By Bob Sadowski, APR, Public Relations & Social Media Manager, ACCO Brands
We’re all familiar with Spring Cleaning, but equally important is Fall Cleaning. Just as you need to prepare your home, lawn and gardens for the spring and summer seasons, it’s critical that you do the same for fall and winter. Plus, with the latter seasons come the holidays, and we all want our homes—both inside and out—to look their best for guests.
Cleaning and preparation for cold weather should be incorporated on every homeowner’s calendar and planner. If you haven’t already done so, start blocking some time to get your homestead in shape. And to help you in determining what exactly needs to be done during your preparations, we’ve pulled together a couple lists that include tasks for both the interior and exterior of the home.
Outside the Home: Lawn, Gardens and Home Exteriors
- Prepare the lawn. There are several steps that should be taken in order to get your lawn ready for the cool weather and ensure that it’s lush and green again in the spring. These include:
- Mow one final time: The recommended length is 2-3 inches.
- Aerate: Everything, including the grass, can use some fresh air! Note, however, that this should only be done once a year, so skip this step if you aerated in the spring.
- Fertilize: Feed your lawn, and always be conscious that most fertilizers contain some form of chemical, so caution should be used.
- Weed: Get rid of those pesky weeds so they have less chance of growing back in the spring. This applies to flower beds and landscaped areas as well.
- Rake those leaves. Piles of wet leaves can suffocate and damage your lawn. Keep up on raking by scheduling set times to do so each week (or daily, if you have the time).
- Take care of your bulbs. If you have delicate flower bulbs, you should harvest and store them for the winter. On the other side of the coin, now is the time to plant your spring bulbs.
- Move the plants. Bring them indoors for the season, especially any plants that are from tropical regions.
- Drain the water. If you have bird baths, fountains, artificial ponds or other water-bearing devices, remove all the water and then clean and cover them. Drain and store water hoses as well.
- Take care of the tools. Service all lawn equipment and prep tools for winter storage. You can do the same with grills and bar-b-que pits.
- Tuck the furniture away. Wipe down and clean lawn furniture and either cover them or place them in a garage or shed. A neat trip we picked up for storing table umbrellas over the winter is to use two pairs of pantyhose to cover the umbrella from each end to keep off dirt and dust.
- Insulate yourself. Check window caulking, weather stripping around the doors and other areas of access to your home. This is also a great opportunity to clean the outsides of the windows and even provide touch-up paint to the exterior.
- Get up on the rooftop. Clean out your gutters and have your chimney inspected by a trained professional. If you venture up, be cautious while climbing ladders to avoid potential injury.
Inside the Home: Kitchens, Public Areas and Appliances
- Clean the carpet. Experts recommend that carpets be professionally cleaned every 6-18 months, depending on foot traffic. Fall is a great time to schedule a cleaning to ensure nice carpets for the holidays. Many professional cleaners will also clean your furniture, so be sure to consider that option.
- Dust-free window coverings. Remove curtains and drapes and give them a good washing—most can be laundered right in your home washing machine and dryer. Check the tags before doing so, as some may require dry cleaning. Also, dust off blinds or, for water-resistant materials, take them down and wash them with warm water and mild soap.
- Lights, chandeliers and wall hangings. As you prepare for holiday decorations and company, fall is the perfect time to clean these items. When possible, remove glass light covers and hand-wash. When dusting fixtures, always take caution when using a step ladder.
- Focus on “public” rooms. Since your time may be limited, clean areas of your home that are most likely to have visitors first—bedrooms and utility rooms can be moved to lower spots on your to-do list.
- Environmental preparation. Clean out humidifier filters or replace with new ones when possible. Have the furnace professionally inspected, and supply your home with furnace filters to last the entire fall and winter seasons.
- Kitchen clean-up. Clean and clear counters to maximize space for the busy holiday season. A rule of thumb to help keep counters clutter free: remove any appliances that have not been used in a week or longer.
- Cooking and food storage: Since there is typically a lot of indoor cooking in the cooler weather and when hosting parties, prepare your oven and range with a thorough cleaning. Take caution when using harsh chemicals to do this. Also, this is an opportune time to clean out refrigerators, freezers and pantries to make room for the onslaught of holiday goodies.
The fall is a perfect time to plan for clean-up in and around your home. Take some time today to schedule you and your family for Fall Cleaning. We encourage you to use the list of suggestions and tips provided here and to add any items that are particular to your home. Remember, a little work now will result not only in a house that is in tip-top shape for holiday guests and celebrations, but also a home that will be more prepared for next spring.
[photo by cammyclaudia]