Many people know about “spring cleaning”: that one time each year that everything gets cleaned. The idea of one big clean each year is overwhelming. In our house, fall and spring are times of transition marked with the change of wardrobes and (in the master bedroom) a change in bed linens. Both times of year are marked with a thorough cleaning-inside and out.
There are good reasons to consider a second “big clean” in the fall. For one, the holidays are coming; and even if you don’t entertain more frequently during the winter holidays, your life will be more chaotic with less time to devote to the regular cleaning that goes on. By doing a good cleaning before the winter, the potential buildup to clean in the spring is greatly reduced.
What about all the dirt that has accumulated through the summer? Summer is the time when most people are traveling or at least spending more time outside. They track all kinds of dirt into the house in the forms of actual ground dirt, grass clippings, seed pods and insects. Winter is a time of year where we are well contained and sealed into our homes with very little fresh air. It makes sense to be sure that we’re sealed into a clean vessel.
Inside, if you have forced air heating and cooling, now would be a good time to have the ducts cleaned. Clean the furnace filter or if you have a boiler, drain out the sediment. Same goes for the hot water heater. Call the chimney sweep to do maintenance if you think you might use the fireplace-even if you haven’t used it for 3 years. There could be a birds nest in there (you might have them install a shield at the top to prevent this, but it can still happen). If you have area rugs, have them taken out to be cleaned. Have an upholstery cleaning service come in and clean the furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting to remove trapped dirt and dust. They often do mattresses as well. If you have radiators, vacuum them (or at least dust them). And if you’re feeling ambitious, this is a really good time to wash your window treatments.
Aside from giving your interior a really good clean, you want to make sure you take care of your exterior as well. Taking care in the fall will make the spring far less of a burden-not just in cleaning, but in getting things moving. Fall cleaning is a good time to give your garden tools and machines a proper cleaning and sealing so they’re ready to go in the spring. Clean out your flower pots. Seal the driveway.
When you actually do your fall clean is up to you. I like to do mine just before Halloween when the weather in Nevada is cool enough to open all of my windows (and if you have school-aged children, the rush of back-to-school is over). And if I schedule it to be done then, I know that if something goes wrong and it always does! I still have time before Thanksgiving.