The Essential Fall Cleaning Checklist

Fall cleaning is one of those key transitional times of year for organizing your household and making positive changes in your life.

Do you have a plan to get started?

To help set you up for success, here is a simple fall cleaning checklist to prepare your household for the coming winter:


Outdoor Cleaning Tasks:

  • Rake out gardens, hedges, other landscape
  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, kid’s summer toys
  • Clear out gutters and downspouts
  • Drain and store garden hoses
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Search online for manufacturer’s recommendations for upkeep
  • Inspect external door and window weather-stripping

Indoor Cleaning Tasks:

  • Wash exterior windows
  • Vacuum dusty canvas, cotton, and treated fabric blinds
  • Clean the walls
  • Dust ceiling-mounted light fixtures
  • Wipe down the kitchen cupboards
  • Rotate mattresses
  • Clean or launder bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters
  • Clean carpets (consider delegation to professionals)
  • Clean all wooden floors
  • Wipe down your computer
  • Straighten your closets (store summer clothes)
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Clear lint build-up from dryer exhaust vent
  • Replace the furnace filter
  • Arrange for chimney inspection/sweep
  • Organize your attic

Here are ten smart tips for taking advantage of this great opportunity and being your most productive self with a fall cleaning plan this year:

  1. Welcome fall: focus on tasks that clean, organize, and store
  2. Divide and conquer: delegate duties to family members or housemates; choose activities they can succeed in and be sure set expectations
  3. Don’t forget your workspace: include your home office, desk, and inbox; be sure to spend time filing and recycling letters, catalogs and email
  4. Prepare your tools: store task-specific supplies together in a labeled bucket (e.g. “window cleaning supplies”) making them easier to find next time you need them
  5. Minimize yourself: make decisions to purge your house of rarely used and unnecessary items; create boxes of items to sell and things to donate
  6. Clean your financial house too: this is a great time to gather and sort your tax info, organize your bills, and improve your financial habits
  7. Hire out: certain tasks can hired out affordably, allowing you to focus time elsewhere; get rates from a local maid service or lawn crew
  8. Begin one new habit: commit yourself to a new healthy activity, like cleaning the refrigerator weekly or buying more green products
  9. Plan forward: use this time to establish some daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning routines; write your household cleaning plan and keep it in your planner
  10. Don’t create more waste: consider the environmental impact of your cleaning by using reusable towels, sponges, and mops instead of paper towels and Swiffer-type disposable sweepers.

Remember: Trust that your plan is the best use of your time. As new tasks pop-up during your cleaning you must avoid the temptation to wander into doing them. Instead, write down and schedule the new task.

Please Tell Us…

It’s easy to get overwhelmed so keep your fall cleaning plan realistic and commit yourself to only what time allows. Do you have a particular fall cleaning and organizing method that has been helpful to you? Please comment.

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

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