Spring may take the cake as the best time of year to deep clean, but doesn’t fall make more sense? With the mercury dropping, the holidays arriving, and the onslaught of seasonal bugs, there’s no better time to get your home in tiptop shape. Here are 10 ways to tackle it with an eco-friendly approach.
Our best fall cleaning tips
1. Pull out your winter stash early
Those cozy sweaters, those comfy leggings—there’s no reason to hold off on taking them out of hibernation if the temperature is descending now. By going through last season’s wardrobe, you’ll not only discover what should be kept and what should be tossed or donated, you’ll also lighten your carbon footprint and save money: Putting on a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat may save you as much as 4% in monthly utility expenses, the EPA says.
2. Head to your favorite health food store
…and stock up on goods to make your own cleaning supplies. Baking soda, olive oil (for furniture polish), vinegar and lemon juice—which is rich in antiseptic and antibacterial properties—go a long way in keeping your space clean and pollutant-free, while also diminishing the amount of toxins in the environment.
Against the whole DIY thing? (You’re not alone.) Go with earth-friendly cleaners and detergents, such as Nellie’s All Natural Oxygen Brightener.
3. “Floss” your tiles
Those tiles in your bathroom and kitchen may look gorgeous (and be a cinch to clean) but grout between them can accumulate mold—and quickly.
Not only is this, well, gross, it’s also unhealthy, potentially resulting in everything from coughing to wheezing to eye irritation.
Mix one-part carbonated water with one-part vinegar and floss those tiles. They’ll glisten even more—and make you and your family feel tremendously better.
4. Invest in house plants
Hitting up the nursery at Home Depot isn’t exactly cleaning—but it might help keep your rooms fresh (and you healthy).
Reports out of NASA show that certain plants can remove pollution from the air, including benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. Your best bets? Pot mums, gerbera daisies, spider plants, and peace lilies.
This is also the time to bring in plants that have spent the summer outside, particularly if you want to fill your home with sweet smells. (Recently, the NRDC reported that 12 out of the 14 air fresheners they tested contained the family of chemicals phthalates, which have been linked to skin irritation, nausea, dizziness, and hormone disruption.) Goodbye, synthetics; hello, aroma of life.
5. Organize your cupboards
Those cans of soup no one in your family will touch, that pasta you’ve sworn off for good—we’re all guilty of holding onto food (and other items) well past a logical date.
This autumn, go through your pantry and toss all of the expired items. Food that hasn’t expired can be donated to a number of places, including your local food bank or homeless shelter (which typically see a higher numbers of folks when the temps start to plunge). Then, fill that empty space with wholesome eats that will keep you healthy throughout fall.
6. Ensure your chimney is winter-ready
There are few things lovelier than gathering by a fire on a cold night. Guarantee you’re ready for such a time by hiring a professional to remove dirt, debris and birds’ nests from the flue (and to undertake any repairs that may need to be handled). And speaking of heat: Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors while you’re at it.
7. Brighten up
…by taking a look at your light fittings. Lampshades and bulbs tend to attract a great deal of dust, leading to the sneezes and dulling the potential of light in your house. Use a rag or t-shirt to wipe them off, and replace old bulbs with LEDs. They’re soft on the eyes, and will cost you less money in the long-run.
8. Wipe down your doors
It makes sense to spend the majority of your cleaning time focusing on kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces, but other spots in your house see high traffic as well, potentially spreading germs (and consider the amount you’ll have with family and friends over during the holidays). With this in mind, give your doors a solid wipe down to prevent the “sharing” of seasonal colds.
9. Wash your windows
Sparkling windows will render this cozying-down time of year all the more enjoyable—and it’s best to clean them before winter weather starts. To up your green cred, use equal parts vinegar and water, spray generously on the glass and wipe away with yesterday’s newspaper. (Bonus tip: Wait for a cloudy (but not rainy or snowy) day. It’ll help you see streaks better.)
9. De-spider your home with citronella
Sure, Halloween may be right around the corner, but there’s a huge difference between decorative spider webs and real ones haunting your house. Use a broom to get webs down from the interior of your home and a water hose to remove those lurking in the corners outside.
Additionally, include a few drops of citronella essential oil to your air filters. Citronella repels spiders—and the clean scent the oil provides will make your house even homier.~