Fall Cleaning Checklist

Window being cleaned from inside.

So you were too busy to get around to spring cleaning, that annual thorough house cleaning rite of home purification, now summer has come and gone. 

Expecting a shame-on-you from neatniks and good housekeepers everywhere? You're in for a pleasant surprise. Fall is a great time to deep clean your home.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out it's a lot healthier to be doing the every-nook-and-corner home cleaning now, before we close up our windows and doors to the chilly days ahead.

A Thorough House Cleaning: Spring vs. Fall

Spring cleaning, after all, is a custom left over from the coal-burning days when homes were covered in soot after a winter's worth of heating. Fall cleaning still makes sense for today's homes and busy lifestyles. This fall cleaning checklist can help get the ball rolling.

Our homes' biggest cleaning challenges today are the blown-in allergens and dirt of spring, summer, and early fall that soon won't have an exit. And, with the busy holiday entertaining season just around the corner, you'll save time by making your home presentable now. 

This fall cleaning checklist differs slightly from the spring variety; the focus is more on dust and cobweb control, lighting fixtures, and polishing silver. 

Fall Cleaning Checklist for Windows

For all those sparkling holiday nights ahead, you'll want to make sure your home's mirrors and glass are smudge, dirt, and streak-free.

These cleaning tricks for windows can help. You'll need the following supplies:

  • a squeegee;
  • a clean, lint-free rag;
  • a glass cleaner (try 1/4 cup vinegar in 3 3/4 cups of water in a spray bottle for an inexpensive yet effective alternative to the store-bought variety).

Spray the glass cleaner lightly on the rag, and wash the surface, using horizontal strokes to prevent dripping, squeegee dry. For extra sparkle, polish the surface when it's nearly dry with a piece of newspaper.

Wash Floors of a Season's Worth of Buildup

With guests coming in a few weeks for the big Thanksgiving feast or holiday hors d'oeuvres, it's time to take a good look at your floors - and then wash the floors of a season's worth of buildup.  This is an essential item to include on your fall cleaning checklist.

Whether yours are wood, tile, marble, linoleum or slate, they should get an annual cleaning and refinishing to remove a year's worth of family living from the surface.

Cleaning and refinishing protect the surface from dirt that could be ground in, marring it. 

One of the signs that your finish is wearing off is that you're beginning to see a little gray dullness in high-traffic areas. A good waxing may save the finish. Read more about cleaning floors of various surface types here.

Fall Cleaning Checklist for Carpets and Couches

Carpet and upholstery that has absorbed a summer's worth of dirt, body oil and germs need a deep cleaning to get ready for another year of wear - and for that close inspection by your holiday guests. Put this task near the top of the fall cleaning checklist.

When shampooing carpets or cleaning upholstery yourself with a rented carpet cleaner, practice first in an inconspicuous area to make sure that you have the knack of using the machine and that the treatment won't discolor fabrics or cause dyes to run.

You'll also want to check the tags on upholstery furniture to find out which treatment is recommended for the fabric. Read upholstery cleaning codes deciphered to help you understand which cleaning method to use.

Save time by moving furniture only slightly, not out of the room or against the wall, and place the legs of each piece back on top of small waxed paper squares after shampooing.

The waxed paper will protect your carpet and keep the furniture legs from getting wet as the carpet dries. Open the window to speed the drying process, which can take a day or more.

If you're not the furniture-shifting and machine-renting type, call a carpet and upholstery cleaning service and take the morning off. Keep in mind the companies offering carpet cleaning vary almost as much as the methods they employ.

To make sure you're getting a fair price and that the carpet and upholstery cleaning service is both insured and reputable, read these tips for hiring a carpet cleaning service.

Fall Cleaning Checklist for Ceiling and Light Fixtures

Woman cleaning chandelier.

Cobwebs, be gone! With holiday decorations soon to drape the banister, cascade from the ceiling and waft down walls, these areas and light fixtures are front-and-center showpieces for your fall-clean home.

As part of your fall cleaning checklist, remove dust, dirt, and cobwebs from ceiling fans, heating vents, and grooves of the railing to the baseboards with a cleaning cloth or a slightly damp cloth (to trap and hold dust and dirt) and a vacuum cleaner (use the soft nozzle attachment).

Lighting fixtures on your fall cleaning checklist require a bit more work. To give new light to your life and your light fixtures, you'll need:

  • a stepladder
  • a sponge
  • and a polish cloth or rag.

As you gently clean the glass and area around the fixtures, check carefully for frayed cords, cracks or other signs of deterioration, and replace them or have them repaired now.

If your home has skylights or tall ceilings, consider investing in a stepladder and extended-reach dust and dirt removal tools.

Fall Cleaning Checklist for Silver and Silver-Plate

For sparkling silver and silver-plate, you'll need silver polish - a commercial brand or ordinary white toothpaste will work. Put a bit of the polish on a damp cloth or clean cotton sock; socks make ideal polishing cloths.

Apply polish with one side; then turn the sock her and buff with the other side. Use up-and-down rather than circular strokes to polish the item quickly and effectively in less time.

Use a twisted bit of rag to get into tight places, such as between silverware tines. Finish the job with a few strokes, using a clean, dry cloth or the clean side of the sock.

Store silver behind glass, in cloth or plastic bags, or plastic wrap to keep tarnish to a minimum. Resist the urge to bundle your silver in rubber bands. Rubber can cause discoloration.

Vacuum Voraciously

Your cleaning isn't complete until you've vacuumed voraciously to get rid of any trace of spring and summer allergens and your basic garden-variety dirt.

There is more to vacuuming than plugging in the machine and giving your area rug or carpet a once-over.

To suck up all the dirt and dust hidden between the fibers, you need to spend about 20 seconds or so going back and forth over each area of the rug or carpet.

Don't waste precious time dragging every stick of furniture up against the wall before you start vacuuming.

Instead, move big items a little to the left or right, and vacuum the area previously occupied by the furniture. Then put it back. 

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