After the long, languid days of summer, do you feel the excitement of a little nip in the air? Fall is just around the corner—and it’s hard to know whether to don a T-shirt or a jacket. But finding your favorite sweater poses its own set of problems. Most likely it involves some sort of organization, such as locating your trove of winter clothes. If you have to forge new pathways in your closet anyway, why not bite the bullet and clean it at the same time?
The cusp of summer offers a smart opportunity to tackle closet infrastructure and other fall cleaning tasks. While it sounds like about as much fun as flossing, doing spring cleaning in the autumn makes loads of sense. Think how serene you will feel when you hunker down by the fireplace in a house made neat, cozy and ready for the snow. Here is a brief step-by-step guide to fall cleaning made simple.
Step 1 – Prune the detritus
School has started, the pools are closed and sunhats make way for scarves. Get rid of the unnecessary, either by throwing it out, giving it away, or storing it your garage, basement or closet. Comb through what you have accumulated over the summer months—baseball pennants, amusement park winnings and summer yard sale scores—and make room for the new. As the legendary Coco Chanel said, “Elegance is refusal.” Refuse to have things on display that aren’t absolutely functional or beautiful. If it’s just so-so or sentimental, be ruthless. Aim for clear sightlines and empty surfaces. In the kitchen, fight appliance creep. For example, store the waffle maker in your cupboard rather than on your counter, unless waffle making is a daily activity.
And while you are in declutter mode, might as well make a thorough pass at your fridge. Strange how food can be oddly difficult to discard, even when it has been untouched for half a year. After you prune, give your fridge a wipe down. It will have that clean, sparkly feel that may compel you to eat more healthy, however short-lived.
Step 2 – Rotate your textiles
After you’ve sorted, expunged and cleaned, it’s time to rotate out your fabrics, making way for the tactile needs of the season. Not only do you have to get reacquainted with your jeans and sweaters, but your linens, blankets and possibly even your curtains and doormats may need to be swapped out. And while you are at it, fall is a great time to flip over and rotate your mattress as well to prevent uneven wear. At the very least launder your drapes, vacuum your window blinds and shake out your winter rugs.
The next part is my favorite. Once your house feels like it’s had a makeover, work some aromatherapy magic. Add some natural essential oils to your dish soap to make doing dishes a meditative pleasure rather than a tedious chore. You can also make an easy nontoxic room freshener by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) into a spray bottle filled with a cup of water. Spray on your bed, in your bathroom or wherever the air feels stale.
Step 3 – Tuck in your garden
Despite the allure of the indoors, don’t neglect taking care of your garden for its winter rest. Trim back perennials, weed like a maniac to prevent infiltration next spring, pull up old vegetables plants and work back into the soil. You can also spread compost or other rich organic material on the soil to amend and enrich your garden beds in preparation for your next growing season. Fall, with its lingering warmth, is a good time to plant bulbs, especially tulips and daffodils. A little foresight in the garden in the fall will arise as a surprising delight come spring.