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11 Fall Cleaning Tasks Every Smart Homeowner Tackles

Is your home ready for the change in seasons? Only if you’ve completed the expert-recommended tidying tasks on this checklist!

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Electric ceiling fanByjeng/Shutterstock

Clean dusty ceiling fans

Since they’re situated high above your head, you don’t get up-close and personal with your ceiling fans very often. But when you do, there’s a good chance you’ll be horrified by what you see: an inordinate amount of dust. Before you start cleaning, though, make sure you’re doing it right. “Clean top to bottom—literally,” advises cleaning experts from Lemi Shine. “Start with the dust on your overhead light or fan, and end with the floor. This method ensures that all dirt, dust, and miscellaneous items get sent to the floor and have no chance of being missed by the vacuum.” And after you dust the ceiling fans, set them to turn so that air circulates upward. This redistributes the warm air, which can save you on heating costs. Here are 50 other must-do things to get your home ready for fall.

25 Weight-Loss Tricks That Take Only 5 Minutes or LessPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

Scour your refrigerator’s secret spots

Cleaning the refrigerator door is a given, but it’s also important to get the door seals to remove crumbs that have collected, says Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and founder of Clean My Space. “The best way to clean a door-seal gasket is by using hot water and a mild dishwashing liquid,” she says. “Wipe it with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth, and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. Make sure the seal fits properly when you put it back on since an improper fit can cause cold loss and temperature fluctuations.” It’s also a good idea to run the refrigerator shelves through the dishwasher for the cleanest results. Here are some other items you never knew you could put in the dishwasher.

Small kitchen cabinetsabd/Shutterstock

Get rid of surface clutter

The shift in seasons is the perfect time to address the clutter that builds up in your home over a laid-back summer. “The first step is to toss out the trash—and this includes the expired coupons and mail on your counter,” says Melissa Witulski, a home-cleaning expert at Merry Maids. Addressing your fall organization now can take you smoothly through the upcoming holidays.

Flat lay view of an unmade bed in a bedroom with two pillows and crumpled bed sheet, after waking up in the morning. Couple lifestyle concept. copy spaceChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

Change your bedding

Replace lightweight summer bedding with warmer covers for cooler nights. Mary Gagliardi, aka Dr. Laundry, for the Clorox Company, suggests freshening synthetic fill duvets and comforters with a laundering cycle. Her pro tip: Add a few clean tennis balls to the dryer to “poof” the filling. And don’t forget to clean your pillows while you’re at it. Pillows can be a hotbed for up to 16 species of fungus as well as dust mites, and they should be cleaned every three to six months. Including this task on your seasonal to-do list will ensure that it doesn’t fall through the cracks. Here’s another thing to tackle this fall: Learn the easiest way to fold a fitted sheet.

Cleaning outdoor gas grill before next grilling.Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Scrub the BBQ

Before stowing away the barbecue for the season, give it a thorough cleaning, making sure to wipe down the often-overlooked knobs and handles. “Think about how dirty these little things get—[they’re] raw meat and sauce central,” says Maker. “They need to be cleaned to prevent greasy buildup and potential cross-contamination.” She recommends using a de-greaser, which will break down the bacteria-laden buildup.

Green Garden Water Hose Hanging on Red Brick wall. Not connected to Water Tap.HoleInTheBox/Shutterstock

Winterize your garden hose

Your garden hose needs special care in order to prevent damage, like cracking, which can happen when water freezes in the hose on cold days. After turning off the water, unscrew the sprayer nozzle from the end of the hose to drain out any remaining water. Coil the garden hose into large loops, then keep it from unraveling by screwing the two ends together before storing it.

towels in front of dryerub-foto/Shutterstock

Remove lint from the dryer

Drying bulky sweaters and winter coats will mean an increase in your dryer usage. And if you’re not careful, that can up your risk of having a dryer fire. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your dryer vent is on your annual cleaning checklist, says Jason Kapica, President of Dryer Vent Wizard. “As lint collects within the dryer exhaust system, it can back up into the clothes dryer itself,” he explains. “The dryer can then overheat and cause a fire.” Don’t miss these genius cleaning hacks from professional cleaners.

deskPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

Tidy your home office

Get ready for all that online holiday shopping by clearing off, cleaning, and organizing your desk. Experts at the Home Edit recommend Viva Multi-Surface Cloth. These soft yet strong cloth-like paper towels are particularly good at trapping and locking in a mess. And don’t forget to clean your computer: Gently shake crumbs out of the keyboard, wipe down the mouse, and use special electronics wipes to clean your screen.

Vintage style kitchen cupboard.Emily Marie Wilson/Shutterstock

Organize kitchen cabinets

Before you start baking up a storm in the colder months, you have some work to do. Take the time to organize your baking pans and supplies, arranging everything in a way that makes sense to you, so you can easily find what you need. Then check your pantry for outdated baking ingredients. You always want them on hand, but they’re no good to you if they’re past their expiration dates. While you’re on an organizing kick, try these 41 kitchen organizing ideas you won’t believe you ever lived without.

Roof of a detached house with a skylight and chimney against the skyrzoze19/Shutterstock

Check the chimney

No fall-cleaning checklist is complete without a thorough chimney sweep. Before lighting the first fire of the season, enlist a professional to inspect your chimneys and flues, as well as clean them, if necessary. This will not only keep your chimney working well—but also keep you safe. If you neglect the condition of your chimney, it can cause a fire. Some of these fires are explosive and obvious, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, but others may go undetected and cause structural damage to your chimney and the nearby sections of your home.

Farmhouse entryway. Wooden bench near white wall. Interior mockup. 3d render.Tr1sha/Shutterstock

Declutter your home’s entryway

Between bags from holiday shopping and seasonal accessories—like gloves, hats, scarves, and assorted shoes—the entryway can become a cluttered mess. The Home Edit has a simple solution: Create drop zones. They’re specially designated spaces for each member of the family, where they can drop their bags, shoes, or packages. Keeping everything in its place will help to keep the area organized. Next, steal these tips for decluttering that clutter-free people do every day.

Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat