David T. Price
The term "Spring Cleaning" has become somewhat of a deep cleaning cliché. And it is rightfully named since most deep cleaning is tackled in the spring. However, there is an important Fall counterpart to cleaning that is often overlooked.
Fall cleaning involves more than just tidying up around the house. There are important home maintenance tasks that should happen every Fall to ensure the continued safety and health of your family.
Autumn is the kick-off to the holiday season with its accompanying social gatherings. So, you may want to begin with a focus on the more public rooms: entry, living room, family room, and guest bath. Beginning in the entry, clean and organize the coat closet to make sure your guests have somewhere to put their things. Purging your home of clutter (in closets and elsewhere) will make it a more comfortable place to visit and to live.
Experts recommend cleaning from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Wash your windows inside and out and wipe off the window sills. Vacuum or wipe down baseboards. Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have it professionally cleaned if needed. Move the furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
Schedule professional carpet cleaning early! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying, and carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for the best service.
Prepare your kitchen for holiday cooking by cleaning and organizing the kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment. Clear kitchen counters of any appliances you haven't used within the last week. Clear counters will look cleaner and provide more room for holiday cooking.
Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now to avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags. Check and empty the central vacuum's collection area. Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly to get the most efficient operation (consult manual for specific product recommendations). Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
Inspect clothes washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits and replace them every other year.
Check the clothes dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds' nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
Schedule fall furnace inspections now—don't wait for the first cold night! Buy a winter's supply of furnace filters and change them monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. With the right filter on hand, it's an easy job! Drain sediment from hot water heaters.
Now that your home is clean and organized on the inside, it's time to move outside. Take advantage of the last days of the nice weather to finish up those outside chores. Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, and children's summer toys. Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
Check the caulking around your windows and doors. Follow manufacturer's recommendations to re-caulk if needed. Inspect exterior doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping and/or door thresholds if needed. Making sure the doors and windows are tight will make heating your home this winter easier and less expensive.
To winterize your home, drain and store garden hoses, install insulation covers on exterior spigots, and have your sprinkler system blown free of water.
Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are working properly and are clear of debris. Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.
And, one final thought, as we move into the winter months, all sorts of critters like to move in where it's warm. Deep cleaning in the fall will allow you to get rid of those spiders, bugs and moths that have made your home theirs before they start snacking on you or your clothes!
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local architectural firm specializing in home remodels.