With cooler yet still mild temperatures, fall is the perfect time to get your home cozy and organized for winter and the holiday season. This may mean catching up on projects that got dropped in the wake of summer vacations and other warm-weather activities. Use our fall organizing checklist to help you get it all done.
Fall Organizing Outdoors:
This may not be on your personal checklist, but taking care of things outside is just as important as organizing the inside of your home.
Gardening and Lawn Equipment
Winterize mowers and other motor-driven equipment. Clean and properly store tools.
Clean outdoor furniture and ensure it’s properly stored to protect it from the elements.
Irrigation Systems, Outdoor Faucets, and Water Features
When water freezes, it expands, causing burst pipes, faucets, and hoses if left unattended. If you’re fortunate enough to have an irrigation system, you must winterize it in colder climates. We recommend calling a professional to perform this task annually, as errors can be costly. Before the first freeze, disconnect and drain the hoses from outdoor faucets. Store the hoses inside the garage, basement, or shed. Use a faucet cover as an extra layer of protection for outdoor faucets. If you have a birdbath and plan to leave it out all winter, ensure a heating element is properly installed and safely connected to a power source.
Gutters and Downspouts
Leaves, pine needles, and other debris get caught in gutters, clogging them. This can help lead to ice dams and water backups in the winter, which may damage your home. If you feel confident doing this yourself, use a good ladder and be careful. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Consider the position of any electrical lines, and avoid placing your ladder on damp or soft ground. If your gutters are higher than you are comfortable climbing on a ladder, you should call a professional.
Replace Screens with Storm Windows and Doors
Removing screens and adding storm windows make your home more energy-efficient. It’s also a great time to clean and repair screens. If you’ve got older windows, use this opportunity to install shrink-to-fit plastic wrap for another layer of energy efficiency.
Since you’re there anyway, this is a great time to wash the inside and outside of your windows. They may not look it, but they’re probably dirtier than you realize.
This window cleaning recipe works great on windows too.
Inspect the Exterior of Your Home
Look for areas that may allow cold air in. Inspect your foundation for cracks and caulk around the places where the concrete meets siding, where pipes and wires enter the home, and around windows and door frames. One of the least costly maintenance tasks is caulking and sealing holes.
Need more help organizing home projects? Check out Homezada.
Fall Organizing Inside
Now that the outside of your home is ready, it’s time to organize and get the inside of your house ready for fall.
Inspecting smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors should always be on your fall to-do list. “Every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning.” (cdc.gov) Since you’re less likely to open windows and have adequate ventilation in your home during the fall and winter, you need to take precautions. Batteries should be replaced every year, and smoke detectors themselves should be replaced at least every ten years. CO detectors should be replaced every five to seven years.
Sweep and Inspect Chimneys
Soot and creosote buildup can cause a house fire. To prevent this, your chimney should be cleaned and inspected yearly. Don’t do this yourself. Please bring in a pro who knows what they’re looking for. If you’ve got a gas fireplace, it should be inspected as well.
Take the time now to clean the blades and reverse their direction. In the winter, ceiling fans should rotate clockwise at a low speed. This generates an updraft that circulates heated air back around the room and is especially effective in vaulted-ceiling areas.
Clean and replace filters so your system is ready for the colder temps. Depending on your system’s age, you may also want to have it professionally inspected to be sure it will run all winter long without an issue.
Each year, 2,900 dryer fires occur, resulting in an estimated five fatalities, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. More dryer fires happen in the fall and winter, with the peak occurring in January. So, dryers should be cleaned at least once a year, and it’s an easy DIY project with a dryer duct cleaning kit.
Much like spring cleaning, fall cleaning addresses those places you don’t usually do.
Empty and clean both your pantry and fridge. Don’t forget the refrigerator coils! While everything is out, discard any items you can no longer use.
Take this opportunity to make a list of what you need for holiday baking and entertaining.
Clean the oven and vent hood, including replacing the vent filter if there is one.
Wash kitchen cabinets down with mild detergent or degreaser if needed. Oil wood cabinets making sure to remove any excess oil and buff with a clean cloth.
Wipe your dishwasher door and gasket to remove any mold. We use Tang (yes, the powdered drink mix) as it removes hard water stains, soap scum, and dishwashing detergent residue. The powdered drink’s citric acid removes mineral deposits and dirt. Tang is cheap, accessible, and non-toxic.
Thoroughly clean the toaster, microwave (we love this microwave cleaner), and other small appliances.
Deep clean your kitchen floor. The floors you have will determine the process and steps you need to take, but please follow the manufactures directions and not the information you see on social media, as they are expensive, wasteful, time-consuming, and hazardous. It will also damage the flooring.
Vacuum upholstered furniture, including under the cushions.
Clean floors, including under furniture.
Dust baseboards, shelves, and walls, and remove scuff marks from walls.
Clean electronic devices, keyboards, and TV.
Shake rugs and throw pillows outside, and put the latter in the dryer on low to remove any excess dust.
Properly remove mold or mildew: Wash the shower curtain and liner, bathmats, and window treatments.
Replace toothbrushes and soak makeup brushes.
Clean out cabinets and safely discard any expired items.
Clean and disinfect the toilet, shower/tub, and sinks.
Wash walls and baseboards with a mild cleaner.
Hand wash the bathroom floor using the proper tools, such as an old toothbrush for removing stuck-on “gunk,” such as hairspray and other products often used in the bathroom
Clean carpets and rugs, including under the bed and other furniture.
Vacuum and flip your mattress (assuming it can be).
Put away summer bedding and bring out winter bedding from storage.
Wash blankets and other winter bedding. Wash or buy new bed pillows.
Store summer clothes and bring your cooler weather items out.
Wash any items you plan to store and donate any clothing items you no longer wear.
While it’s empty, vacuum your closet and inspect for moths or other pests that may ruin your clothes.
Is there an area of your home you’d like to organize for fall but are unsure where to start? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to help!