurricular activities and sports (such as they are this year), which back right up to Halloween and the launch of the holidays. Handling it all can get messy, so why wait until spring to tidy up your home? Start now, and make fall the new spring when it comes to deep cleaning.
Storage space is key when it comes to organizing, so ensure that you have all the room you need by getting rid of unused or outgrown clothing, shoes and accessories. Don’t’ just concentrate on bedroom closets. Those front closets run the risk of being black holes when it comes to long-forgotten items.
To maximize space—and save time!—only store in-season items in your closets. Store out-of-season goods in labeled bins until the next season rolls around. For sweaters, scarves, jackets and boots, focus on vertical space to store these larger items. Cascading hangers, folding methods and drawer dividers are additional space savers.
Before holiday entertaining and cooking shifts into high gear, sort through the pantry, cleaning supplies, food storage containers and more. Toss out all expired foods, including spices, baking goods and canned or boxed goods. Label containers of pasta, cereal, snack foods and canned goods. Sort through food storage containers, making sure all lids and containers are accounted for.
Prepare for cold weather by neatly packing up patio furniture. Keep dry cushions in labeled bins and cover furniture frames. Clean the deck and weather-proof or add a fresh coat of stain before the snow flies. Clean out and organize the garage—after all, you’ll need space for all the labeled bins, outside furniture and your car(s) once winter arrives.
It never hurts to get ahead of the holiday stress. Begin sorting through your holiday decorations, clearing out overused or broken décor and move decorations to an accessible spot to avoid scrambling when decorating day arrives.
If guest rooms double as storage space, clear out any unnecessary items. Not only will this be a lifesaver the weekend before your guests arrive, but you’ll be able to focus on pressing matters, such as setting out fresh linens, dusting and vacuuming. After clearing the clutter, ensure that all light bulbs (and night lights!) are in working order, make sure bathroom supplies (i.e. toilet paper) are easy to find and in good supply.
Make it Quick
To steam clean your microwave, fill a microwave-safe bowl with a cup of water, two tablespoons white vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (or squeeze juice from lemon, lime or orange slices). Heat in the microwave (on high power) for five minutes, and let it sit for an additional five minutes before wiping the inside clean.
To clean your windows, wait for a cloudy day. (If it’s sunny, the solution will dry too quickly, leaving streaks.) First, remove dirt and dust with a duster or vacuum. Don’t hold back on cleaning solution. Spray generously and use a microfiber cloth to dry windowpanes. (For a DIY glass cleaner, combine two cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle.)
To clean tile grout, mix 3/4 cup chlorine bleach with a gallon of water. Wearing rubber gloves, use a stiff brush to apply the solution. Let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Be careful to not splatter the liquid on yourself or surrounding surfaces. For a less powerful, bleach-free cleaner, combine equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste. Apply to the grout, let it sit for several minutes, scrub and rinse.