10 ways to tackle fall cleaning

I advise all our customers to gently ease back into fall by beginning that end of/beginning of season rituals. Here’s a list of 10 tasks that you can start now. Don’t try to do them all in one weekend; take a few minutes a day to chip away at them. They’ll be done before you know it!

1. Screens/storm windows: Make sure you know where your storm windows are, and make sure they’re in good condition. If any repairs need to be made (such as re-glazing), now is the time to toss them in your trunk and bring them to the glazer (it’s cheaper to bring them in than pay for a house call).

2. Wardrobes: Pull all of the summer clothing that you haven’t worn in two seasons out of your closet, and donate it. This will make your change of wardrobe easier when the weather gets a little colder. This goes for the kids, too. Anything they’ve outgrown should be passed on.

3. Front hall closet: Go through all of the coats in yours, and donate any that are no longer worn and no longer fit. Toss broken umbrellas and mismatched gloves. Donate (or toss, depending on their condition) outgrown boots and winter shoes. You should be able to reduce the volume of stuff in your front hall closet by 30 percent to 50 percent without much thought.

4. Pantry and freezer: When was the last time you saw the contents in the back of your freezer? Use up what you can, toss what is out of date, and donate anything that you don’t use or don’t like to a local food pantry.

5. Car: Have your car winterized. Get your oil changed, check your fluid levels, check your tires, and make sure that you have a few supplies in the car (a cold weather blanket, some granola bars, a couple of bottles of water. You never know when you’ll need them, and if you need them, you’ll be glad you have them!) If you don’t already belong to AAA, consider joining if you can afford it. The benefits can’t be beat.

6. Toys: Go through your kids’ toys with them. Pass along anything that they no longer play with or have outgrown. Do the same with their books. If they have a younger sibling who isn’t ready for the toys outgrown by your older kid, store them in a clearly marked plastic tub so that they are easily available when the time comes.

7. Tag sale: Autumn is the perfect time for a tag sale. As you go through your house, set aside all of the stuff that you would like to pass along and plan a tag sale. Many neighborhoods form a cooperative to do this. Someone gets permission from the town and collects a modest fee (usually about $5 per house) to take out some newspaper advertisements (which really helps). Don’t forget to post the sale on Craigslist as well. When it’s over, don’t bring the remnants back inside. Load them into your car and drop them off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army — and remember to get a tax receipt.

8. Deck/patio: Pull out the hose and wash down your outdoor furniture (most of us do not have hot and cold running water from our outdoor spigots, and once it gets cold, the cold water is very cold!). If you need furniture covers or a deck box, order them now so you’ll have them come October.

9. Linen closet: Wash and pack summer linens, and get ready to bring out the flannel sheets and feather duvets. If you find anything to get rid of, put it in the tag sale pile. If you’re getting rid of old towels or blankets, consider donating them to your local animal shelter. They’re usually in need of towels and blankets to use as bedding. (Just call first to make sure they’re accepting them.)

10. Sports equipment: This is a great time to put gear in long-term storage, and to install things like brackets to hang bicycles and other sporting equipment (like kayaks or canoes). This will make room for the snow blower that’s buried in the back of the garage or in the shed once snow is in the forecast. And if your snow blower needs to be serviced, do it now. The first snow will be here before you know it!

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