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12-Step Fall Cleaning Checklist

You've cleared out the garden, moved some plants inside and are already mentally preparing for winter's arrival. But before the snow flies, here's a 12-step fall cleaning checklist to prepare your home for winter.

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Gardening ToolsDarius Pabrinkis/Shutterstock

Gardening Tools

If your rakes, shovels and other lawn and garden tools are dirty, use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub off any mud. Sharpen any dull tools and check wooden handles for cracks or splinters. And replace any handles that are broken or cracked. Finally, use a light oil spray or lubricant like WD-40 to lightly coat the metal parts of your tools before hanging them in the shed or garage. This fall cleaning task will get your gardening tools ready for the spring. Not sure where or how to store your tools? Garden tools storage Ideas.
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GuttersGreg McGill/Shutterstock


Gutters work to control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, foundation and landscaping. A debris-clogged gutter can cause damage to the roof or water damage both inside and outside the home. Be sure to clean all debris out of the gutters before the cold temperatures arrive... this is a must do fall cleaning task. Learn some Easy Gutter Fixes to keep your gutters in tip-top shape.
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The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends having your chimney and fireplace inspected at least once a year. And this will help ensure there are no cracks, built-up creosote and the fireplace and chimney are free of debris that could become a fire hazard. This fall cleaning task will ensure your chimney and fireplace can keep you warm during the winter.
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Patio FurnitureHannamariah/Shutterstock

Patio Furniture

When it comes to patio furniture, how you winterize it depends on what type of material it is made from. For metals, wash the furniture and dry it completely before covering with a sturdy tarp. And for plastic, just hose and towel off before storing inside to keep the furniture from cracking. For fabrics, vacuum or shake off cushions and the umbrella and store in a dry garage or basement. Fall cleaning wood furniture includes, washing and applying a specialty oil to help the furniture maintain its color. For synthetic wicker, store inside a garage or basement. Is your metal patio furniture beginning to rust? Learn How to Remove Rust.
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Fall Cleaning FurnaceCharles Knowles/Shutterstock

Fall Cleaning Furnace

Over time, HVAC systems can get clogged with dust and particles that will hinder your system's energy efficiency. First, visually inspect grates and use a dust wand to remove accumulated dust from the output grate. If needed, remove grates with a screwdriver and wash the grates with water and dish soap. And this fall cleaning task will help remove sediment and germs. Next, check your system's filter and replace if necessary. Here's a full Fall Furnace Maintenance Guide.
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Trim TreesRobert van Esch/Shutterstock

Trim Trees

Clean up lose limbs and weak tree trunks that can cause a lot of damage during windy winter months. If one of your trees is looking a bit weak, talk to an arborist. They can spot rotting trees or damaged limbs that may come down in the next storm. These Tree Pruning Techniques will help your trees stay healthy year-round and are great for your fall cleaning checklist.
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Dust Ceiling FansMindy w.m. Chung/Shutterstock

Dust Ceiling Fans

After heavy summer use, your ceiling fans could probably use a good fall cleaning dusting. And a quick way to do this is with a pillowcase. Pull up a ladder so you can reach the blades and put the pillowcase around the blade like you would a pillow. Then, as you pull the pillowcase off the blade, wipe all the dust from the top and bottom of the blade. Also, repeat on each blade. Learn How to Balance a Ceiling Fan.
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Wash Window CoveringsJodie Johnson/Shutterstock

Wash Window Coverings

Wipe down the blinds and check fabric coverings for stains. Most cotton, rayon and polyester coverings can be washed on delicate in the washing machine. Send coverings made of satin, silk, lace and linen to a professional cleaner. Follow these tips for washing your windows.
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Clean Outdoor RugsMichael Kraus/Shutterstock

Clean Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs are used a lot over the summer time and as a part of your fall cleaning checklist clean them out. To get dirt and stains out of your heavily-used outdoor rug, mix a solution of dish soap and water in a bucket. Then scrub the rug using a nylon brush. After scrubbing, rinse it with a hose. How to Clean Floors: Wood, Tile, Carpet and Everything Else.
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Wash Patio CushionsGUIDENOP/Shutterstock

Wash Patio Cushions

Before storing your cushions for the season, combine 1 quart of warm water, 1 teaspoon dish soap and 1 tablespoon borax in a bucket. Use a sponge to scrub the cushions with the mixture. Let the mixture soak for 15 minutes then rinse. Does your indoor furniture need cleaning? Learn How to Clean Leather Furniture Stains with Natural Products.
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Clear Out the CupboardsMiroslav Pesek/Shutterstock

Clear Out the Cupboards

Fall is a great time to go through the contents of your kitchen cupboards. Toss anything that's expired or stale. While they're empty, wash them down and replace liners if necessary. Here are 10 Kitchen Cabinet and Drawer Organizers You Can Build Yourself.
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Wash All BeddingMy Hardy/Shutterstock

Wash All Bedding

Strip the beds and wash mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets and comforters. Store summer linens away and place fall and winter bedding in an easily accessible location so it's ready when nights turn cold. Learn 12 Simple Life Hacks for Organizing Your Home.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.