Fall Cleaning 101: The Spic-and-Span Basics of Making Your Home Sparkle

by Mikey Rox on 2 October 2012 4 comments
Photo: xdxd_vs_xdxd

Chances are you engage in a comprehensive spring cleaning, but what about a deep clean in the fall? Surely your home could use a thorough once over more than once a year. (See also: How to Clean Your House in One Day)

The steps for fall cleaning aren’t much different than what you do in the spring, but there are a few areas that require extra attention as the colder months draw near.

To help you cover all the bases as you prepare your home for a cozy, clean hibernation, I’ve created a room-by-room list to ensure that every nook and cranny is cleaned. These actionable items are what I do during my own spring and fall cleans based on the space and things I have. It goes without saying that your home may be different than mine, so add steps — like washing drapes, for instance — as you see fit. Also, feel free to print out this post to use it as a checklist as you clean. You’ll feel much more accomplished when you can see on paper how much you did.

Time to get started. Good luck!

Living Room

  • Dust furniture using a soft cloth or feather duster. Move TV, cable box, TiVo, and other electronic devices to do an all-around dusting of each.
     
  • Remove and wash pillow cases and seat covers if they’re removable.
     
  • Take off the couch cushions and vacuum up all the crud that has deposited underneath them. Put the loose change in your pocket.
     
  • Move furniture to vacuum under and behind it. There’s more dust, dirt, and long-lost items that you can’t see.
     
  • Reorganize cabinets. If you have an entertainment center, organize your media, wrap up cords, and neatly align other items.
     
  • Toss out any unwanted media by donating it to charity or listing it on eBay or Amazon to earn a little extra cash.
     
  • Wash knickknacks. Those small decorative items collect dust, too. If they’re sturdy and can handle water, place them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, wash and dry by hand.
     
  • Dust shelves with a soft cloth or feather duster followed by a wipe with a glass or wood cleaner, depending on what kind of shelves you have.
     
  • Organize cords by wrapping and binding with ties or rubber bands.

Kitchen

  • Clean and sanitize dishwasher. First, remove any large pieces of debris that may be clogging the drain, then clean and sanitize the dishwasher.
     
  • Wash cabinets inside and out using warm water and soap. Dust and grease can build up without you noticing, so you may need to put a little extra effort into it.
     
  • Organize drawers and cabinets. Go through your “junk drawer” and discard anything you don’t need. Throw out dishes and silverware you don’t want. Toss broken utensils.
     
  • Clean oven inside and out by giving it a thorough clean on the inside (much easier if it’s a self-cleaning oven) and removing each component of the range top so you can wash them individually.
     
  • Clean the microwave.
     
  • Defrost the fridge and freezer by removing all the food (toss anything that’s expired or about to expire if you don’t plan to eat it soon) and using a hair dryer to melt the ice. Lay down a few towels and chip away at the ice to speed up the process.
     
  • Clean the fridge and freezer by taking out all removable components of the appliance and washing them either in the dishwasher or sink and washing the inside of the appliance with a disinfectant.
     
  • Refill/replace cooking essentials. If you notice you’re low on herbs and spices, oils, sugar, or flour, now is the time to replace and refill these items.
     
  • Wash appliances. Like your cabinets, your appliances will likely have a dusting greasy film on them if they haven’t been washed in a while. Carefully wash each one according to the instructions or the laws of common sense.
     
  • Restock cleaning supplies. Replace or refill cleansers, detergents, and sponges if you notice your stock is low.

Pantry

  • Remove all food items and toss anything expired or that’s about to expire if you don’t plan to eat it soon.
     
  • Clean the shelves to remove any residue from spills or loose food.
     
  • Reorganize the pantry by categorizing the foods. For instance, put all the pastas in one section and sauces in another nearby section. Put the foods with the closest expiration date up front so you can consume those items first.
     
  • Sweep the pantry floor to remove any food particles in order to keep away pests. 

Bathrooms

  • Clean the medicine cabinet by removing all items in the cabinet and cleaning the shelves with a glass or wood cleaner.
     
  • Toss out any expired meds or health/beauty products.
     
  • Scrub the tub and/or shower with a hard-bristled brush to remove built-up dirt, grime, and soap scum. Be sure to attack the tub base and the walls.
     
  • Clean toilet inside and out. Don’t forget to clean the under-area of the toilet, which includes the front, sides, and back. Even though nobody can see those areas, they still need to be cleaned.
     
  • Reorganize drawers by tossing out anything you don’t need or want and putting the things you do want in an accessible order.
     
  • Replenish supplies. Restock your bathroom with toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, etc.
     
  • Toss rugs and hand towels in the washing machine.
     
  • Clean the showerhead with vinegar.
     
  • Wash or replace your shower curtain and liner. Both of mine are cloth and washable, so it’s easy to stick them in the washing machine instead of having to buy new ones when they get grimy.

Bedrooms

  • Move furniture to clean underneath and behind. Dust and other random items like to hide where you can't see them.
     
  • Wash bed linens. Remove the sheets and pillowcases and toss them in the washing machine.
     
  • Flip mattress. This step will increase the life of your mattress by not wearing out one side before the other.
     
  • Bag any unwanted clothing. Go through your closet and get rid of anything you don’t want to wear anymore or anything that doesn’t fit, which includes shoes and accessories, too. Offer these hand-me-downs to a friend or donate them to charity.
     
  • Organize closets. When you’ve successfully bagged all unwanted apparel and cleaned the closet, reorganize the space so it’s more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. 

Office

  • Organize files. Go through your filing cabinet and toss out old, unneeded files while reorganizing the files that you do need.
     
  • Toss out any unneeded paperwork that has accumulated, including bills and other mail.
     
  • Refill supplies. Take note of what you need and restock those items.
     
  • Clean your computer using a cleanser made especially for computer screens and soft cloth.
     
  • Clean your desk by removing all items, dusting and/or washing those items, and cleaning the surface and underneath the desk.
     
  • Organize cords neatly by binding them with ties or rubber bands. 

Whole House

  • Change burnt-out light bulbs. Go through your entire home to see which lights work and which don’t. Replace the non-working lights with energy-efficient lights that will last longer and save you more money.
     
  • Dust fans. If your fans are spinning most of the time, you won’t notice the dust that has built up on the blades, but it’s there. Turn off the fan and wipe the blade and motor clean.
     
  • Wash walls. You don’t have to do this from top to bottom, but rather take a sponge around the house, inspect the walls, and spot clean any areas that have attracted dirt.
     
  • Mop floors.
     
  • Scrub tiles using a hard-bristled brush and a powerful cleaning agent. Make sure you get down into the grout to remove the grime.
     
  • Steam clean carpets and wash area rugs. For the former, you may need to rent a device if your carpet need a deep clean.
     
  • Clean window treatments, including hand-washing blinds and laundering curtains.
     
  • Wash windows on both sides with a glass cleaner.
     
  • Clean windowsills to remove dust, dirt, and small bugs that may have accumulated.
     
  • Dust/clean artwork using a feather duster or soft cloth. Clean the front and side of artwork, and use a gentle glass cleaner to clean any framed pieces.
     
  • Clean and wrap air conditioners. First, clean the filters then wrap the portion of the unit that hangs out the window with an insulating wrap so the cold air can’t creep in when the temps take a dive.
     
  • Take out the trash. You should have plenty by now. Toss out the bags and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

 

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Guest's picture
Purchase Wisely

Great list, Mikey! Don't forget to take any hazardous waste items to the recycling center rather than just throwing them in the trash. Here in California that includes used batteries whether rechargeable or single-use, CFL bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, paint, insecticides, computer monitors, used oil and filters and anything with electronic components inside.

Guest's picture

This list seems like it would take a couple of weekends time to get through, but would definitely be worth it. There's not much better of a feeling than knowing every nook and cranny of you home has thoroughly been cleaned. Its like getting into a bed of right-out-of-the-dryer sheets; it just makes you feel good. Thanks for the thorough description!

Mikey Rox's picture

You can def do it in one day, Kelly. You just have to commit yourself, get up early, have a hearty breakfast, turn off your phone, and get in the zone. You'll be done by 8 p.m., I promise. Depending on how big your home is, of course. I just have a two-bed condo, so it's all relative. When you're done, sit back and relax with a bottle (yes, an entire bottle) of wine and your favorite take-out. You deserve it. :)

Guest's picture
Pete

My home definitely needs a fall cleaning. I've greatly reduced the amount of time I spend cleaning by replacing a few items that were dust traps. Replacing picture frames with intricate designs saved me a boatload of time.

Things that look cool, unfortunately, often are the hardest to clean. I'm a neat freak by nature and I absolutely hate dust - so the things that collect dust had to go!