Fall Cleaning 101
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Fall Cleaning 101

Spring time isn't the only time of the year to do a good thorough cleaning and organizing on your home. Fall is another great time to get rid of items and prepare your home for the upcoming cold months. Learn about green cleaning solutions that you already have in your home and probably didn't think about using. For example lemon juice.

Spring cleaning, the time to go through the closets, clean everything throughly.  But, spring isn't the only time to give your house a good deep cleaning.  What about during the fall. 

Each year, my family takes time out of their busy weekend to help do a through cleaning of our home.  But, we do it twice a year instead of once.  During the spring and again during the fall.

Fall clean up is slightly different because of the temperatures outside but, there is still a lot to do to prepare your home for the winter months. 

Heating and Cooling-

Time to turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heat.  By mid-fall it is about time to start using your heater.  Typically, many people begin to use it in the evening because of the drop in temperatures at night. 

1) Pull the air filter and replace it.  This will help the system run better.  You should change your filter at least once a month or if you have a reuseable filter, clean it once a month.  This will help your system run more efficiently. 

2) Vacuum out the ducts.  Getting some of the dust particles from your ventilation ducts will help improve the quality of air that is circulating around your home.  Remove the vent covers for the ducts and wash them with soap and water.  Attach a brush fixture to the end of your vacuum if you have one.  As you are vacuuming the ducts be sure to scrub the sides of the ducts with the brush as you go. 

3) If you have a gas furnace, it is a good idea to make sure that the pilot light is lit and functioning properly.  You may want to consider having a heating and air repair company come out for a service on your unit.  Typically it is a small fee for yearly maintenance to maintain your system. 

Windows-

If you live in an older home and do not have double paned glass you might want to consider a few economical ideas to help maintain the heat in your home during the fall and winter. 

1) Clean your windows.  In a spray bottle, pour in about 1/3 cup of vinegar, then fill the bottle the rest of the way with water.  Grab a stack of old newspapers and clean the outside of your windows.  Saturate the window pane with the mixture then wipe with a scrunched up piece of newspaper.  The paper helps the windows from being streaked and its a great way to reuse something around your home.

2) Change your curtains.  If you have lighter curtains on your winter for the spring and summer, it is a good idea to switch to thermal curtains.  Thermal curtains may be a bit pricey but, in the long run, it will help save you on the cost of heating your home.  You can purchase thermal curtains at a number discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart.  Consider checking your local second hand shops and thrift stores as well. 

3) Cover your windows with a thermal plasting sheet.  Many hardware stores carry a plastic sheeting that you can actually place over your windows.  In some cases, it has been developed to actually stick to the glass.  This will save you from having to put holes in the walls of your home. 

By creating a better insulation on your windows, you will increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. 

Doors-

Around the edges of your doors you may find places that will leak air.  A good way to keep this from happening is to place a foam seal around the edges. You can pick up a roll inexpensively at your local hardware store.  This will help to prevent the heat or cold air from escaping your home.  You may also want to replace the rubber gasket at the bottom of the door.  This gasket wears out over time with the opening and closing of your doors.  If you have a door in your home that you rarely use, be sure that the door is well sealed.  During the cooler months it is a good idea to lay a thick blanket or towel at the bottom, this will also help with keeping the hot air in and the cold air out. 

This is also  good time to clean the handles on your doors and wipe down the frame.  Simply wipe it down with some soap and water.  If you have kids, you probably do this frequently because of sticky fingers. 

Clean Out Those Closets-

If you store your fall and winter clothing due to lack of space, now is a good time to go through the clothing that you are brining in from storage. 

If you don't know what to get rid of, here is a simple trick.  Take a box of safety pins, on the bottom of sleeves or the belt loop of a pair of pants, clip on a safety pin.  Over the course of a month if you haven't worn the item or aren't sure what to pair the item with, get rid of it.  By simplifying your wardrobe, you cut down on the amount of storage that you need. 

Another trick that is helpful, if a pair of pants can be paired with 3 or more tops, then they are a keeper.  Same with skirts as well.  When you can create more outfits out of less clothing, you will find that you don't need as many pieces and can actually decrease some of your stress level when getting ready for work.  This trick also works great for children as well. 

Don't forget to go through your shoes.  This is hard for many women because there are such fun and cute shoes available.  However, if a pair of shoes doesn't go with more then 1 outfit, you may want to consider getting rid of them.  You will want to go through other accessories as well to see what you wear and don't wear.  Jewelry may be difficult especially if you have a collection of pieces that have been handed down to you. 

Bedding-

A lot of people don't think about their bedding.  It is always a good idea to prepare your bed for the cooler months ahead. 

1) Clean your pillows.  Depending on the type of pillows that you have, it is a good idea to toss them into the wash and get them clean.  Follow the cleaning instructions that have been recommended by the manufacturer.  Many are actually made to be washed in a washing machine.  This can save time and money.  However, there are others that must be dry cleaned, so you might want to make arrangements with your dry cleaner. 

2) Clean your matter.  Okay this isn't any easy job, but you will be amazed at the difference.  If your vacuum has attachments, you can use the hose and a brush attachment to clean your mattress.  This will help to remove dust particles and dead skin that may have fallen into the padding on the bed.  After you have vacuumed, you may want to spray down the mattress with an air freshner like Lysol, or even some Fabreeze.  The Lysol will kill off any bugs that may be in the mattress where the Fabreeze will kill off any bad odors. 

3) Layer your bed.  Even though the cooler temperatures are quite here, it is a good idea to be prepared for a nightly chill.  If you are trying to keep your costs down this is a helpful tip.  While making your bed, add a thin blanket under your comforter.  If you feel you don't need to use the comforter, simply fold it down at the foot of your bed.  If a chill does sweep over you, then you only need to reach down and pull the comforter up. 

Dust, Vacuum, Sweep, Mop-

During the colder months, dust and dirt have a tendency to build up more.  Be sure to dust, vacuum, sweep and mop on a regular basis.  Many professional home cleaners recommend that you at least sweep and vacuum everyday.  If you have pets, this helps keep the population of fleas down in your home. 

1) Top to bottom is the way to go.  If you are dusting, it is always a good idea to start from the highest object in your home and dust to the lowest.  For example, if you have a ceiling fan, it is best to clean off the dust on this item first, then upper book shelves, etc.  This saves you a ton of time in removing the dust and dirt that have collected. 

2) Vacuum your furniture then floors.  Again, going from top to bottom, you want to vacuum your furniture first.  This is because the dirt and dust collect there first and then typically makes it way to your floors.  So when you are doing a deep cleaning of your home, be sure to vacuum your sofas and chairs first before you do the floors.  It is a good idea to vacuum your furniture about every two weeks. 

3) Sweep and mop regularly.  If you have pets, you know that this is quite important.  Your dogs and cats may be bringing in the back yard on a regular basis.  Enlist your kids to help by sweeping everyday.  Then follow up with a good mopping at least once a week unless you see a need to do more. 

Knick-Knacks-

We all must admit we have an attraction to collect specific things in our lives.  For some it may be stuffed animals while others it is probably figurines or even a combination.

1) Cut down your collection.  This may be difficult to do, however in the long run it will save you time when cleaning your home.  Stuffed animals and figurines tend to collect a lot of dust and dirt during the cooler months of the year.  If a loved one has given you multiples of the same item, then choose one out of the group that is your favorite and keep it.  Then get rid of the rest.  It may be difficult however, think of the time you will save yourself.  I have to admit, I love collecting stuffed teddy bears, snow globes and miniature tea sets, however, I found that my collections were beginning to overwhelm me.  I started with my teddy bears, this was quite difficult to do because I have given names to each one and each one was given to me by someone special.  I chose a total number to get rid of and reached that goal.  As I bagged up my little loved ones I will admit, I was emotional but, I will always have the memories of those animals.  A little trick.  I took a picture of those beloved stuffed animals together.  Now I can still look at them and have fond memories.

2) Dust and wash the figurines that you have kept.  Simple soap and water can help rid the object of the dust and grime that has built up over time.  But if you clean them off at least once a month it isn't as bad.  Be sure to use a hand held duster on them at least once a week as a preventative. 

3) Reorganize your figurines.  If you constantly have certain figurines in one place, after a while this may start feeling old to you.  So change up your figurines and place them in different spots around your home.  This will help keep the rooms of your home feeling fresh and new.  A good rule of thumb to follow is about once every two to three months change them out.  My grand parents actually changed out their figurines during the different seasons.  My grandmother would store different ones depending on the time of year.  She found that this really helped to make her home feel different and new during the seasons.  But, she also had a good storage closet for this purpose. 

Appliances-

It is always a good idea to make sure that you appliances are running as best as they can.  So be sure to clean them properly.

1) The refrigerator gets tons of use.  At least once a month, be sure to clean out old condiments.  Always read the labels to see what the shelf life is on your condiments.  This will help you reduce what you use and keep in your fridge. Wipe down the shelves and clean out the drawers.  Shelves can get sticky and covered in who knows what.  Be sure that you clean the shelves every couple of weeks to keep bacteria and molds from building up in your fridge. Go through leftovers at the end of every week.  Make sure that you mark when you prepared certain meal items.  At the end of a week go through those items and get rid of the oldest things.  If you have a lot of left over veggies, you might want to simply create a vegetable soup out of them.  This is also a good way to make sure your kids are getting the nutrients they need out of those veggies. Vacuum the vents on your fridge.  The fridge vents collect a lot of dust and dirt.  Be sure that you clean them off regularly, this will help keep the fridge running more efficiently.  Change out filters if they need it.  Many newer models have filters that need frequent changing, It is always a good idea to check the filters and change them out for the long fall and winter months that you are facing. 

2) Clean the oven.  If you have a self-cleaning oven, it is a good idea to clean the oven at least once a month. If you have to scrub it out with harsh cleaners.  It is a good idea to start this project the night before  This helps the oven maintain the right temperatures when needed for baking those fall treats. 

3) Clean out your microwave.  Particle build up causes your microwave not to run correctly.  You may find that you need to run food items in it for longer amounts of time.  This is because of the amount of things that have cooked on inside the unit.  It is a good idea to clean out the microwave regularly.  If it has been a while since you last cleaned it, then you may need to do a super clean on it.  In a measuring cup place 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 cup of water.  Set your microwave for 2 minutes and then start.  Let sit for about 15 minutes after the timer goes off.  Use a sponge or heavy duty rag and wipe out all the loose particles of food.  You may need to go over the surface several times to remove all of the particles.  Be sure to also take out the revolving tray.  Be sure to clean the tray and then wipe down the area that the tray covers.  Liquid can build up under the tray during cooking and you may not have even noticed. 

4) Pull apart your toaster. Okay, not literally, but the tray at the bottom of your toaster probably has a large build up of crumbs from toast and frozen waffles.  This build up actually burns over time and may create an awful smell around your home.  It is a good idea to clean out your toaster once every two weeks if it gets a lot of use. 

5) Coffee makers get nasty build ups.  If you have hard water, then the flavor of your coffee has probably changed over time.  It is a good idea to run vinegar through the system at least once a month.  This will help break down the calcium build up and keep the unit running efficiently.  Pour about 1/2 cup of vinegar into the water resevoir and at least 6 cups of water to begin the process.  Once the vinegar has cycled through, then run about 2 to 3 pots of fresh water through the system. 

6) Don't forget to clean your kettle.  Hot water kettles also get a build of hard water calcium inside.  Use about 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to soak out the calcium.  Simply pour the vinegar directly into the pot and let it stand for several hours.  Then place about 2-3 cups of water into the kettle and let it boil.  Let the kettle cool then rinse out the pot. 

7) Have you noticed an oil build up on your vent-a-hood filter.  Yuck!  Clean it off.  Most filters are designed to be put into a dishwasher.  This is quite handy because you can give it a good hot cleaning without burning yourself. Don't forget about the light cover too.  This has a tendency to draw small insects and they gather inside the cover.  Be sure to wipe down the entire fixture as well to remove grease and dust particles.

8) Finally after you have cleaned all the other appliances in your kitchen it is a good idea to also clean out your dishwasher.  Either our in a half cup of vinegar or a half cup of bleach.  Run the dishwasher empty to clean it out.  Some people find that using unsweetened powdered fruit drink does a good job as well.

9) Clean out your sinks using baking soda.  The baking soda works just as well as a cleanser you may get from the store. However, there are no chemicals involved.  If you tend to wash your vegetables and fruit on a regular basis, it is always a good piece of mind to know that you aren't placing those items on or near harmful chemicals that may still be lingering in your sink. 

Now that the inside of your home is clean, you can now enjoy the changing of the leaves outside. 

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