Fall Cleaning: Finishing Inside the Home

After a good cleaning of your bedrooms and bathrooms, you should be all set for housing those extra holiday guests.  If you realized that you need extra guest beds or your current ones are not in good condition, this is a good time (before guests arrive) to ask Santa for an early present… new bed sets. If you are like me – I can’t believe I am admitting to this – you got so sick and tired of your footboard always being in the way that you recruited the hubby to saw it off.  Hey, at least it’s functional and the ends are mostly hidden, but it’s not such a pretty reminder every time I make the bed.  Oh well, I need to get a new bed, eventually.  I digress…

Basically this day is dedicated to cleaning (doing pretty much what you did in the bedrooms) the remaining rooms of your home:  all of the living areas, dining areas, hallways, entry ways, playroom, office, mud rooms, laundry and utility rooms, and so forth.

In Every Remaining room…

  • Vacuum (or use a broom) the cobwebs.
  • Wipe the molding.
  • Clean the light fixtures (remember the way we did it when doing the kitchen?)
  • Wipe down all the ceiling fans (don’t forget the edges and tops of the blades).
  • Wipe down smoke detectors and replace the batteries.  Test them out just to be sure
  • Spot clean dirty spots and greasy areas from the walls.
  • Clean blinds, drapes (check label to see how to clean them) and windows (and accompanying hardware).  (At our house, windows and any win-doors (as I call them) are clean for about 5 seconds.  Between the two dogs and the two kids, I don’t know who leaves the most spots.)  Again, check the weatherstripping.
  • If you happen to have storm windows, here is a good link on how to clean them.
  • Wipe down doors, door frames and hardware.
  • Do the same with the light switch plates.
  • Wipe down any decor, artwork, books and the shelves they are on.
  • Wipe down DVDs and CDs.  Reorganize them while you’re at it.  I personally like to alphabetize mine!
  • Dust and polish any wood furniture (see my last post for the wood polish recipe).
  • Wipe down all chairs, stools and tables (don’t forget underneath, backs, and legs).  Remember that the dining room will be the focus of your home at holiday dinners, so make sure you clean it well (don’t forget the leaf, if you have one).
  • With a damp cloth, wipe electronic equipment and remotes.
  • Clean your computer.  Make sure you unplug it first.  If you don’t have a Mac (I love my Macs), take off the back panel (you’ll need a screwdriver).  Use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust.  I am always surprised at how much dust accumulates there in a short time.  Use that same can of compressed air and clean your keyboard (you may need to turn it upside down).  With a microfiber cloth, wipe the monitor. Wipe down the keys and the rest of the unit with a damp cloth.
  • Vacuum and spot clean upholstered furniture, making sure to vacuum both sides of the cushions.  Skip the spot cleaning if you are having it professionally steam cleaned, but do still vacuum.  If you have a sofa like mine, you can actually remove the casing around the cushions and wash them!  With the two dogs and kids I mentioned above, I love being able to do this.  Make sure to get under the couch cushions and vacuum up the crumbs while the cushions are off.  You might even find missing household items and money, so take care in vacuuming.
  • Launder the throw blankets that you will need on those chilly nights.
  • Wipe baseboards.
  • Remove the grates from your vents and soak them in the sink while you finish cleaning.  Don’t forget to give the a good scrubbing before you dry them and put them back on.
  • Vacuum area rugs on both sides.  If possible, air them outside for a while.
  • Vacuum, sweep, mop, and/or polish/wax floors.
  • Exchange doormats for winter ones (waterproof, heavy duty ones that catch all the snow and ice on boots).

In the Laundry Room…

  • Wipe the outsides (sides as well) of the washer and dryer units.  Check the inside of each to make sure they don’t need to be cleaned as well.  Check your dryer for any dried gunk on the drum.  I like to run the washer (rinse cycle) on empty with vinegar just to be sure.
  • Clean behind the washer and dryer.
  • Clean any built-up lint in your dryer’s exhaust pipe.  Lint blockage decreases the performance of your dryer, and can actually start a fire.

In the Attic (if you have one)…

Cleaning the attic is quite a daunting task, but there is no better time to do it than when the weather is cool.  (In the summer, it’s too hot to even think up there!)  Make sure you use a mask and protect your eyes – it’s mighty dusty up there.  You may also want to take a pair of gloves and a trash bag.  You never know what trapped dead animal (bird, bat) or other pests you may find.  I am not kidding.

  • First do a visual sweep of any problems.  Check for leaks, damp spots, water damage, etc.  Fix any cracks.
  • Attics tend to be catch-alls, so start going through your stored items and declutter.  Throw away trash and broken items, create a donation/garage sale pile for unwanted items, and reorganize everything else.  Make sure to leave space to walk around as you store away your remaining items.
  • Use your vacuum to clean from ceiling to floor.  No need to wipe, unless you really want to.
  • Clean the window(s).

Some Finishing Touches…

  • Go through all of your old mail and paperwork.  Are there things to be thrown away?  Filed?  Mailed out?  Do them now.
  • Take a good look at your wood floors, banisters and other woodwork.  If they are particularly dull or scratched, see if you have enough in your budget to get them refinished or at least sanded and re-coated.
  • Go around the house and replace any missing, broken, or non-functioning light bulbs.  Restock your stash if it’s getting low.
  • Check all flashlights to see if they are functioning, replace batteries, and place them in logical locations if the power were to go out.  You might want to make sure candles and matches are handy as well.
  • If you have a carbon monoxide detector, replace those batteries as well.
  • Winter is the time to get out your humidifiers, if you have them, and clean them according to the instructions on the manual.  I know I can use the dishwasher with the majority of the parts on mine.  If yours requires a filter, make sure you replace it and have extra on hand.

Now you are ready to have the carpets steam cleaned!  Stay tuned in the next few days for the last of the fall cleaning segment – the outdoors!

Photo credits 1, 2, 3, and 4

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